The Distinction Between a Criminal Prosecution of a Nursing Home Employee and a Civil Personal Injury Lawsuit

When a loved one is placed in a Maryland nursing home, it is assumed that their basic physical and medical needs will be monitored and that they will be treated with dignity and respect. However, history has shown that nursing home employees, for whatever reason, too often engage in abusive or neglectful behavior. When authorities discover that nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred, those responsible can be held accountable for their actions in several ways.

Criminal Nursing Home Prosecutions

After allegations of abuse have been substantiated, criminal charges may be filed against a nursing home employee or administrator. Such cases are brought by the local prosecuting authority on behalf of the state and are designed to punish the wrongdoer for their actions. If they are found guilty of a criminal offense, the defendant can face fines, probation, and potentially incarceration.

While a criminal court may order some restitution to be paid to the victim, restitution amounts are normally limited in that they include only the amount of actual financial loss incurred by the victim. A criminal court will not award damages based on the victim’s pain and suffering.

Civil Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

The family of a neglected or abused nursing home resident can also file a Maryland personal injury case against the nursing home where the abuse or neglect occurred. Unlike criminal prosecutions, civil cases are brought by the aggrieved party and seek financial compensation for the injuries or losses suffered. Thus, a successful plaintiff can recover amounts for actual financial losses, such as past and future medical expenses, and for emotional damages, including pain and suffering or a decrease in quality of life.

Importantly, a civil case for damages can be brought even if a criminal case is not brought by the government or if the criminal case results in an acquittal. This is because the standard of proof in civil cases is lower – and easier to meet – than in criminal prosecutions.

Administrator Sentenced in Nursing Home Abuse Case

Earlier this month, a nursing home administrator was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and patient abuse. According to a local news report, the administrator was recorded stuffing eggs into a resident’s mouth while grabbing her by the back of the head. The resident then went into respiratory distress, and the administrator failed to promptly call 911. The resident later died.

The administrator’s conduct was recorded by a newly hired employee, who knew what the administrator was doing was wrong. The employee provided the video documentation to the police, who used it to establish probable cause to arrest the administrator. It remains to be seen whether the family of the deceased resident will be pursuing a civil wrongful death claim.

Has Your Loved One Been a Victim of Maryland Nursing Home Abuse?

If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they may have been subject to abuse or neglect, contact a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney to discuss the situation. It may be that you or your loved one is entitled to compensation. The dedicated Maryland injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience helping neglected and abused nursing home residents and their families pursue the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

A Follow-Up on the 12 Post-Irma Nursing Home Deaths, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published January 19, 2018.

Sexual Assault Among Maryland Nursing Home Residents, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published January 5, 2018.

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