Resident-on-resident assaults in nursing homes are a serious problem and those who facilitate or cause the assault can be held liable. As with all assaults, the nursing home and perpetrator can be responsible for both civil and criminal penalties following an assault on a nursing home resident in Illinois. As nursing homes become more crowded and individuals with criminal convictions for violent offenses grow older, it is a problem that is almost certain to worsen in the future.
Types of Assault
Resident on resident assault can take many forms. It can include verbal assaults, spitting, scratching, throwing objects, rape/sexual assault, and sexual harassment. In severe cases, it may also involve the use of a potentially deadly weapon or contaminated bodily fluids.
Profile of Attackers & Victims
Younger residents with diminished cognitive function and a history of violence are more likely to commit assault than their peers. These residents may have diminished mobility but may maintain sufficient mobility to move around the facility without assistance. In many cases, individuals who assault other nursing home residents are repeat offenders who have established a pattern of similar assaults on other residents and nursing home staff.
Those most prone to suffering violence are those whose cognitive and physical functions are severely limited, regardless of whether they are men or women. These patients are considered “easy” prey by attackers because they have diminished capacity to resist the attack. Further, attackers feel these patients do not have the mental capacity to understand the seriousness of the assault and are thus less likely to file a report.
Common Factors for Resident on Resident Violence
Nursing home violence can occur in any setting. However, it is more common in facilities that are crowded, facilities that are understaffed, and in facilities where staff treat resident-on-resident assaults are considered normalized behaviors. Patients residing within facilities with these three common characteristics are at considerable risk of suffering serious personal injuries, rape/sexual assault, and other forms of violence.
Liability for Assaults
Nursing homes and the nursing home resident can be held liable for assaults. Nursing homes could be liable when they fail to take precautions to protect other patients from individuals with an established history of violent actions. Similarly, the individual can be held liable for the injuries and damages that their own personal actions cause.