In many situations where a Maryland nursing home employee is alleged to have neglected or abused a resident, the state will bring formal criminal charges against the resident. Other times, the state may not file charges if they believe there is enough evidence to prove that the staff member committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a criminal proceeding, the victim may be required to testify in order to establish the elements of the criminal offense. However, even if the defendant is convicted, there is little that the court can do to provide any relief to the victims of the defendant’s assault.
Separate and apart from any criminal case, a victim of Maryland nursing home abuse can pursue a civil claim for compensation. If successful, a nursing home resident may be able to obtain award amounts for their past and future medical expenses as well as for any emotional damages that were sustained as a result of the abuse. In addition, unlike in a criminal case, the nursing home overseeing the abusive employee can often be named as a defendant, increasing the resident’s chances of being able to fully recover for any award that is issued.
Importantly, a civil claim against a nursing home can still be pursued if the staff member was not criminally charged and even if the criminal case against the staff member resulted in an acquittal. This is because criminal cases are held to a higher burden than civil cases. Thus, a finding that a staff member was not criminally liable for their conduct does not preclude a finding that they were civilly liable for the same acts.
Nursing Home Residents Regularly Avoid Criminal Prosecution
Last year, twelve nursing home residents died from heat-related ailments after a hurricane knocked out power to a large area in Florida. According to a recent news report, following the deaths investigators discovered that administrators and staff members at the nursing homes where the patients died were grossly underprepared for the storm and even disregarded recommendations to secure additional power sources and in warning to evacuate. However, despite what some are calling clear violations of the law, there has not been a single case filed against any of the nursing home staff members or administrators who were working in the nursing homes.
Some commentators noted that these allegations of neglect are rarely the focus of prosecutors’ efforts, who generally choose to pursue allegations of more intentional conduct. Others, however, argue that the law is clear as written, and that the nursing home administrators and staff members were reckless in failing to prevent harm to the residents. The state prosecuting authority still has time to bring charges, and has not yet indicated that it will not be doing so.
Has Your Loved One Suffered in a Maryland Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home and believe that they have suffered abuse or neglect, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have a proud history of standing up for the rights of nursing home residents. Throughout our firm’s 20-year history serving residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., we have recovered for thousands of injury victims and nursing home residents. To learn more about how we can help you or your loved one, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Federal Agency Takes Steps to Counter Low Nursing Home Staffing Levels in Maryland and Nationwide, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 14, 2018.
Veterans Reportedly “Routinely Receiving Substandard Care” in VA Nursing Home, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 29, 2018.