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  • Gabriel Sutton

Role of Expert Witnesses & Eyewitnesses in Nursing Home Abuse Claims

Role of Expert Witnesses & Eyewitnesses in Nursing Home Abuse Claims

When you move an elderly relative into a nursing home, it’s with the assumption that he or she will be well taken care of by the staff. In fact, a well-run nursing home can often provide far better care to an elderly person than his or her family could.

Unfortunately for some residents, this doesn’t turn out to be the case. Roughly 1 in 10 senior citizens suffers abuse. Perpetrators include family members, strangers, and professional caregivers.

If your relative was neglected or abused while residing at a long-term care facility, you may be able to hold the nursing home accountable for both economic and non-economic damages. For the claim to yield a payout, though, you will have to prove liability, causation, and damages. Depending on the circumstances, your legal team may have to depose eyewitnesses and expert witnesses to prove your case.

What Is an Eyewitness?

Also called “fact witnesses” or “percipient witnesses,” eyewitnesses are able to contribute to a case by providing deposition regarding something they saw, heard, or otherwise perceived. Often their deposition can corroborate the plaintiff’s own telling of events.

Unlike expert witnesses, eyewitnesses cannot share their opinions or assumptions regarding the situation. Instead, they may only comment on what they actually perceived firsthand.

When building your nursing home abuse case, valuable eyewitnesses might include:

  • Other residents at the facility;

  • Individuals employed by the facility including physicians, pharmacists, and nurses;

  • Individuals who visited the facility when the neglect or abuse was occurring; and

  • Medical providers who cared for the victim after the fact.

What Is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is a specialist who can speak on some aspect of the claim. Your legal team might use expert witness deposition to demonstrate the significance of a particular piece of evidence, prove the value of damages, or explain the kinds of medical care the victim will need.

Disputes regarding causation are especially common in nursing home abuse claims because nearly all victims have preexisting conditions. Should this be the case in your family’s claim, physicians who specialize in geriatric care might serve as expert witnesses. After reviewing the victim’s medical records, they may be able to provide deposition regarding how the damages would not have been incurred but for the neglect or abuse.

Other expert witnesses who might be able to contribute to the strength of your claim include:

  • Pharmacists: If the victim’s physician prescribed the wrong medication or the nurse administered the wrong dose, an impartial pharmacist can explain how the error could have been prevented.

  • Psychologists: Mental health care providers can speak on the emotional impact of the neglect or abuse.

  • Economists: Financial experts can calculate just how much the family incurred in damages as a result of the neglect or abuse.

Discuss Your Case with a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in New York

If you suspect neglect or abuse at your loved one’s long-term care facility, contact Leitner Varughese to determine the most strategic way to proceed. Our resourceful attorneys have won more than $100 million in nursing home negligence and malpractice verdicts and settlements.

We are proud to represent clients in New York City, Long Island, and throughout New York state. Call 855-585-2969 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer in New York.


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