A family member lives rent-free in exchange for providing basic care to an elderly woman with dementia (feeding dinner, administering medicine, making sure the person doesn't fall). He is not a licensed caregiver. The family has shown little concern as she deteriorates, telling him they will not hold him responsible when she dies. Does he have any legal protection in case the family tries to hold him responsible for the woman's death?
ou posted this to "Health Care" but it is really a "Labor Law" or "Elder Care" question, but I haven't changed it to either of those 2 categories b/c you may not be asking about either of those 2 areas.
For "elder law", you are not asking about Probate Code 21350 (if/when the elderly Care Receiver leaves a bequest to your family member in appreciation of what has been done for her). The Probate Code defines what is a "Care Giver". As the elderly Care Receiver declines, more and more of the issues may become 'elderly' or 'labor law' rather than "health" ~ since your family member is NOT a licensed Care-Something.
People sue other people all the time. I do not know of any protective statute re: causation of death: like a personal injury case, a death analysis would involve actual and proximate cause. So regarding your inquiry about the "feeding" task, please know that recently a longtime Client told me that her husband died from choking on the holiday meal she had cooked, and her Heimlich maneuver was ineffective: he died in 2 minutes. Was she responsible? Was his death caused by her cooking? No. By the Heimlich? No. But she needed much counselling to understand ~ at the human level. That was NOT a 'legal case'.
If anyone comes after your own family member later, consult a Labor Law Attorney who represents the "employee" ~ and until then, have your family member keep a daily record of what was done and when plus his/her own payment record, hopefully with independent third party documentation.
If your family member is truly working 'off the books', then there are many, MANY deeper legal issues, so that your family member might do better working for a care agency as a bondable, fingerprinted Employee, rather than this situation, where s/he could be accused of theft, et al.......
I guess my point is 'being sued for the Care Receiver's death" is not the Only Foreseeable potential harm.
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Re-classified under Employment, since it's your friend who has the claims for not being treated and compensated as an employee.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments.
Generally an employee cannot be held liable for their own negligent acts that cause damage to the employer. However that rule is usually applied to money losses. If your friend is engaging in any kind of activity that should be performed by a professional, i.e., a home heath care nurse, doctor, etc., there could be both criminal and civil exposure.
Good luck to you and to your friend.
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