When sexual assaults occur in Massachusetts nursing home facilities

Many people would be shocked to discover the rate at which sexual assault occurs within nursing homes. There have been over 16,000 complaints of sexual assault at long-term care facilities since 2000. When we put our family members and loved ones in a Massachusetts nursing home, it is often because we believe they deserve a level of care and attention that we are unable to give them. Not only do we expect the professionals we trust with our loved ones to treat them with the care they deserve, we absolutely do not anticipate that they will be the victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault within nursing homes in not limited to staff either; it may also be propagated by other residents or visitors. The nursing home has a duty to protect your loved ones against sexual abuse, and our Boston nursing home lawyers will hold them liable if they did not take adequate measures to prevent against the abuse.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation. If you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your loved one was sexually abused while at a long-term care facility, you will be awarded damages. Importantly, this standard of proof is lower than that in a criminal trial, which opens up options for people who may not have sufficient proof to initiate criminal proceedings against an abuser. No matter who the abuser is, the nursing home may have to provide compensation. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can help you uncover any relevant facts that will help your case.

There are any number of ways a nursing home may act negligently in protecting their residents from sexual assault. Here are a few examples in which nursing homes fall short:

  • Negligence in hiring staff. Nursing homes need to screen all applicants and check their criminal records to ensure they will not pose a risk to patients. Previous allegations of abuse or sexual assault ought to be taken seriously and be thoroughly investigated.
  • Negligence in investigating sexual assault complaints. If a nursing home has reason to know of a staff member sexually assaulting residents, they must adequately investigate the allegations and take steps to prevent the assault from happening again.
  • Negligence in protecting residents generally. If the nursing home is found to have fostered a culture that allows for this abuse, this almost certainly will give rise to a finding of negligence on their behalf.

It is the unfortunate reality that sexual abuse of elderly patients goes massively underreported. Senior citizens often lack the ability to defend themselves from sexual assault attempts. Some recent reports detail the abuse of patients in vegetative states, many not even knowing that they have been a victim of abuse. These assaults are committed by staff and other residents at almost equal rates. Nursing homes ought to be aware of the pervasiveness of sexual assault and take steps to prevent against it. If the nursing home fails to take these steps, they are legally responsible for the assault.

These cases are even more complicated by cognitive disorders such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is often difficult to ascertain what happened, which also makes these patients particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. Families must be especially vigilant of nursing home abuse when their loved one suffers from a cognitive disorder. They may be the only ones able to recognize the signs and act on their loved one’s behalf.

Altman & Altman LLP has helped many nursing home sexual assault victims and their families recover compensation for their injuries. The court may impose fines on the nursing home and limit or take away government funding. In some cases, families can see several million dollars in damages. To schedule your free consultation with Altman & Altman LLP, call 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll free), or contact us online. We are available 24/7 to support you through your suit.

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