What should I do if I feel a loved one is being abused by a nursing home?

Nursing homes, or long term living facilities as they are now commonly known, were initially created for the purpose of taking care of elderly people who did not need hospitalization but could not be taken care of by family at their own home. Now, long term living facilities take care of the elderly, people of all ages recently discharged from hospitals but who need some medical care, or people with mental or emotional disease processes that render them incompetent to live independently. All of these people have one thing in common: they rely on the doctors, nurses, aides, cooks, cleaning staff and transport staff to ensure their well being.

In fact, all long term living facilities have to comply with state regulations and standards in the conduct of their business in order to stay in business. State inspections are done on a regular basis, but that can mean once a year. Violations of regulations or standards can lead to citations and fines, which are public record. Before placing a loved one or yourself into such a facility, make sure that you check to see if they have been complained about or have been cited by the state or local health department for violations of any kind.

Standards violations can range from physical or verbal abuse by staff, doctors’ failure to periodically visit the patient as needed, nurses’ and aides’ failures to follow standard medical protocols or doctors’ orders concerning patient care, allowing disease processes to go untreated, failing to report and document serious incidents in which injury or other consequence occurs, failing to provide adequate diet or hygiene.

When a patient in a long-term facility has been hurt by neglect or intentional conduct by a staff member, or even another patient who is to blame for what occurred, the facility and its involved employees or agents can be held liable for money damages for the injuries or death caused by the incident(s) that occurred.

As with all cases of abuse or neglect, there can be both civil and criminal remedies. As discussed in other sections of our website, if the abuse or neglect is criminal in nature, the local district attorney usually has exclusive jurisdiction over the case. If the case is not criminal in nature, then the matter potentially belongs in the hands of (1) administrative proceedings before a government agency charged with investigating and determining what sanctions to place on the facility or employee and (2) to a private lawsuit in the civil courts where the injured patient can sue for money damages. This involves retaining a competent lawyer, that is, one who has handled these types of cases in the past.

These cases can be difficult to sort out and require that the lawyer be familiar with medical issues, regulations governing these facilities, and how to investigate and successfully prosecute the claim when no administrative investigation has been done. The longer you wait to consult with a lawyer about one of these cases, the more difficult it is to prove the claim. Files are sometimes ‘lost’, employees quit and move on and are difficult to find, other patient witnesses go home or die, leaving a difficult trail to follow. So, when you think you or a loved one may have been harmed at one of these facilities, contact the law offices of Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens. If you do not, you may fail to protect rights to compensation.

As with any other civil case, there are statutes of limitation which will bar your right to money if you do not bring your claim within a certain time period. Oregon Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens are familiar with these and can make sure the legal process is begun in time. On a similar note, if the claim is against a government run or affiliated facility, there are shortened statutes of limitation which require notices be sent and received by the governmental agency or agent responsible for receiving notices of the claim. Failure to timely present one of these ‘tort notices’ can result in the loss of the right to sue.


If you have a personal injury, workers' compensation, social security disability, elder or nursing home abuse, or sexual abuse case, please contact Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens by filling out the form below. The consultation is free and we only receive compensation if we obtain benefits for you.


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