Families feel disgusted, embarrassed, and shocked when they learn one of their loved ones has suffered, or is suffering, abuse while living in a nursing home. Many want their abusers to pay for their actions, but they are unsure how to proceed. To hold negligent parties accountable, families often find a nursing home abuse lawsuit to be the best way to get justice for their loved one.
A nursing home abuse lawsuit is separate from any criminal action taken against the person(s) responsible for abuse or neglect. This civil case will help the family recover compensation for the suffering of their loved one, including expenses related to the abuse or neglect. In this article, the team at Fight Nursing Home Abuse provides information about lawsuits and the process for pursuing justice.
What is a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
A nursing home abuse lawsuit is a legal claim filed by one party against another. Most often, the plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit) is a victim or a victim’s family member. The defendant may be the nursing home, a staff member, another resident, or some other person.
The goal of a lawsuit is to compensate the victim and their loved ones for the trauma, pain, injuries, and financial losses associated with abuse or neglect. Sometimes, a case can be negotiated and settled without going to court. There are, of course, cases that do require a trial for resolution.
A nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit can help the victim and their family recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental health therapy
- Costs of moving to a different facility
- Cost of a loved one quitting work to care for the victim
Facts about Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Lawsuits
- Most victims and/or families seek compensation through civil lawsuits. However, sometimes restitution can also be awarded during criminal trials.
- The claims made in a lawsuit do not have to involve an illegal act. They can also include civil wrongs.
- Many abuse or neglect claims are applicable for both civil and criminal actions.
- Abuse and neglect can occur at an assisted living facility, nursing home, hospital, rehabilitation center, or any long term care facility.
How Do I File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
Once you have decided to pursue a lawsuit, you will need to work closely with a nursing home abuse lawyer. Nursing home abuse claims are intricate. In addition to complex laws, dealing with victims who are unable to talk about the abuse or no longer remember what they experienced, make these cases challenging. Your very first step is retaining the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer that knows the law and how to verify facts before moving forward with a lawsuit.
Understand that Nursing Home Residents Have Rights
Federal laws grant nursing home residents protected rights, under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. Nursing homes also are bound by related requirements outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Failure to follow any of the requirements, which include providing residents with a home that is free of restraints, neglect, and abuse, can make nursing homes ineligible for Medicaid and Medicare payments.
Once you learn about the physical, mental, sexual, or financial abuse, document whatever you can. Get copies of medical and incident reports, save copies of financial documents, and if possible, take images of anything that would prove your loved one is suffering from abuse. The more information you have to support your claim, the better your chances of securing justice for your loved one.
Though we know that your loved one may not be comfortable talking about the abuse or may not be able to articulate it clearly due to age or medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, try and get some information from them.
A Lawyer Conducts an Investigation
Once you have retained representation, the lawyer will investigate to verify the facts. This process can take some time as your legal team thoroughly investigates all aspects of the potential abuse or neglect. The investigation may include:
- Speaking with your loved one
- Talking to other residents
- Reviewing photos, videos, and other footage
- Analyzing medical records
After reviewing all this evidence, the lawyer will determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward with a lawsuit. A skilled lawyer will know how to conduct a thorough investigation without catching the attention of the nursing home’s staff or administration. Stories can change, and evidence can get lost when parties fear they are under investigation.
Determine Who is Liable
Anyone who participates in the abuse or is aware of it but fails to act may be legally liable for injuries. Those who may be listed as defendants include:
- Owners and operators of nursing homes
- Supervisors aware of the abuse or those involved in managing and hiring employees who participate in the abuse
- Employees or staff member who perpetrate abuse or neglect
- Other residents who are involved or are responsible for the abuse or neglect
- Caregivers who come into the facility to provide care
- Family members
An unfortunate reality is that there are many different perpetrators of abuse and neglect. While none of us want to consider that a caregiver, staff member, or especially a family member could be responsible – anything is possible.
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home
If the lawyer verifies that the evidence shows abuse, a nursing home abuse lawsuit will be filed against the facility. The lawsuit will identify the claims being made against the nursing home, and it also establishes the legal basis for the filing. The legal foundation for the lawsuit includes whatever facts and evidence the lawyer collected. Once it is filed, the lawsuit will be served to the nursing home.
Filing a Lawsuit Depends on the State
The process to file a lawsuit depends on the state in which the nursing home abuse took place. Talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer about the steps you need to take in your home state. Generally, the plaintiff must file a Complaint, and the defendant will file an Answer. Both parties will participate in discovery, in which each side may request information and documents from the other side. During discovery, the parties may participate in depositions or fill out answers to interrogatories. Each side may also file motions asking the Court to take specific actions.
In some cases, the Court may order mediation, but some cases will end up at trial. The exact process for your lawsuit will depend on where you live and the details of your case. What is most important is that you have a legal team on your side that can help navigate the process and find the best options possible for resolution.
The 4 Things a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Must Prove
To file a lawsuit against a nursing home for abuse or neglect, it must prove your loved one was harmed due to negligence. The case must establish the following four requirements: the duty of care, negligence, causation, and damages.
- Duty of care: The defendant (e.g., the nursing home) had a duty to care for your loved one and act in a prudent and reasonable manner.
- Negligence: The defendant failed to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. E.g., failure to reposition a bedridden resident; actively striking a resident; verbally abusing a resident.
- Causation: The defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s injuries and other damages. E.g., failure to reposition a bedridden resident causes bedsores.
- Damages: Your loved one experienced damages as a result of the defendant’s actions. E.g., additional medical care, emotional pain and suffering, etc.
Get Help With Your Abuse or Neglect Claim
If you or someone you love is suffering the affects of nursing home abuse or neglect, Fight Nursing Home Abuse wants to help you. Our team of attorneys have valuable experience and resources to help victims get justice and the compensation that they deserve.
At FNHA, we will work with you to build a case using evidence and legal arguments that satisfy the requirements of law. Some of the types of evidence we may gather and present for your case include:
- Eyewitness interviews
- Video surveillance
- Photographs of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records
- Nursing facility records
- Financial records
- Expert witness opinions
Some of the expert witnesses we may work with include medical professionals, mental health professionals, and more. We will use all available resources to help you and your family recover from this traumatic and needless experience.
Get Your Free Consultation
If you have concerns about abuse or neglect, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Contact Fight Nursing Home Abuse today to find out how we can help you. Our attorneys offer a free legal case review for every potential client, so you have nothing to lose. What’s more, our law firm specializes in helping injured victims and their families pursue justice and the compensation that they deserve.
Call us at 866-548-9636, or complete the form on your screen to get started.