Nursing Home Abuse

nursing home abuse

Personal Injury Guidebook

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version of the guide you can reference later.

* This general summary of the law and your rights is not intended to be a substitute for personal legal advice from a lawyer about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please see a lawyer for answers to your specific questions.

It’s estimated that up to 1 in 6 nursing home residents fall victim to abuse each year — and those are only the reported cases.

Abuse is an intentional infliction, confinement, intimidation, care of service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental instability.

Neglect is a failure, can be intentional or unintentional, to provide an individual with care and services that are necessary to his or her freedom from harm or pain and/or a failure to react to a dangerous situation, which results in the individual’s harm.

Most cases of nursing home abuse are caregiver to resident; however, resident to resident abuse cases also occur.

There can be many types and signs of abuse and neglect.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Include:

  • Assault (e.g., kicking, slapping, pushing, shaking, beating, as well as verbal and/or emotional abuse)
  • Lack of care of medical problems
  • Deprivation of food and water
  • Sexual assault or battery (e.g., rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual contact)
  • Unnecessary physical restraint or seclusion
  • Unnecessary chemical (medication) restraint that is not authorized by a physician
  • Financial exploitation
  • Psychological abuse
  • Falls

Abuse and neglect can be physical, mental, emotional and financial.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse


Your loved one may not be able to tell you about their abuse, but there can be physical signs such as:

  • Infections
  • Bed injuries or asphyxiation
  • Dehydration
  • Falls or fractures including head injuries
  • Malnutrition
  • Bed sores
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Unusual changes in behavior
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Unexpected death


While mental and emotional abuse signs may be harder to identify, you must pay close attention. Signs can include:

  • Emotionally upset or agitated
  • Not speaking in front of staff members
  • Attempting to hurt others
  • Mood swings
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Showing signs of low self-esteem
  • Seem shy, scared or hopeless
  • Self-inflicted injury


Financial abuse is when the caregiver (facility) steals from the patient or manipulates them into giving them money or valuable items. Financial abuse can be carried out in several ways such as:

  • Threatening to abandon or harm the resident unless he or she gives the employee what he or she wants
  • Refusing to give medical attention to the resident
  • Cashing a resident’s checks
  • Forging the resident’s signature
  • Coercing the resident into signing documents such as a will or contract

West Virginia Nursing Home Lawsuit Case

There are many moving parts to a nursing home abuse trial:

  • Notice must be given to the offending parties.
  • The claim must be filed in court before the process can start.
  • Naming the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant/s (the nursing home and other responsible parties)
  • Collecting statements including details about the accused abuse and the defendant’s explanation.
  • Reviewing potential damages.
  • Ongoing expert testimony

When filing a lawsuit against a nursing home, a lawyer must be able to prove:

  • The nursing home was contracted to provide care for the victim
  • There was a failure to care for the victim
  • The lack of care resulted in the victim’s injuries or death

The process is complex and involves many phases:

  1. Investigation
  2. Discovery
  3. Pre-Trial Preparation
  4. Trial

During the lawsuit process, from the start to end, either side (plaintiff or defendant) may settle the case.

There are many factors that determine the value of a case:

  • Monetary charges such as medical expenses, loss of income and other expenses. It is worth noting that if the loved one is still alive, a loss of income may not be feasible to sue for since the loved one was not employed in the first place. Also, if medical bills were paid by outside insurance, the full amount of medical expenses can not be sued for.
  • Emotional trauma charges such as pain, suffering and even losing the loved one.
  • Punitive damages to deter this and other nursing homes from abusing their charges.

It is best to discuss this with a lawyer in your state.