Assault and Physical Abuse
It’s often a difficult and heart-wrenching decision for a family to decide that it’s time for an elderly parent or a family member with disabilities to live in a nursing home. When our family members require care that we can’t adequately provide on our own, we place our trust in the professionals who work in and run nursing homes to take care of our loved ones’ health needs and keep them comfortable in their final years.
Unfortunately, seniors experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health, or people with serious disabilities, can be vulnerable to neglect and abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Among the most devastating types of abuse nursing home residents may experience is when they are physically assaulted. An assault by nursing home staff or another resident can leave a vulnerable senior or disabled person with bodily injuries and psychological trauma, and be horrifying for the nursing home resident as well as for the family members who entrusted care of their loved one to the care facility.
When a physical assault occurs, you can notify the authorities and pursue criminal assault charges against the individual who committed the assault. You also can notify the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will investigate the claim of abuse and may take action against the nursing home’s license.
However, Illinois law also allows you to pursue a claim in civil court against the facility. Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, every resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility has the right to be free of abuse and neglect, among many other rights. When abuse and/or neglect happens, the resident or his or her authorized representative can make a claim for damages against the owner or licensee of the facility.
Damages it may be possible to recover include the cost of any medical care resulting from the assault, as well as other damages including lost income, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, loss of normal life, and attorney fees. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling nursing home claims can help you determine your options when you or a loved one has experienced physical abuse in a nursing home.
Warning Signs of Assault
People who live in nursing homes are often by definition physically or mentally vulnerable to the people entrusted with their care. Assaults may sometimes be an unfortunate result of this vulnerability when someone either chooses to exercise power over or vent frustration on a senior or disabled person, or residents who may not have the presence of mind to control themselves aren’t sufficiently monitored. There are a number of ways that a nursing home’s negligence may allow assaults to happen:
- The facility fails to adequately check the background of staff members
- The facility fails to adequately supervise staff members
- The facility fails to adequately monitor visitors
- The facility fails to adequately supervise residents
For family members of people living in nursing homes, it’s important to watch for the warning signs of assault and to be strong advocates for their loved ones. Signs of physical abuse may include unexplained injuries such as:
- Restraint marks
- Broken or dislocated bones
However, indicators of physical abuse may not always be obvious. It’s also important to watch for unexplained changes in a nursing home resident’s behavior that might suggest they’ve experienced trauma, such as becoming afraid or withdrawn.
How a Lawyer Can Help
When a nursing home resident experiences physical abuse, a lawyer can help ensure that you or your loved one is compensated for the violation of rights granted under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. A lawyer can help you pursue a claim for compensation of damages, and represent you through negotiations or a trial. A nursing home abuse lawyer also can help you through the process of gathering the medical evidence, documents, and testimony that you’ll need to support your claim.
Sometimes nursing home abuse cases may be sent to arbitration, and it will be important to have a lawyer who understands the arbitration process and is prepared to be a strong voice for you or your loved one so that you get fully compensated for the injuries that occurred. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation.