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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 operate 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.
A tragic aspect of nursing home abuse is the fact that the majority of violations are never reported. Victims may not report abuse because they have no means to do so, are afraid of repercussions, or are not even cognizant due to their age or condition. Therefore it is largely up to the family members to look for the signs of abuse. Abuse in the nursing home can take 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 second form of abuse involves the conduct of the 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 The victim may simply appear depressed or withdrawn.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.
If you ever notice evidence of abuse or neglect, it may be prudent to first 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. 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. 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.
Contact John K. Zaid & Associates, PLLC today, or simply stop by our office to set up your free initial case consultation.