When your parent is the victim of negligence in a nursing home, you can take legal action to hold those involved responsible. In addition to pursuing criminal charges, you can seek civil damages. How you pursue those damages depends on various factors. If your parent has suffered an injury, here is what you need to know about your civil legal options.
Can You Sue?
Many people believe that they can file a lawsuit against a nursing home for negligence, but this is not always the case. Whether or not you can sue depends on the language in the agreement that was signed when your parent moved into the facility.
Some agreements contain a binding arbitration clause. The clause can prevent you from taking your parent's case to the court. You would instead have to allow an arbitrator to decide the fate of your case. Regardless of the outcome of the arbitration, the decision rendered is usually considered final. You cannot file an appeal.
In addition to giving up the right to appeal, a binding arbitration clause also hides what occurred from the public. The records are not entered into public record because the decision was not made through the court.
If there is not an arbitration clause in the contract, you can file a lawsuit. In order to sue, you will have to prove your parent's case meets the standards of personal injury law.
What Do You Have to Prove?
Since nursing home negligence is considered a personal injury issue, you have to prove that the facility had a responsibility to care for your parent. You also have to prove that the facility is responsible for the negligence and that it resulted in an injury.
Establishing that the nursing home was responsible for caring for your parent is relatively simple; the contract signed when your parent moved in can be considered evidence of the facility's responsibility.
Proving that the facility is responsible for negligence can be trickier though; how you prove your case depends largely on the type of negligence alleged.
For instance, if you are alleging financial abuse, you need to show that an employee of the facility or someone that was allowed access to your parent by the facility stole from your parent. Documents, such as your parent's bank statements and canceled checks made out to the person, can be useful.
A lawyer from the Law Office of Thomas G. Kemmy or a similar firm can help determine what type of evidence is needed in your parent's situation. Consult with a lawyer early in the process to avoid delays in seeking justice for your parent.