When most people hear the phrase “nursing home abuse,” they typically envision a nursing home resident who is being physically or emotionally abused by a staff member. Though this does happen in nursing homes across the U.S., another type of abuse is disturbingly just as common.

Resident-on-resident abuse occurs when one nursing home resident exhibits aggressive, harassing, and sometimes physically violent behavior toward another resident. For the abused resident, this situation can result in injuries, depression, anxiety, health deterioration, and a diminished quality of life.

Understanding Resident-on-Resident Abuse

A study cited by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) found that aides in nursing homes reported startlingly high levels of resident-on-resident abuse. That abuse included verbal, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

The study, which looked at nursing home resident behavior over a period of three months in 249 nursing homes across 10 states, found that:

  • 97% of nurse aides saw residents screaming at each other.
  • 94% of nurse aides reported residents pushing, grabbing, or pinching each other.
  • 91% of nurse aides witnessed aggressive behavior between residents.
  • 77% of nurse aides reported residents exposing their body parts to other residents.
  • 69% of nurse aides had to stop a resident from taking another resident’s possessions.

What Makes Resident-on-Resident Abuse More Likely

Abusive residents can be found in nearly any type of nursing home. However, a few factors make this type of abuse more likely to occur.

When you visit your loved one in their nursing home, look to see if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Is the nursing home understaffed?
  • Are there many patients with cognitive impairments?
  • Are there many patients with dementia?
  • Do patients with psychiatric disorders comingle with elderly patients?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should be on high alert for signs of resident-on-resident abuse, such as unexplained cuts and bruises or sudden changes in your loved one’s behavior or emotional state.

Liability for Nursing Home Abuse by Residents

If your loved one is abused by another resident in their nursing home, it may not always be possible to file a lawsuit against the abuser. This is especially true when the abuser suffers from dementia or another cognitive or psychiatric condition that could impact their ability to be held liable for their own actions. In addition, the abuser likely does not have the financial means to provide any compensation.

Thankfully, families have another option to get justice for their loved one.

A nursing home’s staff must be watchful of resident behavior and do everything possible to protect its residents from abuse, even from other residents in their care. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for the damages the abused resident has suffered. In these situations, the Michigan nursing home abuse lawyers at Fieger Law can help you file a claim against the negligent nursing home for failing in their most basic duty to protect your loved one.

Ensuring the Health of Your Loved Ones

If you know that your loved one has been assaulted by another resident, you have the right to call the authorities, inform the nursing home, and contact an attorney to seek damages. This will protect your loved one from further harm and help get compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.

If you’re unsure whether your loved one is being abused, you should consider reaching out to an experienced nursing home lawyer at Fieger Law. In a free consultation, they can listen to your suspicions, help you determine your next steps to get your loved one in a safer situation, and maximize your chances of getting compensation for your loved one should you decide to file a lawsuit.


The Michigan nursing home abuse lawyers at Fieger Law have protected the rights of injured nursing home residents for decades, and we know what it takes to win these claims.

If you or a loved one needs legal help, you have an ally at Fieger Law. Don’t pay the price for a nursing home’s negligence. Let us fight for you. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation.

Originally published September 27, 2021.