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Should You Sue if You Suspect Your Family Member Was Abused at a Nursing Home?

Abuse of residents in nursing homes is often underreported. Sometimes it even goes wholly unreported. What constitutes nursing home abuse can also be difficult to define. Some victims of nursing home abuse might not even be able to communicate with anybody about it due to physical and/or mental limitations. Other victims might be fearful of retaliation.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Indications of suspected nursing home abuse can be both subjective and objective. Those signs might include but not be limited to the following:

  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained bruising, particularly around the groin and/or genitals
  • Apparent emotional withdrawal
  • Dehydration
  • Significant behavioral changes
  • Unexplained changes in estate documents
  • Apparent banking irregularities

Washington’s Vulnerable Adult Act and Reporting Suspected Abuse

Chapter 74.34 of the Revised Code of Washington is called the Vulnerable Adult Act. It governs suspected nursing home abuse and both mandatory and permissive reporting of it. An employee of a long term care facility who suspects nursing home abuse of a patient and reports it is protected by the Vulnerable Adult Act from workplace retaliation by their employer. Of course, family members of the patient can report suspected nursing home abuse too.

Who Do I Report Suspected Nursing Home Abuse To?

If you suspect nursing home abuse to a vulnerable adult, and you live in the state of Washington, you can report it to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services or an analogous office near you. You’ll also want to contact your local police department who might conduct its own investigation.

Civil Liability for Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse violates the dignity of the patient. The victim of nursing home abuse has the right to take legal action. According to the Hornbuckle Law Firm, which has good nursing home abuse lawyers in Tacoma, legally recognized damages might include but not necessarily be limited to:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Any permanent conditions caused by the abuse
  • Pain and suffering
  • Financial losses
  • Emotional distress

Any patient can become a victim of nursing home abuse, but he or she might be physically and/or mentally unable to communicate what’s happening. Know what to look for. Visit the patient frequently. Watch for signs of neglect, abandonment or even self-neglect, and make yourself aware of signs of both physical and sexual abuse. Watch for possible financial exploitation in the context of present finances and changes in estate planning. Remember that the patient might not be able to report abuse. If you suspect it, you can report it yourself and bring a civil action for damages.

Author information: Anica Oaks is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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