Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

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When a loved one becomes too sick or frail to be cared for at home, placing them in a nursing home is often the best option.  We want our family and friends to get the best care possible, and sometimes that means engaging professionals to do what we cannot.  We trust that these professionals will care for our loved ones in a competent, compassionate way.  But all too often, the sick and the aged fall through the cracks.  In this post we will discuss the legal options available to the victims and families of nursing home abuse and neglect.

New York has a very special law dealing with nursing homes: Public Health Law §2801-d.   This law gives patients and their families the ability to sue a nursing home for a variety of injuries, including but not limited to: physical harm, emotional harm, financial loss and death.  This law helps individuals overcome a lot of legal barriers that prevent these sorts of suits in other states.  In order to make out a viable case under this law, there are a few threshold considerations:

1.       Was your loved one a patient in a “residential health care facility?” 

A residential health care facility is defined as a “nursing home or a facility providing a health related service.”  This means that a retirement or assisted living facility that provided only occupational services like cooking and cleaning would not fall under this law.  The facility must be a full-time, live-in residence that provides health services.

2.       Was your loved one denied a “right or benefit” as defined by the law?

This can be any right or benefit created for the well-being of the facility resident by either law or contract.  In New York, there are hundreds of healthcare regulations that create rights for residents of residential health care facilities including, among many other things, the right to adequate medical care, the right to a safe and sanitary place to live, and the right to be treated with respect and dignity.

3.       Did the facility “exercise all care reasonably necessary” to prevent the harm to your loved one?

Sometimes people are injured, even under the best of circumstances.  Just because your loved one suffered a harm while a patient at a residential health care facility does not mean that you can bring a lawsuit for damages.  These facilities are not prisons.  They cannot strap your loved one to a bed or put a guard on them 24 hours a day.  Sometimes accidents happen even when people are being properly cared for.  However, when people are not cared for properly, or their needs or reasonable requests are ignored, then harms that occur to them may rise to the level of negligence and legal action may be necessary.

If you or your loved one was injured due to nursing home abuse or neglect, give us a call, or fill out the form below to discuss your options.

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