Nursing Home Abuse Legal Options

Understanding Legal Options That Are Available

Quick Answer

A 92-year-old nursing home resident died in 2016 after he fell multiple times in a one-star nursing home and developed life-threatening bedsores. His estate took legal action, and the nursing home was found liable for his death. If you or someone you love has suffered from nursing home abuse, legal action can help you receive financial compensation for the harm done.

What Are My Legal Options for Nursing Home Abuse?

If you are considering taking legal action for nursing home abuse, one of the most important options available is a lawsuit.

Lawsuits may help families by:

  • Awarding financial compensation to pay for medical treatments and other expenses
  • Holding the abusers accountable for their actions
  • Sending a clear message: Nursing home abuse is intolerable

Ideally, to file a lawsuit, families should work with a legal team at a nationally regarded law firm that has won previous nursing home abuse lawsuits.

Other than a lawsuit, you can also file a report with local authorities, such as the police department or the Adult Protective Services in your area. These agencies can catch abusers and bring them to justice.

Quick Facts About Nursing Home Abuse Legal Options

  • Lawsuits can be filed against those who commit nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
  • Nursing home staff members, administrators, or other residents may be the target of legal action, depending on the circumstance.
  • Nursing homes can face steep legal fines from government agencies for cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. For example, a California nursing home received a $20,000 fine after police charged a staff member with attempted rape.
  • When working with a national law firm, a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be filed from almost anywhere in the country.
  • The case value of a nursing home abuse lawsuit depends on the extent of the victim’s injuries and other financial awards for pain, suffering, and emotional damages.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

A nursing home abuse lawsuit takes legal action against the facility, staff members, or other residents if an elder suffered inexcusable harm while in an assisted living facility.

Nursing home abuse lawsuits typically seek financial compensation for the victim’s injuries.

Families may want to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit if:

  • A loved one was abused, injured, or neglected during their stay at a nursing home
  • As a result of the injuries, the resident suffered from long-term or permanent disabilities
  • The resident and their family now face additional health care expenses as a result
  • The resident died as a result of abuse or neglect

While a nursing home lawsuit cannot reverse the effects of nursing home abuse completely, it can help families navigate through life after the incident takes place.

For example, a family won a $2.2 Million dollar lawsuit in August 2019 after an elderly woman died due to staff negligence at a Kentucky nursing home.

“It’s like a load has been lifted from your shoulders, I suppose,” the woman’s son said in an interview with a local TV station.

Statute of Limitations on Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

Those looking to take legal action against nursing home abuse must do so within the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations prevent families from filing lawsuits after a certain period of time.

Statutes of limitations vary depending on a few factors, including: 

  • What state the incident took place in
  • Certain exceptions that may extend the statutes in some cases

For these reasons, families are strongly encouraged to work with an experienced lawyer to make sure their case is filed within the statute of limitations.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Filing a lawsuit without professional help is complicated and taxing. Most families work with a nursing home abuse lawyer to take legal action and determine their next steps.

While there are many general lawyers, a nursing home abuse lawyer can be much more helpful in the long run. The best lawyers for nursing home abuse cases have proven track records of success when it comes to handling nursing home lawsuits.

A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you:

  • File your case without errors
  • Stay informed as the case progresses
  • Possibly receive more compensation than working with a general lawyer

Nursing home abuse lawyers can be found all across the country at law firms that have years worth of experience handling elder abuse cases.

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

One way to connect with nursing home lawyers is through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). This advocacy group strives to improve the legal services available to senior citizens as they age.

Through educational programs and materials, NAELA teaches lawyers and seniors across the country about the rights of seniors as they age. The organization helps seniors seek appropriate legal counsel for their specific needs.

NAELA consists of:

  • Judges
  • Law professors and students
  • Volunteers

NAELA also takes a role in forming public policy, advocating on behalf of those with age-related health care concerns.

Nursing Home Abuse Law Firms

Nursing home abuse law firms are an important resource if a family wants to take legal action. Unlike general law firms, these firms specialize in nursing home abuse cases and have the history, knowledge, and resources to build a strong case on your behalf.

Nursing home abuse law firms have access to: 

  • Databases of resources to help strengthen claims
  • Previous successful cases that they can use to navigate current claims
  • The most recent nursing home abuse laws, including statutes of limitations

By working with a nursing home abuse law firm, you can rest assured knowing that a professional legal team will handle your case. With their help, you may receive financial compensation for your loved one’s nursing home injuries.

Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Nursing home abuse and neglect are crimes, and lawsuits are just one type of legal option available to victims and their families. Other legal actions may be available depending on local and national laws.

In a lawsuit, you take civil legal action against those who may have injured your loved one. If a nursing home staff member or resident is found to have broken the law, they could face criminal charges.

It is important to note that families can take legal action even if an arrest is made. For example, in June 2019, a family announced their plan to sue a nursing home worker who was already indicted for beating a resident.

That being said, what criminal charges can be filed — if any — depends on state and national laws.

National Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Arguably, the most important national nursing home abuse law is the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. This law established new standards of care at nursing homes throughout the country.

Another important law is the Older Americans Act (OAA). Established in 1965, this law ensures older Americans are able to receive an adequate level of care.

As part of this act, elder Americans were given the right to access a network of free legal services to protect their quality of life and well-being.

With over 1,000 service providers nationwide, legal services funded by the OAA account for over one million hours of service every year.

OAA can help seniors: 

  • Access Medicare and Medicaid
  • Appoint a guardian or conservator if they can no longer make their own decisions
  • Protect their rights as they live in a nursing home
  • Take action against elder abuse

Other than laws, the federal government has set up several departments that cater specifically to the needs of older Americans and protect them from abuse.

Programs and departments that help fight nursing home abuse include:

  • Administration of Aging
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans Administration

By keeping up with these laws and programs, nursing home residents and their loved ones can protect themselves from nursing home abuse. Families can keep track of these laws by contacting their local government representatives.

Nursing Home Abuse Laws by State

Other than national laws, each state may follow or enact laws or regulations to further protect nursing home residents from abuse.

Some of these state laws look to tackle the problem before it starts. For example, nearly a dozen states have laws that allow for cameras in nursing homes. These cameras can help catch nursing home abuse and deter it as well.

Because the specific standards of nursing home care can vary depending on the state, it is important to work with a law firm that can handle lawsuits from anywhere in the country. These firms stay up-to-date with federal and national nursing home abuse laws.

How to Choose an Attorney or a Law Firm

When choosing an attorney or law firm, families should consider the firm’s experience and whether they have an authentic desire to help.

Some of these lawyers may charge upfront fees — but the best lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you win.

Here are some questions to consider before working with a nursing home abuse lawyer or law firm: 

  • How long has the lawyer or law firm been in practice?
  • Do they have a particular focus on elder law?
  • What percentage of their time is spent focusing on nursing home abuse cases?
  • Do they charge any upfront fees?

To learn more about your legal options — and how to find a nursing home abuse lawyer or law firm — get a free case review today. Our team can help you find answers and advise you on the next steps to take for your case.

Author:Avatar
The Nursing Home Abuse Center Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

Last modified: January 16, 2020

View 6 Sources
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