Known as The Constitution State and the home of Yale University, Connecticut has one of the highest per-capita incomes of any state in the Union. Connecticut has a rich history, diverse geography…and an aging population. Sadly, the state has often appeared in several recent local news stories about nursing home neglect in Connecticut.
A recent piece highlighted the nursing home industry’s “unprecedented staffing shortages,” and “less-than-ideal occupancy rates.” Resources are being directed “away from nursing homes and toward home care programs.”
Changes like these can result in nursing home abuse or neglect. If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a Connecticut nursing home, speak with a nursing home neglect attorney. Your loved one deserves compensation for their suffering.
Connecticut Nursing Home Resident Rights
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act federally holds nursing homes accountable for providing basic care to their residents. Professionals must provide care that promotes and enhances the quality of life for each resident. Facilities are required to ensure residents’ dignity, choice, and self-determination.
A Connecticut resident should not decline in health or well-being resulting from the way a nursing facility provides care.
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law protects the resident’s right to:
- Receive adequate and appropriate care
- Be fully informed of available services and the charges for each service
- Be informed of advance plans of a change in rooms or roommates
- Receive assistance if a sensory impairment exists
- Complain to staff without fear of reprisal and with prompt efforts to resolve grievances
- Participate in their own care, including the right to be informed of changes to their medical condition
- Enjoy privacy and confidentiality
- Experience dignity, respect, and freedom
- Enjoy visits from family members and friends
- Make independent choices and manage one’s own financial affairs
How to Define Nursing Home Abuse in Connecticut
It’s important to talk to an attorney if you suspect the following types of abuse apply to you. A lawyer specializes in analyzing nursing home cases, and you need legal protection to properly challenge the parties responsible for your abuse.
When your loved one suffers from intentional bodily harm or injury, that may constitute nursing home physical abuse. Connecticut law defines it as:
“The willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish, or the willful deprivation by a caregiver of services which are necessary to maintain physical and mental health.”
It may include:
- Skin bruising
- Bone fractures
- Soft tissue swelling
- Forced isolation
- Deprivation of food and water
- Use of physical restraints
Nursing home emotional abuse refers to any behavior or talk intended to upset or confuse nursing home residents. This is a more subtle form of abuse that does not leave direct physical evidence. Even so, there are visible examples of emotional abuse that you should keep an eye of:
- Verbal harassment
- Purposeful isolation from other residents
- Psychological manipulation
- Excessive scolding
- Threats of physical harm
This is “the act or process of taking advantage of an elderly person by another person or caregiver whether for monetary, personal or other benefit, gain or profit,” as defined by Section 17b-450 of Connecticut law. Nursing home financial abuse often takes the form of:
- Financial theft
- Control of a patient’s accounts
- Improper use of a patient’s assets
- Missing personal belongings
- Reluctance to talk about financial issues
Financial abuse is a touchy subject to bring up to someone suffering from its destructive effects. Make sure to keep your loved one comfortable when revealing their financial state.
Nursing home sexual abuse involves non-consensual physical contact or behavior with a vulnerable adult. Sexual abuse may include non-physical contact like unwilling distribution of pornographic material or forced nudity.
Examples of sexual abuse include:
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Non-consensual touching of any kind, especially in private areas
- Unwilling creation or distribution of nude photography
- Forced observation of pornographic material or masturbation
- Rape, oral, or anal sex
There are sobering statistics regarding sexual abuse in US nursing homes. Nursing home residents who suffer from dementia and other mental conditions are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. This is due to their limited mental capacities, preventing them from speaking out on abuse.
Sexual abuse is a serious crime that requires legal action from an experienced attorney. Without legal assistance, damages from sexual abuse may be less than what you deserve.
What is Nursing Home Neglect in Connecticut?
“Refers to the failure or inability of an elderly person to provide for himself or herself the services which are necessary to maintain physical and mental health or the failure to provide or arrange for provision of such necessary services by a caregiver.”
-Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17b-450
Connecticut regulations hold that each facility shall employ sufficient nurses and nurse aides to provide appropriate care for patients every day. Still, understaffing is still very common in the industry.
Common Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Family members of the victim as well as nursing home workers have a legal obligation to report signs of nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse. Physicians and certain federal workers are considered mandatory reporters in the state of Connecticut. Warning signs to keep an eye of include:
- Weight loss
- Constant anxiety and fear
- Unexplained bruises and abrasions
- Bed sores
- Fractured or broken bones
- Skin discoloration
- Lashing out at family members and friends
- Emotional withdrawal (and/or lack of eye contact)
- Genital bruising and bleeding from sexual abuse
- Unexplained tears in clothing
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Connecticut
In Connecticut, it is possible to get information about the quality and staffing at nursing homes. To do so, contact the Department of Public Health complaint phone line: (860) 509-7400.
File a complaint online by clicking here: Reporting a Complaint.
Ombudsmen have an important job. They work to resolve complaints on behalf of long-term care residents. They can also answer questions, give suggestions, offer assistance and support, or address issues your family member may have.
When mistreatment is reported, a regional ombudsman’s office in Connecticut will investigate a nursing home abuse report. To contact the Ombudsman’s office, call Connecticut’s statewide toll-free number, 1-866-388-1888 or 860-424-5200 and e-mail [email protected].
IMPORTANT: Nursing home staff in Connecticut can get a fine of up to $2,000 if they witness abuse or neglect and fail to report it.
How to Prove a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Approximately 16% of people 60 years and older living in care facilities reported experiencing some form of abuse each year, according to the World Health Organization in 2021. To file a claim, reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney. He or she will direct your family to gather evidence to support your claim. This may include:
- Photographs of injuries
- Medical data showing the result of errors, injuries, dehydration or starvation
- Testimony from other witnesses
Types of Damages for Nursing Home Abuse in Connecticut
If a loved one suffered nursing home abuse in Connecticut, you may be entitled to the following types of damages. Compensatory damages seek to “make the victim whole” from any losses caused by abuse. This includes economic and non-economic damages, which are monetary and non-monetary losses respectively.
Punitive damages are compensation amounts meant to punish the guilty party for egregious or reckless behavior. This is meant to prevent further actions from happening in the future.
If you have a family member in a nursing home who was abused or neglected, they might be entitled to compensatory damages. This settlement amount is designed to account for:
- Mental health care costs
- Medical care to help treat any injuries
- Nursing home payment returns
- Stolen property replacement
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
There is no damages cap for actions involving injuries caused by nursing home negligence.
A monetary settlement designed to punish the at-fault party. The courts will only award punitive damages in Connecticut if the negligence your family member experienced was intentional or particularly heinous. There is no cap on the amount in this state.
Connecticut Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse
The Connecticut Statute of Limitations for nursing home abuse begins from the date a family member first discovers the injuries or neglect of a loved one.
IMPORTANT: Family members only have two years to file an action for personal injury to a loved one. A wrongful death claim must also be filed within 2 years from the date of death. There is also no damages cap for wrongful death settlements.
Find a Connecticut Nursing Home Lawyer with LegalASAP
Nursing home abuse attorneys typically work under contingency fees. This means your family won’t have to pay them until your love one’s settlement arrives. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process and secure your family a much higher settlement than if you represent yourself.
Not sure how to locate an attorney to represent your Connecticut nursing home abuse case? LegalASAP’s attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate in Massachusetts.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.