Can I file a lawsuit against an attendant as well as the owner of the home?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Nursing home lawsuits are generally filed against the nursing home, not against individual employees or attendants. If you’ve observed dangerous or potentially criminal behavior, you should call 911. Involving the authorities will help inform your potential lawsuit, and the police can let you know if civil or criminal charges may be applicable to the attendant.

Involving emergency workers in your situation can also help you get a police report filed for any inappropriate behavior. If you file a report, make it as detailed as possible and be sure to get a copy. Your report will form part of your basis for any lawsuit.

Civil vs. Criminal Action

Your nursing home lawsuit may be affected by the potential criminality of the nursing home attendant. All types of damage to another person (physical, emotional, or psychological) are deplorable, but only some types of damage are criminal.

Criminal lawsuits differ from civil lawsuits in some important ways. First and foremost, criminal lawsuits are filed and prosecuted by the government, not by private citizens. If by “damage”, you mean that an attendant hurt a resident badly, then he or she may be subject to a criminal investigation and jail time. The sooner you call the police after an incident occurs, the sooner the government can launch a criminal investigation.

Civil lawsuits are filed by private citizens, usually seeking monetary compensation, or damages, from the defendant for harm caused by that defendant. In this situation, it is typically an attendant’s employer (the nursing home and its owner) who will be held responsible and financially accountable for the actions of the employee, no matter how bad the actions are. Realistically, a typical nursing home attendant doesn’t have the ability to pay the damages that can come from such a lawsuit. However, the nursing home business may be insured for up to millions of dollars in preparation for just such a situation.

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