Nursing Home Abuse
It's a difficult decision to put yourself or a loved one in a nursing home. Unfortunately, sometimes it's necessary. But, living in a long-term care facility doesn't need to be depressing or abusive. There are options if you or a family member have suffered from nursing home neglect.
FindLaw's Nursing Home Abuse section provides information and help for victims who have suffered harm. In this section, you can find articles on:
- How to pick a nursing home
- The legal rights of nursing home residents
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about nursing home abuse
Liability of Nursing Homes
Older adults may choose to move into nursing homes if they no longer feel self-sufficient. Others might need help due to disabilities. Unfortunately, they sometimes suffer physical abuse or emotional abuse at nursing homes. This may be because of the intentional harmful acts of their caregivers. Elder abuse at assisted living facilities can also happen due to nursing home negligence (carelessness). Nursing home staff and nursing home facility owners and operators may share the blame.
Many factors can contribute to the mistreatment of residents in different types of nursing home abuse cases. In negligence cases, a facility may fall below the standard of care set by law. That usually means the facility violated a duty to take reasonable steps in ensuring the safety of residents. Whether liability arises from carelessness or intentional behavior, some obvious signs of nursing home abuse are:
- Hiring unqualified or inadequately trained staff members (negligent hiring)
- Isolating residents to solitary environments (false imprisonment)
- Not having enough staff members to meet basic needs
Skilled nursing homes can also be liable for violating criminal statutes (laws). They may incur responsibility for government regulations about their maintenance, licensing, and general operation. More liability can arise from violating state laws and federal Medicare or Medicaid rules. Abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident can result in:
- An investigation by an adult protective services agency
- A civil lawsuit, which is a nursing home abuse lawsuit brought by a private party
- Criminal prosecution by government authorities
Various Claims for Nursing Home Abuse
Careless or malicious employees, understaffing, and confinement of residents are different issues. But they all result in typical symptoms from which nursing home residents suffer. Neglect and abuse can reveal themselves physically, emotionally, and financially.
Elderly residents with subpar health care might suffer from malnutrition. They might have pressure ulcers or bedsores on their bodies. In cases with serious injuries, there may even be broken bones. More examples include:
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Medical malpractice (improperly rendered medical treatment)
- Wrongful death (death caused by a facility's wrongful acts)
A sudden case of weight loss might make it easy to spot a victim of abuse. But not all warning signs of neglect are outwardly clear. For example, even skilled staffing can still make medication errors that take years to unravel. Sometimes, in cases involving emotional abuse, elderly residents might be afraid to speak up. In these situations, a patient's medical records might contain important disclaimers that tell a hidden story.
Damages in a Civil Lawsuit
A person deciding to take legal action against a nursing home must put forth good evidence. That includes solid proof of suffering or losses due to the nursing home's conduct. Some legal claims for damages that a plaintiff may assert are:
- Necessary and reasonable medical expenses
- Actual past expenses for medical care (medical bills)
- Current and future pain and suffering from physical injuries
- Mental suffering and anguish
- Past and future impairment of the ability to enjoy life
In cases where a plaintiff can show that the nursing provider engaged in malicious or reckless conduct, punitive damages may be available. Also known as exemplary damages, these are separate from financial compensation that makes the plaintiff whole for their losses. Punitive damages punish and deter shocking behavior.
A wrongful death action may ensue if a person dies due to abuse or neglect in a nursing home. In these cases, survivors, heirs, or dependents can recover damages. A resident's survivors may bring damage claims for:
- Mental anguish and grief
- Loss of relationship (consortium)
- Loss of parental advice and guidance
The damages that a survivor seeks can also include funeral and burial expenses.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or abuse as a resident, speak to a nursing home abuse lawyer. Nursing home lawyers or elder facility neglect lawyers are specific kinds of personal injury attorneys with skills to deal with these difficult situations. Nursing home abuse attorneys may offer free case evaluations to get the legal help you need.
An experienced attorney can get you financial compensation. You must contact an attorney when you discover the injury or abuse. There are time limits (statutes of limitations) for filing a lawsuit for nursing home injuries. If you don't file a case quickly, you may be unable to file your claim.
Learn About Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing Home Abuse Articles
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