Liability of Virginia Assisted Living Facilities

By Josh Silverman on August 03, 2013

Emeritus is one of the largest operators of Virginia assisted living facilities.  If you want to learn more about their particular operations, you should watch PBS Frontline series on assisted living facilities.  The problems described in Frontline are not limited to Emeritus.  They extend throughout assisted living facilities in Virginia and the country.  Most of the facilities are for-profit and profits are increased by staffing shortages to keep labor costs down.  Unfortunately, insufficient staff almost always leads to poor care and personal injuries. 

Assisted living facilities differ from nursing homes in multiple respects.  First, they are not subject to strict federal regulations.  Most of the regulations come from Virginia Department of Social Services.  Secondly, they are not considered health care providers under Virginia law.  They often employee nurses, but if nursing care is required they should not accept the resident.  Thirdly, they are not subject to Virginia's medical malpractice act. Va. Code Ann. Sec. 8.01-581.1 et. seq. That's a mixed bag.  On the one hand that means that their liability is not limited to Virginia's medical malpractice cap.  However, assisted living facilities often defend their poor care by arguing that they should not be held to the standards of health care providers.  In my experience, that defense rarely works.  Everyone can understand that an assisted living facility should not accept payment from a resident if it is ill equipped to provide adequate care. 

These are some of the more common causes of personal injuries and wrongful death at Virginia assisted living facilities:

  • Fall injuries (fractures and head injuries)
  • Medication errors (giving the resident the wrong medication or at the wrong dosage)
  • Resident wandering out of the facility
  • Dangerous conditions like inadequate heat
  • Pressure ulcers (an assisted living facility should not admit or keep a resident with a serious pressure ulcer)

If you would like more information about Virginia nursing home and assisted living facilities, I've devoted a section of my website to Virginia nursing homes and Virginia assisted living facilities. Of course you can always call us at (804) 325-4992.

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