What legal remedies are available for victims of elder abuse?

Victims of elder abuse can hold their abusers accountable with a civil lawsuit.

Victims of elder abuse can hold their abusers accountable through a civil lawsuit. If successful, this claim can result in monetary awards to help cover the costs resulting from the abuse, as well as serve as a form of punishment for the abuser.

Who is liable for elder abuse? The following parties could be liable:

  • Nursing facility. This is often an option when the abuse is the result of systemic negligence within the facility. This could include instances where the injury was the result of understaffing, undertraining or a failure to property check the background of employees. The nursing facility may be liable even in instances when the injury is the result of a one-time instance of abuse. This would likely involve the use of the legal theory vicarious liability which holds an employer liable for an employee's wrongdoing.
  • Nurse, assistant or other nursing care professional. Another option involves holding the individual or individuals who were the cause of the abuse liable for the injuries.

How does a victim build a case against an abuser? In most cases, these claims are built on the legal theory of negligence. To establish negligence, the victim will need to provide evidence that the care provided did not meet a reasonable standard of care. This occurs when an individual acts in a negligent or reckless manner when providing care, or fails to provide the care altogether.

It is also important to review whether the facility violated a federal or state statute. The Nursing Home Reform Act is one example. This law requires nursing facilities provide residents with quality care. The law requires facilities provide certain services and also established a Residents' Bill of Rights. Required services include a comprehensive care plan for each resident and periodic assessments as well as the provision of nursing, social and dietary services. The Bill of Rights has ten specific requirements including the freedom from abuse, mistreatment and neglect as well as a right to privacy.

The right course of action will depend on the details of the allegations. As such, it is wise for victims to seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse and neglect. This legal professional will review the details of the case and provide guidance on the best way to hold those who have injured a loved one accountable for their actions.

It is important to act promptly as these claims can be barred by time limitations. The statute of limitations on these claims can vary depending on state law. Ohio, for example, generally has a two-year limitation on these claims.