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Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect?

How to Know What Steps to Take

Quick Answer

Yes. You can sue for nursing home neglect in every state. If your loved one has suffered due to neglect in a long-term care facility, a lawsuit may provide compensation and closure. However, each jurisdiction has unique procedures for handling legal complaints. An attorney can make suing a nursing home for negligence easier.

What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect occurs when residents are not provided with adequate care, leading to serious injury or wrongful death.

The federal government requires nursing homes receiving Medicare or Medicaid to meet a basic standard of care. Adequate care standards are determined by nursing home abuse state laws.

Despite variations, most jurisdictions recognize some commonly reported forms of nursing home neglect.

Common types of nursing home neglect include:

  • Neglect of basic needs
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Neglect stemming from medical malpractice
  • Social or emotional neglect

Any form of nursing home neglect that harms a resident may be considered abuse. As a result, you may be able to sue a nursing home for negligence and retrieve compensation.

Nursing Home Neglect vs Abuse

Nursing home abuse occurs when a staff member intentionally mistreats a resident. Neglect is considered one of the many types of nursing home abuse. However, several factors make cases of neglect stand out from these other types.

Neglect is unlike abuse in 3 main ways:

  • 1. ActionNursing home neglect is often passive. It is more about what a caretaker fails to do rather than what they do to a victim.
  • 2. PerpetratorsUnlike abuse, nursing home neglect is typically committed by a resident’s caregiver. In cases of abuse, other nursing home resident along with caregivers may be perpetrators.
  • 3. State lawsSome states make legal distinctions between neglect and abuse, varying minimum and maximum punishments.

Nursing Home Neglect vs Negligence

Nursing home neglect and negligence aren’t exactly the same, but they are closely related.

Negligence occurs when someone does not do their proper duty to keep others from harm, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of law. Neglect is more specific. It occurs when someone carelessly or willingly fails to do something needed to keep another person safe.

Based on these definitions, cases of nursing home negligence and neglect can overlap. Thankfully, victims of both neglect and negligence may be able to receive compensation by filing a lawsuit.

Steps to Filing a Lawsuit

What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

Some nursing home residents may hesitate to tell anyone that they are being neglected out of fear their care will worsen. Further, those suffering from dementia and other mental health issues may not know or be able to communicate that they are being mistreated.

In these cases, family members should be on the watch for signs of neglect. If they notice the warning signs listed below, it may be necessary to take legal action.

Warning Signs of Neglect

  • Absence of dentures, eyeglasses, or hearing aids
  • Ambivalence toward caregivers
  • Bedsores, especially if they are worsening
  • Confusion
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Suspicious worsening of medical or mental conditions
  • Unexplained (or poorly explained) injuries
  • Unusual mood changes, such as agitation, depression, or withdrawal
  • Weight loss

The state of the nursing home itself may also suggest neglect.

A nursing home may be neglecting residents if it has:

  • A lack of food or water
  • A lack of medical equipment
  • A lack of utilities
  • Faulty wiring
  • Failed to update prescriptions
  • Insect or rodent infestations
  • Insufficient space
  • Poor ventilation
  • Unclean living spaces

Even if someone is not sure that a nursing home is mistreating their loved one, they should take action and report any signs of neglect they see. Nursing home neglect can cause serious injury and even death if it is not quickly addressed.

Reporting and taking note of these signs can also help during the lawsuit process. This information can be used to start building the case. Using this information, lawyers can gather more supporting evidence to make the case as strong as possible.

Have you noticed signs of neglect? Get your case reviewed for free. Contact us today by calling (855) 264-6310.

How to Report a Nursing Home for Neglect

In some cases of inadequate care, the problem may be resolved by speaking with the staff, a supervisor, or a resident’s social worker. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, try one of the options below.

To do so, you can:

  • Follow the Facility’s Grievance Procedure

    All Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes must have a grievance procedure to address complaints. By following the steps in a grievance procedure, nursing home administrators should work with a resident and loved ones to solve the issue.

  • Contact a Long-Term Care Ombudsman

    Long-term care ombudsmen protect the interests of nursing home residents. They can resolve complaints, conduct in-person investigations on nursing homes, and help victims or their loved ones take action in cases of neglect.

  • Contact Adult Protective Services (APS)

    Loved ones may report any issues to a local APS agency, which will investigate the suspected neglect. If APS determines that neglect is taking place, an agent will meet with the victim to determine the best way to protect them.

  • Contact the Local Police

    If nursing home neglect may threaten a resident’s health or life, loved ones may need to call the police. Officers can remove the resident from a dangerous situation and find a safe place to relocate them. This will also trigger an investigation and a record of the incident.

  • Consult an Experienced Lawyer

    An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help loved ones report neglect and advise them on how to handle the situation. Attorneys can also help clients file lawsuits and pursue financial compensation to cover medical treatments and other expenses.

When Should You Sue for Nursing Home Neglect?

You may be able to sue for nursing home neglect right now if your loved one has suffered. It may be helpful to file a legal claim sooner rather than later. Laws called statutes of limitations limit the amount of time you have to take legal action.

A nursing home neglect lawsuit may result in a verdict or settlement that requires nursing facilities to pay victims of neglect for the suffering they caused.

The sooner you sue a nursing home for negligence, the faster you’ll be able to receive compensation if you have a valid claim.

Filing a nursing home lawsuit may help with:

  • Costs associated with changing nursing homes
  • Costs related to long-term health issues and disabilities
  • Discouraging neglect in nursing homes
  • Paying for health care & medical bills
  • Seeking mental health therapy for the neglect
  • Gaining a sense of justice

See if you can file a nursing home neglect lawsuit right now with a free legal case review. Your family may be entitled to compensation.

Common Questions About Suing for Neglect

How much can you sue a nursing home for negligence?

This depends on the specific factors in your case. That said, some past civil lawsuits for nursing home negligence have awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more.

In 2019, a family of a 92-year-old woman received $2.2 million through a nursing home neglect lawsuit that went to trial. The jury in the case found that the nursing home failed to adequately care for the elderly resident, which contributed to her death.

Can you sue a nursing home for COVID-19 cases?

Yes. Long-term care facilities have a duty to provide proper medical care and treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

If they fail to do so — and you or a loved one is seriously injured — you may be able to file a lawsuit.

After an elderly man with dementia died from COVID-19 while living in a nursing home, his sister filed a lawsuit against the facility.

In an interview, she claimed staff members were not wearing masks in the facility during the early phases of the pandemic.

Is it difficult to sue a nursing home for neglect?

No. An experienced attorney can help make suing a nursing home for negligence simple.

Personal injury lawyers that have handled other nursing home cases can build a case against a long-term care facility and work to get the highest amount possible for you.

Learn more about working with a nursing home abuse attorney and how they can help you file a lawsuit.

How do you prove nursing home neglect occurred?

To prove that neglect occurred, your attorney will need to show how nursing home staff members failed to properly care for your loved one — and how this failure caused harm.

A nursing home abuse law firm can help you file a case that shows how an assisted living facility neglected you or a family member.

Nursing Home Abuse Support 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.

View 8 Sources
  1. National Adult Protective Services Association. (n.d.). What Is Neglect? Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-neglect/
  2. National Adult Protective Services Association. (n.d.). What Is Abuse? Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-abuse/
  3. Schwartzbach, M. (n.d.). What is criminal negligence? Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-criminal-negligence.html
  4. FindLaw. (n.d.). Negligence. Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/negligence.html
  5. Merriam-Webster Legal Dictionary. (n.d.). Neglect. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neglect#legalDictionary
  6. The Associated Press. (2019). Paducah nursing home to pay $2.2M in negligence lawsuit. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.wkms.org/post/paducah-nursing-home-pay-22m-negligence-lawsuit#stream/0
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Reporting & Resolving nursing home problems. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/reporting-resolving-nursing-home-problems
  8. Yu, E., & Mendelson, A. (2021, April 20). Immediate jeopardy: Death and neglect inside a troubled California nursing home chain. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://laist.com/death-and-neglect-troubled-california-nursing-home-chain
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