If you discover that a family member is being abused or neglected at the nursing home where he lives, you will most likely have to step in to help stop the abuse. Many nursing home residents are not capable of doing this on their own due to physical limitations, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. Many residents may be too afraid to speak out due to fears of further physical or emotional abuse, deprivation of food or drink, or other abuse in retaliation for their complaints. If you are in this situation, it is important that you contact an elder abuse and neglect attorney as soon as possible so that the statute of limitations for suing the nursing home does not expire.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the time period you have to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, this time period is different for different types of legal matters. For example, the statute of limitations for a breach of contract action could be different than the statute of limitations for a car or truck accident claim.
It is important that you file your lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations. If you fail to do so and file a complaint against a nursing home after this time period expires, the judge will almost certainly dismiss your case. In addition, it is unlikely that the insurance adjuster would settle your claim if he knows that the time period for you to file a lawsuit has passed.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawsuit?
There is more than one rule governing the time period to sue in a nursing home abuse and neglect case. The following time periods apply to these claims:
- The time period is two years from the date of the injury or of when it should have reasonably been discovered.
- In a claim of loss of consortium—the loss of the companionship of the resident—filed by a spouse or close family member, the time period is four years from the date of the injury or the date it should have reasonably been discovered.
In some nursing home and abuse cases, the nursing home resident also has a claim for medical malpractice against the doctor, nurse, or other health care provider. The statute of limitations in these cases is:
- Two years from the date of your loved one’s injury or death, with no lawsuit being allowed more than five years after the date of the injury.
- In cases involving a foreign object being negligently left in the resident’s body, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of discovery of the object.
If your loved one died as a result of his abuse or neglect, you may have a wrongful death claim as a close family member for the loss of the financial support and companionship of your family member. The statute of limitations to sue would be:
- Two years from your family member’s death—not the date of his injury
- If medical malpractice was also a cause of his death, the statute of limitations would be most likely be five years from the date of the negligent action.
Why You Don’t Want to Wait to Pursue Your Loved One’s Claim
If you just discovered the abuse of your family member, you may feel like you have plenty of time to pursue your claim. While it is true that you have two years to file a lawsuit, you do not want to wait that long to contact an attorney. Your best strategy is to retain a lawyer as soon as possible after you discover the abuse. Here’s how waiting can hurt your loved one’s claim for compensation:
- Important evidence could be destroyed or lost.
- Surveillance tapes could be taped over.
- Witnesses and sympathetic nursing home staff that could help prove your loved one’s claim could disappear or not remember what happened as clearly.
- You claim becomes weaker and gives the insurance adjuster an argument that the incidents of abuse and neglect, or the injuries your loved one suffered, were really not that serious.
If you suspect your family member is being abused at his nursing home, let Brauns Law help you stop the abuse and negotiate your loved one’s claim for compensation. Start an online chat to schedule your free consultation to learn about your legal options.