A lawsuit is a legal action brought by one person or group against another person or group to be decided in a court of law.
The Rights of Nursing Home Resident
The following rights are generally entitled to nursing home residents:
- fair and respectful treatment with dignity
- services that preserve and maintain well-being and health
- absence of emotional, mental, physical, and financial abuse
- ability to choose one’s own physician and pharmacy
- ability to choose one’s own course for health care planning and treatment
- ability to obtain information, both oral and written, regarding services
- privacy regarding phone and mail communication
- ability to air grievances or opinions without consequence
Civil Enforcement of Statutes for Nursing Home Residents
If abuse or neglect of the resident resulted in death, the family is permitted to file a wrongful death claim. The family or party who files the claim in a lawsuit is the plaintiff. The defendant in the lawsuit would be the nursing home or the party against whom the claim is filed.
The plaintiff must establish one or more of the following:
- the nursing home (the defendant) owed a duty of care to the resident
- the defendant violated or breached said duty
- the resident suffered damage, injury, loss, or death as a result of that breach
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations states the time limit one may file a lawsuit against the defendant after the incident occurred. When the maximum amount of time has passed, the nursing home abuse case is legally nullified.
Three possibilities for the beginning timeframe on the statute of limitations include:
- the date the injurious incident occurred
- the date that the victim or family first became aware of that a specific incident caused an injury
- the date on which the victim or family should have been aware that a specific incident caused an injury
Documentation Needed for Reporting Elder Abuse
It’s important to provide as much information as possible when filing an abuse or neglect claim. The more information you have documented, the more thorough and complete the results of the investigation are. Some useful information to gather includes:
- the abuse victim’s name, sex, age, and description
- the victim’s family member contact numbers and addresses
- identity of alleged wrongdoer that includes name, description, and job description
- description of the incidents and signs of abuse, including dates and times
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
When you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring, you should report it immediately to ensure that you remain within the state’s statute of limitations. Take the proper precautions and actions to remove your loved one from the facility immediately if you suspect imminent danger.
Adult Protective Services Investigation Process
The DCF will screen your report, and if it finds that the allegations appear relevant and factual, an investigation will begin within 24 hours of the initial call or report. If the initial screener does not find need for further investigation, you should ask to speak with a supervisor if you absolutely believe that abuse or neglect has occurred.
When the investigation begins, the DCF investigator will look for signs of neglect, abuse, or exploitation. A referral will be made as needed for any necessary services at that point while any risk for harm is assessed.
The investigator will then conduct background checks on the victim as well as the alleged perpetrator. The investigator will look for any similar pattern that may have occurred previously with the perpetrator. A determination will be made as to contacting law enforcement or other agencies.
The investigator may petition the court for protective services if it is determined that the victim is vulnerable and unable to consent. There may also be a motion to remove the victim from the nursing home and arrange for placement in another facility. An emergency petition is required to present to the court within four days of filing said petition. The elder abuse report is required to be completed within 60 days.
Call 1-800-516-4783 for a confidential assessment of your loved one’s situation. A nursing home abuse lawyer will guide you through the available options, which may include a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your claim for a lawsuit.
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