The lack of mobility that often comes with advanced age puts people at increased risk for all kinds of injuries. Many older adults fall and get hurt, and plenty of those with limited mobility end up developing bedsores, infections and other health issues related to their sedentary daily life. Life in a nursing home should serve, at least in part, to minimize those risks. The professionals tasked with providing daily support for older adults can help them accomplish daily obligations like bathing and dressing. They can also help maintain the space where they live and can see to it that someone’s needs get met.
Unfortunately, sometimes those living in nursing homes with mobility limitations end up physically endangered because they cannot move without support. In unusual scenarios, like a fire at a nursing home, older adults are especially vulnerable. Do family members have the right to take action after a nursing home fire leaves someone injured or dead?
Fires are sometimes actionable
Any facility that provides housing for a large number of people will typically need to have systems in place to prevent and respond to fires. From planned evacuation routes and staff training to sprinkler systems, there are many ways that nursing homes can reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring and the severity of any fire that does start within the facility. Unfortunately, not every nursing home will successfully prevent fires. According to a review of reported fires nationwide between 2009 and 2013, an average of three deaths occurred in nursing homes each year, as well as 101 injuries, all caused by fires.
For those grieving the loss of a loved one or worried about covering the costs of a fire-related injury, legal action may be possible. Nursing home fires may be the result of negligence. The facility may not have maintained sprinklers, smoke detectors are fire extinguishers as it should. The staff members may have deviated from company policy regarding the response to a fire. When there is evidence that negligence on the part of the organization itself or its employees directly contributed to the fire or the injury of a nursing home resident, it may be possible to bring a claim against the facility.
Although nursing home fires remain relatively rare, they have the ability to devastate any older adults who are unable to flee them when they occur. Learning about the rules that determine where a facility is responsible for a fire that occurs there can potentially benefit those concerned about the after-effects of an incident in a nursing home. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.