Maryland’s nursing home residents are some of the state’s most vulnerable people. Many families place a loved one in a nursing home when they are no longer able to care for themselves, are aging or disabled, and need regular assistance with daily life activities. When families decide to place a loved one in this type of care, they almost always believe they are doing the best thing for their loved one’s health and well being. That is one of the reasons why nursing home abuse and neglect can be so devastating—families who just wanted to protect their loved ones feel betrayed and shocked to discover that they were facing harm in their nursing home. Particularly traumatic are occurrences of sexual abuse in nursing homes. But, unfortunately, such abuse does occur, in Maryland and across the country.
Sometimes, this abuse is perpetrated by a staff member or caretaker employed by the nursing home to take care of residents. In these cases, Maryland families should remember that they usually have the option of filing a lawsuit against both the staff member and the nursing home. But sometimes, the abuse occurs within the nursing home but not by someone employed by the nursing home—another resident, for example. Recently, this issue came up in a New York nursing home. According to a local news report, state officials cited the home for failing to report instances of sexual abuse. The nursing home discovered that at least three residents were sexually abused by another resident, some on multiple occasions, but did not report these crimes.
While holding the nursing home liable in this case may appear more complicated, since no one employed by the home actually perpetrated the abuse, this case illustrates the important potential for holding nursing homes responsible for being negligent and neglecting to take certain actions. Here, Maryland state law may allow a cause of action for the abused victims (or their families, suing on their behalf) to hold the nursing home accountable for negligence in allowing the abuse to happen multiple times and for their failure to report the crimes or take further preventative action.