Elder care is big business in the United States. A 2016 report showed that nearly 70 percent of nursing homes in the country are designed to be for-profit, with residents or their families covering the cost of full-time care. With millions of elderly people in these homes across the country, instances of abuse and neglect are not uncommon. If you suspect your loved one is not being treated as he or she deserves, there are several steps you can take to open a lawsuit against the facility or individuals who have committed the abuse.
- Gather Evidence
Once your loved one has been removed from the nursing home, take time to gather physical evidence of the abuse or neglect. Photos of soiled sheets and clothing, bruises on the elderly person’s body, and bedsores can all be presented to an attorney as evidence. Make copies of these photos for the police as well. Do not wait to document any physical evidence, as the burden of proof will likely be upon you in a court case, and photographs can help strengthen your lawsuit.
- Speak To Witnesses
If you know anyone who bore witness to the elder abuse or neglect, ask them to detail what they saw and if he or she would be willing to write down a statement for your court case. Not all states accept written accounts, while others allow for certain exceptions for accepting them. Generally, it is best to bring witnesses to court so they can testify in person.
- Speak To a Lawyer
Once you have all the pertinent materials gathered, it is time to approach a lawyer about building a court case. Take your time in finding the attorney or law office that is a good fit for your case and that you feel comfortable with. Some law groups offer an initial consultation at no cost, so choosing a personal injury lawyer does not have to be a costly venture. You may feel nervous or hesitant about taking your case to a lawyer at the outset, but there can be many assets to working with one.
- State and Organize Your Case
Once you choose a lawyer, you can start to organize your case and offer your attorney a timeline for the suspected abuse. Note when your loved one first entered the nursing home, his or her state at the time of admission, what symptoms you noticed that first made you suspicious of the abuse, and what evidence you have gathered since removing the elderly person from the facility. The more details you can offer, the stronger the case your attorney can build.
- Serve the Facility
Your lawyer will likely inform you when he or she is ready to serve the nursing home facility with your lawsuit. You can choose for any correspondence to be returned to your attorney, as this type of representation can reduce stress during this difficult time. It is important to remember that you may have to appear in court despite having legal counsel, so this is something to consider once the papers are served.
Elder abuse and neglect can have a serious impact on your family. Knowing how to move through legal channels to combat this problem may help your loved one receive the justice he or she deserves.