Assisted Living Facility Elopement Claims

September 18, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Assisted Living Facility Elopement Claims

Elder Elopement From Assisted Living is Dangerous

One of the most at risk demographics for injury in all forms is the elderly. It goes without saying that elderly's fragile constitutions and sometimes declining mental state makes them all the more susceptible to harm from a variety of vectors. It is because of this inconvenient fact of life that families will place their elders in the care of certified facilities specializing in care for the old or infirm. Sometimes these facilities can fail in their task to protect and care for their elderly residents and patients much like any healthcare facility has the potential to. Assisted living facilities can be neglectful towards their residents in many ways but none quite like when patients manage to elope. Not elope as in when to lovers run off to have an impromptu wedding but elope as in to escape.

Assisted Living Facilities Are Responsible for Keeping Residents Safe

The matter of elopement is a complex situation when it comes to the ethical question of keeping the vulnerable elderly within a facility despite a longing to leave. Of course it is not so simple as to say that the elderly are held in assisted living against their will as that elicits a comparison to imprisonment which is most definitely not the case. The situation is more comparable to that of a hospital and patient under its care. The facility has a responsibility to ensure that patients are kept safely on the property and away from harm. A patient will occasionally wander from their area and may make it off the property where they are at immense risk for injury. It takes a fair amount of neglect for a facility to allow this to happen which means that those injured by said neglect can seek compensation for injuries from the liable parties.

Why do Residents Elope From Assisted Living Facilities?

Elopement is not one of the most common of issues that occur at assisted living facilities but it happens on a frequent enough basis to warrant the attention it should receive when these facilities plan security. Residents of assisted living facilities will typically elope from the property because they will be prone to wandering. The declining mental state of many assisted living facility residents can lead them to wander from their designated areas. Many residents are admitted into these facilities because they have dementia, Alzheimer's, or another similar condition that negatively affects mental state. Memory loss and confusion symptoms can cause a resident to attempt elopement because they believe they have to be somewhere else like their job they haven't worked for years or house they no longer own or live in. Other residents may wander or attempt to elope because of medication side effects that can alter mental state. Less often, a resident may attempt to elope from an assisted living facility because they simply have reservations about staying in an assisted living facility. It is understandable that some residents may have trouble adjusting, especially when within the first week or so of arrival and might attempt to return home. Caregivers at an assisted living facility still have a duty to prevent this in order to ensure the resident's safety. They can insist on leaving even though their health may be in a precariously fragile state.

Resident Injury Caused by Elopement

Even wandering unsupervised within an assisted living facility can result in severe injury to a resident. When they leave the property a whole host of problems can arise. A resident will be open to the elements to which they are more vulnerable to. Heat, cold, and rain can lead to them becoming seriously sick. Also, a resident can be injured by the simple act of falling. Elderly residents of assisted living facilities typically have much less agility, coordination, and strength but despite this, will attempt to undertake potentially injurious tasks like eloping. This usually ends with them falling and fracturing or breaking bones since they are particularly fragile. Bone breaks are one of the most common of injuries that elderly residents of assisted living facilities face not just from eloping but in everyday accidents like tripping. Eloping residents may be lost for an indeterminate period of time which means that they may not have access to their needed medication, let alone food and water. The lack of medication taken by a lost eloping resident can cause severe complications and relapses of any pre-existing conditions.

Assisted Living Facility Neglect Leads to Resident Elopement

All facilities that provide care to individuals in danger of wandering away and injuring themselves should have safety measures in place to prevent such a thing from happening. Something as simple as alarms on doors that are regularly checked to be locked can decrease the chance of a resident eloping significantly. A common issue with facilities is that they are simply understaffed and the staff they do have are overworked trying to manage a plethora of residents, each with their own unique needs. Having the right ratio of staff to residents can help decrease the chance of elopement. A good set of curfew policies and boundaries monitored constantly must be in place along with contingencies in case of emergencies that can result in resident's wandering off. Should an assisted living facility not have things like this in place if a resident is injured while wandering off, then they can be found negligent and liable to pay damages.

Seek an Experienced Elder Abuse Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to the neglect of an assisted living facility, nursing home, or other similar facility, then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about a free consultation on your possible claim. Our skilled lawyers will sit down with you to lay out your options for legal action and how they can use their expertise to secure you the settlement that you deserve. For a free consultation on your claim you can contact us online or call (727) 451-6900 Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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