If a loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home, you might be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the nursing home. In order for your lawsuit to succeed, you have to prove that your loved one was harmed as a result of the abuse in order to get compensated for the damages. So how do you prove damages in a nursing home abuse case?
According to CDC, the rate of older adults moving into nursing homes has increased. Almost two million people in the United States now live in nursing homes. Unfortunately, now that there are more people living in nursing homes, the number of abuse cases has also increased.
Abuse can be because of negligence or deliberate actions from the caregivers. In this post, our New Bedford nursing home abuse attorney will focus on what the process of making a claim looks like and how you can go about proving damages.
Bringing a Lawsuit
This is just one of the ways that you can pursue a claim for damages from a nursing home abuse case. You will need to file a complaint with the state court or with the court clerk of the local county.
The nursing home will respond to the lawsuit by filing similar papers with the court and soon after, you will go into discovery. Discovery is the process through which witnesses are deposed and documents are exchanged. If you fail to reach an agreement out of court, you will have to schedule a trial.
Proving the Case at Trial
There are several elements to your claim if you choose to go to trial and both you and your attorney will have the burden of proving all of them. You will be required to prove:
- Your loved one suffered harm as a result of the abuse
- The nursing home failed to do or did something they shouldn’t have done. In other words, they breached their duty of care.
- The nursing home owed a duty of care to your loved one.
Types of Damages
Assuming you and your attorney were able to prove all the three elements mentioned previously, you will be able to recover several types of damages. Damages are intended to compensate your loved one for any abuse or injuries they suffered while at the nursing home. There are several types of damages and they include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental pain
- Cost of medical treatment
Lost income or wages can also be part of damages but since most people in nursing homes no longer go to work, this might not be applicable. In rare cases, your loved one might also be awarded punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to punish those responsible for the abuse and to deter similar behavior.
In order for your loved one to be awarded damages, they have to prove that they suffered harm due to the negligence or gross misconduct of the nursing home staff. Physical injuries caused by nursing staff are the easiest to prove. Ensure that you take your loved one to hospital immediately you notice that they have suffered any physical injuries. This ensures that a doctor properly documents their injuries.
In most nursing home injury cases, the staff at the nursing home need to complete an injury incident report. This can be a valuable resource in providing damages later in court.
Not surprisingly, evidence of abuse might be more difficult to document since it’s hard to come across paper trails that normally accompany an injury in an accident. Evidence used to support an abuse claim can be as varied as the reasons behind the abuse.
However, it doesn’t matter what the nature or the cause of the abuse was; what matters is that everything is documented as clearly as possible. This information can be used to pursue civil or criminal charges against the nursing home. The documentation that you need to create a solid case include:
- Diaries kept by your loved on or family members
- Photos of injuries
- Notes summarizing conversations with the staff or your loved one
- Photos of medications prescribed or given to your loved one
- Notes on personal observations of emotional or physical abuse kept by family members
Who Will Be Held Liable?
It’s not always easy to establish who is responsible for the abuse to your loved one in the nursing home. It could be the facility, an employee, a third party or all of them.
The Nursing Home
The nursing home can be held liable for your loved ones injuries if they are responsible for:
- Imposing dangerous or unreasonable physical restraints
- Intentional abuse by nursing home staff members
- Failing to protect nursing home residents from safety hazards
- Failing to address medical needs or medical neglect
- Failing to provide adequate security
- Failing to provide basic needs needed for everyday living like food and water
- Failing to monitor staff adequately
- Negligently hiring staff like failure to perform background checks
- Negligently training staff
Sometimes the nursing home might not be responsible for nursing home abuse; third parties can be held liable. For instance, if a nursing home resident fell down and broke her leg, it’s automatically assumed that one of the staff members intentionally caused the injury. However, there could be other causes. The wheelchair could have malfunctioned causing the injury. In such a case, the company that manufactured the wheelchair or the person responsible for maintaining the wheelchair can be held legally responsible for the accident.
Sometimes visitors or trespassers to the nursing home might end up abusing the residents. In such a case, the nursing home might be held liable for not providing tight security to their residents. If a third party provides security to the nursing home, they might also be held liable for delivering inadequate security.
Talk to a New Bedford Nursing Home Attorney
An experienced New Bedford nursing home attorney can help you through the process of filing for a lawsuit as well as make sure that the residents in the nursing home get out of a problem situation. They can also help you identify the person responsible for the abuse of your loved one.