Nursing Home Abuse Case Basics
The decision to place an elderly loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility is never easy. As we watch our parents grow older, it can often bring up deep emotions for both the beloved parent and the child who is witnessing the transition. While most caretakers have your loved one’s best interests at heart, the fact is that nursing home abuse does happen.
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect has happened to your elderly loved one, here is some basic information regarding nursing home abuse laws, including cases and lawsuits. Remember, if you believe an elderly victim is in immediate danger, they should be removed from the nursing home facility as soon as possible by contacting your local authorities or adult protective services (APS) right away.
Laws Governing Nursing Homes
Nursing homes throughout the United States are regulated by a number of different statutes, laws, and regulations. It can often be confusing to understand which laws come into play and which agencies are responsible for helping you with your nursing home abuse case. Federal and state laws require nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to abide by a certain standard of care and also that such facilities comply with a "Residents Bill of Rights." This bill or rights outlines residents’ right to be treated with respect; to receive proper medical care; and the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion. Here are just a few of the laws that may help protect your loved one:
- Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA)
- Social Security Act (Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities)
- Older Americans Act
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- State Adult Protective Services (Where to report abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation)
- State Elder Abuse Laws
Possible Legal Claims Against a Nursing Home
There are a number of civil claims you may be able to pursue against a nursing home or skilled nursing facility. These include negligence, wrongful death, medical malpractice, breach of contract, just to name a few. Keep in mind, while criminal cases against nursing homes are brought by the district attorney in your jurisdiction on behalf of the elderly victim, civil lawsuits are a bit different. You may be entitled to bring the lawsuit on your loved one’s behalf, but will likely need a power of attorney (POA) or declaration of guardianship over the victim. While this can get complicated, it is best to consult an attorney before attempting to file a lawsuit.
Stages of a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Filing a nursing home abuse case can be tricky. It is different than a criminal case, which is meant to criminally punish those who are at fault for the abuse. Your civil nursing home abuse lawsuit is meant to provide some financial compensation for you or your loved one’s losses.
First, an act of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or sadly wrongful death of an older person must have occurred because of a nursing home staff member. Next, the incident should be reported to law enforcement or APS to begin an investigation. Once the investigation occurs, you will need to begin the process of reviewing all the evidence and facts surrounding the incident and bring on an expert to review any documentation you receive from the nursing home such as medical reports. Your attorney can help you in this process and also use the correct procedures to file a lawsuit against the nursing home or their parent company. As with any lawsuit, there will be a period of settlement negotiations to determine whether the parties can come to an agreement short of a jury trial. Finally, there is the trial or settlement stage.
Nursing Home Abuse Case Basics: Related Resources
Have Attorney Evaluate Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim for Free
If you or someone you love is experiencing the pain and suffering caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, you don’t have to decipher the law on your own. Speaking with a qualified attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases may help you decide what your next step should be and how to initiate a lawsuit. You can get started today with a free legal evaluation of your situation.