How to Sue a Nursing Home for Sexual Abuse

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

If you recently discovered that a parent or other loved one was sexually abused in a nursing home, you might be surprised that this is something that is far more common and insidious than you might have thought.  If you or a loved one was sexually abused in a nursing home, then it is important to learn more about how to seek damages and justice for a nursing home sexual abuse lawsuit.

First, it is important to understand how exactly the right to sue a nursing home works and what elements must be proven to successfully sue a nursing home for sexual abuse.  Second, you should understand how long you have to file your case and what steps must be taken before you can file your claim.

For a free review of your potential claim, call the sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin right away at (814) 826-3586.

Do You Have the Right to Sue a Nursing Home for Sexual Abuse?

Generally speaking, victims of sexual abuse can sue their direct assailant or abuser for any kind of physical or sexual abuse.  The typical way to do this is to file a lawsuit for assault and battery with the help of your sexual abuse lawyer.  Some states have more specific sexual battery or sexual abuse lawsuits you can file instead.  However, you can often sue their employer as well if they were part of an institution and you were abused there.  The grounds for doing so vary based on a few factors.

Public vs. Private Nursing Home Lawsuits

If the nursing home where you were abused was a private entity – such as a private company or a part of a larger private company like a hospital – then you should be able to sue the nursing home directly.  When you file your lawsuit, your lawsuit’s name will be you versus the nursing home or the hospital it is a part of.

When the nursing home is a public entity – i.e., a government-owned and operated facility – then you can still usually sue the nursing home.  However, the right to sue a public nursing home under certain laws was only affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2023.

Generally speaking, lawsuits against the government are not allowed unless there is a specific law that allows it.  Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, lawsuits are typically allowed against government entities for a violation of “laws.”  This is usually how the government is sued for civil rights violations, such as violations of various antidiscrimination laws in Title VII or Title IX.  In Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County v. Talevski, the Supreme Court affirmed that the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act was a law that protected various rights that can be vindicated in a § 1983 lawsuit against the government-owned nursing home if there is a violation.

Ultimately, your lawyer can deal with the legal nuances between private and public nursing home lawsuits, but your right to sue should be guaranteed in either case.

Suing a Nursing Home for an Employee’s Abuse

Employers can typically be sued for an employee’s misconduct if it occurs within the scope of their duties while they are working for their employer.  However, abuse is not within the scope of their duties since employers specifically prohibit employees from sexually abusing patients.  Nonetheless, most states and courts allow lawsuits against a nursing home for an employee’s misconduct, including physical and sexual abuse.

Elements of a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Claim

The elements vary from state to state, especially if there are specific claims that can be brought for sexual abuse.  However, the general elements for any instance of unwanted touching typically follow the general rules for assault and battery.

Suing for assault requires the victim and their lawyer to prove that the victim was put in fear that they were going to be touched in a harmful or offensive way.  A successful assault claim does not require that the touching actually happened.

Suing for battery requires the victim to prove that the actor intentionally made unwanted harmful or offensive contact with the victim.  In some states, there are specific rules for different claims dealing with “sexual assault” as compared to “rape” as compared to “sexual abuse.”  This often means that intimate, personal details about the abuse must be explained in detail to differentiate between different claims.  This could involve potentially difficult questions, such as whether there was penetration or whether the penetration involved an object, a finger, or a penis.

Our lawyers can work to protect you from these intimate conversations and details in some cases, potentially by seeking to settle the case instead of allowing the defendant to force the victim to testify in open court about what happened.

Deadline for Filing Sexual Abuse Claims Against Nursing Homes

The “statute of limitations” on personal injury lawsuits will typically be the base rule that governs how long you have to file your sexual abuse claim against a nursing home.  However, many states have different deadlines for filing sexual abuse claims as opposed to other types of injury claims.

Many states have recently been expanding their laws to allow longer filing deadlines for victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse.  Many of these expanded rules apply only to abuse that takes place while the victim is a minor, which would not affect elderly adults and nursing home residents.  Nonetheless, some states have increased the deadline to file overall.  Other states are adding temporary pauses to the statute of limitations, allowing anyone to come forward about sexual abuse for a limited time, even if their claim would have otherwise been too late.

Many states also have laws that pause the statute of limitations from running if the victim was under a mental disability when the events occurred.  Many older adults could qualify as “disabled” under these rules, giving them additional time to come forward about what happened to them and sue for the sexual abuse they faced.  However, this is a double-edged sword, as many nursing home abuse victims who are not well enough to understand their right to sue also might not be well enough to understand and appreciate what happened to them, and it could be harder for them to report the abuse and have their story believed.  This makes it especially important to work with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer.

Call Our Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorneys Today

Contact The Law Office of Andrew Shubin’s sexual abuse attorneys at (814) 826-3586 for a free case evaluation.


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