Preventing Nursing Home Abuse
Older people in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve our respect, dignity, and proper care and attention. Unfortunately, sometimes nursing homes fail in their duties and older people are actually physically or psychologically harmed by the negligent or intentional acts of their caregivers. This nursing home abuse can be caused by poorly qualified and inadequately trained staff, staff with a history of violence, inadequate numbers of staff, the isolation of residents, and the reluctance of residents to report abuse out of embarrassment or fear.
Who is Liable for a Nursing Home Injury?
There are many ways in which nursing homes can be held responsible for injuring others as a result of their negligence, abuse, false imprisonment, or violations of criminal statutes, as well as violations of regulations regarding licensing, maintenance, and general operation. An act of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older person by a nursing home can lead to an investigation and finding by an adult protective services agency, a civil lawsuit, and/or criminal prosecution.
The liability of a nursing home owner or employees can result from:
- Negligent personal supervision and care
- Negligent hiring and retention of employee
- Negligent maintenance of the premises
- Negligent selection or maintenance of equipment.
A nursing home can be held liable for negligence if the injured party can prove: 1) that the nursing home’s owner or employees breached a duty of care owed to the injured person; 2) that the person’s injury was caused by this breach; and, 3) that the nursing home owner’s or employee’s conduct caused the injury.
Also, a nursing home will generally enter into a contract with a resident, in which it sets out what services it will provide, and the cost of those services. If the perceived abuse or neglect of the nursing home or its employees is contrary to promises made in the contract regarding the care of residents, the nursing home can be sued under a breach of contract theory. Many contracts require only that the home provide such services as are “reasonably necessary” for the resident’s well-being, but even under this standard, a nursing home could be found negligent if it failed to meet the basic needs of a resident.
Has a Crime Been Committed?
All residents of nursing homes have the right to to be free from verbal, sexual, physical and mental abuse, and any physical or chemical restraint that is imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience, rather than to treat a medical condition. There are criminal penalties for the abuse, neglect, or other mistreatment of nursing home residents. Failure to provide residents with sufficient food, keep residents clean, or prevent bedsores from occurring, have supported convictions for criminal neglect. In other cases, the unjustified use of physical restraint or force against nursing home residents has resulted in convictions for nursing home abuse. If you believe a crime has been committed involving the care of yourself or a loved one by a nursing home it is important that you report it immediately and contact an experienced attorney.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or abuse as a resident of a nursing home, you should speak with an attorney experienced in nursing home and elderly care issues as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights to compensation are fully assessed and protected, especially in light of time limits for filing a lawsuit for nursing home injuries. No elderly person should be subjected to nursing home abuse. Contact an experienced Colorado nursing home abuse attorney to protect the rights of yourself or a loved one today.