When nursing home abuse and neglect occurs two types of legal actions can arise: criminal and civil. In general, civil lawsuits are likely more common than criminal cases. There are no “common law” crimes, which means that an individual can only face criminal sanctions if they violate a specific criminal statute passed by either state or federal lawmakers. Conversely, civil lawsuits can be rooted in either a statute (such as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act) or in the basic “common law” claim of negligence.
Common law negligence claims exist based upon centuries of law built up since the nation’s founding. The law sets up general rules of conduct that society members can expect from one another and provides an avenue for those hurt by the misconduct of others to recover. Civil cases are brought by victims themselves who seek to hold their wrongdoer accountable. Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers help victims with these cases. Criminal cases are brought by public representatives (State’s Attorney’s Office) without the specific intervention of the victim. The sanctions available in each case is different as well. Civil cases generally only involve financial contributions that must be paid to the victim, while criminal cases can lead to actual loss of liberty-jail time.
While criminal sanctions are less frequent than civil ones, charges are still filed on a regular basis for abusive conduct at nursing homes. For example, last week Tri Cities News reported on the conclusion of a criminal case against a former nursing home employee related to the poor care she provided to residents. The employee eventually pled guilty to four counts of willful abuse or neglect of an adult. She was arrested last March after investigators uncovered evidence of her abuse of various residents at the nursing home where she was employed.
Reports are scarce regarding the specific abuse involved, but the resident was charged with hurting residents both physically and mentally. Prosecutors accused the woman of twisting one man’s hand and bending back another man’s hand. The daughter of one of the victim’s explained that the care provider was particularly cruel to residents. She explained that the employee seemed to abuse her position by using mean words to make vulnerable senior residents-including her mother-break down into tears.
It is unclear how long the woman will have to serve in jail as a result of her conduct. The maximum sentence is 15 months in jail, but those familiar with the case believe that she will likely serve five months of that sentence. The daughter of one victim explained that she would like to push for tougher laws for those charged with elder abuse. As it currently stands in the state, the penalty for this abuse is roughly the same as writing a bad check.
Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge all those who suspect mistreatment of a loved one at a nursing home to give our office a call. We have helped hundreds of local families in our area hold negligent nursing homes accountable for the consequences of their poor care.
See Our Related Blog Posts: