are living longer than ever before. In fact, statistics
show that older Americans will spend, on average,
14 years in retirement, enjoying economic security,
leisure activities, hobbies, volunteer service,
and time with friends and family. Much of this is
due to improved health and economic programs such
as Social Security, Medicare and pension plans.
One of the responses has been a surge in nursing
homes with nearly 16,000 in the U.S. today and house
over a million and a half older Americans.
The Harsh Reality
Changes in the nursing home industry have created
an environment existing with corruption, neglect,
and abuse. More and more nursing homes provide unsatisfactor
nursing home care resulting in a large increase
in the incidence of elderly
abuse. There are many different forms of elderly
abuse, including general neglect, physical, emotional,
sexual, and financial abuse.
and State Safeguards
The Federal and State
Governments have reacted to the rise of elder
abuse by creating laws, rules, and regulations that
have established a "Bill
of Rights" for residents living in nursing
homes. If a particular nursing home does not comply
with federal or state regulations, they can lose
their Medicare or Medicaid certificate. This deprives
them of valuable money in the form of Federal reimbursements
that can have serious financial repercussions. In
addition, federal and state surveyors are also allowed
to impose sanctions on the non-compliant nursing
homes. This has kept these homes in check, but has
come nowhere near the ultimate goal of completely
eradicating institutional elder abuse.
Aspects of Elderly Abuse
upon the particular state in which you live,
there are laws such as a preemption doctrine
that allow you to bring a state tort or contract
claim against a nursing home or facility for
violating a resident's
rights. State courts often view elderly
abuse law in a variety of ways--battery, criminal
assault cases, rape, theft, personal injury
actions, protective proceedings, fraud, and
breach of duty.
State laws vary over matters like the age
at which a victim is considered eligible under
the law, the definition of elderly abuse,
types of elderly abuse considered under the
law, whether the abuse qualifies as a civil
of criminal case, investigation procedures,
and settlement amounts.
Reporting elderly abuse in nursing homes is mandatory
in some states, although the requirements vary from
state to state. If certain individuals or facilities
do not report elderly abuse, they have failed in
their duties to the resident and may be guilty of
a misdemeanor offense. Certain states may also hold
this party liable for damages to the injured resident.
Most states have laws that provide immunity to an
individual who reports an incidence of elderly abuse
in good faith. However, immunity does not apply
if the report is made by the individual who committed
state government has laws that dictate how long
a guardian of a resident or the resident themselves
may wait before the injured victim's lawsuit or
claim is no longer valid. Statutes of limitation
vary from state to state. Once the time period expires,
there is nothing the legal system can do to assist
the victim in winning compensation from the wrongdoer.
If you have been injured or victimized by a nursing
home or other institution and believe that you have
a claim against the nursing home staff or facility,
it is extremely important that you act quickly to
seek legal repressentation.
Contact our experienced
legal team to make sure your elderly abuse case
is still valid in the state in which you live.