When you place your elderly loved one into a nursing home, you expect they will receive quality medical care and be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Sadly, neglect and abuse are a serious problem in many care facilities in Bucks County, and throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. If you suspect your spouse, parent, or elderly relative is being mistreated or receiving poor quality care, you deserve to seek justice and fair compensation for the suffering your family has wrongfully endured.
The Bucks County nursing home lawyers at Wieand Law Firm LLC provide aggressive legal representation for abused and neglected nursing home residents and their family members. We are proud to serve communities throughout the county including but not limited to Bensalem, Doylestown, Langhorne, Newtown, Quakertown, and Yardley. To arrange for a completely free and private case evaluation, call us at (215) 666-7777 today.
Abuse occurs when a facility staff member deliberately and intentionally inflicts cruel treatment upon a resident. Abuse may be physical, sexual, mental, or financial, or may be a combination of one or more forms. By contrast, neglect occurs when a facility fails to meet the accepted state and federal standards of care and provides sub-par, inadequate services which result in harm to a resident. While carelessness or negligence may not be deliberately malicious like abuse, the effects can be just as devastating.
Unfortunately, both nursing home neglect and abuse are known to be vastly under-reported by the people who experience them, for a variety of reasons. Seniors may fear the repercussions of speaking out, or may simply be too ill or heavily medicated to recognize or remember experiencing mistreatment or neglect. Therefore, it is critically important to be vigilant and proactive if you notice or suspect any signs of mistreatment. Even something as simple as a bad gut feeling may be worth investigating for the sake of the safety and health of your loved one.
However, in order to recognize red flags for nursing home neglect and elder abuse, you need to know what to look for. Some of the more common forms of abuse and their warning signs might include:
The rights of long-term care facility residents in Pennsylvania are protected by both federal and state law. Pennsylvania’s statute pertaining to assisted living facilities provides a list of specific rights that all residents are entitled to. These rights are:
When a resident suffers harm as a result of nursing home abuse, establishing liability is the first step towards seeking compensation for injuries. Liability for nursing home negligence is often established on one or more of the following grounds:
To succeed on a theory of negligence, a victim must show that four essential elements existed. These elements are as follows:
If a victim succeeds in proving liability on a negligence claim, the resident may be awarded damages for injuries and other losses. There are two kinds of damages that a victim can recover: compensatory and punitive damages. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff “whole.” Compensatory damages are divided into 2 subcategories: economic and nonecomonic. Economic damages may include the following:
Noneconomic damages may include:
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where a court finds that a defendant’s conduct was intentional or so egregious that it shocks the conscience. The purpose behind an award of punitive damages is to punish the defendant so that others will be deterred from committing similar acts in the future.
In extreme cases, abuse and neglect can cause or lead to wrongful death. Under Pennsylvania law, death may be considered wrongful if it was caused by “the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another,” and if that death also results in damages to the decedent’s survivors. In other words, in order for a legal claim to be successful, the death:
If these elements are both present, you may have a strong legal claim to compensation. An experienced attorney can help examine the details of the situation and evaluate which steps you should take next. If you are alleging wrongful death, you may sue to recover losses including but not limited to:
In addition to a wrongful death action, you may also wish to bring a survival action. A survival action seeks to compensate the pain and suffering of the decedent him- or herself, while wrongful death actions are used to compensate the decedent’s survivors, such as spouse and/or children.
However, it’s very important to remember that both wrongful death and survival actions are subject to a strict two-year time limit known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a claim within two years your case may be barred by the statute of limitations. Note that personal injury lawsuits not involving death are also subject to the same two-year time limit, though in some instances the discovery rule may be used to extend the normal deadline.
To speak with an experienced nursing home lawyer about a nursing home injury claim, call the Wieand Law Firm LLC at (215) 666-7777.
Disclosure: The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm is based in Philadelphia, PA. We serve clients throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.