A group home – or community residence – is a facility where children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and/or seniors may live if they are unable to live with their families or to live independently. In many situations, a group home is a viable option for a person who cannot care for themselves, whether due to physical and/or mental disabilities. These living facilities often offer excellent care for their residents.
Unfortunately, abuse and neglect are far too common in group homes across New York. Group home residents are often particularly vulnerable, and may not be able to advocate for themselves. If your loved one has suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or another type of abuse while residing at a group home, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility.
At the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, we are committed to helping people with disabilities get justice for group home abuse or neglect. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to learn more from a New York group home abuse attorney.
Is it Possible to Sue a New York Group Home for Abuse?
Group homes are charged with caring for and protecting their disabled residents. In many situations, they function like an assisted living facility. If a resident of a group home is abused or neglected in some way by an employee, then they may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility and/or any individuals responsible for the abuse.
These lawsuits fall into the broad category of personal injury law. In some cases, a group home abuse lawsuit is based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. Cases involving neglect are often based on negligence.
However, if a staff member intentionally abuses a disabled resident of a group home, then the individual and facility can be sued on this basis. If the victim (plaintiff) can prove that they were intentionally abused, then they may be able to recover additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. In New York, punitive damages are only permitted if a person acted intentionally or in a reckless manner.
A group home abuse claim may be based on one or more theories, such as:
- Negligent hiring (such as failing to do a background check before hiring an employee)
- Failure to supervise (not supervising staff closely enough to prevent abuse or neglect)
- Insufficient training (not training staff on appropriate procedures and standards of care)
- Inadequate staffing (not enough staff to care for all residents)
- Intentional assault and battery
- Intentional sexual abuse
These claims can often be brought against the facility itself as well as any individual who participated in or perpetrated the abuse or neglect. In cases of physical, sexual, and/or financial abuse, the perpetrators might also be charged with one or more criminal offenses.
Examples of Group Home Abuse
Group home abuse – like nursing home abuse – can take many different forms. The most common types of group home abuse include:
- Physical abuse: residents of group homes can be subjected to physical abuse such as being restrained, hit, kicked, or otherwise hurt by a staff member.
- Emotional abuse: group home staff may be verbally abusive and controlling, causing severe emotional harm to residents.
- Sexual abuse: sexual predators may be drawn to working at group homes where victims are vulnerable and easily accessible.
- Financial abuse: staff in group homes may be able to steal checks, credit cards, and more from residents.
In many cases, victims are either unable to report the abuse or are not believed if they do speak out because of their disability. For example, a resident of a group home for people with mental health issues may not be seen as credible if they report that an employee hit them. Alternatively, some group home residents with developmental delays may lack the ability to tell someone about the abuse that is occurring.
In addition to abuse, group home neglect is also common. Neglect can take many forms, such as failure to assist a resident with their basic needs, not changing bandages or dressing, or not ensuring that the resident gets adequate nutrition. Much like abuse, it may be difficult for group home residents to report this type of abuse to their loved ones or a supervisor.
How to Report Group Home Abuse in New York
The New York State Department of Health is responsible for complaints related to the quality of care or services provided by a public or private assisted living facility or adult home. This includes complaints related to group home abuse and/or neglect. If you believe that a loved one is being abused at a group home or assisted living facility, you can file a complaint with the ombudsman.
Physical, sexual, and financial abuse may also be a criminal offense. If you suspect that a group home resident is being abused or exploited in some way, then you can call the local police to make a report. Law enforcement will investigate the allegations and may file charges against the at-fault party.
In addition to reporting the abuse to the authorities, you should also consider consulting with a New York group home abuse attorney. During a free initial consultation, a lawyer will listen to your story and then advise you of your legal options. If you decide to pursue legal action, then you may be able to recover financial compensation on behalf of your loved one for:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- The cost of moving to a new facility
In some cases, you may be able to seek punitive damages when a group home facility or employee acted intentionally or recklessly. These damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. For example, if a group home hired a staff member without doing a background check – which would have revealed a prior conviction for sexual assault – and that employee later rapes a resident, then they may be liable for punitive damages because they acted recklessly in hiring this person.
A NY nursing home abuse lawyer will help you understand your rights, and what you can do to protect your friend or family member. They can advise you of the next steps to take, such as getting your loved one to a new facility. If you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, they will stand by your side throughout the process, fighting to get justice.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
When you make the decision to move a family member to a group home, you do so with the best of intentions – to make sure that they get the care that they need in a safe facility. Unfortunately, group home abuse and neglect happen far too often. If your loved one was abused or neglected while residing in a group home, you may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf.
Based in White Plains, the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan represents individuals and families throughout New York whose loved ones have been hurt by the people that you trusted to take care of them. We are aggressive advocates for our clients, fighting hard to get them maximum compensation for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, call our law firm at 914-220-1086 or fill out our online contact form.
How Long Do I Have to File a Group Home Abuse Claim in New York?
When most people find out that their loved one is being abused in a group home, their first priority is to get them out of that situation and into a safer place. They may be too overwhelmed to even think about filing a lawsuit. However, it is important to act quickly, as the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in New York is 3 years.
This may seem like a long period of time, but it can go quickly when you are dealing with other issues. It is also important to act as soon as possible so that evidence isn’t lost and witness memories don’t fade. In New York, call the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan to schedule a free consultation with a group home abuse lawyer.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Group Home Abuse Claim?
It is a good idea to hire a group home abuse attorney if you believe that your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in this type of facility. In many situations, a group home won’t respond appropriately or provide you with fair compensation unless and until a lawyer gets involved. An attorney is also usually needed to file a lawsuit against the group home.
Having legal representation can also relieve some of the burden of dealing with the aftermath of group home abuse. Your attorney can deal with the legal issues, while you focus on helping your loved one recover. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan to schedule a free consultation with a New York group home abuse lawyer.
For forty years, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC have specialized in family and elder law. If you feel that someone you care about is being abused in a group home, you do not have to fight alone. Contact Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC at (914) 220-1086 and let us help. We can help you recognize the signs, symptoms, and legal remedies for group home abuse. In a situation such as this, take comfort in the fact that you do not have to go through it alone.