Witnesses are always important in any criminal or civil case. In the nursing home cases in particular, the family members of the loved ones often play an important role. They can testify as to whether the staff was accessible, whether when they needed something were they able to find the appropriate staff person, or someone who was willing to help or not. They can testify if their family member, who is a resident at the nursing home, complains as to any pain during the time they resided in the nursing home. Another area of potential witnesses is the staff at the facility, and that could mean any medical professionals, housekeeping, or the dietary department.
Their testimony is often important, but the most important piece of evidence in these cases is always going to be the information in the resident’s medical records. In New York, all nursing homes are required to keep certain documentation. Those charts go a long way in telling us what was happening in these facilities, and what circumstances surrounded any of the potential instances of abuse, or neglect.
What Steps Should Someone Take if They Suspect That a Loved one has Faced Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If there is any sign of neglect, the first and the most important thing is to make sure that your loved one gets the appropriate care that they need, whether that is at the facility where you think the neglect or abuse occurred, or get them to a hospital, and seek immediate medical treatment for the neglect, and abuse. You need to be as prompt as possible in these cases. Time is of the essence.
The next thing family members should do is contact the staff and management of the facility to find out what happened. An investigation needs to begin with the nursing home facility, and at a minimum, put them on notice as to why you think an incident has occurred which related to abuse, and neglect of your loved one.
If you determine that there has been a neglect or abuse, the next piece of advice would be to think about whether you want your loved one to remain at that facility. I would do some research on getting your family member placed in a new facility, or if possible bring that family member home.
The last thing I would recommend is contacting an attorney. An attorney will be able to determine if there is anything that can be done to protect your loved one’s rights and whether a claim or a lawsuit should be pursued.
What Damages Might be Available to Someone who is not the Victim in These Cases?
There are a number of different types of damages that would be available to others that are not considered the victim in these cases. Many times in these cases, which is sort of morbid and unfortunate to say, but the resident of the nursing home has passed away by the time that we pursue a case. So the individuals that recover the money from a settlement or verdict are most often the victim’s spouse or children through the victim’s estate.
The first type of damages recoverable is pain and suffering that the injured person has suffered. If the injury were connected to the death of the resident, we would also seek wrongful death damages. Those are the main two recoverable damages in nursing home neglect cases in New York. There is a potential for loss of guidance, and loss of parental guidance even if the child of the nursing home resident is an adult, which in most instances they are.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Case?
The statute of limitations in New York in a nursing home neglect and abuse case is three years. You want to be careful though, because some of these cases also involve medical malpractice allegations. Those allegations are subject to a two and half years of statute of limitations. Therefore, in all instances, it is better to seek out counsel earlier on in neglect, and abuse case rather than later.
Additional Information on Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases
They happen less often these cases, but we have handled numerous cases involving residents in choking incidents. This often occurs if the nursing home staff fails to give the nursing home resident proper food. For instance, if they were ordered on a certain diet and the staff member tries to feed resident whole foods that can result in a choking incident this could potentially result in liability against the nursing home, and that staff member. There are also instances in nursing homes where medication errors have led to serious injuries, whether it was the failure to give a medication, giving too much of the medication, or not monitoring someone’s levels after giving them medication, which resulted in serious injuries to the resident.