Due to a number of factors, including a lack of reporting, the exact number of elderly people who are abused in nursing homes is unknown. If you have discovered that a loved one was abused while living in a nursing home, it is important that you take action. In addition to reporting the abuse to Adult Protection Services in your state, you can also file a lawsuit. Here is what you need to know about filing a lawsuit.
Who Is Liable?
In order to file a lawsuit for injuries that your loved one suffered while in care, you have to know who to sue. Although the nursing home might seem the most logical choice, there is a possibility that a third party could also be held accountable.
The nursing home is usually considered liable when the abuse is at the hands of a staff member, such as a patient aide or nurse. Abuse can include lack of care, failure to address medical needs, and intentional emotional and physical abuse.
Depending on the circumstances, a third party could be responsible. Some nursing homes have contractors who work within the facilities. If your loved one is injured as the result of negligence or intentional abuse from the contractor, you can hold both the contractor and nursing home responsible.
Injuries that result from use of malfunctioning equipment can also extend liability to the manufacturer of the equipment. For instance, if a wheelchair has a design flaw and the staff continues to use it although it is apparent it is not fit to use, the manufacturer and the nursing home could be responsible.
What Do You Have to Prove?
Once you have established who is liable for your loved one's injuries, you need to prove the cause of the injury and the damages that resulted. To prove fault, you have to show that the liable party had a duty to ensure that your loved one received the proper amount of care and that it failed to do so.
Damages are not always limited to physical damages. If your loved one suffered emotionally and mentally from the abuse, you can also ask for additional compensation for these damages. You can prove damages through a host of resources, including medical records, journals kept by your loved one, and photographs of the injuries.
Before taking any action, consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in elder law. Not only can he or she help ensure the responsible party is held accountable financially for your loved one's injuries, but the attorney can help ensure that criminal charges are pursued, if necessary.
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