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Nursing Home Negligence: Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

Nursing Home Negligence: Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

Nursing homes are increasing in popularity with the rise in life expectancy in America. Many Americans place their loved ones in nursing homes to ensure they are cared for appropriately. These institutions provide a safe and hospitable environment, but negligence cases still arise.

Most negligence cases stem from the nursing home’s failure to fulfill its duty of care. As such, it causes emotional distress to the elderly, negatively impacting their health. It is advisable to consult a nursing home negligence attorney if you suspect your loved one has been mistreated.

With an excellent attorney, you can sue for negligence and emotional distress. Besides getting compensation, you will improve the nursing home’s conditions.

Read on to learn more.

What Is Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home negligence involves providing insufficient care to elderly residents. It can arise in many forms, not only treating the residents poorly, such as having inadequate staff or lacking the required medical resources.

So, how is nursing home neglect related to emotional distress? Emotional distress is mental suffering stemming from a memory or a consequence of a specific event.

The underlying legal principle is that nursing homes have a duty of care to their residents. If they fail in this duty and their actions lead to emotional distress, they are liable for the damages caused.

Ultimately, you can sue for emotional distress stemming from nursing home negligence, but you must have compelling evidence to support your claim.

Negligent Acts That Lead to Emotional Distress 

You must identify the negligent acts that can lead to emotional distress before suing a nursing home. Furthermore, you must note the several types of elderly abuse incurred, such as physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, to ensure you have sufficient evidence for your lawsuit.  

Let’s discuss these negligent acts in detail.

  • Failure to provide care and affection: Most elderly residents need company and affection to avoid loneliness. If a nursing home isn’t providing these needs, the patients may become depressed.
  • Failure to provide mental therapy: Most elderly patients are usually bored and lonely. Thus, nursing homes must give mental stimulation services, such as music therapy, to keep them mentally alert.
  • Failure to report nursing home abuse: Nursing homes must enact measures to prevent negligence cases. However, if an issue arises, they must report it, and failure to do so constitutes negligence.
  • Failure to provide medical care: Besides having doctors to handle physical injuries, nursing homes must have psychiatrists. Failure to have these specialists, especially if there are mentally ill patients, may equate to negligence.
  • Isolating specific residents and neglecting them: Nursing home patients with mental illness need constant care. Thus, separating them from the home’s social group can lead to emotional trauma.
  • Failure to deal with verbal and emotional abuse: A nursing home is liable for its staff’s actions. Thus, if one of the staff is abusive or aggressive towards the residents, they must take action. Failure to do so constitutes nursing home negligence.

Who Can Sue for Emotional Distress?  

Not everyone has the legal standing to sue a nursing home for negligence associated with their patients’ emotional distress.

Here are the people who can sue the nursing home.

  • The victim: The victim can sue the nursing home, especially if they have brought the issue to the administration and nothing has changed.
  • The victim’s power of attorney: A family member or any other person can sue the nursing home for negligence, provided they have a power of attorney. However, you must provide a legal document showing power of attorney.
  • The victim’s court-appointed guardian: The court-appointed guardian can sue for negligence, provided they have sufficient evidence.

Final Thoughts

Most nursing homes are safe and have sufficient resources to ensure the residents are comfortable. However, negligence cases still arise despite these institutions’ resolve to provide their duty to care. Besides suing the nursing home for negligence, you can sue them for emotional distress. The primary condition is that you must have sufficient evidence to prevail in the claim.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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