When nursing homes fail to protect the rights and wellbeing of their residents, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help. A nursing home abuse lawyer can aid residents and their families in reimbursing clients for medical bills, pain and suffering, or death caused by a facility. In many cases, a nursing home lawyer can also help draw attention of the state to ensure that future residents do not become victims as well.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) states that nearly half of U.S. nursing homes are understaffed. These staffing issues inevitably lead to a decrease in quality care. In some cases, this leads to neglect and abuse of nursing home residents. In cases of neglect, the nursing home in question may have caused harm intentionally or unintentionally. In cases of abuse, the harm is typically caused intentionally.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer’s Role
A nursing home abuse lawyer will first establish the basic grounds for filing a lawsuit. In order to win a lawsuit and receive financial compensation, the plaintiff must prove three main occurrences. There are several stages during a lawsuit during which a nursing home abuse lawyer will work to prove guilt on the part of the defendants.
The nursing home abuse lawyer can help the plaintiff prove that:
- There was an established duty of care that the nursing home owed the plaintiff
- The nursing home breached this duty of care
- The alleged breach of duty was the direct cause of harm to the plaintiff
Procedure for Filing a Lawsuit
Nursing home residents or family members of residents should speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to file a lawsuit. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help gather information, research specific laws, and move forward with the lawsuit. The nursing home abuse lawyer can also provide guidance and insight into the litigation process to ensure that the right action is taken at the right time.
Before filing a lawsuit, a nursing home abuse lawyer will help gather all the information necessary to file the legal claim. The nursing home abuse lawyer will need information such as the patient’s medical history, research into state law where the lawsuit will be filed, and testimony from the patient, family members, friends, and past co-workers or volunteers.
Filing the Case
Once the nursing home abuse lawyer has gathered enough information to construct a case, the lawsuit is filed in court. When this occurs, the nursing home and any other co-defendants in the case will be served. The details of the lawsuit will depend upon the plaintiff’s goals, the state’s statute of limitations, and the available facts and resources.
Conducting the Discovery Phase
The nursing home abuse lawyer will then conduct the discovery phase. The discovery phase consists of gathering pre-trial information to prepare for the case’s trial. During this phase, the nursing home abuse lawyer will conduct depositions, or under-oath questioning of witnesses.
The nursing home abuse lawyer will also issue subpoenas for key documents from the case’s defendants. Evidence of the emotional and physical impact of the abuse will be developed. Additionally, extensive medical and legal research will be conducted. Through the discovery phase, the nursing home abuse lawyer builds the strongest possible case for the plaintiff.
The case may end several ways, including mediation, trial, or settlement. During mediation, the case is negotiated by an impartial third party. If the case is taken to trial, the nursing home abuse lawyer will present all elements of the case before a judge and jury. If the defendant decides to settle, the nursing home abuse lawyer can help the plaintiff recover a sum of money without going to full trial.
“Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes.” Nolo. Nolo. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/elder-abuse-nursing-homes-30162.html
“Interagency Coordination.” Center for Elders and the Courts. National Center for State Courts. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.eldersandcourts.org/Elder-Abuse/Elder-Abuse-Assessment-Resources-and-Coordination.asp&xgt;
“Judicial System.” National Center on Elder Abuse. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Partners/Judicial/index.asp&xgt;
“Nursing Home Abuse Increasing.” CBS News. CBS News, 11 Feb 2009. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-304038.html