Sexual abuse is an unfortunate reality in many New York nursing homes. And while these facilities are trusted by families to protect and care for their elderly loved ones, far too many of them allow this violation to take place. When nursing homes fail to take reasonable steps to keep their residents safe, victims’ families can take legal action. It starts with recognizing the most common signs of sexual abuse. The nursing home injury attorneys of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. are here to guide you.
The duties of nursing facilities
By law, nursing home residents in New York are entitled to “dignity, respect and a comfortable living environment,” among other rights. This means nursing home staff owe their residents a duty to keep them reasonably safe from all forms of abuse, including sexual. Sexual abuse can happen at the hands of nursing home staff members, which obligates the facilities to conduct background checks on their employees and establish other safeguards.
However, a patient can also be victimized by another resident in the facility or an outside visitor. Again, this means the facility must do what is reasonably necessary to protect the welfare of all residents. If there is evidence that the nursing home somehow neglected to keep their patients safe, and therefore permitted sexual abuse to occur, the victim and/or the victim’s family can take legal action to hold the facility liable.
Signs you need to know about
The National Center on Elder Abuse advises family members to keep an eye out for these and other signs:
- Bruising near the inner thighs, the genital area, or the breasts
- Torn, stained, or bloodied underclothing
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, irritation, or pain
- Unusual difficulty walking or sitting
- Displays of extreme agitation or fear
- Unusual interactions between the victim and the alleged abuser
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Depression and anxiety attacks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms
- Suicide attempts
Nursing home residents tend to be isolated and are sometimes even forgotten by their loved ones. Sexual predators, which may include nursing home employees, often seek victims who they know are not going to have much communication with the outside world. Therefore, the single best way to minimize the likelihood of sexual abuse happening is to visit and communicate with your family member often.
What to do if you notice signs of abuse
If you suspect that your loved one is being sexually abused in a nursing home, you should retain legal counsel immediately. Nursing homes often cover up or destroy evidence of abuse or take steps to make it difficult for family members to learn the truth. Also, abuse that is allowed to continue will almost certainly get worse and could endanger the health or life of your loved one.
An experienced nursing home injury attorney can put a stop to the abuse and conduct an investigation to uncover what happened. This includes taking steps to obtain and preserve evidence of the facility’s negligence. Finally, your lawyer will seek compensation for the injuries your family member suffered. Medical bills and pain and suffering are just two examples of potential damages you or your loved one can ask a court to award. Criminal proceedings may be proper as well.
Seeking Justice for Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Victims
Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. is committed to standing up for elderly victims and their families. Our attorneys work to hold nursing facilities liable for failing to keep their residents safe from abuse and neglect. If your loved one has been sexually abused in a nursing home, or you believe he or she has been abused, give us a call today.