Can I Sue if My Relative Suffers Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Just like someone living in their own home, the residents of nursing homes have legally protected rights. One of the most important rights is the right to have access to an abuse and neglect free environment. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are often violated when it comes to the right to live their life free from abuse, including physical and emotional abuse. The term abuse consists of many different actions, treatments, and behaviors, ranging from negligence to violence and disrespect.
Nursing home abuse is sadly a prevalent problem due to a variety of problems, such as improper training, understaffing and caregiver burnout, all of which often results in the staff members taking their frustration out on the residents they are supposed to be caring for. One of the most common yet overlooked forms of nursing home abuse is emotional and psychological abuse, which is a crime that can result in tragic consequences. It is critical that residents, as well as friends and family, be aware of the signs of emotional abuse. If you or your loved one is experienced emotional abuse in a nursing home, address the problem and contact an experienced attorney, such as Weinberg Law Firm, to take the appropriate actions.
Understanding Emotional Abuse
Although emotional/psychological abuse is often harder to identify than physical abuse, it doesn’t mean that it is less harmful. Emotional abuse may result in lasting psychological and/or physical effects. Emotional/psychological abuse can range from verbal threats, isolation, insults, and screaming or taunting residents. Emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical marks, but it is still extremely harmful. Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect nursing home residents from emotional abuse and prosecute the perpetrators of the abuse.
Who Commits Nursing Home Emotional Abuse?
The most common perpetrators of emotional abuse in nursing homes are the staff members that are assigned to provide care to their residents; those that are directly responsible for the support, personal care, and medical care of their residents. These perpetrators may include nursing staff, including care aides. These are the staff members that are responsible for reporting any concerns about the residents, including emotional abuse. Other responsible parties may include:
- Nursing home administrative staff-Although the administrative staff doesn’t generally physically provide care and support for the residents, they are in a position to commit nursing home emotional neglect. They are also in a position to take advantage of their residents financially, such as stealing their funds or altering documents, which in turn can have a negative effect on the residents emotionally.
- Other residents-Nursing homes have a legal duty of care to ensure the residents have an environment that is free from abuse, violence, and harassment for all of their residents, including a duty of care to protect them from the abuse committed by other residents. Professionally ran nursing homes are staffed with people who are continuously aware of the residents and their actions when they are interacting with other residents. If staff witness emotional abuse being committed by another resident, they have a responsibility to provide protection to the victim.
- Visiting friends and family-Although most people aren’t aware of the risk, friends, and family visiting loved ones in a nursing home are in a position to also commit emotional abuse. In this situation, the nursing home staff is still responsible for protecting their residents from any type of abuse, even if the abuse is committed by a friend or family member.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Unlike physical abuse, the signs of emotional abuse are more subtle and chronic, in that this type of abuse occurs slowly, over a longer period of time. Emotional abuse can significantly wear the person down psychologically, emotionally, and even physically. Some of the most common signs of emotional abuse may include:
- Change in behavior
- Acting fearful and/or scared of being left alone
- Exhibits repetitive behavior, such as mumbling or rocking back and forth
- Stopping their medications
- Anxiety and depression
- PTSD and trauma symptoms
- Developing violent or aggressive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Lowered confidence
The short answer to the question of whether you can sue for nursing home emotional abuse is yes. Most states have criminalized emotional abuse under the various abuse laws, including elder abuse. There are federal and state laws pertaining specifically to nursing home abuse that have been put in place to ensure high-quality care for nursing home residents. Along with criminal statutes, victims of emotional abuse or their family can file a civil lawsuit, which is generally based on intentional infliction of emotional distress. It is critical for victims of emotional abuse and their family to understand their personal rights. The first step is to report the abuse to the proper authorities and to contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Experienced law firms, such as Weinberg Law Firm can help address your concerns regarding emotional abuse as well as provide you with the information necessary on how to proceed with a case.