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Aug 8, 2014 |

PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL SHOOTING RAISES ISSUE OF PREMISES LIABILITY

Aug 8, 2014 - Premises Liability

Last July, a patient at a Pennsylvania hospital unexpectedly flew into a rant about guns being banned at the facility before opening fire on his caseworker and wounding his psychiatrist. During the exchange, the psychiatrist was able to access his own firearm and stopped the shooter by firing back and injuring him. The defendant was then taken to the ground and apprehended. Additional ammunition was found in the defendant’s possession.

This incident follows another situation that happened at a Utah hospital back in May. In that case, a man who had been turned away from the emergency room earlier returned and brandished two handguns before being shot and wounded by visiting parole officers.

Although the shootings made sensational headlines, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that hospital staff are some of the most likely workers to become victims of workplace violence. Security consultants throughout the medical industry also agree with that assessment. According to them, people working in emergency rooms or mental health units need to have a plan and be ready to react to a variety of threats. That’s because hospital shootings occur several times each year and typically involve so-called mercy killings or disgruntled family members attacking doctors using firearms.

The basic concept behind premises liability law is simple. Customers have a right not to be injured when visiting grocery stores, shopping malls, retail stores and other similar locations. Alternatively, business owners and landlords have a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent dangerous property conditions. Things like inadequate security, inadequate lighting and lack of repair are examples in which a property owner might incur premises liability.

Pennsylvania residents harmed as a result of hazardous conditions like icy sidewalks and poor lighting may be able to recover compensation for their injuries and other related costs through civil litigation. A timely and well prepared lawsuit may be the first step on the road back to recovery.

Source: Healthcare Dive, “Active shooters and other violence: How hospitals should prepare” Judy Packer-Tursman, Aug. 05, 2014

Drake, Hileman & Davis

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