The plaintiff is the side who was injured and presents the complaint to court, while the defendant is the person or group in which the claim is being raised up against.
When Nursing Homes May Be Liable for Damages
It is sometimes difficult to establish whether a nursing home is guilty of neglecting or abusing its residents. Often, the resident may not speak out because of shame or fear of retaliation. In other situations, the elder may not be able to effectively communicate such concerns due to a disability or dementia.
As a family member, it is in your loved one’s best interest to pay close attention to any changes in this physical, mental, or emotional condition. For instance, neglect may manifest in bedsores, or perhaps your loved one is not be receiving proper medication. You might notice bruises, or perhaps the elder is simply withdrawing from any social contact.
There are three basic factors that generally constitute a case of nursing home neglect:
- the nursing home owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- said duty was breached
- that breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries
When the defendant does not uphold their responsibilities, it’s referred to as a breach of duty. Examples of a breach of duty include malnutrition, the patient developing bedsores, and medication errors. Each type of behavior results in unreasonable endangerment of a patient.
When the defendant’s breach of duty is established, then causation follows as a contributing factor to the resident’s injuries. For instance, the plaintiff would have avoided bedsores had the attending staff turned her at prescribed intervals. Malnutrition would not have occurred had the staff properly fed the resident.
If a doctor is negligent, a malpractice claim may be filed in conjunction with a negligence claim against the nursing home and its staff.
When Family Members May Act As the Plaintiff
The injured person would typically be the plaintiff in a case of abuse or negligence. However, there are three instances in which their family member may act as the plaintiff for the injured party:
- The person who was harmed is not of sound mind. He or she cannot file a claim, attend court, or comprehend the proceedings and therefore may allow a family member to stand in on their behalf.
- If the person died as a result of their injuries, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim. It is the family’s right to recoup any financial losses or expenses attributable to the injury.
- A survival action case may also be brought against the negligent party if the loved one suffered abuse or neglect while a resident at the nursing home but passed away from an unrelated cause.
Proving Negligence in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
If the case is criminal, then the prosecution must prove that there was a great degree of likelihood that accused committed the crime. In this instance, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is different than a civil case, in which the plaintiff must prove guilt based on the preponderance of the evidence. In this situation, it would be reasonable to conclude that the plaintiff is correct in his claims against the defendant based on the facts presented. It is an easier standard to meet than the burden of guilt in a criminal case. In either criminal or civil cases, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff and prosecuting attorney.
Victims of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
A study conducted by The National Center on Elder Abuse reported that 95% of nursing home residents had reported that they had been victims of abuse or neglect or they had witnessed it. Nursing home residents should never have to suffer the consequences of negligent or abusive actions at the hands of their caregivers. If you or your loved one has experienced mistreatment at the hands of healthcare providers, it’s time to hold them accountable for their actions.
Filing a Claim Helps Stop Abuse and Neglect
With each case that’s filed and successfully argued, it draws attention to the serious problem of nursing home neglect and abuse that’s plaguing our elder population. If you are uncertain about how to proceed with suspicions you have regarding your loved one’s care, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer 1-800-516-4783 for a free and confidential initial consultation.
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