Nursing home abuse lawsuits in Nevada are civil actions against an elder care facility for causing physical or emotional harm to a resident. Common legal grounds include
- false imprisonment,
- breach of contract, and
- intentional infliction of emotional distress.
These claims often stem from poor personal care, lack of maintenance, neglect, and cruel or unprofessional staff.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is nursing home abuse in Nevada?
- 2. Against whom can I bring a claim?
- 3. What damages can I recover?
- 4. What is the statute of limitations to sue?
- 5. What defenses will the nursing home fight back with?
- 6. Are nursing homes liable for COVID-19 deaths?
- 7. How do I report nursing home abuse in Nevada?
- 8. What other options are there besides suing?
1. What is nursing home abuse in Nevada?
Nursing home abuse is when an elder care facility resident suffers either:
- Physical abuse, such as beatings and other mistreatment;
- Neglect, such as inadequate access to food, water, medical care, clothing, shelter, and a safe, clean environment;
- Sexual abuse, such as drugging and raping the older person;
- Isolation, such as being cut off from all socialization; and/or
- Exploitation, such as a staff member misusing the resident’s finances or medicare funds (“financial abuse” or “financial exploitation”).
A variety of factors may contribute to the abuse or neglect of elderly residents. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Poor staffing decisions by the nursing home managers, resulting in unqualified staff or staff who have criminal and/or violent backgrounds (“negligent hiring and supervision”);
- Poorly trained caregivers without the skills to deliver proper care (“negligent personal care”);
- Too few nursing home staff members (understaffing);
- Too few visits from – or professional negligence by – health care providers;
- Isolation of nursing home residents;
- Residents who are reluctant or fearful to report any wrongdoing;
- Negligent maintenance of the facility and grounds; and/or
- Negligent selection or upkeep of equipment.1
Common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are when residents develop bedsores (skin ulcers). Had the nursing home employees re-positioned the resident enough, then no pressure sores should have formed.
Another common sign of elder abuse and nursing home neglect is malnutrition and weight loss. Had the staff fed the resident enough and kept tabs on what he/she was eating, then the resident should not be malnourished.
And one of the most common warning signs of neglect in a long-term care facility is when the resident falls, which may result in broken bones and other serious injuries. Had the staff supervised him/her enough, the resident should not have had the opportunity to walk unaided.
2. Against whom can I bring a claim?
The most common defendant in nursing home abuse cases is the nursing home itself. Plaintiffs may also be able to sue the individual staff members who inflicted the abuse. But the nursing home itself likely has much deeper pockets than any of its employees.
Depending on the particular injuries, other potential defendants include:
- Any doctors or nurses who serve the eldercare home, if they caused the victim’s injuries (plaintiffs may also be able to bring a medical malpractice legal action);
- The company that cooks the food, if the food caused the victim to become ill; and/or
- The company that cleans the facility, if it used toxic products that injured the victim
3. What damages can I recover?
Depending on the claims, plaintiffs in nursing home abuse lawsuits can seek compensatory damages for:
- The resident’s medical expenses;
- Psychological counseling for the resident and family members;
- Pain and suffering of the resident and the family; and
- Any other out-of-pocket monetary damages
Should the case go to trial, plaintiffs can ask the court for punitive damages if the defendant acted in a malicious or particularly egregious way. Punitive damages can be far greater than compensatory damages.2
4. What is the statute of limitations to sue?
In most Nevada cases involving nursing home negligence, there is a two-year time limit to sue. The clock typically begins running after the injury occurs or after the injury is discovered.3 But there are situations where the statute of limitations may toll (pause), such as if a nursing home staff member purposely hid the injury from the victim’s family.4
In any case, families of nursing home residents should consult an attorney as soon as they become aware that their loved one is being abused or neglected. Bringing a civil cause of action and gathering evidence take time.
5. What defenses will the nursing home fight back with?
When facing lawsuits for elder abuse or neglect, nursing homes may try to make the following arguments as a defense:
- The allegations were fabricated by the nursing home resident or his/her family;
- The nursing home staff was acting in self-defense after the resident attacked the staff first;
- The nursing home provided adequate care according to industry standards;
- The resident’s injuries stemmed from preexisting conditions and age, not from the nursing home’s actions
Typical evidence in these cases include:
- eyewitness accounts;
- medical records showing physical harm;
- photographs and video;
- expert testimony
6. Are nursing homes liable for COVID-19 deaths?
Families whose loved ones died or sustained injuries from the coronavirus pandemic in a nursing home facility may have a wrongful death claim against the nursing home for failing to implement the necessary preventative measures.5 Arguably, nursing facilities are liable for not protecting their residents from COVID-19 by failing to:
- Outfit their staff with PPE (personal protective equipment);
- Practice necessary hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing of residents’ rooms and communal areas;
- Social-distance the residents;
- Restrict visitors who were not tested for COVID-19;
- Bring sick patients to the ER in time;
- Administer available vaccines early enough6
7. How do I report nursing home abuse in Nevada?
To report suspected elder abuse in Nevada, contact Adult Protective Services (APS) of Nevada’s Aging and Disability Services (ADSD) at:
- Las Vegas/Clark County: (702) 486-6930
- Statewide/All other areas: (888) 729-0571
(If the older adult faces immediate danger, then call 911.)
Note that APS used to be called EPS, for Elder Protective Services.
8. What other options are there besides suing?
In addition to reporting the abuse to Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services (discussed in the previous section), people may file a police report. The police will then investigate the matter and may bring elder abuse charges against the liable parties. Potential penalties may include prison, fines, and victim restitution.7
For further help…
Was your loved one a victim of abuse in a Nevada nursing home? Our Las Vegas nursing home abuse lawyers have law offices throughout the state of Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, and more. Call our law firm today for a case review and legal advice.
There are many types of elder abuse that can harm elderly people’s well-being in addition to physical abuse. Emotional abuse and psychological abuse can cause severe mental illness. Learn more at the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
- See, for example, Estate of Curtis v. S. Las Vegas Med. Inv’rs, LLC, (2020) 466 P.3d 1263, 136 Nev. Adv. Rep. 39; see also NRS 41A.015.
- See NRS 42.005; NRS 42.007.
- NRS 11.190.
- NRS 41A.097.
- NRS 41.100.
- See, for example, Darcy Spears, Nursing home nightmare leads to lawsuit against Life Care Center in Las Vegas, KTNV-13 ABC (August 27, 2020); see, for example, Michael Scott Davidson, More than 80% of Nevada’s nursing homes failed to meet infection standards, Las Vegas Review-Journal (March 13, 2020).
- See, for example, Vallery v. State, (2002) 118 Nev. 357, 46 P.3d 66.