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Nursing Home Abuse Overview

Discovering that a family member or loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home is one of the most repulsive and infuriating incidents in your life. Attorney Geoffrey Nwosu accepts nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Santa Clara County (the Bay Area) including: San Jose, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Fremont, Oakland, San Francisco, and its surrounding areas.

When older people enter a nursing home or long-term facility, someone must assume that they will be properly cared for. Most facilities present a positive and enriching environment for their residents. Unfortunately, some older people fall prey to physical and/or psychological abuse under the watch of their caregivers. Some are acts of negligence, while others are deliberate acts of violence. In an institutional setting, this could be due to: inadequately qualified staff members, some with a history of violence, seclusion of residents, and residents unwilling to report the abuse for fear of shame or retribution. Over one-third of the nursing homes in the United States has been cited for abuse.

Liability Involving Nursing Home Injuries

There are three types of proceedings that may be an option if abuse, neglect, or mistreatment is detected.

  • An investigation and conclusion by an adult protective services agency
  • A civil cause of action/lawsuit for damages
  • A criminal prosecution

Each type of proceeding has a distinct intent. The intent of a protective services investigation is to provide immediate assistance to the victim and prevent additional harm. The intent of a civil action/lawsuit is to resolve damages. Finally, criminal prosecution is aimed at penalizing the harmful conduct.

Civil Actions for Nursing Homes
  • Negligent personal supervision and care
  • Negligent hiring and retention of staff
  • Negligent maintenance of the premises
  • Negligent selection or maintenance of equipment

Nursing homes may be held liable if the victim can substantiate:

  • The nursing home???s owner or staff breached a duty of care owed to the victim
  • The person???s injury was caused by the breach
  • The nursing home owner???s or staff member???s conduct caused the injury. These apply to negligent actions and they are brought by nursing home visitors and residents.

Proving Duty and Breach of Duty: The litigant suing the nursing home may be required to present expert medical testimony concerning proper practice, treatment, or procedure in a particular situation, unless the negligence or lack of skill was unquestionably obvious to others.

Statutory Standard of Care: Several states have enacted statutes or guidelines creating minimum standards of care for private nursing homes. Still, if a nursing home abides by the minimum licensing standards, they may still be accountable for injuries to a resident.

Causation: A preexisting physical or mental condition should never be blamed for any mistreatment or negligence of the nursing home. Oftentimes, defendants will argue that it was their preexisting condition and not negligence that caused the injury.

Defense Considerations: The defense of contributory negligence may not be allowed if residents have placed themselves in a nursing home to be protected from the effects of particular medical conditions.

Breach of Contract

Usually, before a nursing home accepts a new resident, they will have them sign a contract. A contract may be considered breached if the abuse or neglect conflicts with agreements made by the nursing home or employees.

Criminal Liability

Many states have improved their penalties and consequences for offenses that have been committed against senior citizens. Failing to provide residents with adequate food, unsanitary conditions can aid in convicting a nursing home. Unwarranted physical restraint against the residents has also brought convictions for abuse.

Bruce Rosenthal, a spokesman for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging reported nursing home abuse was on the rise. Homes cited for abuse doubled from 1996 to 2000. The report also discovered that 1 in 10 abuse citations were made in serious incidents that greatly jeopardized residents, or killed them.

Our elderly loved ones live in a fragile state and deserve the best care we are able to provide. They should be entitled to adequate supervision and treatment. If a loved one has fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Attorney Geoffrey Nwosu today at 408-912-5983. Initial consultations are always confidential and conducted without any charge.

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