In the vast majority of situations when nursing home neglect or abuse occurs, nothing is ever done. Because of the unique vulnerabilities of many seniors and the fact that they may not have many vocal advocates, the mistreatment is never brought to light or is swept under the rug. When accountability is had, in most cases it is after a nursing home abuse lawsuit is filed by the senior or their loved one. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers work in these situations. However, beyond civil lawsuits, there are some situations-though they are quite rare-when a criminal case can be initiated because of the conduct of caregivers.
Generally these charges are reserved only for the most extreme cases of mistreatment.
For example, Fox 5 News recently published a story on the sentencing of a former owner of an assisted living facility for her role in nursing home neglect. Apparently forging documents and faulty toileting equipment was at the heart of the elder abuse claims. The 42-year old woman was convicted of three gross misdemeanor offenses for “neglect of duty in willful disregard of safety of persons.” As a result of those charges she was recently sentenced to 120 hours of community service and forced to pay $1,000. In addition, she is prohibited from owning or having connection to group homes of any kind in the future.
The story on the situation explains that the convictions were tied to the woman’s time as owner and administrator at a residential group home. A former caregiver at the facility tipped police off to the situation when the caregiver was asked to forge daily medication documents. The forgeries were done in order to make it seem as if residents were receiving proper medication when they were not actually receiving them. Upon investigating the situation the authorities verified the forgeries. In addition, they discovered that a toilet system at the home was faulty and not fixed. The residents of the home were eventually moved to different facilities.
Local community members should know that while criminal charges of any kind are rare in these situations, those charges have no bearing on whether or not a civil suit is appropriate. Each Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm knows that there are a wide range of reasons why criminal prosecutions in these situations may not be appropriate but civil suits are necessary. Criminal cases are usually reserved for intentional conduct or recklessness. However, civil lawsuits following Illinois nursing home abuse are based on lower levels of culpability-negligence.
Negligence is not rooted in conduct or actions where caregivers knew or clearly should have known that harm was going to occur. Instead, it is based on situations where reasonable care was not provided, even though actual harm may not have been guaranteed to occur because of that breach in care. These distinctions are sometimes hard to parse out but they have very significant meanings in the legal world. A lawyer familiar with these situations can explain how these rules might apply in the case of harm suffered by you or a loved one at one of these assisted living facilities.
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