The recommended first step in any nursing home abuse claim is talking to a lawyer with experience in handling these types of civil actions. However, your elderly parent may be reluctant to speak to an attorney. In this instance, understanding your parent’s specific reasons for objecting and educating him about the process is the best approach.
Why Victims Are Reluctant to Come Forward
Some of the reasons victims of nursing home abuse are reluctant to come forward include:
- Shame or embarrassment
- Lack of understanding about what behaviors consistent abuse
- Being intimidated by the legal system
- Wanting to protect privacy
- Believing nobody will be able to change the situation
- Worrying about the expense involved in taking legal action
How to Convince Your Parent to Come Forward
There are several strategies you can use to persuade your parent to speak to a nursing home abuse attorney. You can:
Stress that they did nothing wrong.
There is no need for your loved one to feel shame or embarrassment because of the actions that have occurred. Nursing home staff have a professional obligation to assist residents, much like doctors have a professional duty to provide appropriate care for their patients. Abusive behavior violates this expectation and is never acceptable under any circumstance.
Offer to attend the meeting for moral support.
If your parent has not been involved in legal action previously, he may be nervous about understanding the process or worried about being taken seriously. Planning to attend the meeting together may offer him some comfort.
Explain that nursing home abuse comes in many forms.
Some residents may be reluctant to come forward if they believe that only physical abuse is against the law. Letting your parent know that verbal abuse, sexual abuse, medication theft, misuse of financial resources, and neglect related to understaffing are also against the law may help him see the situation in new light.
Outline what compensation is available.
A nursing home abuse claim can include compensation for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Punitive damages could also be received if there is a pattern of particularly severe neglect or a pattern of disregard for the safety of residents in the nursing home. Depending on the circumstances, your parent's testimony may also be used in a criminal case or an administrative action against the people involved in the abuse. These issues are separate from the nursing home abuse case, however.
Explain that taking action can help protect others.
Generally, nursing home abuse doesn't occur in a vacuum. If one resident is being mistreated, it's likely that others are, too. Let your parent know that his case could force the implementation of policies that could protect others from suffering similar abusive treatment.
Point out there is no upfront cost.
Nursing home abuse cases are a type of personal injury claim. Thus, lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means, they accept a percentage of the settlement as the fee for representation instead of asking for upfront payment. If the case can't be resolved, there is no charge.
Testimony From a Victim With Dementia
Nursing home abuse is against the law regardless of a resident's physical or mental limitations, but cases involving people with dementia can be more difficult. Your parent can still testify, but supporting evidence such as medical records, bank statements, or testimony from witnesses will also be needed.
If your parent's condition has reached the point where he can no longer understand the legal process of filing a claim, a guardian ad litem will be needed. This is a person, normally a spouse, adult child, or other family member, who files the claim on the victim's behalf and makes decisions to protect his best interests.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents obtain justice for their loved ones who have been the victims of nursing home abuse. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.