CA Supreme Court Rules Families Not Responsible for Caregivers Injuries

The California Supreme Court, in a divided opinion, ruled that Alzheimer patients and their families cannot be held liable for injuries caused to caregivers. The ruling is likely to make the market for workers compensation insurance for skilled nursing in California even more difficult. The ruling for Carolyn Gregory v. Lorraine Cott el al can be found here. Prior precedent held that institutionalized memory impaired patients could not be held liable for injuries inflicted this is the first ruling to hold the same standard to home care.

In 2008 the plaintiff was washing dishes in the defendants home, she had been hired as a home care aid in 2005. The defendant bumped into her from behind while she was washing a large knife, in an attempt to restrain the patient an injury occurred that left her without feeling in several of her fingers. The plaintiff care giverĀ was receiving workers compensation when she brought a claim for battery, negligence and premises liability against the elderly couple. The court dismissed all these allegations.

An important cost containing measure in workers compensation is subrogation, which allows the insurer to sue the outside party who was partially negligent. In this case, the home care company could have paid it’s employees workers compensation claim and then gone after the couple to reduce their costs. This cost saving strategy is going to be less fruitful going forward for nursing homes who provide home care duties.

The market for workers compensation on elder care providers continues to be troublesome countrywide, contact the advisors at to discuss strategies to contain (and even reduce) your insurance expenses and manage your total cost of risk.