Question: My mother lives in a nursing home in Pennsylvania and was assaulted by another resident. What are her legal rights?
Answer: Nursing home assaults and abuse situations must be taken seriously. The elderly and disabled need our protection and deserve to feel safe and secure in their living environments.
There are two types of claims which may be pursued in a nursing home abuse/assault case in Pennsylvania: 1. a criminal case and 2. a civil lawsuit.
Filing Criminal Charges
Assaults which occur at nursing homes or other long term care facilities should be reported to local law enforcement. Regardless of whether the perpetrator is a fellow resident or an employee of the facility, criminal charges can prevent further assaults and abuse.
Once a criminal report is filed, law enforcement will investigate the case to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed. Assuming there is enough evidence, the perpetrator will be arrested and charged with relevant violations of the state’s criminal code. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the perpetrator may ultimately be found guilty of the offense(s) and sentenced accordingly.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
A victim of an assault at a nursing home may also be able to seek justice by way of the civil courts. The civil justice system recognizes an aggrieved or injured person’s right to obtain fair financial compensation for the damages/losses caused by another party, either an individual or a business entity.
Civil Lawsuits – Who are the Parties
In nursing home assault/abuse cases, an injured resident can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and/or the nursing home owner or operator. While the theory of liability against the perpetrator is relatively simple, i.e., assault, the theory of liability against the nursing home will be a bit more complex.
In general, nursing homes have a duty to act reasonably with respect to the care of residents and control of the premises, the nursing home building itself. This duty includes the duty to protect residents from unreasonable risks of harm, including assaults/abuse not only by employees, but also by other residents.
The elderly, infirm and disabled deserve justice. For a free consultation with our PA and NJ nursing home abuse/neglect lawyers, please call (215) 985-0777.
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