Sexual abuse of elderly people, unfortunately, goes widely undetected and misunderstood, mainly because offenders often target older adults with memory loss or difficulty communicating. If your loved one has suffered sexual assault, a Greenville nursing home abuse lawyer at Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help build your claim for compensation and hold the person responsible for their heinous actions. Consider the signs to look for and ways to prevent sexual abuse and what an attorney can do for you.
How Can a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer Help You?
Finding out your loved one experienced nursing home sexual assault in their most vulnerable state is devastating. During that emotionally charged time, having a legal representative on your side is invaluable for the comfort they provide and the tasks they perform:
- Investigating the event and facility to collect evidence of sexual abuse and negligence
- Handling all interactions with the insurance companies and nursing home representative
- Gathering evidence to support your claim for damages
- Accessing experts, such as medical and mental health professionals, to help validate your claim
- Guiding you through the legal process and protecting you and your loved one from rights violations
An experienced nursing home sexual abuse lawyer will understand the implications of this kind of offense. They are passionate about protecting nursing home residents and ensuring the defendants get what they deserve.
What Must Family Members Know About Nursing Home Residents at Risk of Sexual Abuse?
Female residents and dementia patients are at the highest risk for nursing home sexual assault. Offenders often target these patients based on their vulnerability and likelihood of not reporting an attack. Many do not have the emotional or mental capacity to consent to sexual activity. However, resident-on-resident attacks in particular may go unchecked because staff label them consensual or fail to report signs.
Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Sometimes the only way authorities learn about sexual abuse is when family members visit. It helps to know the common physical and behavioral signs of sexual abuse against the elderly:
- Developing a sexually transmitted infection or sustaining a pelvic injury
- Having torn, stained or bloodied underwear
- Irritation or bleeding in or around the genitals
- Having difficulty sitting or walking
- Engaging in inappropriate or unusual actions that may indicate a sexual relationship
- Having panic attacks or showing signs of post-traumatic stress
- Withdrawing socially or emotionally from others
If your loved one exhibits any of these symptoms, contact a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer immediately and prepare to report the abuse. Your attorney will act fast to protect your family member from further assault.
How Do You File a Complaint or Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home in South Carolina?
If you suspect someone of sexual abuse in South Carolina, you can report your suspicions to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The DHEC will investigate any verbal or written complaint violating the state’s licensing standards.
DHEC allows you to file without revealing your identity. If you already gave your name during the report, you can ask for confidentiality, and they will not disclose your identity unless the state or federal law stipulates they must. After filling, DHEC will assign an inspector to the complaint to review the details and determine if the agency can assist you in further action. Finally, they send a written acknowledgment of your complaint, which could be beneficial to present to your attorney when you file a personal injury claim.
Additionally, you can report the claim to Adult Protective Services. For immediate action, call 911 or the local police line.
Starting a lawsuit against a nursing home
Under certain circumstances, you may need to file a lawsuit to access compensation. For incapacitated victims, South Carolina courts allow you to apply for conservatorship or guardianship. If granted, you can act on behalf of your loved one and seek a personal injury claim for them.
Your attorney will walk you through the process to ensure no one violated your rights, or the rights of your loved one. If the abuse resulted in death, you can pursue a wrongful death claim, and still hold the facility and the person or people responsible for committing sexual abuse financially liable for their actions.
Remember, sexual abuse is a criminal offense. Therefore, anyone charged with it will face criminal charges. However, a personal injury claim is under the jurisdiction of a local Greenville civil court, where the burden of proof is substantially lower. In criminal court, the prosecution will need to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In civil court, you need only prove they are more likely than not liable for the abuse and resulting damages, and a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer will help you build a case.
When Should You Contact a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Facing the devastating aftermath of sexual abuse is difficult for victims and their families. However, you do not have to go through the legal process alone. At Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm, we will act to ensure you and your loved one get the justice and compensation you need and deserve and hold the abuser accountable.