Nursing homes are a place where the elderly should be safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and at times, nursing home employees abuse the residents. If an employee of the nursing home has mistreated you or a loved one, contact an Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyer.
In the majority of cases, the victim does not bring a lawsuit but rather a family member. An experienced attorney could help you navigate bringing a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one.
What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have Under the Law?
Legislation at both the federal and state levels enforces numerous basic rights and privileges that all nursing homes and assisted living facilities must preserve on behalf of their residents. Federal law mandates that residents receive dignified and respectful treatment at all times, including but not limited to nutritious meals, appropriate medical and dental care, safe provision and administration of prescription medications, social and recreational opportunities, and access to social services.
Additionally, the federal Nursing Home Reform Act established further requirements that specifically apply to facilities that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding. This includes accurate recordkeeping, sufficient assistance and supervision for residents, thorough and regular assessments of resident functionality, and a mandate to provide residents as much personal freedom as practically possible during each day.
The State of Indiana enforces and reinforces these regulations with state-level practices and agencies, including various programs run by Adult Protective Services, a Long-Term Care Division within the state Department of Health, and the guaranteeing of basic rights to nursing home residents that go beyond federal regulations in some respects. Any time a nursing home staff member, administrator, or owner violates one of these regulations by mistreating a resident or allowing them through negligence to come to harm, civil litigation may be possible.
Cause of Action
When nursing home abuse occurs, the one responsible should be held liable. The correct cause of action to sue the defendant depends on the circumstances of the abuse. It may be difficult choosing how to sue for nursing home abuse, but an experienced Indianapolis attorney could help.
Nursing home abuse is not always intentional. Unfortunately, there are times when the care provided is not up to the appropriate standard of care expected in nursing homes. When this occurs, negligence is the appropriate cause of action to bring a lawsuit under.
Negligence requires a duty to the victim and a breach of that duty. Nursing homes have a legal duty to provide safe and reasonable care to their residents. Providing substandard care is a breach of that duty, which results in the nursing home’s liability.
The thought of a resident suffering intentional abuse is horrible, but it does happen. Intentional torts occur when the defendant intends that their act injure the victim. Intentional torts in nursing homes can involve any of the following:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial Exploitation
Common Type of Injuries
Nursing home patients can face various types of injuries in an assisted living facility. Common injuries that elderly residents face include:
- Falls resulting in injuries
- Broken bones
- Medication errors
Establishing That Nursing Home Mistreatment Has Occurred
Unfortunately, abuse and neglect in nursing homes is often difficult for even dedicated family members of residents to detect. Nursing home residents commonly struggle with substantial physical and/or cognitive deficiencies, and many of them cannot clearly communicate what is happening to them. In cases of severe abuse, they may be afraid of retribution if they seek help. On top of that, the physical and emotional marks that abuse and neglect can leave behind are not always immediately obvious, and some may manifest in very subtle ways or not even show up outwardly at all.
In light of this, it is crucial for family members and friends of Indianapolis nursing home residents to check in on their loved one as regularly as possible and be aware of any changes—big or small—in their day-to-day condition and attitude. This could include unexplained injuries, unsanitary living areas and/or soiled clothing, sudden changes in personality or mood, abnormally nervous reactions around certain staff members, and potentially rapid cognitive decline without a medical explanation.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse to the Appropriate Authorities
In some cases, neglect in a nursing home stems not from intentional malice, but rather from an unintentional oversight or miscommunication within the facility. While no amount of nursing home abuse or neglect should be taken lightly, it is sometimes possible to resolve issues with resident care by notifying their caregivers or facility administrators about the problem. A qualified Indianapolis nursing home injury attorney could help determine what the best course of action would be for a specific situation.
If neglect is more systemic within a nursing home, or if someone inside a nursing home is knowingly abusing residents, then individuals who become aware of the mistreatment can report it to the Indiana Attorney General through their Abuse and Neglect hotline by calling 800-382-1039. Finally, if a nursing home resident’s life is in imminent danger due to substantial mistreatment of any kind, the first priority for any concerned family member or loved one should be contacting local law enforcement and getting the resident removed from the unsafe conditions.
Recovering Financially for Nursing Home Abuse in Indianapolis
Whether it revolves around intentional misconduct or inadvertent neglect, civil litigation filed over mistreatment of a nursing home resident still falls within the purview of Indiana personal injury law. In light of that, a successful plaintiff may be able to recover for the full value of both economic and non-economic losses experienced by an elderly family member.
On the economic side of things, recoverable losses in a nursing home abuse claim may include all additional medical expenses necessitated by the mistreatment in question, as well as personal financial losses in the event of financial abuse. Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature and might include physical pain, emotional and/or psychological trauma, lost personal opportunities, and lost enjoyment of life. In extremely severe cases involving gross negligence or intentionally malicious acts, punitive damages may be available as well, up to a maximum of whichever is higher out of $50,000 or three times compensatory damages in accordance with Indiana Code §34-51-3-4.
Like most other forms of personal injury litigation, though, individuals who suffer harm themselves or believe a family member has suffered harm due to nursing home mistreatment have a maximum of two years after learning of the injuries in question in which to file suit over ensuing damages, as per IN Code §34-11-2-4. Knowledgeable legal counsel could go into detail during a confidential meeting about what damages could possibly be factored into a particular nursing home abuse claim in Indianapolis and provide crucial assistance complying with all relevant state regulations.
Untimely Death of Elderly Patients
Wrongful deaths could result from injuries caused by the actions of the employee or nursing home. When nursing home abuse ends in the victim’s death, a separate claim for wrongful death could be brought. The nursing homes or their employees’ negligent or intentional acts can result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Indiana Code §34-23-1-1 requires a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed within two years of the death.
In this kind of situation, different damages may be recoverable through a successful claim, as recovery is meant to compensate family members of the decedent for their losses stemming from their loved one’s premature death. A nursing home neglect lawyer in Indianapolis could potentially help demand restitution for damages like funeral and burial costs, travel expenses, lost companionship, and lost emotional support.
Who Could Be Held Liable in a Nursing Home Abuse Case?
The party who suffered abuse is always able to sue for their injuries. However, an elderly victim may have difficulty, physically or mentally, bringing a lawsuit. As a result, family members are allowed to step in and bring a lawsuit on behalf of the victim.
When a family member brings the lawsuit, they act on behalf of the victim and not for personal gain. The decedent’s estate is the correct party to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A qualified Indianapolis attorney could help bring a lawsuit for the nursing home abuse a loved one experienced.
Hire An Indianapolis Attorney for Your Nursing Home Abuse Case
Lawsuits for nursing home abuse can be very emotional. If your loved one has suffered abuse, you are likely very upset, even angry, with the nursing home. A skilled Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyer could help you navigate the lawsuit and handle the case’s legal aspect.
Our firm’s attorneys have the tools to help you hold the defendant liable for nursing home abuse your loved one suffered under their care. An experienced attorney could increase the chance of holding the defendant responsible for their abuse. Call today.