Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
If you have driven through any part of Seattle, Bellevue, Olympia, or Bellingham in recent time, you have surely noticed the prevalence of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area. Most of these facilities are run exceptionally well, with little to complain about. However, on occasion, there are times when the elderly are taken advantage of, and unfortunately this is often in a sexual manner.
The elderly in nursing homes are often unable to protect themselves and are very vulnerable to others. Recently, there was a story that made national news about a woman who was in a coma, in a long-term care facility, who had become impregnated by a staff member of the assisted living facility where she was a resident.
This kind of shocking sexual abuse unfortunately does happen at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is not always easy to tell when an elderly loved one has been sexually abused if the elderly man or woman has dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other kind of age-related disorder.Signs of Sexual Assault at a Nursing Home
If an elderly loved one has the ability to communicate to you about their treatment at the facility, then they can and should relate to you the mistreatment they have suffered, whether that is sexual or physical. However, sometimes they cannot do this, or they may be too shy, humiliated, or embarrassed to do so. Oftentimes, with sexual abuse there is a great deal of shame, humiliation, and even intimidation that can discourage people from speaking about their abuse. Signs to be alert for if your loved one has suffered sexual abuse are:
- Bruising in the inner thighs that have no obvious explanation, such as from a fall.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Behavior that is inconsistent with their normal attitude
- Emotions they do not normally display, such as crying
- An unusual desire to be clean, such as wanting to shower or bathe an inordinate amount.
If you have been able to confirm that your loved one has been sexually abused, the best thing to do is immediately call the police, assuming immediate medical care is not needed at the time, notify the nursing home management, contact health and human services for Washington State, and notify the Jackman Law Firm so we can begin our investigation. While the police may not be overly eager to investigate, the Jackman Law Firm has the resources to help you when you need help most.Sexual Assault Nursing Home Laws
If your loved one has been sexually assaulted inside a nursing home in Washington State, then you need to understand how negligence laws operate in this state. In order to prevail in a negligence action, you must establish some key elements. First, you have to show the nursing home had a duty not to sexually abuse or assault your elderly loved one. Second, you have to show, with enough evidence, that a member of the staff of the nursing home or a fellow resident did in fact sexually assault your loved, and finally you have to show that your loved one suffered damages, physical or emotional, from this breach of the nursing home’s duty.
There is no question the nursing home or assisted living facility has a duty not to sexually abuse your elderly loved one. If this happens, and again you can produce evidence of this, your case will not be difficult to prove in terms of liability. All you will have to prove is the extent of your elderly loved one’s damages. One way to do this, in addition to presenting physical evidence, is to show that your loved one suffered emotional trauma as well, perhaps by sending your loved one to a counselor or therapist.
However, if your loved one was sexually assaulted by a fellow resident of the nursing home, then you will have to prove that the nursing home either did know or reasonably should have known about the behavior of the fellow resident. This may or may not be easy to prove, depending on the particular circumstances of your case.
There may be video evidence of this assault or there may be key witnesses who can prove there is no way the nursing home could not have known about the assault, and worse, they did nothing to stop it. In some cases, the nursing home may have even attempted to conceal the sexual abuse. In any case, once you have established the resident assaulted your loved one sexually and you can show that the nursing home either knew or should have known, then you again have to prove the extent of your loved one’s damages.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
If your elderly loved one has been sexually assaulted by a nursing home staff member or a resident, you are likely angry, confused, and wanting answers. The Jackman Law Firm Can help you here. We can also help you receive closure in addition to holding those accountable who were responsible for your loved one’s sexual abuse. We can help you obtain the following:
- Money for medical treatment, if needed
- Money for future medical care, if needed
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for out of pocket expenses
These damages are all legally allowed under Washington State laws. Punitive law, meaning a law designed to punish someone, are not allowed in Washington State, though some states do still have them. In any event, proving your case in terms of liability is the first hurdle that must be overcome before you can even get to the discussion regarding how much money your loved one should be awarded.
Most times insurance companies insure large nursing homes and assisted living facility centers, and these insurance companies fight these lawsuits no matter how obvious the sexual abuse may seem outwardly. The Jackman Law Firm can help you prove your case by interviewing key witnesses, subpoenaing documents, obtaining video surveillance footage that may have captured something of note, and preparing your case for trial, which is the best way to settle a case.
Feel free to call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case. We are here to help.