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 The victim may simply appear depressed or withdrawn.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.



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.

Nursing Home Abuse Law Articles

  • What Is Elder Financial Exploitation?
    Elder financial exploitation targets elderly individuals, often because of a perceived vulnerability on the part of the abuser. Exploitation may be committed by someone close to the elderly individual, such as a relative or caretaker, or it can be committed by a stranger in another country. There may be legal options available to a person who is the victim of elder financial exploitation.
  • Suing Nursing Homes for Abuse or Neglect
    A nursing home can be held legally liable for damages that its residents suffer due to abuse or neglect. Loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for causing harm to a family member. However, it is important for the family to understand the dynamics involved in this type of lawsuit and the legal basis for claims against a nursing home.
  • An Over-Medicated Nursing Home Resident Is Docile and More Profitable for the Facility
    Over-medicating, or chemically restraining, nursing home residents to make them easier to manage is a poorly kept industry secret. This practice allows for facilities to house more residents because they pose fewer demands on staff. Often residents without psychiatric conditions are given antipsychotic drugs to sedate them -- sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.
  • How Can a Lawyer Help with Abuse in a Nursing Home?
    Unfortunately, millions of elderly individuals are abused every year. Many families have to make the difficult decision to place their loved ones in a nursing home so that they can receive the proper care and supervision that they need at this stage in their lives. However, elderly individuals in nursing homes are vulnerable to sustaining abuse. If a loved one is being abused, it can often be difficult to know what to do. A nursing home abuse lawyer may be able to help.
  • Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
    Many of the country’s seniors live in nursing homes and rely on caregivers to take care of their basic needs, such as feeding them, helping them mobilize and taking their medication. However, many nursing homes are understaffed or find it difficult to retain qualified people for the job.
  • Types of Elder Abuse
    When people think of abuse, they often think only of physical abuse. While physical abuse is one important form of abuse, it is not the only one. Unfortunately, our seniors are victims of various forms of elder abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused in any of the manners described below, contact an experienced elder abuse lawyer for immediate assistance.
  • Right to Privacy in Assisted Living
    For a person that resides in an assisted living facility, it is important to have the privacy necessary to live without interference and to increase the quality of life. However, how much latitude the facility has in these circumstances may depend on the state and the circumstances of the resident that moves into a unit.
  • California Personal Injury to the Elderly
    The personal injury to the elderly is often more severe than to any other type of person when suffering from the physical harm. The forms of elderly abuse and injury usually found in the assisted facility home or nursing homes, but an older person may face a personal injury in product usage, unintentional harm from others and when driving.
  • Nursing Homes to Pay $1.25 Million for Providing Substandard Care
    The lack of care caused residents to suffer from multiple forms of physical, mental and emotional harm.
  • Arbitration Agreements: Nursing Homes May Soon Be Allowed to Force Seniors to Sign
    Rules may soon be overturned that were created to prevent nursing homes from limiting the rights of abuse victims to sue. Our California and Santa Clara County elder abuse lawyers explain.
  • 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.

Nursing Home Abuse Law - US

  • ABA - Commission on Law and Aging

    In 1979, the American Bar Association established the Commission on Law and Aging to examine and respond to law-related issues of aging.

  • Certification and Compliance for Nursing Homes - CMS

    This page provides basic information about being certified as a Medicare and/or Medicaid nursing home provider and includes links to applicable laws, regulations, and compliance information.

  • Medicare - Nursing Homes
  • Medicare and Medicaid Services

    The Medicare Conditions of Participation, Conditions for Coverage and Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and Nursing Facilities (NFs) are sets of requirements for acceptable quality in the operation of health care entities.

  • National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center

    The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center provides support, technical assistance and training to the 53 State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs and their statewide networks of almost 600 regional (local) programs.

  • Nursing Home Abuse Law by Online Lawyer Source

    In 1987 Ronald Reagan signed a comprehensive nursing home abuse law titled the Nursing Home Reform Act. This nursing home abuse law is part of a larger act called the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987.

  • Nursing Home Abuse Resource

    Nursing home abuse has been receiving an extremely high amount of media attention since the problem was brought to light a few years back.

  • Nursing Home Reform Act

    For residents of certified nursing facilities and their families, it is important to know that residents have rights provided by federal law. Many states have also codified similar provisions that may provide residents with additional rights under state law.

  • Reporting Elder Abuse
  • Requirements for Nursing Facilities

    Federal law requires a nursing home to care for its residents in a way that promotes their quality of life (42 USC §1395i–3). The Administration on Aging adds that residents must be treated with respect and dignity.

Nursing Home Abuse International

  • Elder Abuse - World Health Organization

    Elder abuse can be defined as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.

  • Canadian Elder Law

    The purpose of the site is to provide information and raise awareness of key issues to help advance their rights as full citizens in Canadian society.

  • Elder Abuse Prevention and Caregiver Support Law - Japan

    The Elder Abuse Prevention and Caregiver Support Law went into effect in April 2006 in Japan. The Law defined types of elder abuse and set forth a reporting system for both domestic and institutional elder abuse cases. It also laid down responsibilities of the national and local governments for elder abuse prevention and caregiver support. This Law was the product of a four-year effort by national and local governments, parliamentary members and the academic community.

  • HelpAge International

    HelpAge helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work in over 75 countries is strengthened through our unique global network.

Nursing Home Abuse Organizations

Nursing Home Abuse Publications

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