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Establishing Liability Based on the Actions of a Virginia Nursing Home Employee

When a family entrusts a Virginia nursing home with the care of their loved one, the family rightfully expects the nursing home to engage in the proper care and treatment of their family member. Nursing homes and their employees owe their residents a duty of care to ensure their safety and well-being. In cases where a nursing home places a resident in danger or causes them harm, the resident or their family members may file a Virginia personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the facility.

Virginia takes nursing home abuse very seriously, and the legislature has enacted several laws specifically directed to protect nursing home residents. Additionally, nursing homes and their employees owe their residents a common-law duty to protect them from abuse. Protecting residents involves engaging in a vigorous hiring and training process. Included in this are extensive background checks and continuous reviews of their employees’ practices. When a nursing home fails to take these necessary steps, residents are often put in jeopardy.

Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect because they often lack some of their mental and physical faculties. For example, they may not be able to articulate or even remember the cause of their injuries. Some common types of abuse are physical, mental, sexual, and financial abuse. In these cases, the employee who engaged in abusive behavior may be held liable. Additionally, the nursing home may also be responsible based on the theory of vicarious liability or respondeat superior.

To hold a nursing home liable under this theory, a plaintiff must establish the employee was acting within the scope of their employment when the employee engaged in the negligent behavior. Determining the scope of employment is crucial in personal injury lawsuits relying on vicarious liability. Generally, to meet this requirement, a plaintiff must be able to prove that an employer-employee relationship existed between the parties and the employee engaged in the behavior during work while performing work-related duties. Determining whether the action occurred while performing work-related duties is often a fact-based question. Often, employers will attempt to evade liability by arguing that the negligent conduct was not part of the employee’s job duties. Plaintiffs should retain an experienced attorney to help them navigate this complex area of the law.

Recently, the family of a Virginia nursing home resident filed a lawsuit against the employee and nursing home after their family member was molested and raped. According to the court’s opinion, the family asserted several theories of liability, including vicarious liability under respondeat superior as well as negligent hiring and retention. The case turned on whether the employee was acting within the scope of employment when he molested and raped the resident. The court explained that plaintiffs must establish specific details related to the alleged assault, including when the abuse occurred, if the employee was performing work duties at the time, and what his motives were.

Has Your Loved One Suffered Abuse in a Virginia Nursing Home?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of nursing abuse or neglect, you should contact the dedicated Virginia nursing abuse attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. At our Virginia personal injury law firm, we represent nursing home residents and their families in claims against negligent and abusive employees as well as the facilities that employ them. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today, call (703) 542-4008 today.

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