legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Sexual Assault Attorneys
As repulsive as it is to imagine, there are instances where nursing home residents are sexually abused while in the care of skilled nursing facilities. Beyond the reprehensible nature of this transgression, it is also legally actionable.
Family members might find a sympathetic jury willing to award financial compensation if it can be proved by a preponderance of the evidence that their loved one was sexually assaulted while staying at the long-term care facility.Sexual abuse in nursing facilities is not limited only to facility staff members. Others can perpetuate this horrific act, including visitors, family members, vendors, and other residents. Nevertheless, the nursing facility could be held legally responsible for the sexual predator violating residents.
Nursing facilities are legally obligated to provide a safe environment for their patients to ensure that they are protected from physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse.A Nursing Facility Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help
If you suspect your loved one has been sexually assaulted, call 911 to report what happened immediately. Next, consider hiring a nursing home abuse attorney.
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC represent elder abuse victims and nursing home neglect. Our legal team can gather evidence and establish the relevant facts necessary to hold the facility accountable for your loved one's injuries.Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Injuries FAQsWhat Is the Meaning of Sexually Abused?
Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual behavior forced on children, women, and men. The deliberate violent attack usually involves others perceived to be weaker than the predator.
The assault is often a deliberate crime to humiliate or control the victim. Sexual abuse can include:
- Attempted rape
- Serial rape
- Gang rape
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are five forms of elder abuse that include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual assault
- Neglect and abandonment
- Financial exploitation
Currently, the U.S. Government has yet to create a nationwide uniform reporting system to help identify the extent of abuse against the elderly.Who Are the Most Common Predators of Elder Sexual Abuse?
According to the National Council on Aging, most elderly victims of sexual assault are female, and most perpetrators are male. Recent studies revealed that senior citizen abusers tend to be family members, spouses, and adult children.
Some research estimates reveal that up to two million senior citizens have been neglected or abused by caregivers. Anyone suspecting elder abuse shall report the incident to the local Adult Protective Services offices, the police, and calling (800) 677-1116.Who Sexually Harasses Senior Citizens?
Nursing facility and at-home caregivers are often guilty of sexually harassing senior citizens through various actions, including:
- Extortion that forces the older person to perform some sexual activity
- Humiliating and degrading remarks based on the elderly person's sexuality or sexual orientation
- Repeated sexual propositions even though the harasser knows the victim is uninterested
- A sexual predator's indecent act designed to demean, stimulate, or sexually satisfy
- The non-consensual publishing of recordings, video, or pictures of another's sexuality used to degrade or humiliate the victim
- A harasser making sexual remarks or propositions to the targeted victim to exploit their relational dependency, working environment, or another service
According to the National Council on Aging, abuse and neglect on the elderly occur in long-term care living centers and at home by abusers who could be partners, spouses, grandchild, adult children, or other family members.
Many victims are physically frail and unable to protect themselves against inappropriate sexual behavior. Others have physical and mental ailments and might not believe others are imposing their will against the victim.
If you suspect inappropriate behavior, speak up, and tell others. Reporting the problem could stop the abusive behavior and avoid further physical, emotional, mental, psychosocial, and sexual abuse.What Are the Risk Factors of Sexual Assault?
Several studies released by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) identified contributing risk factors leading to sexual assault that include:
- Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
- Poor physical health
- Functional impairment or disability
- A previous traumatic event including domestic violence, financial mistreatment, and sexual abuse
- Overcrowded conditions
- Needing activities of daily living assistance
- No partner or spouse
- Poor self-rated health
- Low income
- Gender (women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than men)
The media reports of assaults involving elderly residents are horrifying. Often, the victim of sexual abuse is incapacitated, and physically frail residents are taken advantage of when they are most vulnerable.
Many times, a resident will have unknown injuries that are revealed to the result of an assault. One of the more publicized recent incidents involved a disabled woman in a skilled nursing facility in a vegetative state who was impregnated and gave birth.
Many of the sex assaults in nursing facilities have been perpetrated by staff. However, an equally large number of these assaults have been committed by fellow residents. A skilled nursing facility has a legal obligation to protect its residents.
Many times, the assault will come after a home has missed numerous warning signs that could indicate that one resident is a risk for committing these acts. Nursing home abuse attorneys can hold a facility accountable, mostly when the facility was negligent in keeping the resident safe.
In many instances, the victims of the assault have dementia or some other cognitive deficit that makes it difficult to tell what happened. Families should be vigilant to be on the lookout for any signs that their loved one has been assaulted.
Many times, sexual abuse cases can only be detected because families or other staff have spotted other indications that an assault might have taken place.Obligations to Protect Patients from Abuse & Neglect
Skilled nursing facilities have legal obligations that go to protecting their residents. For example, skilled nursing facilities must exercise care when they hire staff members. They must check the criminal record of applicants and check registries to see if prospective staff members are disqualified from employment based on prior actions.
In addition, all allegations and suspicions of sex assault or physical abuse must be thoroughly investigated and reported to state authorities within hours after the facility first learns of the alleged incident.
While most allegations of assault do not end up being substantiated, nursing facilities must still investigate and report every claim made regardless of whether it appears to be credible once it has been lodged.
If a nursing facility is found to have failed to protect its residents, there are various consequences. State and federal regulators will likely take regulatory action against the long-term care facility.
Repeated monetary fines for noncompliance instances could lead to the facility getting suspended from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. There will likely be some civil liability as well.
According to a CNN report, 226 nursing facilities were cited between 2010 and 2015 for failure to protect residents in instances where there was a substantiated incident of sexual abuse.Implications of Sexual Abuse on an Elderly Person
All told, there have been over 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse at long-term care facilities since 2000. However, even if a facility is cited and fined for its failure to protect the resident, the fine is a symbolic slap on the wrist so long as the facility continues to receive millions of dollars in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.
In a handful of instances, the nursing facility will lose Medicare funding that is akin to a death sentence for the home, which draws most of its funding from government programs.
For example, a Ferguson, Missouri Christian Care Home resident was raped. The event was the most horrific act in a long series of violations. In response, Medicare announced its intent to bar the home from receiving further reimbursements. Unable to survive, the home announced that it would close.
In some cases, the nursing facility's negative publicity from instances of assault will be a more appropriate punishment for the facility, leading to future losses when residents flee the home, cutting into the facility's profits.
The media routinely publicize sexual abuse cases involving elderly patients, and the headlines resonate with families facing a choice of a facility for their loved one.Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), approximately seven percent of all wrongful death and injury cases filed in the United States involve gross negligence and abuse. Many of the common types of nursing home abuse and neglect are the result of understaffing, negligent hiring, medication errors, medical malpractice, financial exploitation, and a lack of providing a standard of care to every resident.
Many cases resolving with compensatory and punitive damages were built the negligence, mistreatment, and abuse that led to the injuries that include:
- Head injuries
- Unexpected weight loss
- Broken bones
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Facility-acquired bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers)
- Emotional abuse
- Mental distress
- Sexual assault
- Financial abuse involving theft of goods or money by the nursing home staff, caregivers, or other residents
If your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse in a nursing home, a lawyer can provide legal options to ensure they receive the best medical care to heal from the horrific act.Sample Lawsuits & Settlements Against Skilled Nursing Facilities for Sex Assault of Patients
Below are some examples of lawsuits against nursing facilities for the sexual assault of residents. Some cases involved assaults by the staff, while other cases centered around assaults committed by other residents.
Recovery for $6.75 million in Pennsylvania (2018) – One resident sexually assaulted another resident. The perpetrator had a history of criminal conduct and served a twenty-year prison sentence for a sexual abuse conviction. In addition to having a known history of molestation, the assailant allegedly threatened a staff member with assault.
The assaulter had previously engaged in sexually aggressive behavior toward the victim. Nevertheless, according to the lawsuit, the staff allowed the predator and the victim to be together unsupervised.
The Pennsylvania facility claimed that the assailant was incapable of the action and was monitored, notwithstanding the perpetrator's criminal history.
Settlement for $500,000 in California (2008) – A resident with schizophrenia claimed that a facility janitor sexually assaulted her, although there were no witnesses to prove that the abuse occurred. However, the janitor was a registered sex offender.
By federal and state law, facilities cannot hire anyone with a felony conviction. However, the facility maintained that it was not obligated to perform a background check on this employee since he was just a janitor.
The employee's picture and status were posted online. The California nursing facility settled the claim after a mediation session.
Settlement in Florida (2007) – The resident claimed that a male nurse's aide sexually assaulted her when he allegedly rubbed her vagina. After some time, the resident followed a police officer's recommendation and contacted a lawyer to conduct a case review.
The plaintiff claimed that the Florida nursing facility received complaints concerning the aide's behavior. The jury found for the defendant, but the two parties settled the case while the jury was out.
Jury Verdict for $2.014 million in Massachusetts (2013) – The staff noticed blood in the toilet when the resident was using the bathroom as evidence of injuries suffered in a sexual assault. However, the health care facility did not send the resident to the hospital or notify the family.
Nursing facilities are obligated under federal and state law to report sexual abuse and physical assault cases when residents are assaulted. The plaintiff claimed that the Massachusetts nursing facility failed to properly screen and supervise the alleged assailant.
The nursing home care facility claimed no sexual assault occurred did not administer a rape kit.
Mediated Settlement for $504,152 in Illinois (2007) – A ninety-three-year-old resident alleged that a twenty-two-year-old facility staff member raped her. The lawsuit alleged that multiple complaints were lodged with the home that this staff member was sexually molesting other residents.
The Illinois skilled nursing facility allegedly failed to fire the allegedly sexually aggressive staff member in the wake of the complaints, nor did they conduct the proper background check on the employee. The resident suffered physical injuries in the assault and hired a legal team to take legal action by filing a nursing home negligence case that ended in a negotiated settlement of over $500,000.Was Your Family Member Sexually Assaulted? Get Legal Help Now From Trusted Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Sexual assault is a grave offense that causes harm to that resident on multiple different levels. While the pain and damage from an assault will never go away for both the resident and the family, the nursing home sexual assault attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can at least help your family get the justice that they deserve.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our personal injury lawyers concerning your nursing home abuse case remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
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