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Sexual Abuse in NYC Nursing Homes


Sometimes when a patient falls in a nursing home, in can be a case of abuse or neglect by nursing home staff

The elderly population in America is growing. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the 2010 census estimated that there were around 40.3 million elderly individuals in the country. This was the “greatest number and proportion of people age 65 and older in all of decennial census history.” By 2050, the elderly population is expected to include some 83.7 million individuals. With the older generation becoming so much greater in the coming years, it is important to be aware of the kinds of issues and challenges that these individuals may face, including elder abuse.

One place that elder abuse can and does occur is in a nursing home. People choose to put their loved ones in nursing homes and other care facilities for a variety of reasons. This decision is never easy and when people choose to entrust the care of their loved one to another, they do so with the belief that their loved one will be treated with dignity and respect. While many nursing home residents are treated well and receive excellent care, this is not always the case. Every year, elder individuals are abused and mistreated at these facilities. Unfortunately, one form of abuse that a nursing home resident may subject to is sexual abuse.

If your loved one has been subject to mistreatment at a nursing home, such as sexual abuse, he or she may be able to recover compensation for his or her injuries. We treat victims from the following locations:

  • New York City
  • Brooklyn
  • Bronx
  • Queens
  • Staten Island
  • Nassau County
  • Suffolk County
  • Westchester County

WHAT IS ELDER ABUSE?

The CDC defines elder abuse as “[a]n intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” Around 10% of the elderly have been subject to some form of abuse including “physical abuse, psychological or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.” However, according to the National Council on Aging, “one study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.”

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE?

It’s not always easy to spot the neglect and abuse that occurs in a nursing home. It may be difficult to understand where to look, who to talk to, and what to ask.

In general, it’s important to keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s appearance and behavior. Do they have noticeable weight loss, has their hair been washed, and do they appear to have healthy skin? Likewise, keep tabs on what’s happening in the building. Do the facilities have clean rooms, sufficient staffing, and easy access to hand sanitizer and soap?

Consider asking your loved one how they’re doing, if they have any pain or discomfort, if they’ve been sleeping well, and if they like living in the facility. Warning signs to keep in mind include the following:

  • If your loved one is failing to take their medications properly, has unexplained injuries, or shows physical signs of restraint, they may be physically abused.
  • If you observe controlling conduct on the part of the caregiver or if you notice unusual behavior in your loved one including symptoms of dementia, there may be emotional or psychological abuse occurring.
  • Stained underwear, vaginal or anal bleeding, bruising near the genitals, or unexplained STDs may be signs of sexual abuse.
  • If you notice any unexplained changes to your loved one’s bank account, a sudden alteration to a life insurance policy or will, or missing cash from the elder’s room, they may be facing some form of financial abuse.
  • Neglect can manifest in a number of ways, including leaving your loved one alone in a public place, not bathing them, leaving them inappropriately dressed for the weather, and providing them with unsafe living conditions such as a lack of heat or running water.

If a caregiver refuses to let you be alone with your loved one, you’re right to be suspicious. If you notice any of these signs or are apprehensive at all, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT MY LOVED ONE IS BEING ABUSED?

If you have reason to suspect nursing home abuse, you should take action. Never allow suspected abuse to continue unchecked. It’s important that you be the advocate for your loved one, and with that comes the responsibility to remain calm, even when the situation calls for extreme measures.

If you believe your loved one is being abused—physically, mentally, or sexually—the best first course of action is to speak to your loved one in private. If you notice that something feels off, listen to your gut. Begin to question the nursing home staff and management regarding any signs of suspected abuse. Nursing home management should be willing and able to explain any situation you see as possible abuse or neglect, whether it pertains to your loved one directly or not. Likewise, be persistent and take notes. Quality caregivers will not mind your questioning as long as you’re respectful and reasonable.

At this point, if you feel that there’s a legitimate cause for concern, consider reaching out to a nursing home abuse lawyer who can help investigate the situation and fight for your rights.

FILING AN ELDER ABUSE LAWSUIT

There are courses of action you can take to seek justice and compensation for your loved one if they’re being abused. Victims and their families can file a lawsuit against the perpetrators of elder abuse to help stop the abuse and gain restitution for any wrongdoing. A lawsuit could shed light on an abuser at a nursing home that leads to policy changes at the facility, reprimands against perpetrators, and financial reparations to the abused adult.

If you think you have a case related to elder abuse and neglect, contact an expert nursing home abuse lawyer who can help fight for your rights. The claims that can be raised in an elder sexual abuse case will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular case and may include:

Negligent Hiring

A nursing home where administrators cut corners and consistently engage in negligent hiring practices could put the wellbeing of its residents at risk. Nursing home residents are already vulnerable because they’re placing the responsibility of their health and wellbeing in the hands of doctors, nursing staff, physical therapists, nutritionists, nursing assistants, and other staff members. If these staffers aren’t properly qualified, have violent tempers, or are sexual predators, residents may be at a high risk for abuse and neglect.

Sexual Assault

We all want to think that when we place a vulnerable loved one into a nursing home for care, we’re doing what’s best for them. In many cases, a nursing home is the safest and best living situation for those who aren’t able to care for themselves. Unfortunately, there are times when nursing home staff take advantage of residents. Physical and even sexual abuse can and do occur in nursing homes.

Defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, sexual abuse is a form of mistreatment that’s frequently unreported and under-investigated in nursing homes. Any form of sexual contact with a person who’s unable to give consent is considered sexual abuse. This can include rape, forced nudity, involuntary observation of pornography, and taking sexually explicit photographs or video recordings of a resident.

Statute of Limitations

The law limits the amount of time that a person has to file a civil lawsuit. In New York, the statute of limitation is three years for nursing home negligence and abuse cases and two and a half years from the date of the injury in situations involving medical malpractice. An expert lawyer will best be able to help you determine how to proceed in the time limit allowed based on the facts of your case.

HAS YOUR LOVED ONE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED IN A NURSING HOME?

We understand how stressful it can be to watch your loved ones face any form of trauma, pain, or distress. If you believe that a member of your family is caught up in a harmful or neglectful situation, contact the trusted attorneys at Dalli & Marino.

We’re a group of successful nursing home abuse lawyers whose verdicts and settlements have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996. Our team of highly skilled trial attorneys approaches each case on an individual basis and are dedicated to helping you recover the money you deserve to compensate you for your loss. Give us a call at (888) 465-8790 or complete our contact form today.

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