At Harvey & Foote Law Firm, we are prepared to aggressively advocate for families whose loved ones have been affected by these heinous acts.
While distressing to think about, elderly adults living in nursing homes tend to be especially susceptible to sexual abuse. Predators (who often work at the facility) may see residents as vulnerable, isolated, and easily manipulated. Not all nursing home residents are able to consistently communicate or leave the facility, making it more difficult for the abuse to come to light.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to conduct background checks on the people they hire and keep their residents safe from harm. The professionals who service these facilities also have a duty to take steps to protect residents when sexual abuse is suspected. When any of these parties fail to live up to their responsibilities, the affected residents and their families may be entitled to compensation. Our Albuquerque nursing home sexual abuse lawyers have repeatedly taken on many nursing homes throughout New Mexico and have what it takes to prevail. We will give your case the complete, compassionate attention it deserves.
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What Is Elder Sexual Abuse?
Elder sexual abuse occurs when someone engages in sexual activity with an elderly person without their consent. Keep in mind that elderly adults with limited mental faculties may not have the capacity to consent.
A person of any gender or sexual orientation can perpetrate or be a victim of sexual abuse. In nursing homes, elder sexual abuse may be perpetrated by a staff member, another resident, a visitor, or some other party. In many cases, the abuser is the resident’s primary caregiver.
Examples of elder sexual abuse that can occur in nursing homes include:
- Unwelcome touching
- Sexual assault
- Forced, unnecessary nudity
- Unwanted sexual photography
In order to fill their beds, and keep reimbursement from the government at the highest, nursing homes may also allow known sexual predators to enter or remain as residents at the facility.
Signs of Sexual Abuse in New Mexico Nursing Homes
Perpetrators of sexual abuse will often take steps to conceal their actions. They may specifically target residents that have trouble communicating or whose families do not visit frequently. An abuser may even attempt to intimidate the victim into silence. Therefore, you should never assume your loved one will be direct and forthright about any sexual abuse that may be occurring. You will need to look out for red flags that could indicate sexual abuse.
Warning signs of elder sexual abuse in nursing homes include:
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Bruises and bleeding in and around the genital areas, breasts, and/or thighs
- Bloody, stained, or torn clothing
- Unexplained personality changes, including spikes of anxiety or depression
- Unusual mood swings
You should also start asking questions and investigating further if a member of the nursing home’s staff is reluctant to leave you alone with your loved one. The staff member may be concerned about what the resident will say to you in private. Do not be afraid to enforce your family’s right to privacy.
If you find signs of sexual abuse, contact the Harvey & Foote Law Firm right away. Our Albuquerque nursing home sexual abuse attorneys can help you formally report the suspected misconduct, remove your loved one from the facility, and get them to safety. We can then help you build a case and work to hold the responsible parties accountable.
What Damages Can I Recover in a New Mexico Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Claim?
The victims of elder sexual abuse and their families may be able to get compensation for damages if they can prove the nursing home acted negligently. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to residents and must make reasonable efforts to keep them safe. They typically violate this duty of care in the eyes of the law when they create an environment where sexual abuse is allowed to fester. Examples of negligence that could trigger liability in these situations include failing to conduct adequate background checks on staff, failing to sufficiently monitor staff, or ignoring reports of sexual abuse.
In these situations, you may also be able to take legal action against the abuser and any staff members or medical professionals who negligently failed to detect and stop the abuse. These parties should be familiar with the signs of sexual abuse and should be the first to notice and report them. If they fail to do so, they could be liable.
Our Albuquerque nursing home sexual abuse lawyers will fight to get you just compensation for all damages, including:
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
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