How Do I Prove Neglect in a California Elder Abuse Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?

How does one prove elder neglect if a legitimate elder abuse case exists against a nursing home?  Too many older adults in California suffer physical injuries, illnesses, and pain and suffering due to neglect that they endure in the nursing homes that are charged with taking care of them. If a senior citizen has experienced neglect due to the actions of a nursing home employee, he or she may be eligible to bring a civil suit for injuries and pain and suffering against the nursing home under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.

After noticing signs of elder abuse, proving a case in court or in settlement negotiations is often a two-step process of: 1) proving that an employee or employees were liable for neglect, and 2) that the employer was in turn liable for the employee’s actions.

Proving That an Employee Is liable For Neglect

To prove that an employee should be liable for neglect, the elder abuse victim’s attorney will need to show that the employee did in have fact have “care or custody” of the victim, and that the employee failed to act like a reasonable person would in tending to the victim’s needs, including:

  • Failing to assist the victim with personal hygiene or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter.
  • Failing to provide the victim with medical care for physical and mental health needs.
  • Failing to protect the victim from health and safety hazards.
  • Failing to prevent the victim from experiencing. malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Failing to protect the victim in any other way that might constitute neglect.

Establishing that the employee did in fact fail to provide for the victim’s needs can be achieved through obtaining eyewitness accounts from the victim, other residents, and employees as well as through physical evidence from the nursing home, medical evidence, internal documents, and other sources of evidence your attorney will collect and present in court.

Proving the Employer is Liable As Well

After proving the employee is liable, proving that the employer is liable as well – and thus should compensate the victim for all losses endured, including pain and suffering – often involves proving at least one of the following:

  • The nursing home management knew the employee was unfit but employed that person anyway with a knowing disregard of the danger to the victim.
  • The nursing home management was aware of the employee’s conduct towards the victim and approved of it.
  • The nursing home management authorized the employee’s conduct.

Again your attorney will use all available means to prove one of the above theories in order to obtain maximum compensations. Thus, in order to improve the chances of collecting the relevant evidence to make this showing in court, it is recommended that a victim and/or his or her family contact an elder abuse attorney as soon as possible after neglect occurs.

Find out more about California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.

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