In Washington State, authorities continue to search for a suspect who broke into a Seattle-area nursing home last week and raped an 83-year-old resident. The woman reportedly heard a noise at her window and, upon investigating, saw the suspect removing the screen to her window. During the assault, the woman allegedly suffered injuries to her head along with other injuries consistent with being sexually assaulted. While sexual assault of the elderly is not a new phenomenon – elderly residents of nursing homes and other care facilities can be and are sexually abused by nursing home employees and residents – this particular assault is troublesome as it allegedly involves someone unconnected with the nursing home gaining access to the facility without authorization in order to attack and abuse a resident.
Responsibility for Providing Adequate Security
Just as a nursing home facility must provide its residents with adequate medical care and safety features such as handrails and well-lit stairways, nursing homes also have an obligation to provide reasonable security measures to protect residents against attacks from those who might attempt to gain unauthorized access to the facility. What measures are appropriate and reasonable will differ between nursing homes. Additional measures may be required when:
- The nursing home is located in a high-crime area;
- The nursing home has had previous incidents in which residents have been attacked by those who are not permitted to have access to the facility;
- Other facts and circumstances would give a reasonable administrator of the nursing home reason to believe additional security measures would be appropriate.
Just like the need for additional security measures would depend on the facts of each specific case, so too would the type of additional security measures that would be appropriate. These various methods of enhancing security might include:
- Ensuring exterior doors are locked and secured after a certain hour:
- Installing security bars or other similar devices over windows to discourage intruders;
- Hiring private security officers to patrol the interior and exterior of the facility;
- Requiring visitors and guests to check in with an employee upon their entry and departure from the facility;
- Installing “panic buttons” in rooms that can alert staff to an emergency in progress.
When a resident is hurt and a nursing home neglect lawsuit is filed, courts will consider not only whether the nursing home had reason to believe additional security measures were necessary but also the resources available to the home. A facility that lacks significant financial resources will not be expected to go bankrupt in providing state-of-the-art security measures.
Contact Your Orange County Nursing Home Lawsuit Attorney Today
If your loved one have been injured because the security of his or her nursing home was breached, the nursing home may be held responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact Case Barnett Law today to discuss your rights and your road to recovery for your loved one. Call (949) 861-2990, or contact us online right away.