Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a heart-wrenching decision. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that as people live longer, their medical needs may be too much for a family to handle, especially as many households do not have an adult who can stay home to care for their relative. Families hope that a nursing home will provide their loved one with the medical care and social contact they need.

Sadly, nursing homes do not always provide the attentive care that the residents deserve. Some nursing homes may take advantage of their patients’ dependency and exploit them financially. In the most horrific cases, individual employees may intentionally harm the patient by physically or sexually assaulting them.

If this has happened to someone you know, there may be recourse available. It would be wise to contact a Staunton nursing home abuse lawyer if you believe someone you love is being exploited or abused in a nursing home. An experienced personal injury lawyer could help you seek justice for your loved one.

Nursing Home Patients Have Enumerated Rights

Virginia Code §32.1-138 sets forth the specific rights of every patient who lives in a licensed nursing home in the Commonwealth. Among them are the rights to:

  • Handle their own money or have access to their financial records
  • Dignity and consideration
  • Be free from physical or chemical constraints absent a medical necessity to protect the patient or others
  • Privacy regarding mail sent and received
  • Freedom from mental and physical abuse

If a nursing home fails to respect any of these rights, a lawsuit may be warranted. Unfortunately, many nursing home patients are vulnerable due to their weakened mental or physical health, and they may be unable to advocate for themselves. In those cases, the patient’s family, guardian, or representative has a legal right to make a complaint or file a lawsuit on the patient’s behalf.

Consulting a Staunton attorney who works with nursing home patients and their families is a good first step towards protecting a loved one. A seasoned legal professional might have advice about immediate steps to take to ensure the loved one’s safety, as well as a long-term strategy to compensate the patient for the violation of their rights.

Proving A Nursing Home Is Negligent Can Be Difficult

When nursing home residents or their representatives file a lawsuit against a nursing home alleging abuse, they must show that the nursing home was negligent. Negligent care by a nursing home could mean neglecting to keep the resident clean, allowing a patient to fall, assigning the patient a violent roommate, improperly administering medication, failing to admit a patient to a hospital if necessary, and many other examples.

In Virginia, nursing homes can raise defenses to negligence suits that seek to blame the patient or their family. For example, a nursing home may assert that a patient fell because the patient broke the rules by getting out of bed without assistance. In another example, the nursing home may claim that the family knew their loved one was receiving constant sedation and never inquired or complained.

Because the patient is already in fragile health, it can be difficult to prove that a particular action or failure to act caused an injury to the patient. A seasoned lawyer with nursing home abuse experience can investigate all the circumstances and provide insight into whether a lawsuit alleging nursing home negligence is the best response in any given case.

Punitive Damages May Be Available in Some Cases

When a plaintiff succeeds in showing that a nursing home was negligent and its actions amounted to neglect or abuse, the plaintiff will be awarded damages. The amount of damages depends on many variables.  The intent is to make whole any actual financial loss the patient suffered and also compensate them for their pain, suffering, embarrassment, anguish, and other emotional injuries. Punitive damages also may be appropriate when neglect is so extreme that the patient suffers severe physical consequences or dies.

Let a Staunton Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help

Knowing that the facility you trusted to care for your vulnerable loved one failed in its obligation is difficult to bear.  A seasoned nursing home abuse attorney could help you decide how best to protect your loved one and advise you about seeking damages from the facility. Call to schedule an appointment with The Warren Firm to speak with a compassionate Staunton nursing home abuse lawyer today.