Whether you can sue a nursing home for neglect is a complicated question. Nursing homes do not always provide the level of care residents deserve. In fact, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 95% of nursing home residents report that they have been neglected or seen another resident be neglected by nursing home staff.
There are many circumstances where nursing home residents and their loved ones can sue a nursing home for neglect. A knowledgeable nursing home neglect lawyer can help you hold individual caregivers and the facility as a whole accountable.
Call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a FREE consultation. Our nursing home abuse lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Generally speaking, there are two types of nursing home injury cases: nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
Nursing home abuse occurs when a nursing home employee intentionally and actively causes harm to a resident. This can include:
- Physical abuse
- Financial abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- False imprisonment
Nursing home neglect, on the other hand, is less about what a nursing home employee does and more about what they fail to do. Examples of neglect in nursing homes include:
- Failure to administer medication
- Failure to properly attend to resident hygiene
- Failure to prevent bed sores
- Failure to ensure residents are properly hydrated and fed
- Failure to ensure residents have opportunities to socialize with visitors
This is by no means a comprehensive list. However, understanding the differences between nursing home abuse and neglect gives you a general idea of the potential causes of action if your loved one suffers harm.
Are Nursing Homes Liable for Neglect?
Under West Virginia law, nursing homes and the staff they employ have a duty of care to care for residents:
“Each resident shall receive, and the nursing home shall provide, the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, spiritual, mental, and psychosocial well-being of the residents, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.”
W. Va. Code R. § 64-13-8
In other words, nursing home residents enjoy protection not only from abuse but also neglect. The “comprehensive assessment and plan of care” mentioned in the statute specifies the needs of the resident that the nursing home is required to meet. Residents and their families can take legal action if neglect of these duties on the part of the nursing home results in injury, illness, worsening health, etc.
Evidence of Nursing Home Neglect
While there is no questioning the legal responsibility nursing homes have to care for their residents, proving neglect can be easier said than done. You might start worrying about neglect when you recognize disconcerting changes in your loved one’s mood or physical appearance. While the nursing home staff may offer explanations for these changes – and even try to blame the issues on your loved one – you should be vigilant in pursuing answers and meaningful solutions.
It is crucial to document any physical injuries, changes in temperament and behavior, and the condition of your loved one’s living quarters. Consider taking photographs and keeping a diary with dates, facts, and summaries of conversations and interactions with nursing home staff. In the event that neglect becomes a legal matter, this documentation could prove crucial to your case.
Furthermore, if you are seriously concerned about the physical, emotional, or mental well-being of your loved one, it is best to alert the authorities and immediately remove your loved one from the nursing home to ensure their safety. You should also speak to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that issues of abuse or neglect are promptly investigated.
How Do I Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect?
Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are civil lawsuits. To sue a nursing home for neglect, a complaint must be filed with the appropriate court.
Generally speaking, it is best to have an experienced lawyer handle the process of making a claim. Your attorney will understand the relevant laws, know how to file the lawsuit properly, and be able to represent you in interactions with the defendant(s) and any insurers. An experienced lawyer will also be able to collect evidence and calculate the damages in your case.
Nursing home administrators are not quick to admit responsibility for injuries and damages sustained by neglected residents. Although it may be possible to negotiate a settlement, your attorney needs to be prepared to file suit and potentially go to trial if it means obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
At Colombo Law, we understand the terrible reality of nursing home neglect. We are here to help those who have endured it – as well as their families – right the wrongs done by negligent nursing homes. While nothing can undo what was done, you may be able to recover compensation related to the physical, emotional, and financial ramifications of neglect.
If you are uncertain if you have a case, contact Colombo Law for a FREE consultation. Our attorneys can determine if you can sue a nursing home for neglect and what your case may be worth.