Elder abuse is perhaps one of the most heinous types of abuse perpetrated against frail and vulnerable victims. When families place a loved one in a nursing home, they trust that the nursing home staff will protect their family members. Abuse happens more often than many people believe. One in six seniors experiences abuse in a long-term care facility, like an assisted living community or nursing home. And, in a recent year, roughly two out of three senior caregivers in long-term care self-report committing abuse. Call our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers if you want to sue a nursing home due to your loved one suffering abuse.
If you’re infuriated after reading those stats, you’re probably wondering, “Can you sue a nursing home for abusing your family member?” With the help of a Chicago attorney for nursing home neglect, you probably can.
How to File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
Suing a nursing home for negligence or abuse can be more complicated than many families realize. First, elderly adults may not be the most reliable witnesses due to memory problems. Second, some signs of abuse may be attributed to commonplace accidents. Many seniors have mobility or balance limitations and fall more often than other adults.
The first step in filing your nursing home neglect lawsuit is to contact a lawyer about how to sue a nursing home.
Then, you can gather evidence, like taking photos of physical abuse marks or bruising or evidence of neglect, like bedsores. The kind of evidence needed for your nursing home malpractice lawsuit depends on the type of abuse or neglect your senior suffered.
What Type of Abuse Can You Sue a Nursing Home For?
There are multiple types of nursing home neglect and abuse that a nursing home resident can suffer:
- Physical abuse can include slapping, pinching, pulling hair, or pushing.
- Sexual abuse can range from mocking someone’s body to touching them in a nonconsensual sexual manner, showing them indecent images, or even engaging in sexual assault.
- Psychological abuse includes actions like yelling or intimidating a resident or deliberately misleading someone with memory issues.
- Financial exploitation is a type of abuse many families may not realize may be eligible for personal injury legal action. Examples include an elderly person being more vulnerable to “romance scams” or other internet scams or the long-term care facility deliberately overbilling the senior.
- Neglect is abuse, too, and you can file a claim for your loved one if their caregivers don’t provide adequate care. Neglect occurs when bedbound residents who need to be turned or moved to prevent bedsores are ignored, and people who are unable to feed themselves and need assistance with eating are left without that help. Neglect may also lead to dangerous slip-and-fall accidents if a senior with mobility limitations tries to walk unassisted.
- Resident-to-resident abuse. Nursing home caregivers have a duty of care to prevent residents from hurting each other. However, resident-on-resident abuse can easily happen in facilities with negligent staff or in facilities that are chronically short-staffed.
How to Prove Nursing Home Negligence
You can file a complaint with your regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman offices. This agency investigates complaints filed by residents in long-term care communities or those filed by families on behalf of residents.
You may need to submit proof of the abuse, which could include:
- Photos of marks, bruises, or scars from physical abuse
- A statement from your loved one, either written or recorded
- Medical records that indicate abuse or medical malpractice
- Eyewitness accounts of the abuse
- Your nursing home abuse lawyer may also use the proof you gather for your nursing home complaint.
What Evidence Do You Need to Sue a Nursing Home?
To file a nursing home lawsuit for negligence, you need evidence similar to that required for a complaint to a state agency. Proving negligence in civil lawsuits rests on establishing four things:
- The nursing home has a duty of care to keep your loved one safe
- It breached this duty of care by permitting abuse or neglect to occur
- Your senior came to harm due to the breach
- They suffered actual losses due to the abuse
Your attorney can advise you on gathering evidence to build the case for neglect and abuse against the nursing home.
Nursing Home Abuse Compensation
Your loved one can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses cover items with specific costs attached, such as medical treatment to heal from the abuse or long-term care your loved one may require.
Non-economic losses are intangible losses that have value and can include pain and suffering from the physical injury and the emotional trauma your loved one suffered.
If your case goes to trial, a jury may find the facility’s abusive environment especially egregious and award punitive damages. Punitive damages may not be available in every case, so talk to your lawyer about whether your loved one is eligible to claim these damages.
Who Can Sue for Negligence in Nursing Home Cases?
The victim of abuse is the plaintiff or the person filing the suit. However, if your senior died due to neglect or abuse, your family may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit to recover compensation.
How Long Does a Nursing Home Abuse Case Take?
Personal injury or wrongful death cases can easily take several months to more than a year to conclude. Gathering evidence can be time-consuming, especially if your loved one’s memory is vague. If your case is settled out of court, it could still take a few months to come to a compromise. Trials can take longer.
How Long Do You Have to Sue a Nursing Home?
The Illinois statute of limitations allows two years from the date of the abuse to file a lawsuit against the facility that allowed the abuse to occur.
Is it Difficult to Sue a Nursing Home?
You may be unable to get compensation through filing a complaint with the state agency, although this is a critical step to stopping nursing home abuse. If you want to pursue compensation from the party responsible for the abuse, you’ll probably have to file a claim with the facility’s insurer and perhaps file a lawsuit. An attorney can give you insight and advice, prepare your case, attempt to settle with the insurer, and argue before a jury if a settlement can’t be reached.
Contact Us to Learn Your Legal Options
If you’re worried your loved one in a Chicago nursing home is being abused, contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today by calling 312-346-8620. We offer a free legal consultation for nursing home neglect with one of our lawyers.