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 The victim may simply appear depressed or withdrawn.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
- Introduction to Elder Abuse and Negligence in FloridaIn Florida, elder abuse and neglect is quite common, so it’s important to recognize the common signs.
- Elder Care Abuse and Neglect – Should I Hire a Lawyer?Every year, elderly individuals are abused, neglected or exploited. In many cases, this abuse is inflicted by a caregiver, which may be a professional caregiver or a family caregiver. Since older individuals are more vulnerable due to possible isolation, cognitive impairment and being frail, abusers often take advantage of these characteristics to cause harm to them.
- Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or NeglectIndividuals who are in a nursing home are supposed to receive quality medical treatment from trained professionals. However, individuals are injured every year in nursing home due to neglect or intentional abuse. Recognizing the warning signs can help a person protect his or her loved one.
- What Are My Options if my Parent Was Injured in a Nursing Home?Nursing home injuries are common in the United States with over half a million cases being reported each year where at least one elder person has been abused.
- When Can a Nursing Home Be Sued for Bedsores?An increasing trend in personal injury cases involves claims that are brought forward related to a loved one acquiring bedsores. The formation of these bedsores may provide a basis in a lawsuit.
- Factors that Contribute to Nursing Home AbuseAs the number of elderly individuals increases in the general population, there is a greater number of persons entering nursing and assisted living facilities either of their own volition or due to family.
- How Understaffing Contributes to Nursing Home AbuseNursing homes are often subject to understaffing issues due to the lack of funds, the ratio of elderly persons and the ability to find reliable help. When there is less staff than is optimal, there are many concerns that may arise such as neglect and abuse.
- Elder Abuse on the RiseAs the elderly population increases, there has been a noticeable rise in abuse with these persons. These incidents are both in care facilities intending to ensure these individuals are well taken care of and at home where they live with family for their later years. Unfortunately, it has been observed that with a larger amount of elderly persons, the higher the rate of abuse. These incidents may be physical, emotional or psychological.
- How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones from ScamsThe elderly are targets for a variety of crimes by those that feel this group of individuals is a quick and easy victim to take advantage. Numerous scams are concocted that involve older persons.
- Understanding Elder AbuseEvery year, hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable part of the population are negatively impacted by elder abuse. Elder abuse victims may be vulnerable – both mentally and physically. They may also be frail or even helpless against their abuser.
- 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
- Action on Elder Abuse - UK and Ireland
- American Health Care Association
- Care Quality Commission - UK
- Elder Abuse Foundation
- ElderCare Advocates
- Friends and Relatives of Institutionalized Aged (FRIA)
- International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA)
- National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
- National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR)
- Nursing Home Abuse Support Group