Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer In Montana

IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR LOVED ONE HAS BEEN ABUSED OR NEGLECTED AT A NURSING HOME OR RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY, CONTACT THE MONTANA NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEYS AT JONES & COOK ATTORNEYS AT LAW FOR A FREE CONSULTATION BY FILLING OUT OUR CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION FORM ONLINE, OR BY CALLING OR MISSOULA OFFICE DIRECTLY AT (406) 543-3800.

Elder abuse is a general term that refers to a single or repeated act (or lack of appropriate action) that causes harm or distress to an older person. Normally, there is an expectation of trust between the elder and the offender. The elder may rely on the person for care and support, but instead receives neglect. Unfortunately, elder abuse is common, and the number of reported cases are probably only a fraction of the actual number of incidences.

It’s hard to understand why anyone would abuse an elderly person, but cases of elder abuse often involve a financial motivation for the abuser. Sometimes the abuser is an insensitive family member, trying to gain what is “rightfully” theirs or trying to prevent the sick relative from using their inheritance. Other individuals may try to become close to an elderly person by telling them that they love and care for them, with the actual motive of accessing the elderly person’s personal information and money. Business people can also take advantage of the elderly by overcharging or being dishonest with their business practices.

Moreover, the elderly are easier targets for abuse because of their declining health and mental states. They often suffer from ailments such as dementia, that may cause them to lose their memory and subsequently be taken advantage of. They may also feel lonely or unwanted, which may increase the need for attachment, even if it means clinging to an abusive caregiver.

Elder abuse often goes unreported because of mental or physical inabilities as well as embarrassment and shame about the abuse. Whether the abuse is intentional or unintentional, if you suspect elder abuse you may wish to speak to an attorney; it may also be appropriate to report it to Adult Protective Services in your state.

HAS YOUR LOVED ONE BEEN ABUSED IN A NURSING HOME IN MISSOULA, HAMILTON OR BOZEMAN, MONTANA?

MONTANa NURSING HOME LAWYER Bradley J. Jones CAN ASSIST YOU WITH YOUR NEGLIGENCE CLAIM

If you suspect that you or an elderly patient you love has been injured as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse, it is important to immediately document, report the problem and seek legal aid through our experienced lawyers.

With this documentation, Montana nursing home attorney Bradley J. Jones can help see if you have a case of abuse of neglect from lack of following regulations of nursing homes in the Missoula, Montana area, including Hamilton and Polson.

Put your report of regulation violations in writing, date it, and keep a copy. Remember to include:

The name of the victim, including age and address; the name of the facility and the people responsible for the victim’s care; the identity of the person who you believe abused or neglected the resident;
The nature and extent of harm and any physical signs of abuse or neglect; any previous incidents; what happened;
The place where the incident happened and time and date of the incident.

Make your report to

The facility’s administrator, director of nursing, and social worker
In Montana, the Montana Board of Nursing Home Administrators
The local police or State law enforcement
A protection and advocacy or adult protective services agency
A citizen advocacy group or other church or community group that visits regularly
Montana nursing home abuse lawyer Bradley J. Jones

MONTANA ELDER NEGLECT AND ELDER ABUSE LAWSUITS

In an elder neglect lawsuit, the resident’s family alleges that the care facility unintentionally injured a resident by being negligent in the treatment and care it provided.

As businesses and as health care providers, residential facilities are legally obligated to provide the services for which they were paid, and are legally responsible for any injuries they cause through their negligence. The requirements of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments prohibit nursing homes from doing what they too often do in elder neglect cases: understaff their facilities with too few care managers, who then can’t do two-person lifts, can’t check on residents regularly, can’t help residents get to the bathroom so they don’t fall, and can’t keep their records up to date to make sure residents are followed and treated for chronic conditions like bed sores, pressure sores, infections, and malnutrition.

In these cases, the challenge to the plaintiffs and their lawyers is proving that the condition suffered by the resident was avoidable and would have been prevented if the nursing home had followed the required treatment plans.
Elder abuse cases are similar, but distinct, from neglect cases. In an abuse case, the perpetrator knows what they are doing is wrong. Examples include sexual abuse of residents, physical abuse like burning or hitting residents, stealing residents’ property, and either over-medicating patients on purpose or stealing patients’ painkiller medications.

In elder abuse lawsuits, the perpetrator is responsible, but the real challenge to the plaintiffs and their lawyers is proving that the care facility knew, or should have known, that the abuse would occur, and so should never have hired or retained the criminal employee.

TYPES OF ELDER ABUSE

Elder abuse is a general term that refers to a single or repeated act (or lack of appropriate action) that causes harm or distress to an older person. Normally, there is an expectation of trust between the elder and the offender. The elder may rely on the person for care and support, but instead receives neglect. Unfortunately, elder abuse is common, and the number of reported cases are probably only a fraction of the actual number of incidences.

ABANDONMENT

Abandonment of an elder is defined as deserting the senior by someone who has a responsibility for caring for the individual, or who has custody over them. Signs and symptoms of abandonment of the elderly include:

A report from the senior that he or she is being abandoned
Deserting the senior at a nursing facility or hospital
Deserting the senior at a public place, such as a shopping mall
CAREGIVER NEGLECT

Caregiver neglect occurs when a caregiver refuses or fails to provide an elderly person with the care they need to live a comfortable life. It may also involve failing to care for the elder by someone who has obligations to give care to the elder. It can involve failing to pay for home healthcare services or failing to provide essential care to the patient. Neglect of the elderly person usually means refusing or failing to provide the elder with the necessities of life, such as water, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, hygiene, personal safety or comfort that is required. Signs of caregiver neglect of the elderly include:

A report by the elderly person of mistreatment
Allowing the individual to live in unsanitary living conditions
Allowing the individual to live with hazardous conditions like faulty wiring, lack of heat or lack of clean, running water
Dehydration
Failing to treat health problems
Malnutrition
Untreated bed sores
EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE

Emotional abuse also happens to elderly victims. Any sort of insult, threat, intimidation, humiliation, or harassment can be considered emotional abuse. Caregivers should always be kind and respectful to elderly patients. They should not rebuke them for soiling themselves, for example, or for being slow to react. Any tension in the relationship between the caregiver and the patient can be identified through emotional agitation or fear toward certain individuals, unusual behavior, or emotional withdrawal. Signs of emotional or psychological abuse include:

A report from the senior indicating verbal or emotional maltreatment
The elder has unusual behavior that mimics dementia
The elder is not communicating, unresponsive or withdrawn
The elder seems agitated or emotionally upset
FINANCIAL ABUSE

Financial abuse of an elderly person includes illegal use of that person’s property or money. It can also mean forging their signature on a document or getting the elderly person to sign a Deed, Will, or Power of Attorney through unjust means. Scams and crimes committed that take advantage of an elderly person’s decreased awareness or potential disability for some sort of financial benefit are also considered elder abuse. Signs of financial exploitation of the elderly include:

Changes in the bank account or large amounts of money withdrawn
Changes to legal documents, such as the Will
Finding forged signatures on titles or other financial transactions
Giving the elder substandard care when they can afford better care
Including the caregiver’s name on an elderly person’s bank card
Providing unnecessary services
The disappearance of the elder’s possessions or funds
The elderly person reporting financial exploitation
The reappearance of relatives who claim rights to the senior’s possessions or affairs
Transferring assets to someone not in the family
Using the elderly person’s ATM card without permission
MEDICAL ABUSE

Medical abuse of an elderly person includes failure to provide medical services and neglecting to provide basic care and needs. The elderly demographic is the most reliant on medical providers, and oftentimes, they are unable to help themselves. Many seniors may require continued nursing and medical assistance and are on multiple medications. Failure to provide these services or delivering the wrong prescription or aid can also be considered abuse.

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Unfortunately, physical abuse of an elder is more common than most people would think as well. Physical abuse is any force that causes a person injury or pain. This includes striking, hitting, beating, shoving, or any action that you feel uncomfortable witnessing. Physical abuse also can mean tying down an elder with unnecessary or brutal restraints that limit movement. This can lead to muscle atrophy and further degeneration of the muscles. Anything that can leave bruises, black eyes, welts, cuts, broken bones, or other sorts of wounds can be considered physical abuse. Signs of physical abuse include:

Broken bones
Broken eyeglasses
Bruising
Dislocations
Evidence of restraining devices
Internal injuries or bleeding
Lacerations
Open wounds
Skull fractures
Sprains
Sudden changes in the elderly person’s personality or behavior
The elderly person reports being slapped, hit, mistreated or kicked
The refusal to have visitors see the senior alone
Unexplained cuts
Welts
SELF-NEGLECT

Self-neglect among elders is characterized by the elder engaging in behaviors that threaten their personal safety or health. It usually is seen when an older person refuses or fails to provide themselves with the proper amount of water, food, shelter, clothing, medications, hygiene and safety precautions. This does not include situations where the mentally-competent older person makes voluntary decisions to do things that threaten their health because of a personal choice; this may include smoking, alcohol use, not exercising etc. Signs and symptoms of self-neglect include:

Failing to have or use medical aids like dentures, hearing aids and glasses
Living in inadequate places or being homeless
Living in unsanitary living environments
Living with faulty wiring, lack of plumbing or in unclean conditions
SEXUAL ABUSE

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact or action. This can include any solicitation, touching, assault, or rape. Elderly people are vulnerable targets because they are frail. They also may not report an incident because of shame and fear of retaliation by the accused. Seniors with dementia may not even be able to give consent or remember the sexual conduct. Signs that an elderly person is being sexually abused include:

A report by the elder that he or she is being sexually abused
Bleeding from the anus or vagina
Bruises on the breasts or genitals
Underwear that is stained, bloody or torn
Unexplained genital infections
Unexplained STIs
Nursing Home RESIDENT RIGHTS

Nursing home elderly residents have patient rights and certain protections under the law and you can seek help from a nursing home or elder abuse lawyer in Montana if you are unsure of the regulations. The nursing home must list and give all new residents a copy of these rights. Resident rights usually include:

MEDICAL CARE

You have the right to be informed about your medical condition and medications, and to see you own doctor. You also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.

MONEY

You have the right to manage your own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for you.

PRIVACY

You have the right to privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.

RESPECT

You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

SERVICES AND FEES

You must be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home.

Missoula NURSING HOME ATTORNEY Bradley J. Jones CAN HELP YOU UNDERSTAND Montana Nursing Home RESIDENT RIGHTS. Call Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law at (406) 543-3800 for your Free Consultation.

NURSING HOME CHECKLISTS

Our nursing home and elder abuse attorneys want you to know that there are a number of factors to consider when selecting a nursing home. The following checklists can help you evaluate the facilities and make an informed decision and follow regulations. Our lawyers advise that it may be helpful to visit the nursing home on several occasions and at different times of the day to get a full sense of administration, staff, and resident interaction. Our attorneys suggest that thorough research of Missoula, Bitterroot Valley and Polson, Montana area nursing homes can increase the likelihood of selecting a facility that will provide supportive, dedicated care and decrease the chance of nursing home abuse, neglect, or injury.

GENERAL NURSING HOME FACILITY Checklist
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RESIDENTS ARE NOT IN PHYSICAL RESTRAINTS
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Residents look clean, well-groomed, well-fed, and free from bruises
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THE FACILITIES’ GROUNDS ARE SAFE, WELL-MAINTAINED, AND SPACIOUS
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The facility is free of any unpleasant smells
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The meals look appetizing, the residents are eating most of their food, and the staff members are patiently feeding residents who need help
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The RESIDENTS ARE ENGAGED IN MEANINGFUL AND PLEASANT ACTIVITIES BY THEMSELVES OR WITH OTHERS
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The ROOMS, HALLWAYS, AND MEAL TABLES ARE CLEAN
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The Staff members and administration seem to have a peaceful and open relationship
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There a positive, respectful, and warm interaction among staff and residents
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There is a quick response to call lights and verbal requests from residents for assistance
QUESTIONS FOR STAFF MEMBERS
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Are residents involved in roommate selection?
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Are staff members permanently assigned to residents?
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Can you give me an example of how individualized care is given to the residents?
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Do staff members enjoy their work?
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Does each shift have enough staff to maintain a high-level of care?
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Does the facility employ a professionally qualified social worker?
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Does the facility provide transportation to community activities?
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Has the facility undergone any recent changes in ownership? Management?
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How are the resident and his or her family involved in care planning?
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How long has the current administrator been at the facility?
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How much training is given to staff? Is it enough?
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How often are residents who need it assisted with using the restroom or have their disposable briefs changed?
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Is there a resident and/or a family council? Can you talk to members of these councils?
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Under what circumstances might a resident be transferred to another room or unit or discharged? Is the family/resident able to refuse?
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What activities are residents involved in?
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What approaches does the facility use to prevent the use of physical or chemical restraints?
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What does the facility do to encourage employee retention?
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What kind of therapy is available to residents?
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What happens if someone has a complaint or problem? Are family/staff conferences available to work out a solution?
QUESTIONS FOR OTHER RESIDENTS AND FAMILIES
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Are snacks available to residents? Fresh fruit and other healthy choices?
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Are staff members responsive to resident requests?
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Do residents participate in care planning? Are their opinions valued?
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Do residents receive adequate care at night if necessary?
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Do they assist the resident with using the restroom if necessary?
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Does the facility respect the residents’ wishes about their schedule (bedtime, baths, meals)?
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Does the resident get outside for fresh air or activities as much as he or she wants?
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Does the resident have a comfortable, positive relationship with the staff?
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Does the resident have the same nursing assistant most days?
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Has the resident had missing possessions?
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What is best/worst about living in the home?
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Who handles resident or family member concerns?

CONTACT Missoula, MONTANA ELDER ABUSE LAWYER Bradley J. Jones TODAY

You and your loved ones don’t have to continue to suffer nursing home abuse and violations of regulations. A Montana nursing home abuse attorney can help you understand your rights. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law we can help you get justice for victims of nursing home neglect and abuse.

The Nursing Home Personal Injury legal experts at Jones & Cook represent clients across Montana, which includes focusing our nursing home and assisted living liability practice on the cities of Missoula, Hamilton, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, and Billings. If your family member or loved one has suffered neglect or abuse in a nursing home, assisted living residence, or personal care home, call (406) 543-3800 to contact Jones & Cook for a confidential Free Consultation to learn about holding the facility and staff responsible and ensuring that it will not happen to anyone else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters.

An elder law attorney can help with any of the following:

  • Discuss the importance of wills and estate planning, including planning for a minor or adult with special needs, probate proceedings, and other matters.
  • Create a durable power of attorney.
  • Provide help with health care and planning, including long term care options, patient rights, Medicare, and health care power of attorney.
  • Financial representation: financial planning (including durable financial power of attorney), housing opportunities and planning, income, estate, and gift tax matters.
  • Guardianship: help with the selection and appointment of a legal guardian.
  • Help locate long term care facilities and manage assisted living cost.
  • Explain nursing home resident rights and help file nursing home claims.
  • Draft a living will or other advance directives, including a durable power of attorney and long term planning documents.

It’s important to hire an attorney who has experience in your particular area of concern. You should feel comfortable they will represent you or your loved one in a sensitive and understanding manner.

Elder abuse is a term that refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm, or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Elder neglect is a specific form of abuse; it is the failure to act in a manner necessary to protect or provide for someone you have a duty to care for. Abuse to an older person or senior citizen may be:

  • Physical Abuse: Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Exploitation: Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
  • Neglect: Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Abandonment: The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for the care or custody of that person.

Elder abuse and neglect of seniors can affect people of all ethnic backgrounds and social status and can affect both men and women.

While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs. For more information on how caregivers may prevent elder abuse, please review How to Choose a Nursing Home.

Most important is to be alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

Tragically, sometimes elders neglect their own care, which can lead to illness or injury. Self-neglect can include behaviors such as:

  • Hoarding
  • Failure to take essential medications or refusal to seek medical treatment for serious illness
  • Leaving a burning stove unattended
  • Poor hygiene
  • Not wearing suitable clothing for the weather
  • Confusion
  • Failure or inability to attend to housekeeping
  • Dehydration

Self-neglect accounts for the majority of cases reported to adult protective services. The problem is typically related to the self-neglecting elder’s declining health, isolation, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or drug and alcohol dependency. In some of these cases, elders will be connected to support systems within their communities that can allow them to continue living on their own. Moreover, some conditions, such as depression and malnutrition, may be successfully treated through medical intervention. If the problems are severe enough, a guardian may be appointed.

Social isolation and mental impairment (e.g., dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) are two factors that may make an older person or senior citizen more vulnerable to abuse. However, in some situations, studies demonstrate that living with someone else (for example, a caregiver or a friend) may actually increase the likelihood for abuse to occur. Not surprisingly, a history of domestic violence may also make a senior more susceptible to abuse.

If you suspect that abuse is occurring, start by contacting:

  • Emergency Services (911) such as local law enforcement or ambulance/paramedics
  • Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • Treating physicians or medical providers
  • A local attorney

Person between the ages of 18 and 64 who has a physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her own rights. Dependent adults includes adults with:

  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Mental Illness: including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and severe depression

Yes, nursing home residents (or their survivors) who are harmed due to improper care by a nursing home may recover damages under several different legal theories, even in the absence of a contract. A resident might have a cause of action that arises out of negligent personal supervision and care, negligent hiring and retention of employees, negligent maintenance of the premises, or negligent selection or maintenance of equipment. In addition, a nursing home resident who has been abused can pursue damages for assault and battery.

A resident in a nursing facility that participates in the Medicare program has the right, under statute, to be free from verbal, sexual, physical and mental abuse, and any physical or chemical restraint that is imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience, rather than to treat a medical condition. Restraints may be used upon the written order of a physician who specifies the duration and circumstances under which the restraints are to be used, but only to insure the safety of the resident or other residents. If a nursing home is not regulated by federal statute, its residents will still have rights under state laws, which will vary from state to state.

All states have a system for reporting allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly, for investigating the allegations. An investigation will usually include interviews with the resident, his or her family members, and nursing home staff and management. If the allegations are founded, adult protective services will provide services to the older person to try to remedy the problems and prevent their recurrence; however, there may be situations where the victim or the victim’s family do not feel satisfied or justly compensated for the injury or indignity suffered at the hands of the nursing home. In such cases, the resident or resident’s family member should speak to an attorney about bringing a civil action for damages against the nursing home. In addition, the circumstances may warrant a criminal prosecution.

Most states define neglect of an older person as the failure to provide him or her with services essential to health and safety, such as food, shelter, clothing, supervision, and medical care. Whether such failures are intentional, or simply careless, often will determine whether a case against a nursing home is framed as one for neglect or abuse.

Yes, someone injured while at a nursing home can bring a civil claim against the nursing home under the law of “premises liability,” which addresses injuries sustained on premises that are owned or maintained by others as a result of a dangerous or unsafe condition on that property. The injured party would probably proceed under a negligence theory, alleging that some negligence, either in the maintenance of the premises or in hiring employees, resulted in his or her injury.

Several factors have been shown to contribute to the abuse or neglect of nursing home residents, including: poorly qualified and inadequately trained staff; staff with a history of violence; inadequate numbers of staff; the isolation of residents; and, the known reluctance of residents to report abuse out of embarrassment or fear.

An act of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older person might give rise to one or all of the following proceedings:

  1. an investigation and finding by an adult protective services agency;
  2. a civil cause of action for damages (a lawsuit); and/or,
  3. a criminal prosecution.

These proceedings have different objectives: the objective of a protective services investigation is to provide immediate help and relief to the victim and prevent further harm; the goal of a civil action (lawsuit) is to remedy damages; and the criminal prosecution is meant to punish the harmful conduct and deter repetition.