How Long Do I Have To File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?Last updated on: November 2, 2021
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Nursing homes are supposed to provide a safe, but comfortable home for our elderly loved ones, especially as they may reach a stage of being unable to care for themselves safely or properly without assistance. Nursing homes are expected to not only provide necessary medical care but also ensure patients are provided with a clean and hygienic living environment, free of any abuse or neglect, and treated with the care and empathy they deserve. Unfortunately, far too many elderly patients continue to suffer from elder abuse or neglect in nursing homes across the United States.
If you or your loved one have been injured or suffered harm in a nursing home, you should call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible with a skilled personal injury attorney near you. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us anything.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Two common issues have repeatedly added to the difficulty of accurately reporting and understanding the full scale of elder abuse and neglect: 1) the lack of uniformity in defining elder abuse, and 2) the lack of reporting of abuse or neglect by victims. As a result, far too many instances of elder abuse continue to go unnoticed, especially when nursing homes do not take the necessary steps to protect their patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse is “an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult” defined as an adult “age 60 or older.” Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse as a “single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” This “constitutes a violation of human rights” and may include abuse such as “physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, financial and material abuse, abandonment, neglect, and serious loss of dignity and respect.”
Elder Abuse Statistics
Every year, approximately 1 in 10 people over the age 60 suffer from some form of elder abuse, including exploitation or neglect. Indeed, over 643,000 older adults were treated in emergency rooms across America from 2002 to 2016 for nonfatal assaults, while over 19,000 homicides of this vulnerable population also occurred during the same period, according to the CDC.
Even worse, the CDC and other health agencies continue to warn that elder abuse and neglect continues to be significantly underreported, with many elderly victims often either afraid or unable to report abuse or neglect, especially when the perpetrator may be a caregiver in a nursing home. Patients may depend on these caregivers for food, water, medical care, ensuring basic hygiene, and other needs. This near or total dependence on the victim’s abuser by many patients in nursing homes may cause the victim to remain silent, while in other situations, the elderly adult may not be physically or mentally competent to report their abuse or seek help.
ELDER ABUSE FAQS
Many elderly victims of abuse and their loved ones may be confused after an older adult suffers harm caused by elder abuse or neglect while in a nursing home. In addition to trying to figure out how or why the harm occurred, you may have several questions as to whether the nursing home may be liable for the harm suffered by your loved one, how common such abuse may be in nursing homes, how to pursue compensation against a nursing home, or how long you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer from Zinda Law Group can help you better understand the answers to these questions and more.
What Are the Types of Elder Abuse?
The lack of uniformity in defining elder abuse and neglect by various law enforcement agencies, states, health agencies, and other related entities have made it more difficult for many years to accurately understand what elder abuse or neglect is. However, as health agencies, researchers, and policymakers attempt to adopt more uniform definitions and standards for defining elder abuse over recent years, various types of elder abuse have been recognized and organized into various categories, such as:
- Physical abuse, which occurs when the perpetrator intentionally uses physical force such as kicking, punching, hitting, slapping, pushing, or burning to cause an elderly adult to experience pain, injury, distress, illness, some form of functional impairment, or even death.
- Psychological or emotional abuse, which includes both verbal or nonverbal behavior such as threats, humiliation, harassment, isolation, or disrespect that may cause an older adult to experience mental pain or anguish, embarrassment, fear, or other distress
- Sexual abuse, any unwanted or forced sexual interactions with another adult, including any unwanted sexual contact or penetration of any kind as well as sexual harassment and other inappropriate non-contact acts
- Financial abuse, which includes any unauthorized, improper, or illegal use of an older adult’s money, belongings, assets, benefits, or property for the benefit of someone other than the older adult
- Neglect, which generally includes any failure to meet the older adult’s basic needs, such as water, food, shelter, hygiene, clothing, social needs, and essential medical care
If you or your loved one has suffered any of these forms of elder abuse, contact one of the experienced elder abuse lawyers at Zinda Law Group to help you better understand your legal options. We can help you determine the steps you can take to pursue any compensation you or your elderly loved one may be entitled to.
How Long Do I Have To File a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
As with any other personal injury lawsuit, each state sets a specific time period within which you may be able to file a claim seeking compensation for any injuries or damages. These legal time limits, called the statute of limitations, establish a deadline for filing any lawsuit against the nursing home for the abuse suffered by your loved one. The statute of limitations for a nursing home abuse lawsuit will vary depending on the state where the abuse occurred, but many states typically provide for a statute of limitations of either two or three years for personal injury lawsuits such as nursing home abuse claims.
This means that in most cases, the statute of limitations will begin running when the victim or his or her legal representatives knew or should have known the harm had occurred. Importantly, this means that the statute of limitations will begin either when the actual injury or harm occurs—which may occur after the actual abusive conduct occurred, especially in elder abuse cases involving neglect—or when the victim’s legal representatives or family should have known about the injury or harm. In most cases, if the statute of limitations has expired before you have filed a lawsuit, you will then generally be barred from filing any claim.
However, in some cases, there may be an exception to the statute of limitations that may allow you to still file a nursing home lawsuit; you may, for example, be able to show the statute of limitations has not expired because it should have started at a later date or because the victim was incompetent. The statute of limitations typically begins running when the injury or harm itself occurs; however, if your loved one has been kept isolated, threatened into silence, or medicated to avoid discovery of abuse by the caregiver, the statute of limitations may not begin running until the abuse or neglect is discovered or should have been discovered. If you can show the nursing home took any steps to conceal the abuse or the victim’s injury from you, your attorney may be able to show the court that a valid exception to the statute of limitations exists.
Importantly, the statute of limitations establishes the legal deadline for actually filing any personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the injury or harm suffered by the victim. This means that you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and begin preparing any such lawsuit, as your attorney will need some time to investigate your claim, gather evidence, and prepare your claim before actually filing the lawsuit.
Contact an elder abuse injury lawyer near you today
We love our elderly loved ones and expect nursing homes and their staff to show these older adults the same love and care as we would give them. Unfortunately, many elderly patients in nursing homes across the United States instead experience abuse or neglect from other patients or the very caregivers entrusted with their care and protection. Whether your loved one has suffered physically, emotionally, sexually, or in some other way, an attorney can help you ensure any abuse or neglect is stopped immediately and your loved one is safe from any additional harm.
Further, if your loved one has suffered harm in a nursing home, they may be able to pursue compensation by filing an elder abuse lawsuit against the nursing home with the help of an experienced attorney. Contact Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and whether the nursing home may be liable for the harm suffered by your elderly loved one. By promptly speaking with an attorney to discuss your options, you can make sure that you do not wait too long and miss the applicable deadline in your state to file a nursing home lawsuit.
Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our experienced elder abuse lawyers from Zinda Law Group. You will not pay anything unless we win your case; that’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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