When you are admitted to the hospital, the facility assumes the duty to keep you safe, including safe from physical harm. Many people in the hospital are physically unable to protect themselves from an assault. Unfortunately, this means that some sexual predators choose hospitals as a place to prey on victims. But who bears liability when a hospital patient becomes the victim of a sexual assault?

The Hospital’s Duty

Hospitals have a duty to ensure a safe environment for their patients. This is why most hospitals employ security as well as limit and control who enters the facility. Unfortunately, many sexual assaults in hospitals are not committed by people wandering in off the street, but instead by the hospital’s own medical staff. Staffers predisposed to committing sexual assaults may abuse their position to have access to victims who are unable to resist sexual assault.

In addition, some hospitals fail to stop or even condone the practice of nursing or medical students performing exams on sedated patients for the purpose of “practice.” These may include exams of the pelvic area, genitalia, or breasts. However, any exam performed on your intimate areas without your consent constitutes sexual assault. 

Liability for Sexual Assault in the Hospital

A hospital may have liability for a sexual assault that occurs on its premises under one of several legal theories:

  • Negligent hiring or supervision - A hospital can be liable for a sexual assault that is committed by one of its employees under a theory of negligent hiring or negligent supervision. A negligent hiring claim may arise if the hospital failed to conduct a reasonable background check that would have revealed information about a prospective staffer that would indicate they posed a risk of sexually assaulting someone (such as a prior sexual assault conviction). A negligent supervision claim may arise where an assault was facilitated by the hospital’s failure to have appropriate policies and resources to monitor patient-staff interactions. 
  • Failure to protect from dangerous patients - Some sexual assaults are committed by fellow patients in the hospital. The hospital may have liability if it knew that a patient posed a risk of committing a sexual assault and failed to monitor or guard that patient. 
  • Negligent security - Finally, hospitals may have liability for negligent or inadequate security which is a factor that leads to an assault. Negligent security may take the form of insufficient numbers of security personnel, inadequate training of personnel, or lack of security cameras or locks. 

What Are Your Rights If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted in the Hospital?

If you were sexually assaulted in the hospital, you may be entitled to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. Your claim may take the form of an assault and battery claim, a premises liability claim if you were assaulted due to negligent security, or a medical malpractice claim if your assault occurred due to negligent care (including the failure to obtain consent to a procedure). A personal injury claim may allow you to recover compensation for:

  • Costs of medical care to treat injuries caused by the assault, as well as costs of mental health therapy if needed
  • Loss of wages or income if you miss time from work or are permanently disabled from employment due to physical or mental injuries caused by the abuse
  • Physical pain from injuries
  • Emotional trauma and distress
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Hospital Assault Case in New Jersey

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Rochelle Park hospital assault attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Mahwah, Paramus, Ridgewood, and Newark. Call us today at (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park, NJ 07762.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.