Sexual Abuse

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney In Washington DC

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is more common than one might expect in our long-term care system in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Because of their dementia, many elderly patients are uniquely vulnerable to sexual predators. Nursing homes can easily claim that the complaints of sexual abuse are the manifestations of dementia or delusional thought processes. Even when sexual abuse is apparent, nursing homes rarely act to preserve important evidence and there are rarely credible eye witnesses that are willing to come forward and testify to physical or sexual abuse.

Most states require nursing homes to undertake background checks that should reveal the existence of any prior crimes. However, these background checks are usually limited in scope and may not pull up convictions in other states. Sexual abuse in the nursing home setting can be perpetrated by staff members, other residents or on occasion by visitors. In cases where sexual abuse has been perpetrated by a staff member, the facility may take the position in litigation that such conduct fell outside the scope of employment for such individual or employee. In other words, the nursing home will argue that it should not be held liable for the criminal conduct of its employee, if such criminal conduct was never authorized by the nursing home. This can impact the issue of available insurance coverage, as insurance companies may deny coverage for intentional acts of abuse that fall outside the scope of an employee’s normal work duties. In such a situation, the initial investigation will focus on whether the nursing home conducted a proper background check or might have otherwise been put on notice through other events that this employee was potentially dangerous to the residents.

Sexual abuse between nursing home residents is more common than staff sexual assaults upon residents. In most states a Plaintiff will have to show that the nursing home had some prior notice that the offending resident represented a potential danger to other residents. Many nursing home residents with dementia may act out sexually and inappropriately, but this does not automatically equate to liability against the nursing home, absent some form of notice. That notice may take the form of an assessment, prior medical records or prior complaints which put the nursing home on notice that this other resident represented a potential hazard to its residents.

Sexual abuse by a stranger or visitor can occur where the nursing home has not provided adequate security to protect its residents. While a nursing home should generally accommodate visitors request to see patients, even at odd hours, they have an obligation to make sure that the visitors are not dangerous or otherwise causing harm to the residents. Nursing homes generally track the individuals who visit the facility, but in busy nursing homes this may not be consistently done.

If you have further questions about a potential sexual abuse, please contact us for a free consultation or additional information.