We are turning back to our Aug. 28 post about Alzheimer's disease and a recent California Supreme Court decision. No, the decision is not binding here in New York. However, when state high courts, including the New York Court of Appeals, are faced with a new issue, they may look to one another for guidance. So, as we continue, ask yourself if you think this case would play out the same way here.
When we left off, we were talking about the difficult decisions a family must make when a loved one is stricken with Alzheimer's. A friend of ours tried caring for his mother in his home during the early stages of Alzheimer's, including "the angry phase." As the disease progressed, though, our friend realized that she needed more attention than the family could give her. He moved his mother to a full-time memory care facility near his house. She spent the last 10 years of her life there.
Not every family makes that choice, though, for any number of reasons. Some families hire caregivers to come into their home to help with day-to-day tasks that many Alzheimer's patients cannot handle on their own. Caregivers may also just keep track of the patient, making sure that he or she does not leave the burner on or wander off.
We all know, though, that inviting a person into your home may open you to liability if something were to go wrong. For example, if we don't shovel our front walk and a friend falls and breaks an ankle, we look to our homeowners insurance to help with the expenses.
When we hire a self-employed plumber or electrician, we make sure they are insured. Their jobs can be dangerous, and they should protect themselves.
But say you are the employer of a caregiver -- a nanny or a nurse to help with an elderly member of the household. Are you liable for anything that happens to that person?
A few years ago, the defendants in the California case were asking themselves the very same question. We'll explain more in our next post.
Source: Huffington Post, "Legal Liability for Injuries to a Caregiver Caused by an Alzheimer's Patient," Brad Reid