When Might a Nursing Home Be Liable?

Claims against nursing homes and senior care facilities for failure to care continue to grow as the nursing home population grows. Liability can come in many forms. Many nursing home staff members are underpaid, overworked, and often poorly trained and vetted. Sometimes the owner of a nursing home may try to keep overhead low by keeping a bare bones staff or cutting back on training or dietary and nutritional needs.

The areas of abuse outlined below can often overlap with other claims, such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse. If you feel your loved one has suffered elder abuse of any kind, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. Our North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers can offer a free case evaluation for your unique circumstances.

Negligent Hiring

Nursing homes are obligated to hire properly qualified staff with the appropriate academic, medical, and other credentials for their particular position. Background checks are required and there should be no record of abuse, criminal activity, or violence found in that background check.

Yet, according to a 2008 government report, more than 90% of nursing homes hired employees with criminal convictions, including sex offenders.


Nursing homes and senior care facilities are notoriously understaffed. They can potentially be liable if a resident suffers an injury or dies because of an inadequate number of caretakers to properly care for residents.

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study recommends that patients receive a minimum of two hours of care each day from nurse’s aides, among other things. Even so, 54% of nursing homes currently fall below this standard of care.

Federal law suggests the ratio of licensed nurses (RN, LPN, or LVN) be 1:15 residents during daytime hours. Yet, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report found that more than 97% of facilities do not have sufficient nursing staff to meet one or more federal staffing requirements and 91% do not have sufficient nursing staff to meet dressing/grooming, exercise, feeding assistance, changing wet clothes and repositioning, and toileting.

Understaffing is a negligence issue. Largely as a result of inadequate staffing, nursing home residents may potentially experience poor care that can lead to injuries and in some cases death.

Inadequate Training

Nursing homes and other senior care facilities can potentially be held accountable for injuries if their staff members have not been provided proper training and a resident suffers an injury as a result.

The majority of duties and responsibilities fall to nurse’s aides. In the state of North Carolina nurse’s aides are only required to receive a minimum of 75 hours of on the job training. That’s less than two weeks to learn how to properly and safely:

  • Bathe and dress patients
  • Serve meals and help patients eat
  • Take vital signs
  • Turn or reposition patients who are bedridden
  • Collect information about conditions and treatment plans from caregivers, nurses and doctors
  • Provide and empty bedpans
  • Lift patients into beds, wheelchairs, exam tables, etc.
  • Answer patient calls
  • Examine patients for bruises, blood in urine or other injuries and wounds
  • Clean and sanitize patient areas
  • Change bed sheets and restock rooms with necessary supplies

Other duties might include transporting patients to operating rooms or treatment units and setting up equipment at a nurse or doctor’s request.

Third-Party Liability

The nursing home or other senior care facility has a responsibility to provide a safe environment, and could therefore be liable for any abuse caused other residents or visitors.

Medication Errors

If a resident is injured by a prescription drug error, the nurse, physician, pharmacy, or pharmacist may be held liable. Click here for more about medication errors.

Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights

The rights of nursing home residents and home-bound adults are protected by North Carolina state law. If a nursing home or senior care facility staff member violates a resident’s fundamental rights of autonomy, dignity, and privacy, then the home or facility could potentially be liable for damages.

Here is a condensed version of North Carolina’s Adult Care Home Bill of Rights and North Carolina’s Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents.

If You Suspect Abuse

If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused, you will need to act swiftly and deliberately.

It may be prudent to have them examined at a hospital or other facility. You have a right to this examination, and if the nursing home tries to prevent you from taking the resident off premises, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin immediately or call 1-866-900-7078.

Make sure you document any signs of abuse and report it to your local government authorities as necessary. Documentation may include taking photos of physical injuries, taking notes of statements from staff, residents, or others who may be aware of the situation.

You may also want to consider relocating your loved one to a different nursing home.

Contact North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers for a FREE Case Evaluation

If your loved one has suffered at the hands of those who are entrusted to provide care and comfort, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. You may be eligible for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of care and family duties
  • Loss of the victim’s earnings
  • Wrongful death
  • Funeral expenses for the victim