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Families Often Feel Powerless Against Nursing Home Neglect

The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm usually work with families whose loved ones have suffered mistreatment at a long-term care facility. Unlike other areas of the law, most of the time the actual individual harmed by the negligence is not the one who initiates the lawsuit. Instead, allegations of nursing home abuse usually only occur when instigated by friends and family members of the senior.

Often, those family members feel helpless when they become suspicious about problematic care. This sense of powerlessness was recently the subject of a new article from WCAX News. The article highlighted the challenges faced by those seeking to hold nursing home owners accountable for their conduct.

For example, one woman explained how she learned about problems with her father’s nursing home care only ten days after he was admitted. The senior was being attacked by another resident who was mentally unstable. The senior did not survive very long. His daughter explained that a coroner claimed that the attacks were a cause in his death. He even had bruises on his face while at the funeral home. Obviously the situation was incredibly difficult for the family.

The adult daughter in this case did not let the matter rest, because she naturally wanted to know more about how the attacks were allowed to continue. She discovered that the violent resident had a history of attacking others. Her father was not the only one. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers are very familiar with resident-on-resident violence and the negligent care that often allows these attacks to continue without recourse.

The daughter wanted to ensure that no other families went through what she went through. Explaining her drive she noted that “I felt very guilty because I was the one who made the decisions for him to go into the nursing home.”

This tangle of emotions is shared by many local community members whose loved ones are victimized in local long-term care facilities.

The woman in this situation was shocked to learn that legal tools in her state (Vermont) were lacking when it comes to enforcing state care regulations. At times there was little that families could do to hold a nursing home accountable for not abiding by applicable care standards. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. The state’s governor recently signed a new law (H. 413) that creates a civil action against those who neglect, exploit, or abuse seniors in long-term care facilities.

In signing the legislation the Governor said that “This bill will hold nursing homes, owners, and operators accountable for allowing patterns of abuse and neglect to exist in their facilities.” An Assistant General in the state explained that the change in the law should help stem the rising tide of serious cases of abuse and neglect that the office has seen.

As nursing home lawyers, we applaud the increased recognition of the need for accountability in these care settings. Nursing home residents remain some of the most voice-less members of our community. Without clear rules in place to protect their interest, it is far too easy for their vulnerabilities to be exploited.

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