Elderly people are some of the most vulnerable members of society. When you have a disabled or elderly loved one in a nursing home, it is important to always be watching out for them. Recognizing any signs of abuse or neglect is the best way that family members can protect vulnerable residents in a nursing home. They may not be able to speak out about abuse or neglect affecting them, so you are entrusted with the task of being aware of a nursing home environment at all times.
It is wise for family members to face the reality that a significant number of nursing home continually run into trouble with the law for failing to provide adequate care to residents. In Massachusetts, over 32 percent of nursing homes had an accident-prone environment and also failed to follow professional standards in the industry. This may have meant that residents were at risk for falling in hallways or were using broken equipment like walkers or wheelchairs. It is not too late for you to receive legal help for a loved one who has been the victim of abuse or neglect. You can get in touch with a Massachusetts nursing home lawyer who will help you today.
State and Federal Nursing Home Injury Laws
Under the federal law, there are several sources of governing authority for the protection of nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, Older Americans Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 are all laws in place that seek to ensure the proper treatment and care of nursing home residents. If care is not administered in accordance with these Acts, then nursing home administrators may be subject to sanctions and civil penalties.
The Older Americans Act currently provides grants to States for social services intended to help elderly people. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 is more commonly used as a piece of legislation to assert the rights of nursing home residents. This Act clearly states the numerous rights that nursing home residents have, and many state laws have states that are modeled after the Act. In this Act, residents have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. They also have the right to refuse certain types of medical treatments that may be in disharmony with religious values. Nursing homes also have a responsibility to provide the physical, medical and psychological services that a resident may require. Unfortunately, nursing homes have a tendency to avoid providing those mental or physical services to residents that may be expensive.
In Massachusetts, the governing authority for the rights of nursing home residents is the Abuse of Elderly Persons Act. The legislature has broadly defined abuse as any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver that causes harm to a nursing home resident. The sad truth is that many instances of abuse go unreported every year. It is time for family members to begin to recognize the signs of abuse so that they can report it to the appropriate authorities. The following are types of abuse that commonly impact elderly people:
- Financial exploitation
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Self neglect
Abandonment may occur when a resident is not cared for in a nursing home. Workers may forget to administer medication to a resident or forget to provide him or her with daily meals. These are serious incidents of neglect, and administrators should not persuade family members that they are just “minor” incidents. Even if one of these incidents happens once, it should alert family members that a pattern of abuse may be affecting a loved one.
Receive Legal Advice from Massachusetts Nursing Home Lawyers
If you have discovered that your loved one is the victim of abuse and neglect, it is time to speak with a lawyer about his or her legal rights. We have attorneys ready to help clients throughout Massachusetts in areas such as:
Call one of our lawyers today to proceed with your case and obtain compensation for your loved one. Our lawyers will stand up for the legal rights of your loved one and fight for the compensation that he or she deserves.
Nursing Home Negligence
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
- 3 years with Discovery Rule. (Mass. Ann. Laws Ch. 260, §2-A – Tort, contract to recover for personal injuries, and replevin actions)
- Medical malpractice – 3 years with Discovery Rule, but no more than 7 years after the alleged act or omission. (Mass. Ann. Laws Ch. 260,§4 – Certain tort or contract actions for malpractice, error or mistake)
- Noneconomic damages are capped at $500,000, with exceptions for proof of substantial disfigurement or permanent loss or impairment, or other special circumstances (substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function or substantial disfigurement or other special circumstance) which warrant a finding that imposition of such limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained. (Mass. Ann. Laws Ch. 231, §60H – Limitation of damages for pain and suffering)
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
- 3 years with Discovery Rule. (Mass. Ann. Laws Ch. 229, §2 – Wrongful death; damages)
- Punitive damages – Minimum of $5,000 for willful or grossly negligent conduct resulting in death. (Mass. Ann. Laws Ch. 229, §2 – Wrongful death; damages)
- Abuse of Elderly Persons – (Mass. Gen. Laws Chpt. 19A, §§14-26)