Many people trust nursing homes to provide care for their loved ones as they enter their golden years. For many families, this can be a heartbreaking decision. It is even more distressing when abuse and neglect violate that trust.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate and emotionally difficult situation, make sure you understand your legal rights. You may want to ask, “How much is my nursing home abuse claim worth?”

With a full understanding of the compensation you could expect from a nursing home abuse claim, you can work closely with your nursing home abuse lawyer and the insurance company to arrive at a fair settlement agreement.

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Understanding Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse involves any action or failure to act that causes harm to a resident within a nursing home. Abusers often include those directly responsible for patient care. Many nursing homes, however, do not have adequate structures in place to protect against abuse.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home caregivers can abuse vulnerable residents or ignore their needs through:

  • Physical abuse: Physical abuse occurs when a caregiver causes direct physical harm to a resident. It does not have to include visible signs but might include pinching a resident to get compliance, for example.
  • Emotional abuse: When caregivers cause verbal or psychological harm to nursing home residents, it constitutes emotional abuse. Emotional abuse may include detrimental comments, verbal abuse, harassment, or limiting a resident’s social contact with friends or loved ones, all of which can harm the victim’s emotional health.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse includes any unwanted contact with the senior’s genitals, breasts, or rectal area.
  • Financial abuse: Caregivers may financially abuse seniors by stealing from or exploiting them, including preying on their kindness to get a steady stream of additional income.
  • Neglect: Neglect occurs in nursing homes due to inadequate staffing and support. Seniors suffering from neglect do not receive the care they need. They may face deprivation of food or water, or their medical conditions may spiral out of control.

Any abuse in a nursing home can cause devastating consequences for residents and their families. If you or your loved ones are victims of nursing home abuse, you may recover compensation for your losses. A lawyer can provide a breakdown of what abuse can look like and how you might move forward with a nursing home abuse claim.

Statistics on Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is not an isolated problem, unfortunately. It is a pervasive issue that thousands of elderly individuals suffer from each year. An estimated one in 10 Americans over 60 experiences some type of abuse.

As many as five million seniors suffer some type of abuse each year. Abuse may rise even higher in nursing homes, though statistics vary by study. The media and police often underreport elder abuse since seniors do not always want to admit the abuse or that they were not able to protect themselves.

Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents

The government issues several legal rights to nursing home residents. These rights ensure that staff treat residents with dignity and respect and do not subject them to any form of abuse or neglect.

These rights include the right to freedom from physical, psychological, and emotional abuse; the right to privacy; the right to participate in the planning of one’s care; and the right to decide on medical treatment. Verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, as well as financial exploitation, are violations of these rights.

Federal and State Laws Regarding Nursing Home Abuse

Federal law details specific rights and protections for nursing home residents. The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act stipulates that nursing homes must promote and protect the rights of each resident. It also requires nursing homes to care for residents in a way that promotes their quality of life and to provide services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, psychological, and social well-being of each resident.

Alongside federal laws, each state has its own laws and regulations governing nursing homes. They address similar concerns and provide remedies for violations. State laws may provide even stronger protections than federal law in some cases.

These rights govern the way nursing homes should care for their residents, including what nursing home residents should reasonably expect from their caregivers. Violations of these rights may warrant compensation as part of an abuse claim. A lawyer can discuss the violation of specific laws in your or your loved one’s case and give you a better idea of what to expect as you progress with your claim.

Factors That Determine the Value of a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

Determining the value of a nursing home abuse claim can prove complex and often depends on several factors. Each case is unique, and while some aspects may seem relatively straightforward, others may have complications. Working closely with a lawyer can give you a better idea of the compensation you could expect from your specific nursing home abuse claim.

The Severity and Nature of the Abuse

The severity and nature of the abuse the victim suffers are substantial determinants of the value of a claim. The claim is likely to have a higher value if the abuse included physical harm and led to significant injuries or long-term disabilities than if it involved emotional or psychological abuse. This does not mean that non-physical abuse claims are not substantial, however.

Emotional and psychological abuse can have severe long-term effects on a person’s mental health. The law takes this issue very seriously.

Lawyers may look at several important details to determine the severity of your claim:

  • What medical costs did the senior face as a direct result of the abuse? This could include the cost of immediate medical treatment for physical harm and the increased cost of the patient’s deteriorating medical conditions due to poor care.
  • What long-term consequences will the victim have to face because of the abuse? Will the victim require ongoing medical care?
  • How long did the abuse continue?

A lawyer will look at the severity of the abuse from a legal standpoint. All abuse causes immense harm to both the victim and the victim’s family, making it difficult for you to accurately determine its true severity.

The Effect of the Abuse on the Victim’s Health and Well-Being

Another factor to consider when valuing a claim is the influence of the abuse on the victim’s health and well-being. This includes both physical and mental health. If the abuse has led to lasting psychological trauma or physical injuries that require ongoing medical treatment, these factors will increase the value of your claim. Your lawyer can determine what information you need to prove the effect of the abuse.

The Duration of the Abuse

The duration of the abuse is another critical aspect of your case. If the abuse lasts for a long time, there is more potential for a larger claim. Prolonged abuse usually means more severe emotional or physical damage, leading to higher compensation. Abuse can go on for a very long time before the senior reports it.

Many seniors believe that any type of abuse implies weakness and do not want to admit it. They may even try to protect their abusers or actively conceal the abuse. Seniors who do not receive regular visits from loved ones, moreover, may struggle to connect with another person who can help them report abuse.

Talk to a lawyer about the duration of your loved one’s suffering from abuse in a nursing home.

The Financial Costs of the Abuse

Your lawyer will consider the financial costs of the abuse when valuing a claim. This includes medical expenses, therapy costs, and any other related costs. There may also be consideration for loss of income if the victim was working and is no longer able to due to the abuse.

Each nursing home abuse claim can look different based on its unique factors. Your lawyer may also want to find out who bears liability for the abuse to get a clearer picture of what compensation your loved one can expect when dealing with a nursing home abuse claim.

Types of Damages in a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

When considering a nursing home abuse claim, talk to a lawyer about the specific damages you have the right to as part of your nursing home abuse case.

Compensatory damages aim to compensate the patient for their losses as a direct result of abuse.

They include:

  • Medical expenses cover the cost of any necessary care because of the abuse, such as hospital bills, prescriptions, physical therapy, and any future medical costs the victim may incur. You may want to work closely with a doctor or medical care provider to make sure you fully understand any possible future medical expenses as a result of the abuse.
  • Pain and suffering, which compensates the victim for the physical pain and emotional distress they experience due to the abuse. Emotional distress encompasses the psychological impact of the abuse, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Moving to a new nursing home, which may be necessary due to the abuse. A patient may need more care following abuse and can no longer stay in their former nursing home. An attorney can evaluate how this applies to your case and how to pursue compensation for it.

The court may award punitive damages in some cases. Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for their losses. They aim instead to punish the wrongdoer for egregious conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

Most nursing homes carry insurance policies that cover abuse claims, which means that the insurance company will pay out compensation for any damages due to nursing home abuse.

Your attorney can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or take the case to trial if necessary.

How to Document and Prove Nursing Home Abuse

Documenting and proving nursing home abuse is critical to the success of a claim. Types of evidence can include medical records, photographs of visible injuries, and eyewitness accounts. Gather any financial records that may provide proof of financial abuse.

The role of witnesses and experts in proving abuse is also significant. Medical experts can provide crucial evidence by explaining the victim’s injuries and how likely it is that the abuse is the cause. Witnesses, such as other nursing home residents and staff, family members, or friends, can attest to the abuse they saw or experienced.

The Legal Process of a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

The legal process begins with filing a complaint against the nursing home, detailing the neglect and/or abuse, and requesting compensation for damages. An attorney can guide families through the process, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent the victim in court if they can reach a fair agreement.

Potential outcomes of a nursing home abuse claim include financial compensation, nursing home policy changes, or even criminal charges against the abuser.

Call an Attorney To Handle Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer, Jacque Hawk
Jacque Hawk, Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Understanding the various factors that determine the worth of a nursing home abuse claim can help victims and their families navigate the legal process.

By recognizing the different types of abuse, assessing the effect on the victim’s health and well-being, and understanding the legal rights of nursing home residents, a personal injury lawyer can assess how much your nursing home abuse claim could be worth. If you or someone you love is a victim of nursing home abuse, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney for the support you need.