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Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

January 18, 2024

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Elderly residents of nursing homes are at risk of unsolicited sexual abuse which may amount to sexual assault. Most residents who are victims of nursing home sexual abuse are often incapable of defending themselves effectively and may be reluctant or afraid to speak out after the attack.  Family and friends of elders who suspect possible sexual abuse of their loved ones need to know what they can do to stop the abuse and obtain compensation for the emotional trauma and financial losses that might result from the abuse with the help of experienced nursing home sexual assault attorneys.

Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Assault Attorneys

What Constitues Nursing Home Sexual Abuse?

Nursing home sexual abuse is any sexual contact with an elder who, due to mental illness or dementia, is unable to communicate disapproval of the behavior or is unable to give consent to the activity.

Examples of Sexual Abuse in Illinois Nursing Homes

Examples of sexual abuse may include any combination of the following:

  • exhibitionism;
  • forcing the elder to view sexually explicit materials or images;
  • forcing the victim to remove their clothing;
  • leaving a person in a state of undress;
  • rape;
  • any sexual contact without the victim’s consent;
  • making sexual contact with an elder who is confused and doesn’t have the capacity to give consent;
  • holding sexually explicit conversations;
  • making sexually suggestive comments;
  • uninvited sexual approaches;
  • uninvited touching.

Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

A nursing home resident may demonstrate the following signs of sexual abuse:

  • bruising in the genital area, around the inner thighs or breasts;
  • an unexplained genital infection or diagnosis of sexually transmitted disease;
  • pain in the genital and anal areas, including bleeding;
  • suddenly finding it difficult to sit or walk;
  • evidence showing the elder has torn, stained, or bloody underwear;
  • the elder reporting that sexual assault or rape has taken place;
  • extreme agitation;
  • withdrawal from taking part in normal social interactions;
  • panic attacks taking place including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • unusual behavior occurring between the victim and the person suspected of sexual abuse.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Sexual Abuse in an Illinois Nursing Home

If you, as a friend or family member, suspect that an elder is a victim of sexual abuse in a long-term care facility, there are several avenues you can use to report the incident. These include the following.

  • Call 911 if you believe the elder’s life is in immediate danger.
  • Contact Senior HelpLine and the Regional Ombudsman in the region or county where the nursing home is found.
  • Lodge a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Lodge a complaint with the Healthcare and Family Services for Supportive Living Facility Complaints. You can also call the complaint hotline at 1-800-226-0768, Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Contact a care home sexual abuse attorney who will know where your elder stands legally if there is sufficient evidence that proves sexual abuse has taken place.

Chicago nursing home sexual abuse attorney

When to Hire a Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney

When a nursing home resident suffers sexual abuse, either the victim or their family members, could hire a nursing home abuse attorney who can investigate the sexual abuse claim, confirm who is responsible for the act of sexual abuse, and recover compensation for the physical injuries and emotional trauma that have taken place. Nursing home sexual abuse lawsuits in Illinois are limited by a statute of limitations, which determines the maximum time limit after an incident that any legal action can be taken The statute of limitations for care home sexual assault claims in Illinois is two years from the date the sexual abuse took place.  This means that no lawsuit can be initiated more than two years after the incidence of sexual abuse. You should hire a nursing sexual abuse attorney as soon as possible to allow them sufficient time to file a lawsuit and secure compensation. 

Damages That Our Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyers Can Help You Recover

There are two types of damages that may be claimed, which are broadly termed economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the direct and indirect financial losses the elder suffers because of sexual abuse, while non-economic damages are the emotional and psychological effects on the victim of nursing home sexual abuse.    Examples of compensation for economic damages may include:

  • paying medical bills for treatment due to physical abuse;
  • paying the cost of prescription medications to treat the injuries from abuse;
  • compensating property damage such as damage to clothing when the abuse took place;
  • replacing money stolen while the sexual abuse took place.

Examples of compensation for non-economic damages may include:

  • the physical or emotional pain and suffering due to the elder abuse;
  • the mental anguish suffered by the elder victim;
  • loss of enjoyment of life;
  • the fear, embarrassment, or humiliation caused by the act of elder abuse.

Who Can Be Held Liable in Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases?

There are a number of different potential perpetrators in an elder abuse case. These range from workers at the home to other residents who share the same facilities as the elderly victim. More rarely, it might be someone who is not connected with the nursing home at all and is an outsider who has gained unapproved access to the facility. Whoever the abuser happens to be, the principal liability remains with the management of the nursing home. Nursing facilities must provide a safe environment for their residents, which includes:

  • ensuring that enough trained staff are employed at the nursing home to cater for the number of residents and their state of health;
  • ensuring that anyone who is employed at the home has been trained and vetted and considered not to be a potential sexual abuser. 
  • sufficient monitoring of elderly residents to quickly pick up potential incidents that indicate that a resident’s behavior is particularly atypical, such as expressing anxiety, fear, or other forms of clear emotional stress.

A nursing home sexual abuse attorney can help investigate the background of the case, especially if the facility has had a history of poor management and lack of adequate care for its nursing home residents.  Any case of sexual abuse in a nursing home may not be isolated to a single individual and an investigation may provide evidence that can be used against the nursing home in a lawsuit.

Filing a Claim With Our Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorneys

There are several stages to filing a nursing home sexual abuse claim. Legal help is typically sought by concerned family friends or family members of the elderly victim. Because it is often difficult to gather evidence of elder abuse yourself, you should contact a nursing home attorney for legal advice before proceeding further. Steps in the claim usually involve:

  • a request for a free consultation with a Chicago nursing home sexual abuse attorney;
  • the attorney, after assessing the case, decides whether the case of elder abuse can be won, based on the evidence available, or whether more evidence of negligence on behalf of the nursing home can be obtained before filing a lawsuit;
  • the attorney suggesting that a physical examination and/or psychological evaluation of the elder could be useful;
  • more extensive investigation of any prior history of negligence at the nursing home, such as particular previous cases of nursing home sexual abuse;
  • filing the lawsuit;
  • negotiating with nursing homes’ insurance’
  • preparing and taking the case to trial if a settlement is not reached.

nursing home sexual assaultThe Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Nursing Homes

  • Illinois had the greatest number of nursing home sexual abuse (17) reported by hospital emergency room records in a two-year record spanning 2015 and 2016, according to the inspector general’s office. [1] 
  • Only around a quarter of the probable sexual assault cases are actually being reported. [1]
  • Around a quarter of Chicago’s nursing homes reported cases of sexual assault. [2]
  • Only 1 out of 86 sexual assault cases in Chicago nursing homes resulted in an arrest. [2]

Nursing Home Residents Most At Risk for Sexual Abuse

The following types of elderly residents tend to be most at risk of nursing home sexual abuse:

  • frail, older women; 
  • women with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia;
  • women with physical disabilities;
  • women with cognitive impairment.

The Time It Takes to Settle Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases

Once the nursing home sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed, it will take a different amount of time to be settled, as each case has its own unique features. In most cases, the attorney will try to negotiate a settlement with the nursing home management and their insurers without having to take the case to trial. This reduces the time taken for the case to be resolved and reduces legal and court fees. The attorney may decide that the case against the facility is solid enough that it should be taken to trial if the negotiations have been unsuccessful. This can take months, or even years, for a resolution, depending on assigning trial dates and whether the nursing home appeals any decision against them.

The Cost of Hiring a Nursing Home Sexual Assault Attorney

Our nursing home abuse attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means the client who has typically been acting on behalf of a victim of Illinois nursing home sexual abuse isn’t required to pay the attorney’s fees upfront.  Instead, your nursing home sexual abuse lawyer shoulders the costs and risks of litigating your case. You only pay for our attorney’s legal representation if your case is won, as a percentage of your final compensation award, as outlined in the terms of the contingency fee arrangement.

Contact Experienced Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Assault Attorneys Today!

For a free consultation with an experienced nursing home sexual assault lawyer, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 toll-free. We provide legal services to victims of nursing home sexual assault on a contingency fee basis and have recovered over $450 million in compensation for our clients.

Resources: [1] WQAD, [2] Chicago Tribunal

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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