How Can I Prove Abuse or Neglect by a Nursing Home?
Seeing a friend or family member move to a nursing home or other long-term care facility can be difficult. The senior loved one may feel a loss of independence. Family members, who often prefer to have the loved one at home, may feel guilt, but face the reality that the senior, due to illness, disease, age, or injury, needs a level of care that can no longer be provided at home. Both parties may find solace in the understanding that the nursing home is equipped to assist with daily activities of living, which improves the senior individual’s quality of life.
We place immense trust in these long-term care facilities. We expect them to treat our loved ones with the dignity, kindness, and respect they deserve. We also expect them to provide services with the appropriate level of care and skill. When nursing homes and their employees violate this trust by acting negligently - or even worse - abusively, they must be held accountable. This article will discuss some tips for proving nursing home negligence.
How to Prove Nursing Home Negligence: 3 Important Steps
1. Watch for Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Unfortunately, in a time when more elderly citizens than ever need long-term care, statistics demonstrate that incidences of abuse and neglect continue to increase. We previously shared some sobering statistics, and discussed common signs of nursing home neglect, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Watch carefully for these signs, and if you believe abuse or neglect may exist, start investigating.
2. Obtain Records
Proving nursing home negligence is unlikely if you can’t provide documentation to back up your claims. This means you will need to keep careful records and understand how to obtain them from the nursing home and other institutions.
If the nursing home involved receives Medicare or Medicaid, the procedure for obtaining a resident’s records is generally simplified. In more difficult circumstances, an attorney can assist.
Review the records and look for irregularities. Be aware that these records may contain legal, medical, and other jargon making them difficult for the average person to completely understand. Consider hiring a lawyer to help you.
3. Hire a Lawyer to Investigate and Take Advantage of “Discovery” Tools
Ultimately, proving a nursing home negligence case requires a preponderance of evidence. With this legal standard in mind, an attorney can help you prepare your case.
Experienced lawyers in nursing home liability cases can obtain, review, and understand nursing home records. Attorneys can also help interview witnesses and conduct in-depth investigations.
Perhaps most importantly, should a lawsuit be appropriate, lawyers are experienced with the procedures the law permits a litigant to use to discover the facts related to a dispute. These procedures are referred to by the law as rules of “discovery.” Below, we’ll discuss a few of these discovery rules.
- Depositions: Depositions are a method by which a party may obtain and preserve sworn oral testimony from any witness (or party), prior to trial. Typically, the victim’s attorney schedules a time and place to question the witness. A court reporter attends and records all the answers. This procedure can be invaluable in obtaining information for a case. For example, the victim’s attorney may choose to depose employees and other residents at the nursing home.
- Interrogatories and Requests for Documents: Discovery procedures also permit a party to send written questions to an opposing party, which must be answered under oath. Additionally, the law provides methods, including subpoena, by which a party can obtain documents from another party. While these procedures can provide useful information, complicated rules exist concerning what information is privileged, or otherwise protected from disclosure. On some occasions, the lawyers disagree and a judge must make the final decision.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, call us with questions about your case or for a free consultation.. Our experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys can help you better understand how to prove your nursing home negligence case. While we are thankful for the good nursing homes that assist our elderly population, we are equally passionate about holding responsible those nursing homes that do not meet the standard of care demanded by the law.