Nursing home facilities are rarely able to “hire” all of the staff necessary to properly care for their residents. It could be prohibitively expensive, for example, for a nursing home to hire a doctor or a medical specialist and have this person remain on site at all times. Instead, many nursing homes will contract with medical professionals to provide the medical services their residents need on an as-needed basis. While this arrangement can be beneficial to both the nursing home and the medical provider, this arrangement can pose barriers to a nursing home resident and/or his or her family members in the event a contracted-for provider causes injury to a nursing home resident.
Liability for the Acts of an Independent Contractor
In general, a person who is considered an “independent contractor” is responsible for his or her own negligent actions. In contrast, the entity that hired the independent contractor is not typically responsible for the careless actions and resulting harm caused by the independent contractor. This means that, in a typical situation, a nursing home resident injured by a medical contractor can only recover compensation from the at-fault contractor – not the nursing home facility itself.
There are exceptions to this general rule, though. The nursing home cannot contract with a medical provider or other contractor while ignoring evidence that the contractor is engaging in careless, reckless, and/or harmful behavior. For example, a nursing home that receives several credible complaints that a particular medical contractor is harming residents or is not devoting reasonable care and attention toward his or her duties cannot ignore these reports and expect to escape liability.
Determining Who is Responsible When an Independent Contractor Causes Injury
If a medical contractor has caused your loved one injury at a nursing home, further investigation may be needed in order to determine if the nursing home can also be held responsible. The presence of one or more of the following factors may suggest the nursing home bears some responsibility for your loved one’s injuries, including:
- Repeated complaints or concerns raised by residents or others about the level of care provided by the contractor;
- Revocation or suspension of professional licenses held by the contractor – especially when those suspensions or revocations are related to trustworthiness and/or the contractor’s ability to competently perform his or her job;
- The nursing home providing specific instructions or directions to the contractor (typically, contractors are permitted to perform their duties in a reasonable manner, as the contractors see fit).
When to Contact a Costa Mesa Elder Abuse Attorney
Your loved one’s and family’s ability to recover financial compensation following a nursing home-related injury incident may depend on how quickly legal counsel can be retained so that important records and evidence can be preserved and an investigation commenced. The experienced elder abuse team at Case Barnett Law can help you take decisive action following a loved one’s injuries. Contact Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or contact the firm online for assistance with your loved one’s elder abuse case today.