For many, the decision to place a family member in a nursing home facility does not come easy and is often a last resort when the family is unable to provide the necessary care for their loved one any longer. Nursing homes are meant to provide a safe and secure living environment for residents who are unable to care for themselves. Unfortunately, nursing homes aren't always a safe haven--in some cases, the facilities become the site of sexual abuse of residents.
If your loved one has been sexually abused in Pennsylvania nursing home, he or she--along with yourself--are likely feeling afraid, angry, and betrayed. There is hope, however; by filing a civil action against the abuser or even the nursing home facility itself, your loved one can receive the justice he or she deserves for the abuse that should never have been suffered.
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, sexual abuse of elderly individuals is more common than we might like to think, and nursing homes are a primary location for such abuse to occur. According to a study conducted by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, cases of elder sexual abuse occur most frequently in nursing homes. Residents of Pennsylvania nursing homes are especially prone to elder sexual abuse due to the vulnerability of the residents--after all, if the resident was strong and able to care for himself or herself, a nursing home would likely not be needed.
Common Perpetrators of Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes
Because of the number of people who filter in and out of a nursing home on a daily basis, it can sometimes be difficult to identify the perpetrator of the sexual abuse your loved one suffered. However, several groups of people are common culprits of sexual abuse in Philadelphia nursing homes.
Nursing Home Staff
Perhaps the most common perpetrators of sexual abuse against nursing home residents are the staff members of the facility itself. Because of their occupation, nursing home staff are often more aware of a patient's level of competency and dependence than others. Those who suffer from severe physical disabilities or cognition problems such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease can be an easy target for sexual abusers within the nursing home facility.
Alternatively, your loved one may have been sexually abused by a fellow resident of the nursing home facility. The close proximity and constant contact between residents can make your loved one an easy target to be taken advantage of by another resident.
Guests and Family Members of the Victim
Unfortunately, victims of sexual abuse in nursing homes are sometimes abused by their own guests or family members. Although a nursing home does not employ or oversee these guests, the nursing home facility may nevertheless be liable for your loved one's injuries if they had reason to believe that sexual abuse was occurring at the hands of a trusted friend or family member of your loved one.
Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Because victims of sexual abuse display their trauma in different ways, it can sometimes be difficult to detect whether sexual abuse has occurred in your loved one's nursing home facility. There are several warning signs, however, that should throw up a red flag that some form of sexual abuse has occurred. These signs include:
- Inexplicable injuries;
- Trouble walking or sitting down;
- Bleeding or bruising around the thighs or genitalia;
- Changes in behavior, such as agitation or withdrawal from family members and loved ones;
- Developing a sexually transmitted disease (STD) while a resident of the nursing home; and
- Development of depression, anxiety, or feelings of hopelessness;
- Intense and sudden fear of nursing home staff or residents
Responsibilities of Pennsylvania Nursing Homes
No matter which state the facility is located, a nursing home maintains a duty to its residents to provide a safe and secure environment in which to live. If your loved one was sexually abused because of a nursing home's negligence or callousness, the nursing home facility may be liable to your loved one for the physical and emotional trauma suffered.
Examples in which nursing home facilities may be liable for sexual abuse suffered by residents include:
- A resident being abused by a staff member with a history of sexual abuse, as a nursing home should perform careful background checks on residents;
- Sexual abuse suffered by a resident as a result of a lack of appropriate security in the nursing home facility; and
- Failing to conduct a thorough investigation of the sexual abuse if the nursing home facility is made aware of the abuse.
Legal Remedies for Nursing Home Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania
If your loved one has suffered sexual abuse while a resident of a Pennsylvania nursing home, it's imperative to contact a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer to help seek the justice your loved one deserves. By filing a civil lawsuit against the person who abused your loved one--or against the nursing home facility as a whole--your loved one may be able to receive financial compensation for the abuse that was suffered. Although financial compensation can't take away the fear and heartbreak that your loved one and family experienced, it can provide the necessary treatment your loved one needs after suffering such abuse.
A successful nursing home abuse lawsuit can provide financial compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Medical bills incurred to treat the injuries of sexual abuse; and
- Emotional trauma, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Was Your Loved One Sexually Abused in a Nursing Home? We're Here to Help
If your loved one has recently fallen victim to sexual abuse while a resident in a Philadelphia nursing home facility, the time to speak with an attorney is now. While no amount of compensation can take away the physical pain and emotional trauma that your loved one suffered, taking legal action can provide closure to both your loved one and his or her family members. Don't wait until it is too late to take legal action against your loved one's abuser--to speak with a member of our legal team and determine what options you have to pursue a path to justice, fill out an online case evaluation form or call 1-855-BRODLAW today.