California Attorneys Pursue Those Responsible for Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
We expect the highest standards of excellence from nursing homes and the staffs who care for elderly and disabled adults, demanding levels of professionalism that extend beyond basic accommodations. California law is in alignment with these expectations, requiring facilities and their teams to strictly comply with the duty to provide proper care to the individuals in their charge. The unfortunate reality is that there are some nursing homes and assisted living centers that are understaffed, underfunded, and poorly managed. Vulnerable victims are exposed to nursing home abuse and neglect, causing injuries and even death.
Our elder abuse and neglect attorneys at the Dolan Law Firm give a voice to victims that might otherwise stay silent in the face of nursing home misconduct. We are dedicated to fighting on behalf of the susceptible individuals who experience injuries due to negligence, recklessness, or even willful actions. Our lawyers have extensive experience helping California victims and their families obtain compensation from unscrupulous facilities. We fight nursing home abuse because no one should suffer the injustice and indignity at the hands of the people they rely upon for their care.
California Law on Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Victims have multiple options to address nursing home abuse or neglect under California law, including filing a police report or reporting the situation to the California Department of Aging. However, these alternatives do nothing to remedy losses the victim sustains. To recover compensation for injuries due to nursing home misconduct, you must file a claim against the facility, usually through its insurance company.
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act provides that a victim may recover compensation, attorney’s fees, and other damages by proving that a nursing home engaged in acts of physical abuse, neglect, or financial abuse. It is necessary to prove four essential elements in this type of case:
- Duty: You must establish that the nursing home had a duty to provide care in a level that is reasonable based upon the circumstances. This duty may be established by contract in an agreement between the resident and facility, but the legal obligations are also included in California’s statute on licensing provisions for healthcare facilities.
- Breach: It is necessary to show that the nursing center breached the duty of care, either through acts of negligence, recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice.
- Causation: There must be a link between the breach and the injuries you or your loved one suffer, such that you would not have been harmed were it not for the misconduct. An injury caused by some other factor would not be sufficient.
- Damages: You must show that you or your loved one suffered losses due to the nursing home’s conduct, for which you are entitled to compensation.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Warning Signs
In some situations, it is easy to spot signs of nursing home neglect or abuse; other times the injuries are hidden by clothing or are emotional in nature. Regardless, it is important to recognize the warning signs so you can take action immediately:
- Abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, or emotional. Physical abuse is defined as willfully inflicting pain or suffering upon an elderly or disabled person, or restraining him or her. Bruises, cuts, or scrapes, bone fractures, bed sores, and injuries from falls may indicate physical abuse. Victims of sexual abuse may contract sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnancy at younger ages. Mood swings, uncharacteristic outbursts, anger, and withdrawing from others may signal signs of emotional abuse.
- Neglect is also variable, as it may include anything from forgetting to administer medication to placing a victim in an unsafe situation. Nursing home accidents are often the result of neglect, where the conduct violates the standard of care, even if it was a mistake.
- Financial exploitation or abuse may be difficult to spot if you do not have access to the victim’s bank accounts or other assets. Still, you should watch out for situations where the victim cannot pay bills or allows someone to handle banking under suspicious circumstances.
Filing a Claim for Damages
It is possible to file a nursing home neglect or abuse case under California law against:
- An individual person that works as a caregiver, such as a nurse, orderly, nursing assistant, or similar position;
- Nursing home administrators or managers who are responsible for properly supervising their teams; and/or,
- The owners or operators of the nursing facility, under certain circumstances.
A person who has proper standing to sue would be the victim, or his or her family in the event of disability. If successful in establishing each of the four elements described above, you may be able to recover damages to compensate for:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress and anguish; and,
- The costs for medical care necessary to treat the victim’s injuries.
However, it may be possible to recover punitive damages in some cases of nursing home abuse, but only where you can show that the conduct was malicious. California defines malice as acting intentionally to cause injury to someone, or engaging in despicable behavior with conscious disregard of the safety of others. You must prove this element with “clear and convincing” evidence, which is a higher level of proof than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. There is no cap on punitive damages in California, but the amount must be reasonably related to the harm suffered by the victim.
Trust a California Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer with Your Claim
If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to negligence or intentional conduct in a nursing home environment, you may have a cause of action for nursing home neglect and abuse under California law. There is no excuse for acts that take advantage of vulnerable victims, and our attorneys at the Dolan Law Firm are aggressive in pursuing the people who commit abuse or allow it to happen. Please call us toll free at 1-888-452-4752 or check us out online to schedule a free, no-obligations consultation.