With a sharply rising elderly population, nursing home abuse in Delaware has sharply increased as well. A recent congressional report found that 31 states had inspection staff vacancy rates above 20% on average. Delaware had a vacancy of 38% in 2022.
If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a Delaware nursing home, speak with a nursing home neglect attorney. Your loved one deserves a settlement payment for their suffering. To readers near Dover, Wilmington, or another Delaware city concerned about the treatment of your loved one: it’s time to take action.
Delaware Nursing Home Resident Rights
According to the Del. Code tit. 16 § 1121, nursing home residents have many specific rights in this state:
- Residents have the right to receive considerate, respectful, and appropriate care, treatment and services. The facility must recognize each person’s basic personal and property rights which include dignity and individuality.
- Each resident shall participate in the planning of the resident’s medical treatment, including attendance at care plan meetings.
- Nursing home residents may refuse medication or treatment and must be informed of the medical consequences of all medication and treatment alternatives.
- Each resident shall receive respect and privacy in the resident’s own medical care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment shall be confidential, and shall be conducted discreetly.
Familiarize yourself with Delaware nursing home law or reach out to an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse. Acting now will help prevent further instances of abuse from happening in the future.
Nursing Home Neglect and Delaware Law
Delaware has strict penalties for crimes committed against infirmed victims. Two things you should know:
- Delaware law allows ill victims in some cases to testify without going to court.
- When cases of resident abuse are prosecuted in court, these cases go automatically to the Superior Court, which is the main trial court in Delaware.
Nursing homes in the state of Delaware are required to provide assistance to their residents in daily activities for their residents, including:
- Physical therapy
- Bathing and toileting
If this assistance is not provided, it’s evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you’re not sure whether your case qualifies for compensation, you need a nursing home abuse attorney by your side. They should know the answers to questions specific to your case.
Early Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
A person suffering from elder abuse in a nursing home may not be able to tell anyone – even a loved one – about the abuse or neglect themselves. The abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial in nature, so it’s important to be aware of the signs of all four.
Look for these warning signs of abuse:
- Bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones, other physical injuries or unexplained wounds
- Pressure sores, poor personal hygiene, dirty clothes, unclean living conditions, weight loss, dehydration or malnutrition
- Injury to the genital area
- Fear of certain staff members, changes to behavior or personality, withdrawal from usual activities, anxiety, depression, or unease
- Unexplained changes to financial or estate planning documents such as wills and powers of attorney
- Uncharacteristic or large purchases, cash withdrawals or bank transfers, missing financial documents or credit cards
Your loved one may be concerned about the consequences of reporting their situation to the authorities. Know that there are discrete ways of dealing with abuse outlined in this guide. If immediate intervention is needed, however, don’t hesitate to call 911. Your loved one’s safety is first; only then can you proceed with legal action.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Delaware
Before pursuing legal action, report nursing home abuse in Delaware to the numerous authorities managing long-term care facilities. Notify the nursing home administrator of the suspected abuse, then report it to the state and contact an attorney.
Delaware Department of Health
To report a case of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the Division of Health Care Quality at 1-877-453-0012.
You can use their Adult Abuse Registry to check whether a staff member of your nursing home sustained a case of abuse, mistreatment, or financial exploitation. You may also contact Delaware’s OHFLC to oversee the conduct in your nursing home. They may enforce nursing home abuse laws through fines, state, or federal actions.
The Delaware Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. The association investigates and resolves complaints at no cost to you or your loved one.
You may file a complaint on their website, requiring information they’ll use to conduct an investigation on your nursing home. Delaware’s Ombudsman also takes calls through this number: 1-855-773-1002.
Proving Nursing Home Abuse in Your Delaware Lawsuit
Your attorney needs specific info about the nursing home abuse your loved one faced to prove your claim to court. This may be difficult to talk about with your loved one, but it will be worth it when your attorney puts together your claim. The types of evidence you’ll need to prove your nursing home abuse lawsuit in Delaware include:
- Documentation proving your relationship to the resident
- The resident’s medical records and bills
- Personal journal accounts of the resident and/or of their loved ones
- Photographic and video evidence
- Insurance claim documents
- Visit notes
- Copies of written communications and forms
If you can show that a nursing home or its employees have acted negligently, they’ll be liable for your resulting damages. Any form of proof, however slight, may be vital to your attorney for proving your nursing home abuse claim.
Types of Damages For Delaware Nursing Home Lawsuits
Compensatory Damages: These are the measurable and non-measurable costs of abuse, such as medical bills, the costs to move to a different facility, and future medical expenses due to an injury. These are also meant to address the resident’s pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Punitive Damages: These damages are meant to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. These damages cover negligence claims that cause reckless endangerment to others.
There are no caps on either compensatory or punitive damages in Delaware.
Delaware Statute of Limitations
Nursing home abuse cases are usually actions in medical malpractice or personal injury areas of the law. In Delaware, these cases must be brought within 2 years of the date of the injury or the date the abuse was discovered.
Find a Delaware Nursing Home Attorney with LegalASAP
Nursing home abuse attorneys work under contingency fees. This means your family won’t have to pay them until your loved one’s settlement arrives. A nursing home abuse 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 Delaware nursing home abuse case? LegalASAP’s attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate in Delaware.
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.