legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer
As repulsive as it is to imagine, there are instances where nursing home residents are sexually abused while in the care of skilled nursing homes. 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 homes 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 home could be held legally responsible for the sexual predator violating residents.
Nursing homes 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 Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help Hold Facilities Accountable
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.
As with all of our nursing home abuse and neglect cases, we handle sexual abuse cases on a contingency fee basis where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful in obtaining a financial recovery for you. There is no upfront cost to bring a case. Contact us for a free consultation.
Sexual Abuse of Elderly Patients is Pervasive and Under-Reported
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 home in a vegetative state who was impregnated and gave birth.
Many of the sex assaults in nursing homes have been perpetrated by staff. However, an equally large number of these assaults have been committed by fellow residents. A skilled nursing home 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 instances can only be detected because families or other staff have spotted other indications that an assault might have taken place.
Obligation of Nursing Homes to Protect Patients from Abuse and Neglect
Elder care nursing homes have legal obligations that protect their residents well being. For example, skilled nursing homes must exercise care when they hire staff members.
They must check the criminal record of potential nursing home employees and check convicted offender registries to see if prospective staff members are disqualified from employment based on prior actions.
Further, nursing homes have a duty to screen patients when they enter the facility and determine if a resident is a violent offender.
When a nursing home accepts a patient with a violent history, they have a responsibility to keep the resident at a safe distance from other residents.
Investigating Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
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 homes 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 homes 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 PersonAll 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 home 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 Abuse in Nursing Homes
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 resolved with compensatory and punitive damages were built the negligence, and mistreatment (or signs of nursing home abuse) involving:
- 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.
Damages in Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases
After establishing liability, a victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home can address the damages or compensation.
Like other types of nursing home abuse and cases, nursing home residents who have been the victim of sexual assault are entitled to recover economic and non-economic damages for their experience.
Victims of sexual abuse may recover compensation for:
- Therapy and counseling expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages (in some cases)
Unlike other types of personal injury law cases where a majority of compensation is for economic damages, the bulk of compensation in an elder sexual abuse case is related to non-economic damage for the psychological damage the incident had on the individual.
If you if questions about compensation in a sexual assault case, contact our affiliated nursing home negligence attorneys for a free consultation.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions raised after a family member has been been a victim of sexual abuse by a staff member, other resident or visitor.
We appreciate that these questions may give rise to additional questions or concerns and we invite you to contact our affiliated attorneys for a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
What Is the Legal Definition of an Elderly Patient being 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
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Photographing genitals
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.
Do I Sue the Individual or the Nursing Home Where the Sexual Abuse Occurred?
Most lawsuits involving sexual abuse of a nursing home resident are filed against the facility where the incident occurred. The reasoning for filing a lawsuit against the care facility (skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities) and nursing home management and not the individual is primarily an issue of insurance coverage and the ability of the defendant to pay a settlement or judgment in a case.
Most individuals do not have sufficient assets to satisfy a substantial judgment in a sexual abuse claim. When an episode of sexual abuse occurs in long-term care facilities, there will almost certainly be liability on the facility for their failure to protect the victim from violence.
My Loved One Cannot Speak or Testify Regarding the Abuse, Can I Still Bring a Case?
Unfortunately, many cases of elder sexual abuse involve physically and mentally and physically disable nursing home residents who are incapable of describing the incident or identifying the perpetrator.
While, these cases can be difficult to pursue, our nursing home sexual abuse lawyers appreciate the impact that these episodes can have on the victim.
In some cases involving a disabled victim, an elder abuse attorney may retain the services of a neuropsychologist and other experts to assist in conveying the impact of the abuse on the individual.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Sexual Abuse Claim Against a Nursing Home?
All claims for sexual abuse must be filed within a time frame known as the statute of limitations. Your failure to bring a case within the time frame or the case will be barred by the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations will be governed by the state law where the incident occurred. Each state has a different statute of limitations and other procedural requirements, so it is best to consult with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and options.
Will My Loved One Need to Confront the Perpetrator if I File a Sexual Assault Lawsuit?
In most sexual abuse claims, the victim is hesitant to come forward out of fear of confronting the perpetrator.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers appreciate these feelings of fear and take every measure possible to make the legal process as smooth as possible for your loved one.
If there is a deposition or other legal hearing, you can be assured that your attorney will be present and all precautions have been implemented.
In a situation where a perpetrator is incarcerated, our nursing home lawyers can take measures to depose them in jail, further lessening the need for your loved one to confront his or her perpetrator.
Who Sexually Harasses Senior Citizens?
Nursing home 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
Where Does Elder Sexual Abuse Happen the Most?
According to the National Council on Aging, abuse and neglect of 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 in a Nursing Home Resident?
Several studies released by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) identified contributing risk factors leading to sexual abuse 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)
Sample Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits & Settlements Sexual Abuse and Assault of Patients
Below are some examples of lawsuits against nursing homes for the sexual assault of residents. Some cases involved assaults by the staff, while other cases centered around assaults committed by other residents.
While it may be tempting to compare your loved one's circumstance to the cases listed below, you should be warned that there are many factors that can impact the value of nursing home abuse cases that can have a substantial impact on the outcome of a case such as:
- Culpability of the defendant nursing home
- Age of the victim
- Type of ownership for the facility
- Insurance coverage for the incident
- Jurisdiction where the claim or lawsuit can be filed
- Impact that the abuse had on the individual
Should you have questions about how an episode of sexual abuse abuse in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other long-term care facility may be valued, we encourage you to contact one of our affiliated attorneys for a free consultation.
$6.75 Million Nursing Home Abuse Settlement in Pennsylvania
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.
$500,000 Nursing Home Abuse Settlement in California
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, nursing homes cannot hire anyone with a felony conviction. However, the nursing home 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 home settled the claim after a mediation session.
Confidential Sexual Abuse Settlement in Florida
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.
$2.014 Million in Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Verdict Massachusetts
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 homes 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.
$504,152 Nursing Home Neglect Mediation Settlement in Illinois
A ninety-three-year-old resident alleged that a twenty-two-year-old nursing home 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 Loved One Sexually Assaulted? Get 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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