Nursing Home Abuse Law

What is Nursing Home Abuse Law?

Nursing home abuse law deals with the civil, criminal, and regulatory standards for the unlawful treatment of elderly people by care facility staff and administrators. When a nursing home fails to meet these standards, it can be sanctioned in a variety of ways. These include forced changes to operating procedures, loss of government funding, license suspension or revocation, and the imposition of monetary damage awards.

From the standpoint of victims and those interested in pursuing legal claims on their behalf, the most powerful form of legal recourse is a negligence lawsuit. Most nursing homes are run by corporations or other business entities primarily concerned with making a profit. As detached as the owners may be, a large negligence verdict or settlement is sure to get their attention and lead to positive changes at the facility. It also provides needed compensation for the victim.

Recognizing the Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of nursing home abuse law is the fact that the majority of legal violations are never reported. Victims may fail to make a report because they have no practical means of doing so, or out of fear of retribution from their abusers. In some cases, victims may not even be cognizant of the situation due to their condition or advanced age. Thus, it is often up to family members and visitors to discover the problem and take action.

Abuse in a nursing home environment will take one of two forms. The first involves the condition of the facility. Generally speaking, the building and grounds must be safe, clean, and properly equipped. Residents must have access to nutritious meals, social services, recreational activities, medications, and onsite emergency care. Staff must be well-trained and present in sufficient numbers at all times. Finally, the home should be designed and maintained to prevent slip and falls - the leading cause of nursing home injuries.

The second form of abuse involves the conduct of employees. Abuses of this kind may be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. In some cases, visitors will notice lacerations, bruising, bed sores, dehydration, sudden weight gain or loss, sanitary concerns, or other such manifestations. Other times the results of abuse or neglect will be less obvious. The victim may simply appear depressed or withdrawn. When visiting a loved one, be sure to ask questions, check financial records, and investigate suspicious circumstances.

Legal Options for Victims and their Families

When confronted with what appears to be evidence of abuse or neglect, it may be prudent to inquire of other residents at the nursing home, or to speak directly with the staff or administration. If this does not resolve the concern, or if the seriousness of the situation is immediately clear, a report should be made to the proper authorities. Typically, this will be the state department of health, the county adult protective services, or an ombudsman's office. If in doubt, bring the matter to the attention of local law enforcement.

Once the case has been reported, those affected by nursing home abuse have the option of contacting a private attorney specializing in this area of the law. An attorney can follow up on the client's behalf and ensure the matter has been properly reported and that corrective measures are underway. Furthermore, this is the time for victims and their families to discuss the matter with counsel and decide whether a negligence lawsuit is appropriate.

Proving Negligence and Obtaining Compensation

Negligence is the legal doctrine that holds people responsible when their careless actions cause someone else to suffer harm. It is used by victims of car accidents, malpractice, dog bites, and other such incidents. In the context of nursing home abuse, negligence occurs when an employee injures a resident by failing to provide a reasonable standard of care, taking into account all of the facts and circumstances. To decide what is reasonable under the circumstances, the court will consider things like common practices in the industry, and regulatory standards established by the government.

Besides negligence, victims may be able to sue under specific federal or state statutes, or bring a tort action for intentional conduct. In fact, some of the worse cases of abuse will involve intentional acts, rather than careless mistakes or oversights. Cases involving particularly egregious conduct may justify an award of punitive damages, meant not just to compensate the victim, but to punish the offender. Other types of compensation available in nursing home cases include medical expenses, physical suffering, mental anguish, and if the victim passes away, loss of consortium and support for surviving relatives.

Reasons to Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Nursing homes are represented by insurance companies eager to dispose of abuse cases quickly and cheaply. If you or someone you care about has been victimized, you need to make sure you are fully compensated, and that steps are taken to prevent anyone else from getting hurt. Contact a lawyer to learn about your rights.


Nursing Home Abuse Law Articles

  • What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 17 percent of individuals age 60 and older suffered some type of abuse in community settings over the past year. Institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities have high rates of nursing home abuse, with two of three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year. The incidence of elder abuse has also increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements
    When you get to the nursing home and meet with the administration, they will ask you to sign a stack of roughly two dozen documents. These documents cover a range of subjects, including your legal rights in the event your loved one is harmed under the facility’s care. This form is known as the arbitration agreement, and you may have come across them in other situations throughout your life. An arbitration agreement generally waives your rights to a jury trial and to sue the other party.
  • Facts About Nursing Home Neglect
    Although you've entrusted your loved one to the care of a nursing home you are suspicious about what's going on behind the curtain. What is nursing home neglect? What can you do if you think something is going wrong?
  • DOJ Sues Pennsylvania Nursing Home Chain Under The False Claims Act Alleging Grossly Substandard Care
    In June 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil suit under the federal False Claims Act against a chain of nursing homes in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Complaint alleges that American Health Foundation (AHF) and three of its nursing homes provided grossly substandard care for which Medicare and Medicaid should not have paid. According to the complaint, AHF leadership was aware for years that the conditions at its facilities fell short of the standards required by the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), but failed to remedy these violations and focused solely on profitability. In fact, the DOJ’s complaint alleges that AHF amassed over $16 million which they invested in stocks, and not in necessary staff and supplies to improve the quality of care to their patients.
  • With the Growth of Elder Law Comes Statutes and Rules of Interest for All Practitioners in Colorado
    With our population living longer due to advancements in medical care and technology coupled with the baby boomer generation getting older, we are in the middle of the “Silver Tsunami” of aging in America. As a direct result, Elder Law as a practice discipline has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. And the need for skilled practitioners in the area has grown even more dramatically.
  • Steps to Recovery After a Car or Motorcycle Accident
    When you are involved in a car or motorcycle accident, it can be an experience that is rather disorienting. As a result, it can be difficult to think clearly and focus on what needs to be done immediately following the collision. However, what you do during this time can be crucial, as the well-being of yourself and others can depend on it. Experts recommend that the following actions be taken after a motorcycle or car accident. It might be helpful to print off a checklist and store it in an easily accessible place, such as your glove compartment, to ensure that you complete all the steps.
  • Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement Lawsuits
    Lawsuits against nursing homes can be filed when a resident wanders, or elopes, from the facility. Wander can be a safe and healthy behavior when it involves wandering through the hallways to reduce stress, for exercise, or for activity. In fact, many residents are encouraged to wander inside the nursing home for those purposes.
  • What to Do If You’re Hit by a Distracted Driver in Illinois
    Did you know that distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of car accidents in Illinois and nationwide? Even with all the information out there about how dangerous distracted driving is, people still choose to use their phones and do other distracting things behind the wheel.
  • Fundamental Components of a Wrongful Death Case in Rhode Island
    The unexpected and tragic loss of a loved one, in addition to causing grief and pain, can also lead to tremendous financial strain for families, particularly if they’ve lost a primary wage earner or breadwinner. When the death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, families in Rhode Island may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a civil lawsuit, seeking compensation for their losses.
  • Nursing Home Neglect Cases for Bed Sores
    Our aging population has resulted in a significant increase in the number of skilled nursing home residents. A major issue with elderly patients is the risk of developing bed sores, or decubitus ulcers. These are almost always preventable with proper attention, care, and implementation of basic nursing protocol.
  • All Tort and Personal Injury Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Tort and Personal Injury including: animal bites, asbestos mesothelioma, back and neck injury, bicycle accident, birth injury, brain injury, burn injuries, catastrophic injuries, construction accidents, construction injuries, defamation, libel and slander, defective products, industrial injuries, mass tort, negligence, nursing home abuse, pedestrian accident, personal injury, premises liability, product liability, sexual abuse, slip and fall, spinal cord injury, torts, toxic mold, toxic torts, workplace injuries and wrongful death.

Know Your Rights!

  • Detecting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

    Knowing the signs of nursing home abuse and contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer if you know or suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected is critical in protecting both your loved one and others who may not have family or those as attentive as you.

  • Nursing Home Abuse Handbook

    Due to the influx of more elderly people from the Baby Boomer generation and the improvements in medicine that help keep people alive longer, more elderly individuals are in nursing homes than ever before.

Find a Lawyer