Despite the fact that nursing home residents must trust and rely upon the staff for their medical and personal needs, there are cases where those residents are neglected or abused by them instead. If you believe a loved one who is residing in a nursing home has been abused or neglected, speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In addition to bringing an end to the mistreatment, your loved one may be entitled to compensation.
Physical abuse and neglect in a nursing home
When a nursing home resident suffers neglect at the hands of the facility staff, it means that person’s needs go unattended to. This type of abuse is usually unintentional, but the nursing home can, and should, still be held liable for the resulting injuries to the resident. Physical abuse, though, is not unintentional. Instead, it is often characterized by hitting or slapping the nursing home resident – in other words – physical assault. But physical abuse in this setting can occur in other ways, as well. For instance, the improper or unnecessary use of restraints can constitute physical abuse, as well as any other form of confinement that is not medically necessary. Physical abuse can also include the inappropriate use of medications, such as sedation that is not medically necessary.
Who can be held liable for nursing home abuse?
In nearly every case of nursing home abuse, the operator of the facility will be held liable. This liability is based on a legal concept called “vicarious liability.” Under this theory, employers are responsible for the misconduct of their employees, when that misconduct occurs within the scope of that employee’s job. Put another way, the operator of the nursing home facility is responsible for the actions of the staff when they injure a resident while performing their jobs. This theory is helpful for the victims, because the nursing home will have “deeper pockets” than the individual staff members who likely would not be able to pay any damages awarded in a lawsuit.
Other sources of liability for nursing home abuse
The owners and operators of a nursing home can also be held responsible for the abuse if they were negligent in hiring, training and/or supervising those employees who perpetrated the abuse. A common example where this becomes an issue is when the employer failed to conduct proper background checks on employees and it is determined that certain employees had a temperament for abuse. Your personal injury attorney can help you obtain the evidence required to prove these different theories of liability.
What if the nursing home is not actually responsible for the injuries?
While it may be simple to assume that the nursing home is responsible for any injuries a loved one suffers while a patient there, that is not always the case. For this reason, it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney to make sure a proper investigation is conducted. For instance, if your loved one suffers a broken leg, you would logically assume that someone at the nursing home must have either negligently or intentionally caused the injury. However, it could be a case where a medical device or some other equipment malfunctioned, causing the injury. In that case, there could be others who are responsible. In some situations, it could be the nursing home staff that used certain equipment improperly, or it could be that the outside contractor who is responsible for maintaining the equipment failed to do so. It could also be a case of the equipment being improperly designed or manufactured.
What if you suspect injury or abuse?
If you suspect that a nursing home resident is being abused, you should first report the incident to the appropriate authorities. You can go to the National Center on Elder Abuse website for more information. If the suspected victim is a relative, you should also speak to a personal injury attorney who handles nursing home abuse cases. Your attorney can also help you identify the appropriate agency to contact, as well as help with making sure the nursing home resident can be placed in a safe environment. Just as important, your personal injury attorney can help you in identifying the individuals or entities responsible for the injury or abuse.
If you have questions or concerns regarding nursing home abuse, or any other personal injury concerns, contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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