Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Law Explained
Adult Protective Services (APS) is available to protect nursing home abuse victims. Once the abuse is reported, it’s important that you contact an attorney immediately to ensure the safety of your loved one and all other residents at the nursing home. There are state laws and protections for the elderly residing in nursing homes. The Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act was passed in 1988 to help law enforcement better respond to reports of abuse.
One out of every 10 senior citizens in the United States experiences some type of abuse, but fewer than 20% of those cases ever get reported. For every reported case of elder abuse and neglect, approximately 23 cases go undetected.
Illinois Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Statistics
Did you know that nursing home abuse victims usually suffer from more than one type of abuse? The majority of nursing home abuse reports were financial exploitation followed by emotional abuse and neglect.
According to the Illinois Department onAging, elder abuse reports in 2017 alleged the following types of abuse:
- 52% financial exploitation
- 23% physical abuse
- 40% active or passive neglect
- 40% emotional abuse
Elder financial abuse was estimated to have cost older Americans $2.9 billion in 2009.
Elder Population in Illinois
The state of Illinois has approximately 12.8 million residents. Illinois’ population density sits at around 230 people per square mile. The top 5 cities in Illinois ranked by population density are Berwyn, Stone Park, Cicero, Elmwood Park and Chicago.
Illinois has approximately 70,000 nursing home residents, ranking it as the 7th largest nursing home population in the United States behind New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.
In Illinois, the month of June is elder abuse awareness month.
Illinois Elder Abuse Laws and Protection
Illinois passed the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act in 1988. This act has provisions that help law enforcement and social workers better respond to reports of elder abuse. There is a mandatory provision that elder care and other professionals in contact with seniors 60 and over who are unable to care for themselves must report signs of abuse.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was passed in 2011 after increased reports of abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state. The Act created a resident’s bill of rights, set a base skill level and required training for nurses, assistants and technicians. It also provided families and community groups with policing powers to ensure nursing homes provide the mandatory quality of care. The Act also increased the enforcement strength of agencies like the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Complaints and Inspections
Illinois nursing homes are licensed, regulated, inspected and certified by public and private agencies at the state and federal level. The Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for ensuring nursing homes comply fully with state regulations. Each year, the Department responds to approximately 6,000 complaints.
Nursing home inspections, called surveys, are conducted to evaluate the nursing home, its equipment, staff, policies, procedures and finances. The state average for nursing home inspections is once every 12 months.
Purposeful interviewing skills and thorough skin assessment are crucial to identifying abuse among the elderly.
Criminal vs. Civil Elder Abuse Cases
There are two ways elder abuse can be prosecuted in Illinois: criminal or civil. Each form of law has its own definitions as to what constitutes elder abuse, according to the state. The primary difference between a criminal and civil case is that a criminal case is brought about by the government and a civil case is brought about by a citizen.
Criminal elder abuse in Illinois includes:
- Sexual assault
- Other offenses
Civil cases usually involve claims such as:
- Financial exploitation
- Identity theft
Illinois Elder Abuse Litigation
If you need to report nursing home abuse, call Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-866-800-1409. This is a 24-hour hotline and this agency investigates accusations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. APS also works to educate about the requirements of reporting and are responsible for cross-reporting to law enforcement and other public agencies.
There is a statute of limitations when reporting nursing home abuse. The abuse must be reported within 2 years of the abuse occurring. The reasons for the 2-year statute of limitation is to ensure that abuse is reported more regularly, evidence will be fresher and there is less recovery time for injuries that result from abuse.
Financial exploitation of the elderly has a different statute of limitations because there is a paperwork trail that lasts longer than physical signs of abuse. The statute of limitations for financial exploitation of the elderly increased in 2016 from 3 years to 7 years.
Illinois Elder Abuse Case Examples
Every year, families of nursing home residents file claims against care facilities for negligence and abuse. Some cases tragically result in loss of life and the families often receive compensation for wrongful death. Below are some examples of wrongful death cases and awards in Illinois.
Soft Tissue Infection Fatality
The family of an 88-year-old assisted living facility resident was awarded a $2.3 million settlement. The award came after the resident developed severe and infected bed sores, ultimately leading to her death. The doctor in charge was criminally indicted for his conduct and charged with involuntary homicide.
The family of an 83-year-old nursing home resident received a $1 million settlement after the resident fell several times at the nursing home. The last fall contributing to the resident’s death. Despite the risk for falls, the nursing home neglected to implement changes in the resident’s care plan to prevent further falls from occurring.
Fatal Violent Incident
In a tragic case, the family of a 79-year-old fellow nursing home resident was awarded $1.4 million. The claim was filed against the nursing home for failure to manage a fellow resident’s behavior, which caused a shoving match, fall, hip fracture and eventual fatality.
A $760,000 verdict was won against a nursing home doctor who failed to respond to signs and symptoms of a bowel obstruction, leading to the death of a 67-year-old resident with Alzheimer’s disease.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois
If a loved one is in immediate harm at a nursing home call 911. If the abuse does not require immediate attention report the incident to police by calling your local non-emergency number.
You may also call Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-866-800-1409. This is a 24-hour hotline and this agency investigates accusations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. APS also works to educate about the requirements of reporting and are responsible for cross-reporting to law enforcement and other public agencies.
Retaining a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Illinois
If someone in your family is a victim of nursing home abuse, please contact an attorney. The best way to protect you, your family member and future residents is to find an attorney who understands the law. More importantly, reporting nursing home abuse can put a stop to future residents suffering from abuse.
Reporting abuse of an elderly person is mandatory in Illinois. After reporting the abuse it is important to seek legal help immediately. You can complete a free case evaluation on our website, here.