If something happens to my parents while I'm at work can I be sued?


My father has dementia and my mother has to use a walker. We have no other relatives who live in this area. I do not live with them but am close by. I am their transport to and from anywhere they need to go. I was told by someone that if something should happen to one of my parents while I am at work that I can be sued for negligence. Is this true?

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CatLady, I also tried to get my Dad to subscribe to one of those life alert pendent services.... Dad would do work in his backyard and tumble over and not be able to get back up. Of course he told my Mom he was going outside so she could watch from the house. Earth to Dad, Mom was legally blind and she couldn't hear... [sigh]. Even his primary doctor mentioned the pendent... nope, zilch, nada.

Usually what most of us here do, we wait for a crises or two or three where a parent needs to go into ER and have a hospital stay. Usually something like that will finally convince them changes need to be made.

Sadly with my parents, Mom had a really bad fall at home and spent her final months in long-term-care. The day she went in was the day that my Dad surprisingly asked me to call the caregiver service. Then 2 weeks after she passed, Dad was ready to move out of the house into senior living. So it was my Mom who had a moot around the house not allowing anyone in.
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Thank all of you for the information.

JeanneGibbs, Yes I am more involved in his care than just transportation. I do go in to each of his doctor's appointments. I never thought of a daycare. I will look into it. He is not so bad as to require a facility but we know that day is coming. He still knows and refuses to discuss it.

Moecam, I hadn't thought about her wanting my job. She might have wanted to get the position for someone she knows. Well the jokes on her. The company did some reorganization and that position was eliminated. Due to my seniority, they had to find me another position.

GardenArtist, We have removed throw rugs, installed grab bars, etc. I had not thought about the pendants. I see the commercials but never really paid attention. I will look into them.

Babalou, Yes I do have power of attorney and no we do not live in a state with filial laws. That gave me something to occupy my time and mind with other research. : )

freqflyer, I get the turning a blind eye to things. My dad does that quite a bit. I think I will talk to my mom and then try the fib with my dad. She is ready to move! He is fighting it. Who knows it might work. At this stage I can only hope.

Thank you for helping to put my mind at ease.
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CatLady, I ran into the same worry about my own late parents [in their 90's] as they had refused caregivers or to want to move to someplace safer as their house had a lot of stairs... both were fall risks, Dad could only use his cane inside the house as my Mom didn't want his walker making tracks in the carpeting.... [sigh]. Also was an only child, and I was my parents wheels.

I got so frustrated with my parents because they were in denial of their age and ability, but both were still fairly sharp so I couldn't do anything except give suggestions that they turned a blind eye to.

One day I told Dad a therapeutic fib, saying that I could get arrested for neglect unless he and Mom did something, like allow caregivers into the house or move to someplace safer. So what did my Dad say "don't worry, I will hire a good attorney to defend you" :P So that back fired, I was hoping he would talk to Mom about getting caregivers or about moving... oh well.
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Babalou, I think you're right. Perhaps she's confused between civil and criminal action, as a charge of neglect would be the latter and wouldn't be the subject of a civil suit.
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Perhaps what she meant was that you might be held liable for neglect. Do you hold power of attorney for either parent? Do you live in a state with filial responsibilty laws?
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Another thought - if the woman who "warned" you isn't an attorney with personal injury litigation experience, I'd "consider the source" and ask her what (a) her specific foundation for drawing such a conclusion is and (b) what specific statutory and case law does she rely on.
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CatLady, I would pose this question as to whether or not you "can be sued for negligence:"

Who would have standing to sue you? Who would be injured, in other words? Your father or mother, if injured,would have standing, but there are a lot of issues with your alleged negligence and liability, as well as the fact that you're a daughter and I rather doubt that unless there was gross negligence, that your parents would sue their own daughter.

The other issue is what would the damages be? E.g., if your mother falls while using her walker, how would you specifically be liable? Perhaps leaving her while you're working, and not making arrangements for assistance, for physical therapy, not removing fall hazards...could be considered negligence, but given that your mother's balance is already an issue b/c she's using a walker, apportioning your role would be a real challenge for a jury.

When I read that a poster "was told", "has heard", or that "someone" said a...z, I always wonder who these anonymous advisers are and what qualifications they have to make such statements of alleged legal liability. Frankly, there are people who don't know anything about law who are advising other people, and this is unfortunate.

What I would focus on instead is creating protective mechanisms for your parents, such as considering in-home care while you're gone, getting medical alert pendants, clearing pathways of obstructions, etc.
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Look what definition of 'negligence' is legally but from the sound of it you are doing a lot already so that wouldn't come into effect - I doubt there is any law that says you should quit a job that you need to support yourself to take care of parents - we take care of our parents out of love but we are not legally obliged to support them like we must with our children

Who told you this? maybe some who is after your job if you leave? or someone who likes to spread unhappiness & worry?
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Caring for a spouse with dementia is an exceedingly difficult role. Your mom is doing all she used to do in running the household, all your father used to do, and the whole new set of tasks involved in caregiving. All the while she is grieving his decline. Yikes! Sometimes I wonder how any of us do it!

You are being are very thoughtful daughter to help out with the transportation. I assume that you also need to support yourself. You can't give up your job and be with them all day (which is generally not a good idea in any case). But perhaps it is time for you to get a little more involved in your father's care, for your mother's sake. I don't necessarily mean doing hands-on things, but looking into what is needed and how it could be arranged. As an example, it helped me immensely when my husband attended an adult day health program for a few hours a day. The van picked him up and brought him home. Now your father may be too sick for that, I don't know, but that is the kind of thing I am thinking of. I certainly hope your mother is not also trying to keep their house clean. A person can be hired to do that. If it is hard to get Dad bathed, the doctor can order a bath aide for him. These are the kinds of things you can research.

Work with your mother to make sure you have access to their medical information. Next time you take Dad to an appointment, go in with him and hear what the doctor has to say.

It may come to the point where Dad's disease is more than Mom can cope with at home. Then you can help her locate a suitable care center, and perhaps help her arrange the finances.

I know that none of this has to do with liability for being sued. Somehow I doubt that is a serious risk.

But knowing what this is like from the spouse perspective I hope you don't assume that because her mind is still sharp and that she doesn't complain or ask for more than transportation that Mom is doing just fine. There are ways you can help them both, without giving up your job or your life.
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My father is getting bad however my mother's mind is sharp as a tack. There has been no discussion with anyone that they need 24 hour care. I had no choice in the driving because I am their only child and live close by.

She did not say who would; only that I needed to be aware.
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