Yes, you can sue for emotional abuse. Attorneys across the United States recognize emotional abuse as a cause of action, allowing families of those victims of emotional abuse in nursing homes to sue in response to their loved ones’ mistreatment.
That said, it must be proved that the older adult in question endured emotional abuse by its legal definition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emotional abuse constitutes an unwilling party’s exposure to insult and injury through the use of language or isolation. This can include generating anguish, fear, or mental pain in the victim. Emotional abuse often results in psychological trauma for the party who has endured it.
Examples of the emotional abuse an elder can endure while in the care of a nursing home or a caregiver include:
- Denial of alternative means of communication, including phones and email
- Spreading false and negative rumors about an elder that influence how others treat the elder
- Preventing access to the tools an elder needs to navigate through a residence
Note that negligence and emotional abuse can overlap, depending on the tactics a caregiver is believed to have employed.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
The signs of emotional abuse to watch for in any elder in a nursing home’s care or in the care of a caregiver include:
- Sudden onset of depression
- Avoidant behavior
- Self-comforting, including rocking or thumb-sucking
- Fear or paranoia
If you believe a loved one may be suffering from emotional abuse at the hands of a caregiver, check in with that elder when they feel safe. Bringing up emotional abuse while a caregiver is present could put an elder at risk for additional or more aggressive forms of abuse.
If your loved one does not seem willing to disclose information about the quality care, you can reach out to other families with loved ones in the same nursing home or who may benefit from the assistance of the same caregiver. This way, you can begin to gather evidence of mistreatment and more confidently pursue a lawsuit.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-712-9119
Evidence Can Help Build Your Case
When you move to sue for emotional abuse, you can work with an attorney to gather the evidence necessary to assign liability. While the evidence necessary to prove emotional abuse will vary according to your situation, you can often develop a more comprehensive idea of what may be going on in a nursing home with:
- Documentation detailing your relationship to the elder involved
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Eyewitness reports
- Video, audio, or photographic evidence
With this evidence at hand, you can outline the compensation you may be entitled to and complete a complaint to submit to a court in your area.
Working with an Attorney on an Emotional Abuse Case
You can work with legal representation to file a complaint against an individual party or an institution if you think they have taken advantage of or otherwise emotionally abused an elder in their care. In doing so, you and your attorney, should you choose to hire one to represent you, can determine what compensation you and your loved one may be entitled to if the court finds the defendant in your case liable for the damages incurred.
Your avenues for compensation in an elder abuse emotional abuse case include:
- Medical care necessary for the elder to recover from their emotional abuse
- Psychological therapy and counseling
- Reimbursement of residential costs and other out-of-pocket costs
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish on the part of the victim and of the victim’s family
If emotional abuse results or plays a part in a wrongful death case, you may also pursue applicable damages with the help of a lawyer.
It is also possible for an elder emotional abuse lawyer to pursue punitive damages, should it be thought that a nursing home or caregiver in question grossly violated an elder’s right to care. These damages are usually calculated by a court should you decide to pursue your complaint at that level.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), punitive damages can be assigned to a party in an emotional abuse case to discourage continued negligent or abusive behavior.
You do not have to let the suspected emotional abuse of an elder go unanswered. If you believe a loved one has suffered emotional abuse while in a nursing home or while under the care of a caregiver, you can sue for emotional damages.
Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at 800-959-1444 for a free evaluation of your case. You can share the specifics of your case, and we can answer your questions and discuss possible next steps for you and your loved one.