Visitor Question

Broken Elbow While Attending Rehab…

Submitted By: Nicole (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

My son is a minor and is currently attending an inpatient drug rehab program. He got very upset about something and a staff member rushed at him to get him to calm down. That’s when my son broke his elbow.

I’m not sure of the exact circumstances surrounding my son’s outburst, but I’m wondering if I can sue the rehab center for my son’s medical bills? Is there any other action I should take? I’m very upset that he broke his arm while at a place where he was supposed to be getting cared for.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Nicole,

Before you can consider any action, legal or otherwise, against the rehabilitation center you will need to have a full and detailed understanding of what precipitated the employee’s “charge” against your son. You mention your son was “very upset about something”.

There is nothing wrong with that. Most rehabilitation centers take away many of the rights and decisions a patient might normally make outside the rehabilitation center. That action, compounded by the process of drug (including alcohol) withdrawal, evokes different attitudes from patient to patient. Some get depressed and go inward, some not so.

Others, like your son, may tend to suddenly channel their frustration into outbursts. Any qualified and experienced rehabilitation center understands the processes outlined above. As a result they are usually prepared for such eventualities by their patients.

The only time rehabilitation employees are supposed to “touch” a patient is:

– With the competent consent of a patient

– When a patient is incapable of realizing an imminent danger

– When a patent’s actions can reasonably be construed as aggressive, and the employee has a good faith belief the patient is about to cause harm to himself or others.

And even then, the employee’s actions must be proportionate and appropriate to address the specific action.

If you can acquire witness statements which make clear the employee’s actions were inappropriate and unnecessarily aggressive toward your son, then you may have the beginning a legal claim against the rehabilitation center.

Without credible evidence your case (on your son’s behalf) will not have enough “legal energy” to continue.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 5, 2012

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