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Wandering Off, Elopement from Nursing Homes

NJ Nursing Homes Are Liable for Injuries to Residents Who Wander Off

Our lawyer-doctor fights for justice in nursing home neglect cases

Nursing home residents usually have some impairment that keeps them from living independently or under the care of family members. Physical frailty, cognitive decline, dementia, emotional problems and mental illness are common among patients in a typical nursing home. For this reason, the nursing home has a duty to make sure its residents remain on its property and under appropriate supervision.

Seigel Law opened our doors in 1976 with the sole purpose of representing injured clients in the communities of Ridgewood, Hackensack, Fair Lawn, Teaneck, Garfield, Fort Lee, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth and Clifton. We advocate for justice for the vulnerable victims of nursing home injuries. Our lawyers take immediate steps to ensure your loved one’s safety, and then assertively pursue compensation for the injuries your relative sustained after wandering off.

What is wandering off and elopement?

Wandering typically refers to the aimless movements of a person with cognitive impairments inside the facility, but often outside an area considered safe. Elopement involves leaving the safe confines of the nursing home. An eloper may purposefully vacate the premises, without appreciation for the dangers of doing so.

Nursing home elopement safeguards

Approximately 10 percent of nursing home claims are related to elopement, with 45 percent of these elopements occurring within the initial 48 hours of admission and 70 percent resulting in the resident’s death. In common cases, residents were exposed to assaults, falls down stairs, tumbles into water bodies, pedestrian traffic accidents and other dangerous situations outside the direct supervision of the nursing home personnel.

When you admit your loved one into a nursing home, you expect the facility to protect the person. At the core of this duty is keeping the residents in safe areas of the home and in the confines of the facility itself. Failure to do so is negligence. Nursing homes have a variety of resources at their disposal to prevent residents from being put in harm’s way, including:

  • Assessing at-risk patients and more closely monitoring them
  • Installing supervised cameras in non-private areas of the facility and especially at exit doors
  • Rigging audible alarms at exit doors and windows
  • Installing locks to prevent ingress to dangerous areas of the building
  • Implementing a counting system to quickly react when a resident is missing
  • Keeping regular tabs on residents, particularly those with an increased likelihood for elopement — such as a patient suffering from dementia

Long-term care facilities are not permitted to use physical or chemical restraints to prevent their residents from eloping or wandering off. Use of such devices may be considered abusive and subject to criminal sanctions and civil claims.

Protect your family member from nursing home neglect

Seigel Law advocates for the rights of nursing home residents throughout northern New Jersey. Call our medical malpractice attorneys at 201.444.4000 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation with our lawyer-doctor. We make appointments at our Ridgewood office, in your home or at the long-term care facility if your caretaker duties or injuries keep you from coming to our office. Through our contingency arrangement, you are not responsible for paying lawyer fees unless we recover damages through settlement or verdict.

  • $7,900,000

    Recovery on behalf of the 16-year-old girl injured by electrical malfunction

  • $8,000,000

    Jury verdict in a catastrophic injury case

  • $1,100,000

    Settlement for a fractured arm in Passaic County

  • $4,775,000

    Settlement for a woman in Bergen County injured in a trucking accident

Meet Our Attorneys

  • (95 Reviews)

    By Teresa R Perez - January, 2018

    I have had a great experience thus far. The personal injury process is stressful and they have been helpful and courteous in getting me the right referrals. I was injured while visiting NJ and live in another state, my case is not an easy one but they are working diligently to help. I appreciate the personalized attention and highly recommend this firm.

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  • (95 Reviews)

    By Miriam Smith-Leone - December, 2017

    The law office was great with my back and neck injury. They directed me to the right doctors and got me a huge settlement. Being a single mom, it help pay off all my debt and bills. Me and my kids can have a bill free christmas, with plenty of food and happiness, stress free. They are the best ever and I would highly recommend them to anyone rich or poor, who has been in an accident and need legal help...

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  • (95 Reviews)

    By L C - October, 2017

    After the misfortune of suffering an injury, I had the good fortune to choose Seigel Law to represent me. During my initial meeting with Jan Seigel, I found him to be extremely confident and reassuring---he totally put me at ease. I was represented by Mark Mc Bratney---an EXCELLENT attorney. He was supportive and professional through the entire process, and provided an excellent outcome for my case.

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  • (95 Reviews)

    By Liliana Paredes - October, 2017

    Honest, trustworthy and very straight forward. In unvarnished truth Jonas Siegel will tell you exactly where you stand and what direction you should go. Jonas has tenacity coupled with a degree of tenderness, but never losing site of the end goal, which is to protect, defend and have the best outcome for his clients. I defenetly recoment this law firm. Thanks for helping me out in my case.

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  • (95 Reviews)

    By Oren Goldshmidt - September, 2017

    I'd like to thank everyone at segal law for the amazing experience they provided me. From the moment I stepped in to the end of the case , segal and his team delivered exactly what they promised. I couldn't have received any better treatment from a law firm. Any concerns, questions or problems I had were addressed and dealt with accordingly...

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What we offer our clients


Personal injury and medical knowledge

Our knowledgeable team of personal injury lawyers includes a medical doctor who advises on complex medical topics


One-on-one attorney attention

By maintaining a limited number of cases, our attorneys can provide personalized attention to each client we serve


Results-oriented strategies

Our lawyers have won numerous high verdicts and settlements, many in the high six- and seven-figure range, for our injured clients


Trial experience

Every trial attorney in our firm is a certified trial attorney by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Communication as a priority

We understand how important communication is to a successful attorney-client relationship, we return calls within 24 hours


Community involvement

Our lawyers and staff are active in community outreach and community service programs

  • "The lawyers at Seigel Law know how to get you the results you want. Jan Seigel and His team returned every one of my phone calls, listened to me and worked with me to a desirable outcome. Seigel Law definitely goes above and beyond to protect the injured." - B.M.

  • "After my car accident, my life turned into a disaster. Dealing with everything became impossible. Jan Seigel and his people helped me with every aspect of my injuries and the insurance companies so I could focus on healing. They helped me through everything and they got me what I was due." - M.P.

  • "I found the personnel to be very efficient, and work very quickly. I'm happy that I was referred to this firm, because I found that I was very comfortable working with them." - F.V.

  • "Amazing. I have to say they were very supportive and were able to give me tons of information. I didn't feel rushed and felt they truly cared about my well-being. Their website is also extremely helpful and well setup." - T.D.

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