When Can You Bring A Legal Claim Against A Nursing Home For Abuse Or Neglect?
When your loved one goes to the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, you trust and expect that the facility and their staff will go to all lengths to make their residents’ stays happy and comfortable. Your goal is that your elderly parent or relative will have all of their personal and medical needs met, while still maintaining a strong quality of life. Due to many considerations, nursing home care is often a family’s best and only option.
Sadly, nursing home stays do not always go according to plan, and many nursing home residents find themselves subject to abuse or neglect in these facilities. The World Health Organization reports that as many as 2 in 3 nursing home staffers committed or witnessed abuse in their facilities in 2021. The rates of abuse and neglect only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic as well, due to crowded patient lists and overworked staff members.
Signs of nursing home abuse or neglect can include, but are not limited to:
- Unexplained injuries, cuts, burns or bruising
- Emotional withdrawal, lack of responsiveness, or anxiety
- Refusals to eat or drink
- Unexplained or sudden weight loss
- Clothes not being changed for days at a time
- Fears being expressed around certain caretakers
Often, there can be a reasonable explanation as to why an injury occurred, or how a patient lost weight or seems anxious or afraid. In other situations, however, you want to err on the side of caution and make sure all concerns are addressed as soon as possible. Many nursing home residents are hesitant to share personal safety concerns on their own, or are unable to due to cognitive issues. That’s why it is especially important for family members to observe and report any unusual issues they may notice.
Steps to Take if You Suspect a Loved One has Suffered Abuse or Neglect at a Nursing Home
If you suspect any kind of abuse, neglect, or unusual behavior, talk to the administrator or director of nursing and share your concerns. You will want answers as to what has taken place, how an incident might have happened. If you are not satisfied with the answers you have been given or the actions taken, you can call your local law enforcement or contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation – these agencies can investigate and potentially bring criminal cases against wrongdoers in nursing home abuse cases.
When to Take Private Legal Action in a Nursing Home Case
Even if you have addressed your concerns with facility administrators and law enforcement agencies, your loved one still has legal options under civil law – including the right to sue for fair financial compensation.
To sue and recover in a court of law for nursing home abuse or neglect, a Plaintiff must show the following elements beyond a preponderance of evidence:
- Duty. That the nursing home center or assisted living facility had some demonstrable duty of care to their patients and residents. In 100% of cases, the facility owes some duty of care to those living within their premises.
- Breach. That the facility breached its duty by failing to provide in some manner, failing to take necessary precautions, or failing to keep a person safe from avoidable harm.
- Causation. That the nursing home’s breach of duty caused the resident’s harm or injuries. For example, that a bruise or cut was caused by a staff member and not an accidental fall.
- Damages. That the resident suffered some type of damage. This can include obvious medical damages supported by medical bills, but it can also include the pain, suffering, and emotional harm they suffered (and continue to suffer) as well.
If you believe a family member or loved one was hurt while living at a nursing home, it is important to consult an experienced Knoxville area nursing home malpractice attorney that can discuss your options in further detail.
The Knoxville, Tennessee Nursing Home Litigation Attorneys at Atkins Brezina, PLLC , Can Help You Take Legal Action in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
It is extremely difficult just to know that a loved one may have suffered abuse or neglect at a place you trusted with their care. Working through the emotional trauma, stress, and anger is tough for all families. Our compassionate Knoxville nursing home malpractice lawyers at Atkins Brezina, PLLC , can listen to your concerns, look out for your legal rights, and hold wrongdoers responsible in court.