Being a victim of sexual abuse at any age, in any situation, is one of the most severe and traumatizing incidents imaginable. When a nursing home resident is harmed while in the care of trusted professionals, that trauma is even more intensified. Unfortunately, sexual abuse in nursing homes may occur more often than we would prefer to believe, and with these victims unable to speak up for themselves, the abusers all too often go unpunished. The Nashville nursing home negligence lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC are dedicated to pursuing justice for victims by holding those responsible legally accountable for their repugnant conduct.Assert Your Rights after an Incident of Sexual Abuse
Nursing home sexual abuse includes any non-consensual sexual contact with a patient. This abuse may be inflicted by a nursing home caretaker, another resident, or a stranger. Many different non-consensual acts may fall within the definition of sexual abuse, such as inappropriate touching, forced nudity, coercion, participating in sexual acts with a non-communicative resident, rape, or explicit photography. Given that many of these elderly victims may lack the mental capacity or physical ability to communicate what has happened to them, friends and family should be aware of warning signs, including:
- The appearance of sexually transmitted diseases;
- Bruising around genitals or chest areas;
- Genital bleeding or infections;
- Clothing or sheets marked with stains or blood; or
- Emotional changes, such as depression, lack of appetite, or withdrawal.
Being on the lookout for the symptoms and signs of nursing home sexual abuse is vital to helping your loved one receive proper emotional and physical treatment, as well as preventing the same abuse from occurring again.
The Tennessee Adult Protection Act (TAPA) allows nursing home residents who have been victims of sexual or physical abuse to pursue compensation for their injuries. Offending staff members, as well as the facilities and staffing agencies that employ them, can potentially be held accountable for all of the harm that results from this egregious misconduct. Employers such as nursing homes or staffing agencies may be directly liable when they fail to conduct proper background checks or otherwise permit unqualified and abusive individuals to care for elderly patients. They also may be held vicariously liable under traditional negligence principles for the carelessness or misconduct of their employees when they are acting in the course and scope of their job.
Under Tennessee law, any individual, which includes doctors, nurses, and social workers, who has reasonable cause to suspect an elderly person has been subjected to abuse, neglect, or exploitation is required to report any findings to a supervisor or the appropriate law enforcement agency. Victims of sexual abuse in a nursing home may be entitled to medical expenses and pain and suffering damages, as well as punitive damages from those responsible for their harm. Punitive damages are a type of compensation that is available when the defendant’s conduct has been particularly reprehensible, such as when the defendant acted willfully or maliciously.Contact a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in the Nashville Area
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse at a licensed care facility, the Nashville nursing home negligence attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC are available to help you pursue a legal claim against those who may have been responsible. Our injury lawyers are dedicated to holding employees and their employers accountable and trying to reduce incidents of abuse in the future. MHPS, PLLC represents individuals and families in Franklin, Sylvan Park, Brentwood, and Belle Meade, among other communities throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties. Call us at 615-800-7096 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.