While drug and alcohol rehab centers are supposed to be safe and nurturing places where you can get the medical care and attention you need to overcome addiction, they can also be places where you could get hurt or suffer from abuse. Those injuries can be quite severe, and the costs of recovering from them can be crippling. That you suffered them while in a place that is touted as somewhere safe just makes it worse.
Proving that the rehab center was liable for your injuries is a vital part of a personal injury lawsuit that seeks compensation for your losses. The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help you succeed and obtain the financial help you need to make a full recovery.
Common Injuries at Rehab Centers
Staying at a rehab center comes with some common risks. Some of these risks are the same as those faced in other facilities that house people for long periods of time or that see people every day, like:
- The workplace
- Retail stores or the mall
Chief among these risks is that the proprietor or manager of the rehab center did not adequately fix or maintain the premises to keep people safe. If they failed in this regard, innocent people at rehab centers can get hurt in any of the following ways:
- Slipping on a wet and unmarked floor
- Falling through a broken stair
- Exposure to an infection or bacteria
However, there are also some risks and situations that are common in rehab centers, but rare elsewhere. For example, it is completely foreseeable for drug or alcohol rehab facilities to have:
- People struggling with their addiction
- Patients going through withdrawal symptoms
- Physically, emotionally, and mentally compromised people who lash out at others suddenly and with little warning
- Suicidal patients
- Patients who need a variety of medications for their addiction or their other medical conditions
- Patients in a vulnerable state, and staff members willing to abuse their power for their own purposes or gratification
Each of these predicaments can lead to serious injuries to those who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Other patients at the rehab center can hurt you through their less-than-controllable conduct. Doctors can hurt you by prescribing the wrong drugs. Even the staff members can hurt you if they are too forceful when they try getting you to attend rehabilitation programs, or if they abuse their power over you for their own ends.
Regardless of their cause, the extent of your injuries can be severe. Because you were not responsible for them, it would be unfair to expect you to pay for them out of your own pocket.
Why It Is Important to Prove the Rehab Center Was Liable
Unfortunately for the victim, personal injury law makes a point of only holding accountable those who were ultimately responsible for the victim's injuries. While this makes sense, the practical repercussions frequently mean that the victim fails to recover the compensation that they need and deserve for their losses, simply because the wrong person hurt them.
For example, if another patient at a rehab center gets violent during their withdrawal and assaults you, causing serious brain injuries, the odds that the patient who actually assaulted you will have the financial means to cover the costs of your injuries are minimal. Even if they are insured, their insurance coverage is almost guaranteed to not cover the costs of their outburst because it would not have been an accident. Insurance coverage only covers the costs of accidents, not intentional conduct.
When victims are faced with no one to recover compensation from, other than someone who has no chance of covering the full amount of a verdict, it can seem like the victim would be out of luck.
This is why it is so important to prove that the rehab center was liable for your injuries, and not just the person or party who directly hurt you. By extending liability through the person who actually hurt you and to the rehab center, you stand a much better chance of recovering the full amount of compensation that you should be entitled to. Most rehab centers should have insurance coverage that is designed to pay for these precise kinds of injuries, ensuring you stand to receive the financial help you need and deserve.
How to Prove the Rehab Center was Liable
The details and context surrounding your injuries are going to dictate how best to implicate the rehab center in your personal injury case and prove that the rehab center was responsible for your injuries and losses. However, there are several different legal theories that can help victims stretch liability through to the rehab center, including:
- The rehab center negligently hired the staff member who hurt you
- Your injuries were the result of a staff member's negligence
- The rehab center has policies in place that made your injuries completely foreseeable
Many of the injuries that victims suffer at rehab centers are the result of physical or even sexual abuse by a staff member. These cases are traumatizing. Unfortunately, it is also usually extremely difficult to implicate the rehab center in the personal injury lawsuit in these cases because the conduct by the staff member was not only intentional but also directly contrary to the staff member's job description at the rehab center. The rehab center can defend itself by arguing that it was not responsible for the staffer's outrageous conduct, and was not able to prevent it from happening.
While this line of defense is effective, it does not work all the time. In some cases, it is possible to prove that the rehab center should be held liable for your injuries in these situations.
The best way to make this happen is to prove that the rehab center should have known of the staffer's likelihood of causing this kind of harm, but the center hired them, anyway. Negligent hiring can stretch liability for your injuries to the rehab center, even if they were caused by the intentional conduct of a staff member, by pointing out that the decision to even hire that particular worker put people like you at foreseeable risk. When that risk manifested itself in your injuries, the ultimately responsible party is the rehab center that created the potential for your situation.
Rehab centers can also be held liable for the injuries caused by the conduct of their staff members if it was an accident that happened on the job. Victims who have been hurt by a company's employee can make use of the legal concept of respondeat superior, so long as that employee was acting within the scope of their employment. Respondeat superior – a Latin phrase that means “let the boss answer” – extends liability for an employee's negligence to the employer on the thought that it was really the employer who was benefitting from the employee's conduct. Therefore, the employer should be held liable.
In the context of an injury suffered at a rehab facility, respondeat superior can be a very useful legal argument if you were neglected by the staff members or if you were hurt by their normal, day-to-day conduct.
Finally, victims can prove liability against the rehab center where they were hurt if they can show that their injuries were the result of one of the rehab center's policies that created a foreseeable risk to patients at the facility. For example, if the rehab center, for some reason, has an “open door” policy that allows patients to visit each other whenever they want in an unsupervised environment, and another patient makes use of this policy to barge into your room and assault you, you can use that policy to hold the center liable for your injuries. After all, were it not for their policy, you would not have gotten hurt, and the risks created by their policy created a very foreseeable danger to people in the rehab center.
Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
Proving that it was the rehab center that was liable for the injuries you suffered on their premises is not something that many victims think about. The fact that it can be an essential part of their claim for compensation is unfortunate, as it highlights the reality that many victims who are unable to stretch liability to the rehab center are very unlikely to get the financial compensation they need to overcome their injuries.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian know the different ways to implicate a rehab center in a personal injury lawsuit and to show that they were the ones who were ultimately responsible for your injuries. By proving liability, we can hold them accountable for their actions and ensure that you get the compensation you need and deserve for the losses you have sustained while at their facility. Contact us online if you have been hurt in a rehab center to get started on your case.