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Tennessee Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer

As defined by Tennessee law, sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse in nursing homes is rare, but these cases do happen. The two most common sexual assaults that an attorney will see are an employee who sexually assaults a resident as well as a resident sexually assaulting another resident.

In some cases, the nursing home is aware that one resident does not have their faculties or for whatever reason is a sexual danger, but does not properly protect other residents from that risk. If your loved one has suffered from an instance of sexual abuse, it is important that you contact a Tennessee nursing home sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to prepare a case to help maximize any potential recoverable damages.

Warning Signs

Usually, with a sexually assaulted individual, a person should pay attention to trauma to the body or private areas, in addition to emotional changes, and any type of mental changes such as withdrawal, acting out, and things that are not explained by whatever diagnosis the individual may have been given or the medications that they may be on. Other signs include:

  • Unexplained blood stains on linens, bed sheets, and/or clothing
  • Bleeding or bruising around the genitals
  • Bruises on the breasts, buttocks, or inner thighs
  • Unusual behavior, anxiety, or fear – especially around certain people
  • Development of an STD
  • Withdrawal or depression

Who May Be Most At Risk for Sexual Abuse in a Tennessee Nursing Home?

Any residence of a facility can be a victim of sexual abuse; however, most perpetrators will choose victims who are vulnerable, such as:

  • Women: According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, women are at the highest risk for being sexually abused in a nursing home.
  • Any Resident with Dementia: The same report revealed that any resident with dementia or Alzheimer’s have a heightened risk of sexual abuse.
  • Residents with a Physical Disability: Any resident who is physically impaired, particularly women, are at a risk because they require more constant care from staff. The National Center on Elder Abuse claims the number is as high as 53%.

Who Are the Perpetrators?

In general a sexual abuser in a nursing home will have access to the residents. They could be a permanent or temporary staff member, visitors to the home, or another resident. Sadly, as a Tennessee nursing home sexual abuse lawyer might explain to you, resident to resident sexual abuse, or aggression, is more common that one might realize. Sexual aggression can involve a sexual act involving two residents, but when at least one of them did not give their consent, or have the capacity to do so.

According to the United States Government, in the 1,000 cases of nursing homes who were cited to mishandle or fail to prevent sexual abuse, approximately 25% of the incidents involved a nurse, aide, or facility staff member. A very small percentage of abuse was committed by an unknown assailant or visitor. The majority of sexual abuse cases involved another resident who was the perpetrator. That being said, the majority of cases involving rape or injurious assault involved a nursing home worker.

Individual Vulnerability

Patients that do not have the ability to communicate what is going on in their life and would not be able to explain that they have been assaulted may be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse in a nursing home. Often, an employee will choose a victim that cannot relay to their loved ones the fact that they have been assaulted.

In these unfortunate instances, it is crucial that an individual contacts a Tennessee nursing home sexual abuse lawyer to properly fight for justice.

Sometimes, the sexual abuse will be coming from other residents. When that happens, an individual will want to look at the nursing home to find out what the staff knew, what warning signs occurred, and what the home did about it. If sexual abuse is suspected, an individual will need to talk to the home so they can protect their loved one from this behavior. The nursing home needs to remove or isolate the resident that is committing any sexual assaults or abuse.

Duty of Care

The nursing home has a legal duty to provide their residents with a safe and healthy environment. Sexual assault is neither safe, healthy, nor legal, and so, the home has a legal duty to protect the residents from any known or likely dangers including sexual assault. A Tennessee nursing home sexual abuse lawyer can help to ensure that the facility is held to their standards, and any missteps are properly compensated for.

Initial Steps to Take

The first thing an individual should do after finding out about a case of sexual assault is to talk to the administrator. If an individual feels as if they need to get their loved one out of the home, they may want to call the police or district attorney.

There is a limited amount of time to gather evidence in sexual assault cases, whether that be a rape kit, witness statements, or any other type of evidence. Therefore, you should not wait before contacting a Tennessee nursing home sexual abuse lawyer to help effectively handle your case.

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When my mother was neglected in a nursing home I was referred to The Higgins Firm for help. They did a great job representing my family and obtained a significant settlement. Hopefully, this will keep someone else's parent from being mistreated in the future. Angie S.
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