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The Rights of Nursing Home Residents

The Rights of Nursing Home residents

As set forth by Medicare and other sources, neglect and abuse are not the only concerns faced by nursing home residents. Residents have rights that are usually part of their residence contract, but these rights are often trampled on.

For example: nursing home residents have patient rights and certain protections under federal or state law. The nursing home is required to list and give all new residents a copy of these rights, which usually include:

  • Respect: The right to be treated with dignity and respect.

  • Money: The right to manage your own money or choose someone you trust to do it for you.

  • Privacy: The right to reasonable privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property, if it doesn't interfere with the rights or safety of others.

  • Medical Care: The right to be informed about your medical condition and your medications, to see you own doctor, and to refuse medications and treatments.

Your loved one, as a nursing home resident, has the legal right to be free of abuse, negligence and other concerns, since they can seriously affect his or her comfort, peace of mind, safety and well-being.

What Should You Do, If You Notice or Suspect That Your Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home NEGLIGENCE or ABUSE?

You should know that—depending on the particulars and the severity—nursing home negligence or abuse may be classified as a crime…as grounds for a civil lawsuit…or both.

By definition: “NEGLIGENCE is the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.”

A definition of ABUSE is: “to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.” Whether or not the authorities (if notified) consider it a criminal offense, when nursing home negligence or abuse results in an injury or loss to your loved one, one or both of you may decide to file a civil action for compensation—a negligence suit or a damage suit.

But first, you may want to meet with the nursing home director, to express your concerns and request corrective action. The director may claim to be unaware of the situation, and promise to take the necessary action. You may be told that the staffer who was negligent or abusive is no longer with the facility, but that should not relieve the nursing home from any responsibility. The injury or loss did occur, your loved one has suffered because of it, and a civil lawsuit may be the only way to fight back and receive the compensation your loved one rightfully deserves.

But, like most legal endeavors, it should not be a do-it-yourself activity. You’ll need an attorney with years of experience in handling nursing home cases.

That’s because many nursing homes are no stranger to lawsuits. Some have been sued dozens or hundreds of times—by federal or state agencies and/or by residents or their loved ones. They have skillful attorneys on retainer or even on salary, full time. And they know that it’s difficult or impossible to prove negligence or abuse without some proof, along with knowledge of how nursing homes operate.

To guard against losing a lawsuit, some nursing homes may falsify or destroy relevant medical records…“lose” residents or staff who are key witnesses, by moving them elsewhere or threaten employees who have knowledge of the incident(s) with undesirable duties, pay cuts, or dismissal if they plan to testify in court.

You’ll need an attorney with advanced knowledge of: federal and state nursing home laws and regulations; abuse and negligence case law; medical record research techniques; elder care; nursing home operations, personnel and equipment; safety hazards; employee background checks; government agencies and associations dealing with nursing homes; witness interviewing; schemes and crimes involving personal finances; and the newest strategies and techniques for maximum recovery. Obviously, most attorneys in general practice— handling everything from DUI cases to real estate transactions— do not have this kind of expertise.

You’ll want to choose a law firm that handles nursing home cases on a contingency basis. That is, no upfront costs (except for minor expenses) and no fee (an agreed-upon percentage of the award) unless you win the lawsuit. For more information, and a free, no-obligation phone consultation, please call Leitner Varughese PLLC at (855) LV LAW NY (855-585-2969), or visit our website at

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