When you put your family member into a nursing home, you expect him or her to be safe. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is common due to the vulnerable nature of the population inside these facilities. Many nursing home residents have dementia, Alzheimer's, or another disability or mental illness that makes them easy prey for abusive staff. A common type of nursing home abuse is sexual abuse. If you or a loved one is subjected to this reprehensible conduct, you likely have grounds to bring a lawsuit. The Detroit, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids sexual abuse lawyers at Neumann Law Group can guide you through this process. Our principal, Kelly Neumann, is an award-winning nursing home abuse attorney who has secured more than $3 million in personal injury cases each year for several years.Seeking Damages for Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse of nursing home residents is prohibited under federal and state laws. It can include a wide range of non-consensual interactions or contact, ranging from exposing a resident to pornography to molestation or forced penetration.
Warning signs of sexual abuse that families should notice include unexplained STDs, sleeping difficulty, bruising or bleeding of certain private areas, and torn underclothes or bedding. In Michigan, several laws have been enacted to protect against neglect, abuse, and exploitation. Under the Patient's Bill of Rights in the Public Health Code, nursing home residents have the right to be free from all forms of abuse and exploitation, including sexual abuse.
Under MCL 333.21771(1), licensees, nursing home administrators, and employees of nursing homes shall not physically, mentally, or emotionally abuse or mistreat a patient. Moreover, when a nursing home employee has a reasonable suspicion that a resident is being abused, and it has resulted in a serious bodily injury, he or she is required to report it to the nursing home administrator or nursing director and to the Department of Public Health no more than two hours after forming a suspicion. If the suspicious act did not result in a serious bodily injury, it should be reported within 24 hours. The administrator or nursing director is required to report suspicions to the Department as well as one or more law enforcement entities. However, nursing home staff and administrators do not always follow the mandates of the law.
One remedy for family members who suspect sexual abuse is to contact the police, the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, the Attorney General, or the Department of Human Services and Adult Protective Services. An investigation by any of these agencies may stop the abuse and in certain cases may result in a criminal case, as well as evidence that may be valuable in bringing a private lawsuit. However, a criminal case has a higher standard of proof, will not result in compensation, and may not result in a sense of justice for a sexual abuse victim and his or her family.
You can also bring a private sexual abuse lawsuit against the nursing home. The statutory rights set forth in MCL 333.20201 are mandatory and must be adopted as part of a nursing home's policies. A lawsuit may also allege traditional tort theories of liability, such as assault, battery, and negligence. Additionally, nursing homes are required to screen prospective employees for past criminal history to make sure that they are fit for the job. If a staff member is a prior sex offender and then sexually abuses a resident, the nursing home may be liable for negligent hiring. Nursing homes can potentially also be held liable for inadequate discipline or training of staff, among other violations.Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, or Detroit
Nursing home abuse may fly under the radar because it tends to be extremely embarrassing to a vulnerable elderly victim. When abused, your loved one may also fear retaliation or that he or she will not be believed. If you or a loved one is harmed in a nursing home, the Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City sexual abuse attorneys at Neumann Law Group may be able to help you recover damages. We represent people in Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Midland, Muskegon, Saginaw, Wyoming, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula, as well as in California and Massachusetts. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form for a free consultation with an injury attorney.