The abuse and neglect of elderly patients in nursing homes and care facilities is a growing crisis in the United States. Statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 6 people over the age of 60 years old have experienced some type of abuse in a community setting. In nursing homes, 2 in 3 staff members have reported abusing a resident in the past year. The prevalence of abuse in nursing homes indicates a serious abuse of power and lack of accountability in institutions that care for our most vulnerable populations.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Abuse in nursing homes includes several types of conduct that can seriously damage the physical and psychological well-being of its elderly victim. Residents of nursing homes may be physically injured, including pushing, kicking, slapping, use of restraints, or removal of hygiene and medical necessities. Employees have also committed sexual abuse against residents, which has included anything from harassment to rape. Finally, residents may also be the victims of emotional and mental abuse, which entails isolating residents, threatening their safety, or manipulating them. Much of this abuse tends to be underreported because residents are afraid of reprisals or are limited in their ability to communicate. Therefore, the scope of nursing home abuse is likely far larger than the statistics indicate.

Laws Protecting Nursing Home Residents

Nursing homes owe their residents a duty of care, which is the legal responsibility to avoid conduct that may foreseeably cause harm to others. Nursing homes have a contractual and legal duty to care for and protect their residents. This includes ensuring the safety of the elderly patients who live in in their facility. A nursing home breaches its duty when it engages in action that violates state law, the Nursing Home Reform Act, the contract between the nursing home and the resident, or the standard of care. The Nursing Home Reform Act extends federal protection to residents by requiring nursing home facilities to provide services to ensure the physical, mental, and psychological well-being of their residents. If the staff or management engages in negligent conduct, substandard care, or abuse that injures or harms residents, they may be held legally responsible.

Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes

A victim of nursing home abuse or neglect may have a civil claim against the facility if he/she can show that the nursing home failed to fulfill its duty of care and the harm stated in the claim resulted from the lack of care. If a resident dies as a result of abuse at a nursing home, the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Claims of abuse and neglect against nursing homes commonly result in settlements, which can compensate victims for medical costs and other expenses, and impose punitive damages for pain and suffering.

Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for personal injury claimants. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or long-term care facility, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling or submit an email inquiry on this page.


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