Liability for Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home

You may be aware that nursing home residents suffer abuse at an alarming rate. However, you may not be aware that there are a number of types of nursing home abuse. Emotional abuse in a nursing home is one of the most common ways that abusers target seniors, but it is also one of the most difficult to determine and prove. Learn more about what constitutes emotional abuse and how to determine liability for it here.

What is emotional abuse at a nursing home?

Emotional abuse is very often verbal, and includes demeaning, intimidating, threatening, and humiliating the victim, e.g., if your loved one wet herself and caregivers mocked or yelled at her for it.

In other cases, emotional abuse is nonverbal. For example, a common example of emotional abuse occurs when caregivers ignore or give residents the “cold shoulder.” Others times, caregivers use residents as scapegoats or blame them for things they are not responsible for. 

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse leaves no visible marks on the victim’s body. Instead, it affects him/her psychologically, drastically impacting his/her quality of life.

For this reason, emotional abuse is often difficult to identify. Some signs may include:

  • The senior reporting verbal abuse
  • Overhearing yelling or berating
  • Unexplained withdrawal, especially from favorite recreational activities
  • Unexplained change in alertness
  • Sudden, unexplained depression
  • Tense interactions with a particular caregiver
  • Fear or distrust of a particular caregiver
  • Frequent arguments with a particular caregiver

Who is liable for nursing home abuse?

While you might think the abuser is the liable party, this is not always true. A legal construct known as vicarious liability holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees while they are on the job.

Essentially, if a staff member abuses your loved one, managers or owners of the home are likely the liable party.

How do I prove liability?

By filing a claim against the nursing home rather than the individual abuser, you can often collect a much larger payout for your loved one. However, it also makes your case more difficult as the nursing home’s insurers will do what they can to brush the accusations under the rug and give you as little compensation as possible.

In addition, there is often little to no physical evidence to prove liability for emotional abuse. To prove the nursing home acted negligently and is therefore liable, you must establish the following:

  • The nursing home owed your loved one a certain level of care;
  • An employee or employees failed to provide this level of care;
  • This failure caused physical, mental, or emotional injuries; and
  • The victim suffered because of these injuries

Nursing homes can also be directly negligent if they perform any of the following:

  • Inadequate background checks
  • Failure to properly train employees
  • Inadequate staff monitoring

All of these negligent actions can allow a nursing home resident to be the victim of abuse.

Our team will investigate your case and gather whatever evidence is necessary to prove the home was liable, either vicariously or directly.

How can Cordisco & Saile, LLC help after Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing home abuse?

If your aging loved one suffered emotional abuse in a nursing home, Cordisco & Saile, LLC can help you explore your legal options for holding the responsible parties liable. We can often recover compensation to cover medical care, e.g., counseling, as well as pain and suffering and other damages.

Call us today at 215-642-2335 to learn more.