two elderly men playing chess


As family members get older, they require more hands-on care. At the same time, elderly loved ones tend to lose some of the abilities they once had to monitor their own safety. As such, your loved ones in nursing homes may find themselves victims of elder abuse, even if they no longer have the means to recognize that abuse.

You, however, can take legal action on behalf of a loved one suffering from nursing home abuse. You and a loved one’s personal representative can reach out to a personal injury attorney and discuss your loved one’s right to a nursing home abuse case.

Nursing Home Abuse is Distressingly Common

Nursing home abuse can also be referred to as elder abuse. While you want to believe that a nursing home’s staff wouldn’t endanger your loved one, elder abuse takes many forms, including some that are unintentional. Imagine, for example, that a nursing home doesn’t hire enough staff. Your loved one may subsequently fall victim to abuse via medical negligence. If the nursing home’s staff is not adequately trained, or if the home doesn’t regularly update its team members’ licenses, your loved one may fall victim to medical malpractice.

There are also instances in which a nursing home’s staff may deliberately hurt your loved one. Nursing home abuse that impacts an elder’s quality of life includes:

  • Financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Sexual assault and abuse

Some forms of abuse, like emotional abuse, are difficult to detect, even with professional training. If you notice your loved one acting differently than they usually do, often by withdrawing from social situations or becoming unusually reserved, consider investigating their circumstances. You can report your suspicions to a personal injury attorney and begin a formal investigation into your loved one’s overall care.

The Effect of the Pandemic on Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp increase in nursing home abuse throughout the United States. In some cases, nursing home abuse increased because nursing homes were no longer able to find staff, leading residents to fall victim to home-wide neglect. In other cases, the need to quarantine residents with compromised immune systems made it more difficult for family members to keep a close eye on their loved ones. Without that oversight, it became more difficult for nursing home residents to report mistreatment or for loved ones to detect it in the first place.

As of early 2023, there are more opportunities for families to safely visit their loved ones in nursing homes, despite COVID-19’s continued influence on the world of healthcare. This means that families who’ve had suspicions about the way a nursing home’s staff has been treating their loved ones can now investigate those suspicions, either on their own or with professional assistance.

Assessing the Quality of a Nursing Home

Whether you’re looking for a nursing home for the first time or want to double-check the quality of a home a loved one’s already moved into, particular factors set nursing homes apart from one another. When you investigate a nursing home, ask yourself:

  • Does the nursing home have the appropriate certifications and licenses?
  • Are the nursing home’s licenses and certifications up to date?
  • What is the ratio of staff and nurses to residents?
  • Does the staff have updated licenses and certifications?
  • Has the nursing home run background checks on its staff?
  • How does the nursing home keep residents from hurting themselves or otherwise coming to harm?

A good nursing home should make this information available on its website. You can, however, also call a nursing home and have a conversation about their quality with a staff member. It’s also in your best interest to visit a nursing home yourself and observe the behavior of the staff. You can bring your observations to a consultation with a personal injury attorney should you suspect that your loved one may be a victim of neglect or deliberate abuse.

Checking In With Residents

When in doubt, have a conversation about the way a nursing home treats its resident with a resident. While your loved one may be slow to start a conversation about their treatment, you can guide your interactions so that you can better conduct welfare assessments. If your loved one isn’t in a position where they can adequately discuss their surroundings, you can check in with other patients and their families. These first-hand conversations are some of the best forms of evidence you can use should you want to pursue a civil case against an abusive nursing home.

Identifying an Abusive Nursing Home

While there are questions you can ask to determine the quality of a nursing home, there are also signs of abuse that you can look out for when visiting a resident. Any of the following, for example, can indicate a nursing home that doesn’t prioritize the overall well-being of its residents:

Failure To Prioritize Residents’ Engagement

Just because your loved one lives in a nursing home doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have fun. A nursing home should cater to its residents’ well-being by providing residents with opportunities to engage with one another and activities they enjoy. A nursing home that fails to provide residents with opportunities for enrichment or that limits residents’ access to these activities arbitrarily may not prioritize your loved one’s well-being. If it looks like a nursing home’s staff is denying a resident the right to enrichment for no particular reason, that denial may be a sign of mental or emotional abuse.

Failure To Prioritize Residents’ Safety

As nursing home residents grow older, they are at a greater risk for personal endangerment. A nursing home’s staff needs to take its residents’ physical safety into account while still providing those residents with opportunities for engagement. If you notice that your loved one is frequently bruised or injured, then that nursing home’s residents may be victims of physical abuse. A nursing home that isn’t actively providing its residents with the means to protect themselves from harm may also be guilty of home-wide negligence.


Nursing home staff members give of themselves to ensure that all residents have the right to a safe and secure life. That labor can prove strenuous, particularly if a nursing home is understaffed or undertrained. That said, a nursing home staff’s professional demands do not give them the right to treat you or your loved one with anything less than respect. If you or your loved one find yourselves dealing with belligerent staff members, unhygienic spaces, or outright negligence, you may have grounds for a civil case.

Limited Resident and Visitor Freedoms

The rise of COVID-19 saw most nursing homes transform their visitors’ policies in an attempt to protect residents with compromised immune systems from this dangerous illness. As of early 2023, there are several vaccines and boosters in place designed to allow families to visit immunocompromised loved ones more safely. That said, some nursing homes may still use the veneer of COVID-19 to exert control of their residents’ ability to communicate with their families.

If you notice that a nursing home is still sharply limiting your access to a loved one, ask the institution about the benefits of those limitations. Should a staff member refuse to entertain a conversation about the other means through which you could communicate with a loved one, consider contacting an injury law professional to discuss your loved one’s circumstances. A nursing home staff’s abnormally-controlling behavior may serve as the grounds for your loved one’s relocation as well as a civil case.

You should also keep a wary eye out for nursing home policies that limit your loved one’s personal freedoms. While some nursing homes may need to take restricting steps to ensure residents’ safety, residents still have the rights to regular meals, exercise, and hygiene. If your loved one reports that they’ve been denied these rights, or if there’s evidence of that denial present, you may have the right to civil action.

Taking Action in the Face of Nursing Home Abuse

Your right to a nursing home abuse claim varies from state to state. Fortunately, both Texas and Louisiana allow a person’s family members or spouse to pursue legal action on their behalf if they are no longer in a position where they can represent themselves. This means that so long as you’re a survivor’s parent, spouse, or child, you can reach out to an attorney to discuss what information you need to bring a lawsuit against an abusive nursing home. Louisiana circumstantially allows a person’s siblings to act on their behalf in civil court, as well.

That said, both states place a statute of limitations on your right to pursue a nursing home abuse case on a person’s behalf. In Texas, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003 dictates that you must bring a nursing home abuse claim forward within two years of learning about your loved one’s condition. Families in Louisiana only have one year to compile a personal injury claim per La. Civ. Code § 2315.2.

If you’re concerned about the timeline on which you need to investigate a loved one’s abuse and file your claim, let a nursing home abuse attorney know. Experienced professionals can spearhead an investigation into your loved one’s care. That way, you can focus on relocating your loved one to a new facility and otherwise facilitating their care.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Nursing Home Resident

If you decide to move forward with a personal injury claim, you need to take steps to ensure that you clearly identify the identity of the party liable for your loved one’s losses and the nature of the abuse your loved one endured. As the prosecution, you have to uphold the burden of proof indicating that a nursing home and its staff violated the duty of care owed to your loved one as their resident. You can do this by making your claims regarding liability and defending those claims with evidence. The evidence you bring forward in a nursing home abuse claim can include:

  • Resident testimony regarding the abuse they endured
  • Statements from medical professionals and psychologists regarding your loved one’s condition
  • Additional expert witness statements
  • Video, photo, and/or audio footage of the abuse in question

You should also be prepared to defend your demand for damages. In many cases, you can use the evidence you use to establish liability to additionally defend an estimate of your loved one’s total losses. The list of losses you include in your estimate of a nursing home abuse case’s value can include the cost of:

  • A loved one’s medical care
  • At-home living assistance until your loved one can move into a new facility
  • New facility fees
  • Lost income while caring for your loved one
  • Emotional distress or mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering

Our team can help you establish an estimate of a loved one’s possible damages during individual case consultations. We can then defend the estimate we set forward in court and in private settlement negotiations.

If nursing home abuse results in the untimely death of your loved one, let our team know. You may be entitled to wrongful death compensation, including but not limited to the cost of your loved one’s funeral expenses.

Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help File a Loved One’s Claim With a Civil Judge

When you put a loved one into the care of a nursing home, you want to believe that the staff will protect your loved one from harm. When a nursing home staff refuses to uphold the care they owe to your loved one, not to mention other residents, then you have the right to hold those parties responsible for the wrongs they’ve thrust upon those in their case. You can work with a personal injury attorney to determine your right to legal action. Then, provided you have the means to act, you can take up a lawsuit against the nursing home you trusted with your loved one’s well-being.

If you have questions about your right to a nursing home abuse lawsuit and want to discuss your circumstances with an attorney, you can contact Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers today. We’re available to discuss the ins and outs of a nursing home abuse claim during a free, no-obligation case consultation.

Morris & Dewett provides this information to the public for general education and interest. The firm does not represent clients in every topic discussed in legal & injury news. The information is curated and produced based on trends in law, governance, and society to present relevant issues to the general public. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. Do not make any decision solely based on the information provided, please seek relevant counsel for each topic area. Consult an attorney before making any legal decision, consult a doctor before making any medical decision, and consult a financial advisor before making any fiscal decision. If you have any legal needs that we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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