Earlier this month, Pennsylvania passed a new statewide law called Act 53, which expands the authority of the Attorney General’s Office in prosecuting abuse and neglect of care-dependent individuals. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro has praised the new law, as he says that his office will now have the power to prosecute cases of both abuse and neglect in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities.
New Changes From Previous Law
Previously, the Attorney General’s power was limited to prosecuting neglect cases, but not abuse. Instead, cases of abuse in nursing homes and other assisted care facilities were handled by local prosecutors. The Attorney General’s Office believes this change will help protect senior citizens and other vulnerable citizens, as their office has more resources to prosecute these cases.
Additionally, the new law removes a previous provision which required prosecutors in neglect cases to prove that an actual physical injury occurred. This meant that victims of abuse and neglect who did not have physical injuries often struggled to see the people who abused or neglected them brought to justice. The new law ensures that all victims of abuse and neglect have a right to justice, regardless of the extent of their injuries.
Bill Capping Punitive Damages In Nursing Home Cases Fails
In related news, a bill that proposed a cap on punitive damages for nursing home abuse and neglect cases failed to pass in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this June. The proposed legislation called for a limit of 250% of compensatory damages (money awarded for things like pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc.). Punitive damages are awarded in cases of extreme negligence or intentional harm, and are fairly common in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.
What Should I Do If I Think My Loved One Has Been Abused Or Neglected?
Our elderly neighbors and loved ones are among society’s most vulnerable. When they get to a point in their lives where they need assistance to get through daily life, families are put in the difficult position of placing them in a nursing home. This is never easy, but we should all have the peace of mind that the facilities and people taking care of our loved ones are giving them the respect and quality of care they deserve.
Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is a major problem. Far too often, problems like understaffing lead to neglect, which can have fatal consequences for a senior’s health. Tragically, some nursing homes end up hiring staff members who abuse residents physically, emotionally, or even sexually.
Should I Consider Filing A Lawsuit?
Finding out that your loved one has been abused in a facility you entrusted with their care is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to hear. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to stand up for your loved one and make sure the people responsible for the abuse or neglect are held accountable. Speaking with law enforcement is a key part of this process, but it’s also important to consider speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer who works in the civil court system.
The criminal justice system helps prosecute the predators and negligent parties who harm nursing home residents but doesn’t do much else for the victims of abuse. Filing a nursing home neglect lawsuit against the facility can help provide financial compensation for the difficulties your family has faced, along with helping hold the facility liable for any negligence which allowed the abuse to occur – such as hiring someone with a history of sexual abuse.
To find out more about your family’s legal options, get in touch with our Philadelphia nursing home lawyers today for a free consultation.