Breaking Down a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing home abuse, unlike nursing home neglect, is an intentional tort. Usually, the result, a personal injury, is unintentional. The conduct was intentional, which in this context basically means non-accidental. A personal injury is just the beginning of the damages in these cases. Usually, the tortfeasor (wrongful actor) as a caregiver, nursing home employee, or someone else in a position of trust. Through the assault, the tortfeasor betrayed that trust. Emotionally, that’s a difficult pill to swallow, especially for vulnerable older adults.
Money is usually the root of nursing home abuse claims. Cost-cutting measures often put nursing home employees in a difficult situation in an already difficult environment. For example, if the nursing home cust staff levels, one person may do two or three jobs. In contrast, a Seattle personal injury lawyer doesn’t care about money. Instead, a lawyer cares about victims and their recovery.
First Party Liability
Intentional torts begin with intentional acts. Common nursing home abuse incidents in King County include:
- Physical Abuse: A physical injury, like a fall, sends many people to long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. Therefore, these individuals are physically vulnerable. A slight amount of force, like a push, shove, or twist, could cause a serious injury,
- Sexual Abuse: Frequently, nursing home workers abuse residents sexually, a broad category that includes not only unwanted touching but incidents like forcing a resident to witness sexual activity, to assert power over them.
- Emotional Abuse: Forced isolation might be the most common example of emotional abuse, mostly because these tortfeasors (negligent actors) normally don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. Locking a resident in a room, perhaps as a punishment, could be considered intentional infliction of emotional distress.
If a friend or loved one in a nursing home reports any kind of abuse, always take them at tehri word and bring the matter to the nursing home administrator’s attention. If this person doesn’t do the right thing, do not hesitate to call a Seattle personal injury lawyer. Victims have a limited amount of time to act in these situations.
In court, a victim/plaintiff must prove every element of the intentional tort case by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
To gather the necessary evidence, many people are tempted to install granny cams (hidden surveillance cameras) in a friend or loved one’s room. These cameras are illegal in Washington. Under state law, both parties must consent to a video or audio recording.
Third Party Liability
The company that owns the nursing home could be financially responsible for damages, under a theory like negligent supervision or negligent hiring.
We touched on negligent supervision above. When administrators receive misconduct reports, they have a legal duty to promptly, thoroughly, efficiently, and transparently investigate these allegations. If they drag their feet, go through the motions during the investigation, or otherwise drop the ball, the negligent supervision theory could apply.
As one might expect, negligent hiring is asking an incompetent person to do a job. These incidents are quite common at cash-strapped nursing homes. For example, the facility might hire a low-paid patient care technician to do a job that a higher-paid nurse or licensed vocational nurse should perform.
Speak With a Hard-Working King County Lawyer
Nursing home abuse victims are entitled to legal protection. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact the Emerald Law Group. After-hours visits are available.