How to Prove Neglect in a Nursing Home Lawsuit

nursing home abuse

April 28, 2017

Ellis Law Corporation

Nursing Home

Nursing homes have a duty of care to their patients, just as other medical facilities do. Unfortunately, older people in nursing homes can be hurt by neglect.

If these duty of care standards are breached due to neglect, the nursing homes can be charged with negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Negligence means that the nursing home knew or reasonably should have known that an event or condition was harming the patient, and neglected to do anything about it.

If the neglect centered around medical care or medications, nursing homes can be charged with medical malpractice.

Definition of neglect

Elder abuse is often a specific act, such as hitting or striking a senior citizen. Neglect can be more complicated to define, because it is harm that may result from failing to do something rather than doing it.

Broadly speaking, neglect encompasses such activities as denial of the senior citizen’s needs. All people have needs for food, shelter, clothing, and cleanliness, for example. Nursing homes must provide all of these to their patients sufficiently. They must also provide needed medicine, in the correct dose and at the correct time.

Failure to provide any of these can be neglect.

Allegations of neglect can also be brought regarding the nursing home’s conduct in respect to its employees, subcontractors, training, and adherence to laws and regulations.

Nursing homes must hire qualified people. There must be sufficient people on each shift to care for the patients. They must be trained sufficiently. If parts of the staff are run by agencies, as security personnel and health aides sometimes are, they must be qualified and trained as well.

Finally, all regulations, Federal, state, or local, must be followed.

Neglect can be charged against nursing homes and agencies utilized by nursing homes in any of these categories.

How is nursing home negligence proved?

Proving negligence can also be complicated. If your loved one, for example, is prone to falling due to a medical condition such as Parkinson’s, proving that the falling is due to inadequate maintenance of hallways can be complicated.

First, listen closely to the senior citizen in the nursing home. If their story of how they fell is markedly different from that of nursing home personnel, follow up.

Second, note the condition of your loved one and the nursing home. Do they look properly cared for? Are there bruises from falling or other accidents? Do they appear to be losing weight? Are their clothes adequate? Is the nursing home less than adequately maintained?

Any of these conditions and more could be signs of neglect. Take pictures if you can. That can be evidence of conditions or events. If you can’t, make note of the signs of neglect and the date. Courts need a record.

Third, report neglect to the police and southern California adult protective services. Just as in other legal cases, a report can be accepted by a court as evidence.

Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney today

Ellis Law Firm has two decades of experience in fighting for the rights of senior citizens. We represent families in elder neglect and abuse cases, fighting vigorously to protect the rights of your loved one. Call us today to discuss nursing home neglect and senior care law. We will talk at no charge to you. Call 310-641-3335 to speak with an experienced LA nursing home neglect lawyer.

Additional “proving nursing home abuse” resources:

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Understanding Elder Abuse. Fact Sheet 2016.
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Elder Abuse: Prevention Strategies.