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Nursing home abuse and neglect is prevalent throughout New York City. Many incidents of abuse and neglect go unreported because the victim is too scared or embarrassed to report the abuse, or is physically or mentally unable to make a report. Family members and friends may misidentify signs of abuse as resulting from the patient’s age or medical condition, and this mistaken belief may be encouraged by the perpetrators of abuse. It is important for family members and friends to understand signs of abuse and for victims and their loved ones to take steps to stop the abuse. State law allows for civil lawsuits and other measures to stop the abuse and compensate the victims for their injuries.
Abuse can be any type of mistreatment, harm, or attempt to harm. It can be physical, verbal, emotional or psychological, or sexual. Neglect is the failure to prevent harm, where such harm could have been prevented through the exercise of the proper standard of care. Neglect is typically of a physical, psychological, or medical nature. Common types of abuse or neglect include:
In addition to a civil lawsuit, those who commit elder abuse and neglect may be prosecuted for violations of the criminal law. In 1998, the legislature amended the New York penal code, establishing the crime of “endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person.” A person convicted of violating this law, commonly known as Kathy’s Law, can be sentenced to up to four or seven years in prison, depending upon whether the offender is found guilty in the First or Second Degree. A First Degree violation involves intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury, while a Second Degree violation includes intentionally or recklessly causing injury, causing injury with criminal negligence using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or nonconsensual sexual contact. Both crimes are felony offenses under New York law.
Kathy’s Law is fairly specific as to what conduct is prohibited and who is covered as to potential victims and perpetrators. The decision whether to pursue criminal sanctions rests with the district attorney, but regardless, any abusive or negligent conduct may still be pursued in a civil action. There are hundreds of nursing homes in the State of New York, serving over 100,000 patients a year. We cannot wait or rely on law enforcement or state regulators to uncover signs of abuse and do something about it. As the patient or the loved one of a patient, you are in the best position to stop the present abuse and keep it from happening to others, by pursuing civil remedies that compensate the injured and punish those who abuse or neglect the people in their care. For professional legal assistance in addressing nursing home abuse or neglect in New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C.