California: In-Home Caregivers May Not Sue Unruly Alzheimer’s Patients in Tort; Sole Remedy is Workers’ Compensation

California: In-Home Caregivers May Not Sue Unruly Alzheimer’s Patients in Tort; Sole Remedy is Workers’ Compensation

The Supreme Court of California, in a split decision, held that in-home caregivers may not maintain civil actions against their Alzheimer’s patients if, because of the sometimes unruly nature of the patients, the caregiver is assaulted and injured in the course of the employment.  Acknowledging that the rule already applied to limit institutional caregivers who were injured by Alzheimer’s patients, the divided court applied the same sort of legal theory used to bar veterinarians (or their employees) from pursuing civil actions against dog owners where the vet or employee is bitten by the canine.  Noting further that the veterinarian rule had its origins in the so-called, firefighter’s rule, the majority said it was well settled that no duty is owed to protect firefighters or veterinarians from the very dangers they are hired to confront.  The majority also stressed that its ruling was consistent with the strong public policy against confining the disabled in institutions; if liability were imposed for caregiver injuries in private homes, but not in hospitals or nursing homes, the incentive for families to institutionalize Alzheimer’s sufferers would increase. Workers’ compensation, not tort recovery, is the appropriate means of compensating hired caregivers for injuries caused by Alzheimer’s patients, said the majority.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Gregory v. Cott, 2014 Cal. LEXIS 5460 (Aug. 4, 2014) [2014 Cal. LEXIS 5460 (Aug. 4, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 110.08 [110.08]

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see http://www.workcompwriter.com/divided-california-supreme-court-says-in-home-caregivers-may-not-sue-alzheimers-patients-for-injuries/

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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