Can I sue a nursing home for the death of a person?

On 5 October 2018 a visitor to our website posted a question to us in our ‘What Duty of Care does a Nursing Home Have?’ article.  The person asked:

What if an aged care facility has admitted administering an overdose of medication by an incompetent staff member, that I strongly believe exasperated her early demise?

So, can a person sue a nursing home because they caused a death?   Yes.  A nursing home can be sued if their negligence has caused the death.  They can also be sued for a psychological injury caused to a person because of the death.

For more information on the duty of care owed by a nursing home, see our article ‘What Duty of Care does a Nursing Home Have?

For more information or to make an appointment in either our Canberra or Queanbeyan office please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Bridger or Thomas Maling:

p: +61 2 6206 1300 | e: info@elringtons.com.au

2 Replies to “Can I sue a nursing home for the death of a person?”

  1. Hi Jordan,

    Good question. The corporation/nursing home is the one responsible to provide care. They are responsible at civil law for the acts or omissions of their staff. This is called vicarious liability. There are penalty provisions which can apply with the nursing home under the Aged Care Act. We have seen those enforced recently at a facility in Eden. It is hard to see a specific situation where a director or manager will be individually liable under criminal law. Generally, if a staff member has assaulted an aged care resident, that individual staff member is responsible. Where there has been neglect because of systemic issues, Australian criminal law is currently insufficient to cover those who are responsible (such as directors or managers). This problem is not just limited to aged care facilities, and systemic failures in healthcare systems often fall on the individuals at the coal face.

    Well done on making a submission to the Royal Commission.

  2. Dear Elringtons, I read your article relating to duty of care in residential aged care facilities with great interest, as I am currently making a submission to the Royal Commission. Can you tell me whether DofC also extends in criminal liability/charges for the corporation, or is it only workers that are charged with abuse etc.
    Thanks in advance for your advice on this important matter.
    Myfan Jordan

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