Getting Nursing Home Legal Help
Hiring a lawyer in the wake of nursing home abuse can feel overwhelming. Doubts about the cost — both the time and money — can make it seem like it may not be worth the effort.
Seeking nursing home abuse legal aid can help victims and their families:
- Get financial compensation needed to cover medical expenses or funerals
- Bring abusers to justice for their wrongdoings
- Send a message that nursing home abuse is inexcusable
- Help ensure nursing home abuse victims are kept safe moving forward
An experienced and compassionate law firm will make the process as painless as possible to provide families the financial compensation they deserve and hold negligent nursing homes accountable.
Quick Facts About Nursing Home Abuse Legal Help
- Choosing a national law firm means a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be filed almost anywhere in the U.S.
- A successful nursing home abuse lawsuit can result in the facility receiving legal fines and other penalties from watchdog government agencies.
- The extent of the victim’s injuries, including pain, suffering, and emotional damage, weighs heavily into the financial compensation received from a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
- Legal help for nursing home abuse may also be available through local law enforcement or your state’s adult protective services (APS).
Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
The simplest definition of a nursing home abuse lawsuit is using the legal system to hold a nursing home accountable for abuse.
A lawsuit can result in financial compensation to cover medical expenses and damages caused by neglect or abuse, such as pain and mental suffering.
A nursing home abuse lawsuit may be file if:
- Nursing home abuse or neglect caused the death of a resident
- A nursing home resident was neglected, injured, or abused while living at a nursing home
- Long-term or permanent disabilities were caused by the abuse
- A family needs financial help to cover additional health care expenses caused by the abuse
- A family deems a nursing home too unsafe and needs financial assistance to move the resident elsewhere
The wrongdoers in nursing home abuse lawsuits might also have to pay in other ways. For instance, a court may rule the abuser has to complete certain actions like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow for the victim.
More commonly, the offender is sentenced to community service or their pay is withheld (called restitution) and goes to community welfare programs.
Statute of Limitations on Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
The window to take legal action against a nursing home is not indefinite.
Each state limits how much time you have to sue a nursing home facility or employee. The timeframe ranges from as little as one year in Tennessee to six years in Maine and North Dakota.
The average statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is 2-3 years.
The statute of limitations exists for both the person suing (the plaintiff) and the nursing home (the defendant).
The plaintiff’s law firm needs time to build a case through evidence collection and interviewing witnesses. However, the longer the discovery process draws out, the harder it is for a nursing home to build their defense.
A judge will take a far less sympathetic view of the plaintiff if they bring a lawsuit years after the abuse. From their perspective, a valid case should inspire some urgency. Additionally, it is harder for defendants to clear their names from old accusations.
Working with an experienced law firm is the best way to know whether your nursing home abuse case falls within your state’s statute of limitations.
Nursing Home Abuse Law Firms
Just like you would visit a trusted mechanic for a problem with your car, it is important to hire a law firm with extensive experience in nursing home abuse cases.
The law firm you trust with such an important decision should have a proven track record in handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Some of the qualities you may wish to seek out include a:
- Proven track record of success in court
- National network of attorneys knowledgeable about the state laws in which the abuse occurred, including the statute of limitations
- Compassion team that treats victims like more than just clients
Nursing Home Abuse Laws
The elderly are among the most vulnerable members of our population and, as such, are given special protections under the law.
The overarching umbrella of federal law provides some of these safeguards, and they are accompanied by state and local laws, which vary.
National Nursing Home Abuse Laws
Federal law establishes a standard that nursing homes must meet. While some states may choose to implement those requirements differently or even create higher standards, federal programs establish how the elderly should be treated across the U.S.
U.S. senior citizens are protected by federal laws, including:
- The Nursing Home Reform Act
- Elder Justice Act
- Older Americans Act
- Violence Against Women Act
Some of these laws, like the Nursing Home Reform Act, address such things as proper nutrition, levels of supervision, and maintaining accurate records. Other laws provide guidelines on background checks for employees and legal resources for the elderly.
Nursing Home Abuse Laws by State
While nursing home abuse laws vary by state, most of the differences are split based on two criteria. These criteria are: who qualifies as an elder, and what is the legal definition of abuse and neglect?
Generally, states qualify someone as the victim of elder abuse if they meet one of the following criteria:
- An adult of a certain age (typically 60 or older)
- A mentally or physically vulnerable adult
- A vulnerable adult of a certain age
Abuse and neglect are linked, but they are not the same. Abuse is actively harming someone (e.g., striking them) while ignoring someone’s calls for water or food falls under neglect.
When judging whether someone’s actions are abuse, states consider:
- The intent of the offender
- The severity of the victim’s injuries
- Damage that includes sexual, psychological, and financial
- If the abuser was in a “position of trust”
- Whether abandonment qualifies as elder abuse
States also consider whether neglect and elder abuse are treated as separate crimes.
How to Choose an Attorney or a Law Firm
Choosing the right law firm is a big decision if you move forward with a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
No law firm can guarantee any particular outcome — and if they try to make such claims, it may be a red flag. However, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney has a greater chance of success.
Below, find several questions you may wish to ask when searching for a law firm.
What is your record for successful cases?
A good record starts with wins and fair settlements, but you should also dive into their background. Are there any complaints or misconduct charges on your state’s bar association website?
How do you develop relationships with clients?
The legal process can feel intimidating. A good law firm will make you comfortable and open to sharing sensitive information.
How much experience do you have handling nursing home abuse cases?
Experience helps a law firm anticipate the defense’s strategy and file paperwork in a timely manner. Ideally, they should have experience specifically handling nursing home abuse cases.
What are the terms of contracting your services?
Law firms should be upfront about the cost of their services, fees, and how payment is handled. If you do not think the terms are fair, it may be best to walk away.
Can you provide references?
Do your own research. A law firm can claim they are the best in the industry, but what do their clients say? References are invaluable for gauging a law firm’s trustworthiness.
If you feel ready to learn more about your possible legal options, get a free case review today.