How Does a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Work?
More than 2 million cases of elder abuse are reported every single year, and one in every ten elderly individuals will suffer from some form of elder abuse. Sadly, many of these cases of abuse occur in nursing homes.
Finding out that your loved one has been suffering abuse or neglect by the very people you entrusted to care for them is a painful realization. During this time, emotions may be running high. You may be struggling to properly care for your injured loved one while seeking to hold the negligent and abusive party responsible for their actions.
Victims of nursing home abuse and their families can face a difficult road when choosing to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. This can be a complicated process without an experienced attorney on your side. Defendants looking to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit or a malpractice lawsuit often face an uphill battle proving negligence. Fortunately, the legal process can be made simpler by retaining the services of a law firm with the experience and resources necessary to win these complex cases.
Before You Begin the Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Process
Before you seek to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit against the wrongful facility or abusive individual, keep in mind these things:
- Who Can File: Only certain people are allowed to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. This includes the person that was hurt or abused, the legal guardian of the person abused, and/or the personal representative of the estate of the person that was abused.
- Timing of Lawsuit: You only have 2 years from the time you discovered the abuse to file a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations and if you miss this deadline, you could be prevented from filing a lawsuit. It is important to remember to speak to an experienced injury attorney, even if you believe that you have missed the deadline. There are circumstances that may still allow you the ability to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
- Proving Abuse: Just having a “hunch” that your loved one is being abused or neglected is not enough to file a lawsuit and win. You must prove that the abuse occurred. This requires evidence, such as photographs, emails, nursing home logs, medical records, and eyewitness testimony.
Starting the Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Process
- Pick an Attorney: To begin a nursing home abuse and neglect case, you must first contact an experienced law firm with experience representing defendants in nursing home abuse cases. You need a law firm with a proven track record of holding wrongful facilities and abusive, negligent caregivers responsible for their actions.
- Gathering the Information: Your attorney will then begin to gather the facts about your case, including your loved one’s medical history and medical records.
- Filing the Case: Once the necessary information is gathered, your attorney will file your case in court and the nursing home and other defendants named in the lawsuit will be served. It is important that the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations.
- Conducting Discovery: Once your lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will then begin to conduct aggressive pre-trial preparations. This is done through a process known as discovery. Discovery often consists of depositions, interviewing medical experts, compiling evidence of the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect, and conducting interviews of eyewitnesses.
- Case Resolution: At any step along the way, your case could be resolved. A resolution can be reached through trial, mediation, settlement arbitration, or an administrative settlement. Your lawyer will be with you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and that the abusive party is held accountable for their actions.
Difference between Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing Home Abuse: There is a difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect cases. Nursing home abuse occurs when a caregiver or employee intentionally inflicts harm on the nursing home resident. Since nursing home residents are often elderly or disabled, they are unable to defend themselves or even report the abuse.
Types of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
Nursing Home Neglect: Nursing home neglect occurs when a caregiver or employee fails to provide adequate care. This neglect can lead to serious illnesses and complications, including bed sores, dehydration, depression, and malnutrition.
Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Failure to assist resident with eating or drinking
- Failure to assist resident in going to the bathroom
- Failure to assist resident with physical therapy
- Failure to assist resident with mobilization
- Failure to bathe resident
- Failure to move or reposition immobilized residents
- Failure to respond to calls or requests for assistance
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Not all nursing home abuse and neglect injuries are severe and they can be overlooked at first by loved ones and even other staff members. Some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include, but are not limited to:
- Bed sores
- Signs of dehydration, including dry mouth, low urine output, lethargy, and confusion
- Signs of malnutrition, including rapid weight loss, water-electrolyte imbalance, muscle wasting
- Repeated fractures
- Repeated infections
- Rapid weight loss
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Numerous injuries at various stages of healing
- Unusual or sudden changes in behavior
- Severe depression or acting withdrawn
- Frequent infections
- Restraint marks
- Heavy medication or sedation
If you notice any of these signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is important to speak to your loved one as soon as possible. Always speak to them in private and not in the presence of staff members. Encourage them to discuss their injuries and how they obtained them. Review medical records and discuss their injuries with multiple staff members and doctors. Don’t be afraid to be a strong advocate for your loved one and speak up if you believe that something is wrong. Nursing home administrators should be contacted immediately and if you suspect imminent danger, you should contact the police.Back to the Blog