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Defining Elder AbuseNursing Home

Negligence vs. Abuse: Understanding The Legal Distinctions

By Lisa LeeMarch 20, 2024No Comments

The terms “negligence” and “abuse” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct legal concepts with significant implications for the well-being of nursing home residents. If you are seeking compensation and justice for the injuries caused to an elderly loved one, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can provide invaluable legal assistance.

What is Negligence in Nursing Homes?

Negligence is a legal concept that refers to a failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person or entity would under similar circumstances. In the context of nursing home care, it typically arises when the facility fails to meet the expected standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to a resident.

Negligence is not deliberate; it involves accidental or unintentional actions or omissions. Nursing home staff may neglect their duties without the intent to harm residents. Common examples of nursing home negligence include medication errors, falls due to inadequate supervision, bedsores (pressure ulcers) from lack of repositioning, and inadequate nutrition or hydration.

Which Actions Amount to Abuse?

Abuse is a deliberate act or pattern of behavior intended to cause harm or distress to another person. It can take various forms in a nursing home setting, including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. Examples of nursing home abuse include physical assaults, verbal threats or humiliation, sexual misconduct, and financial exploitation of vulnerable residents.

Nursing homes found liable for abuse may face not only civil liability for compensatory damages but also criminal charges and penalties. In relation to this, regulatory agencies may revoke their licenses.

Legal Distinctions Between Negligence and Abuse in Elderly Homes

These are a few other legal distinctions between negligence and abuse:

  • Intent: The presence of intent is the primary differentiator. Negligence involves accidental or unintentional conduct, whereas abuse involves intentional harm.
  • Harm Level: Negligence often results in harm due to a failure to meet the standard of care. In contrast, abuse involves intentional harm, which can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.
  • Mens Rea: Negligence lacks the “mens rea” (guilty mind) element required in criminal cases. Abuse, however, can lead to both civil and criminal charges, depending on the severity of the actions.
  • Legal Proceedings: Negligence cases are typically civil lawsuits seeking compensation for damages. Abuse cases may involve both civil and criminal proceedings, with the potential for incarceration if the perpetrator is criminally convicted.

Obtaining Compensation for Negligence or Abuse in a Nursing Home

Seeking compensation for negligence and abuse in a nursing home is a serious matter, and it’s important to follow the appropriate legal steps to ensure your loved one’s rights are protected and justice is served. Reach out to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. They can provide legal advice, evaluate the strength of your case, and guide you through the legal process.

Your attorney will help determine who may be liable for the negligence or abuse. This could include nursing home staff, administrators, or the facility itself. They will also help gather evidence to support your case, which may include medical records, photographs of injuries, witness statements, and any documented incidents of negligence or abuse.

In many cases, nursing homes may seek to settle the case before it goes to trial. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to pursue a fair settlement that compensates your loved one for their injuries and suffering. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to litigation. Your attorney will present your case in court, and a judge or jury will determine the outcome.

Talk to a Skilled and Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney – Book Your Free Consultation Today

At Walton Law, A.P.C., our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys have a deep understanding of the law, allowing us to provide the best possible legal representation. We approach each case with empathy and understanding, recognizing the emotional toll that nursing home abuse can take. We are happy to provide you with a free case evaluation. Call us at 866-338-7079 or reach us online.