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.
If a family can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that their loved one was sexually abused while at a nursing home, they may find a sympathetic jury that will award financial compensation for the act. Sexual abuse in nursing homes is not limited only to staff members as there are others can perpetrate this act. Nevertheless, it is the nursing home that can be held legally responsible no matter who the abuser is. Nursing homes are legally obligated to provide a safe environment for their residents in which they are to be free from sexual abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one has been sexually assaulted, your second call after you have contacted the police should be to an attorney. The lawyer can work with you to establish the relevant facts that would be necessary to hold the nursing home accountable for what happened to your loved one. The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have experience in litigating cases of this kind and can help your family stand up for the rights of your loved one.
The media reports of the sexual assaults at nursing homes are horrifying. Oftentimes, incapacitated and physically frail residents are taken advantage of when they are at their 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 woman in a nursing home in a vegetative state who was impregnated and gave birth.
Many of the sexual assaults at nursing homes have been perpetrated by staff members. However, an equally large number of these assaults have been committed by fellow residents. A nursing home has the legal obligation to protect its residents. Many times, the sexual assault will come after a nursing home has missed numerous warning signs that could indicate that one resident is a risk for committing these acts. Nursing homes can be held liable, especially when they have failed to exercise the proper level of vigilance to keep the resident safe.
In many instances, the residents who are the victim of the assault suffer from 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 assaults can only be detected because families or other staff members have spotted other indications that an assault may have taken place.A Nursing Home’s Obligations
Nursing homes have many obligations that go to protecting their residents. For example, skilled nursing home facilities must exercise care when they hire staff members. They are required to 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 sexual assault must be thoroughly investigated and reported to state authorities within hours after the nursing home first learns of the alleged incident.
While most allegations of sexual assault do not end up being substantiated, nursing homes still have the obligation to investigate and report every single claim that is made regardless of whether it appears to be credible once it has been lodged.
If a nursing home is found to have failed to protect its residents, there are a variety of different consequences. State and federal regulators will likely take regulatory action against the nursing home. This will likely involve a fine and repeated instances of noncompliance with laws can lead to the nursing home being suspended from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. There will likely be some sort of 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 assault.
All told, there have been over 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse at long-term care facilities since 2000. However, even if a nursing home is cited and fined for its failure to protect the resident, the fine is a figurative slap on the wrist so long as the nursing home continues to receive millions of dollars in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. In a handful of instance, the nursing home will lose Medicare funding.
This is akin to a death sentence for the nursing home, which draws a majority of its funding from government programs. For example, there was a rape of a resident at the Christian Care Home in Ferguson, Missouri. This was the latest in a long series of violations, and Medicare announced its intent to bar the home from receiving further reimbursements. Unable to survive, the nursing home announced that it would close.
In some cases, the negative publicity that a nursing home receives from instances of sexual assault will be a more appropriate punishment for the facility. This will cause the nursing home to lose both potential and actual residents. Ultimately, this can cut into the nursing home’s profits. Sexual assault cases at nursing homes are routinely publicized by the media and the headlines resonate with families who are faced with a choice of a facility for their loved one.Lawsuits Against a Nursing Home for Sexual Assault
Below are some examples of lawsuits against nursing homes for sexual assault of residents. Some cases involved assaults by the nursing home staff, while other cases centered around assaults committed by other residents.
Recovery for $6.75 million in Pennsylvania (2018) – The resident was sexually assaulted by another resident. The perpetrator had a history of criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for this particular act. In addition to having a known history of sexual assault, the assailant also allegedly threatened a staff member with sexual assault. The assailant had previously engaged in sexually aggressive behavior to the victim. Nevertheless, according to the lawsuit, the staff allowed a situation in which the assailant and the victim were together unsupervised. The Pennsylvania nursing home had claimed that the assailant was incapable of the action and was monitored, notwithstanding the criminal sentence received by the perpetrator.
Settlement for $500,000 in California (2008) – The resident had schizophrenia. She claimed that a janitor at the nursing home sexually assaulted her. There were no witnesses and it was not established the assault actually occurred. However, the janitor was a registered sex offender. Nursing homes cannot hire those with felony convictions, but the home maintained that it was not obligated to perform a background check on this employee since he was just a janitor. However, the employee’s picture and status was posted online. The California nursing home settled the claim after a mediation session.
Settlement in Florida (2007) – The resident had claimed that a male nurse’ aide sexually assaulted her when he allegedly rubbed her vagina. After some time, the resident contacted a lawyer that was recommended by a police officer. The plaintiff claimed that the Florida nursing home had notice of the aide’s behavior through the form of a complaint by another nurse against the aide. The jury found for the defendant, but while the jury was out, the two parties settled the case.
Jury Verdict for $2.014 million in Massachusetts (2013) – The nursing home staff noticed blood in the toilet when the resident was using the bathroom. This was evidence of injuries suffered in a sexual assault. However, the nursing home did not send the resident to the hospital or notify the family. Nursing homes have certain obligations under federal and state law when assaults have occurred. The plaintiff claimed that the Mass nursing home failed to properly screen and supervise the alleged assailant. The nursing home claimed that there was no sexual assault and that a rape kit was administered.
Mediated Settlement for $504,152 in Illinois (2007) – A 93-year old resident alleged that she was raped by a 22-year old staff member at the facility. The lawsuit alleged that there were multiple complaints that were lodged with the nursing home that this particular staff member was sexually assaulting residents. The Illinois skilled nursing facility was alleged to have not fired this 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.Has Your Loved One Been Sexually Assaulted at a Nursing Home? Get Legal Help now
Sexual assault against a nursing home resident 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 attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can at least help your family get the justice that they deserve. We can help you file and litigate a claim for financial compensation against the nursing home where your loved one was assaulted. Call us today at (800) 726-9565 to find out how we can help your family. Your free consultation is no-risk and you will pay us nothing unless we help your family obtain a financial recovery from the nursing home.