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Nursing Home Understaffing

Injury Attorneys Serving Atlanta and Surrounding Areas Nursing Home Understaffing

Nursing home understaffing is one of the leading causes of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities. When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, there is a greater likelihood that residents will go unsupervised or receive inadequate care. There is also a greater chance that existing staff members will be frustrated and overworked. When you put a loved one in a facility, you assume that the facility will take better care of him or her than you would. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is not uncommon. If your loved one was injured as a result of nursing home understaffing, you should call the Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Van Sant Law to determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit. We can sign up your case electronically if you are concerned about your safety, or we can visit you at a location convenient to you if you prefer.

Nursing Home Understaffing

State and federal laws regulate staffing in nursing homes. In Georgia, when a personal care home has 25 or more beds, it is required to have a staffing ratio of at least one direct care staff person for every 15 residents during waking hours and for every 20 residents during non-waking hours. The same is true for assisted living communities. A licensed pharmacist must provide services to perform certain tasks. In an assisted living community, there must be a registered professional nurse or licensed nurse on site and two direct care staff persons at all times. Nursing homes must have enough nursing staff who are competent to provide care to maintain the highest practicable degree of resident well-being. Additionally, nursing homes are supposed to take into account the particular needs of residents to ensure adequate staffing levels.


Unfortunately, nursing home residents may be at the mercy of nursing home staff. They may be harmed by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Sometimes these abuses result from understaffing. You may be able to recover damages if a loved one was harmed by nursing home understaffing. You may have causes of action against the nursing home, as well as an individual staff member. Nursing homes can be held accountable for understaffing under a theory of negligence.

Nursing homes must make staffing decisions in accordance with the standard of care usually used by skilled nursing facilities. You may need to establish negligence to recover damages. This means that your attorney will need to show that it is more likely than not that the nursing home owed you a duty of care, the nursing home breached the duty of care, causation, and damages. A nursing home's failure to abide by state or federal regulations regarding staffing may be evidence of negligence.


If we can establish a nursing home’s liability for understaffing, we may be able to recover damages. When understaffing is simply a result of negligence, you may be able to recover compensatory damages, which are intended to make a victim whole. These may include medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, rehabilitation, therapy, and loss of enjoyment of life. The damages that you can recover depend on the severity of the injuries. For example, if understaffing resulted in your elderly mother suffering from Stage 4 bedsores and sepsis and needing substantial medical care, you may be able to recover the cost of that medical care.

When a nursing home’s conduct was especially egregious, it may be appropriate to pursue punitive damages under O.C.G.A. Section 51-12-5.1. We will need proof that the nursing home’s conduct showed an entire want of care that would raise a presumption of conscious indifference to consequences, oppression, wantonness, fraud, malice, or willful misconduct. The standard for proving punitive damages is clear and convincing evidence, which is greater than the preponderance of the evidence standard needed to prove negligence. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter others from acting in similar ways with regard to staffing in the future.

Consult an Atlanta Attorney for Your Nursing Home Case

If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to nursing home understaffing in Georgia, you should consult the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Van Sant Law. We are committed to seeking justice for injured nursing home residents and their families. We represent people throughout Georgia from offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, Athens, Cumming, Duluth, Lawrenceville, and Gainesville. Call us at 855-GA-INJURY or complete our online form.

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