Kankakee Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Kankakee nursing homes should be a safe place for nursing home residents to continue living their lives with the assistance of caring and dedicated individuals. Unfortunately, vulnerable residents may become victims of sexual abuse in their nursing homes, often by people they trusted. When residents are subjected to this type of trauma, there may be a range of far-reaching physical or emotional consequences. At Spiros Law, P.C., we are committed to fighting for those who have been taken advantage of and may seek compensation from the abusive party, so your loved one’s future is more secure.
Our Kankakee nursing home abuse lawyers understand how devastated you may be when a person you entrusted your loved one’s care to breached that trust. We want you to feel comfortable letting our compassionate and diligent Kankakee legal team fight for your loved one’s rights, so the assailants are held accountable.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sex crimes remain one of the most controversial types of cases to make it into courtrooms. The justice system often struggles to determine where to draw the line with consent and how to determine what counts as sexual misconduct. In the state of Illinois, unwanted sexual touching generally qualifies as sexual assault or sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse remains such a long-standing issue for people of all age groups that universities have launched programs to tackle it. One such program launched by the University of Illinois adds further details to the definition of sexual abuse, based on state law:
- Sexual acts committed by using force or the threat of force
- Sexual acts committed without the person’s knowledge, such as when unconscious
- Sexual acts committed against individuals who cannot give consent because they do not understand the nature of the act
Prevalence of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
For years, the health care profession ignored sexual assault and rape within nursing home environments. Facilities handled matters privately and often, not at all. Then, CNN started to publish reports about the rape epidemic in nursing homes. It brought worldwide attention to a risk most people might never consider.
In 2017, CNN published an eye-opening report stating that 1,000 nursing homes received citations from the federal government. These citations resulted from mishandling cases or failing to report cases of sexual abuse that occurred between 2013 and 2016. Roughly 10% of those facilities received multiple citations during that period.
The news agency also found that victims with mental disabilities faced higher risks because people did not believe them. These included not just seniors but other adults residing in long-term care facilities. In fact, one of the most disturbing cases reported by CNN involved a 29-year old woman in a years-long vegetative state who gave birth.
Potential Sexual Abusers
Good nursing homes straddle a thin line between overseeing all interactions with patients and allowing some privacy. Negligent nursing homes put patients at risk of heightened sexual abuse by either putting too much trust in staff members or blatantly covering up incidents. However, sometimes the assailant does not work for the facility at all. These are some of the people who might attempt to victimize your loved ones:
- Health care professionals
- Contractors servicing the facility
- Residents living at the facility
- People visiting residents at the facility
- People visiting the patient
Potential Signs of Sexual Abuse
In many cases, a victim of sexual abuse in a Kankakee nursing home may be unable to report their abuse for a variety of reasons. Seniors often remain silent out of fear, especially if the perpetrator used force or threat of force. They might also feel ashamed or think that no one will believe them.
Because of this, nursing home staff and family members play an important role in determining whether sexual abuse may have taken place. Common signs of sexual abuse you should be aware of include:
- Unexplained blood stains
- Ripped undergarments
- Bruising on body
- Trouble walking
- Irritation around genitals
- Broken glasses
If you notice any warning signs of sexual abuse, it is imperative you speak to the authorities so they can document the crime, and then be sure to call a Kankakee nursing home sexual abuse attorney. The sooner you act, the fresher the evidence, and the more willing witnesses often are to speak at a hearing.
Effects on Victims
No matter how young or old someone is, sexual abuse can take a harsh toll on their feelings of self-worth. Victims often report feeling dirty, cheapened, or helpless. These and other negative feelings can cause them to become withdrawn or depressed. Some victims might even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mental stressors like these can significantly shorten someone’s lifespan. Even if they do not attempt to take matters into their own hands, they might lose interest in daily activities and self-care. It can also lead to strained relationships with family members. This is especially likely in situations where a family member, such as a spouse, may be the perpetrator.
Nursing Home Obligations
When you agree to let your loved one live at a long-term facility, you received promises from the nursing home. These form contractual agreements that you should have received in writing. In addition to this, the nursing home must comply with state and federal laws. Professionals within the organization also need to adhere to ethical and legal requirements within their professions.
One of the most important obligations is the duty of care. To fulfill this obligation, nursing homes must provide adequate care to their residents and protect them from harm. Potential types of abuse that might constitute harm include physical, emotional, financial, and sexual. See additional responsibilities below:
- Screen patients coming into the facility to ensure violent offenders do not move in.
- Screen potential professionals seeking employment at the facility to ensure violent offenders do not work at the facility.
- Take action against employees that become convicted of violent offenses that could put residents at risk.
- Check sex offender registries to ensure neither staff, contractors nor residents appear on the list.
- Investigate all reports even when they do not appear credible, or the person reporting the incident might suffer from mental disabilities.
Possible Actions You Can Take
If you decide to pursue legal action against the responsible parties, there are several avenues open to you. Because nursing home staff and caretakers are required to provide a safe environment and adequate care for their residents, failure to do so can be evidence of nursing home negligence. You can press charges and possibly be awarded financial compensation to secure your loved one’s future.
If convicted, the abuser could spend years behind bars. However, some otherwise respectable members of society sometimes get off lightly. This is why it’s so important to gather enough evidence to paint a picture judges would have a difficult time sweeping aside as trivial.
Whether you pursue criminal charges or not, you may also pursue a civil case against the nursing home. Even if the person who committed the act is within your family, if the nursing home knew about the incident and did not take appropriate action, it may become liable.
Unlike other personal injury cases, courts tend to focus primarily on non-economic damages. Here are some of the items you might receive compensation for:
- Medical bills for physical injuries
- Expenses related to mental health services
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages for severe cases
Contact a Kankakee Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Help
If you wait too long to press charges or file a claim, you might miss the opportunity. This is because of statutes of limitations that exist regarding various civil and criminal cases. To add to this, the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather evidence, especially physical evidence. This can severely hamper a case that might otherwise have been successful.
Are you ready to ensure your loved one receives justice for the heinous acts committed against them? Contact Spiros Law, P.C. at (815) 929-9292 so our Kankakee nursing home sexual abuse lawyers can seek the justice you feel your family deserves. You can learn more here.