Nursing Home Negligence

Under New York law, it has always been permissible for a individual to bring a claim against a nursing home for inadequate supervision or lack of care that leads to injury. However, most patients are old, frail, and have mental illness that impairs their ability to explain how they were injured. Furthermore, since they are often alone with no outside caregiver present, proving such cases has always been difficult.

Under New York Public Health Law section 2801-d, any nursing home or residential health care facility that deprives an individual of a right or benefit shall be responsible to that individual for the injuries they sustain.

While this alone would simply be a codification of the common law, the burden of proof shifts to the residential care facility. So if an individual is injured because of a fall out of bed or is found with unexplained injuries, the burden of proof is on the facility to establish that they did not cause the injury. The elderly patient is free from having to prove that which, given their usual limited state of both physical and mental health, would often be impossible to do.

In addition, one can recover punitive damages under this section if they show that the conduct is found to have been willful or in reckless disregard of the lawful rights of the patient.

On April 7, 2016, the Appellate Division of the First Department of the State of New York agreed in Hairston v. Liberty Behavioral Mgt. Corp. that the evidence and proof should be presented to the jury of a woman who suffered from mental illness and was allowed or was able to leave the facility before she was later found dead, despite being owed by law to have reasonably safe protection and conditions.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP has successfully prosecuted several cases involving nursing home negligence and the law has allowed our clients and their families to be fully compensated for what they have been through due to others' carelessness.

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