Colorado Nursing Home Laws and Regulations
As our population ages, more and more cases of elder abuse come to light, and this is no less true in the state of Colorado than it is anywhere else. There are laws in place to protect seniors who are victims of abuse in nursing homes and in other locations, but it’s important to have a good understanding of those laws if you’re concerned about protecting yourself or a loved one.
Types of Abuse
Elder abuse takes many forms. Most often we think of bruises and broken bones, but abuse can also include emotional, mental and psychological mistreatment (including harassment, yelling and intimidation) and various forms of sexual assault ranging from fondling up to rape. It can also include abandonment and neglect as well as financial exploitation.
We would be remiss if we did not also include financial exploitation in the categories of abuse. This can include simple theft up to bank fraud.
Abuse can occur anywhere. Family members can perpetrate elder abuse. So can supposed friends. The most egregious type of abuse, however, occurs within that one place that you have every right to assume safety – the nursing home. If you suspect abuse within your loved one’s nursing home, you need to complain, loudly and vigorously. You may be wrong, but better to be safe than sorry, and a reputable nursing home that has your loved one’s best interests at heart will not hold it against you for looking out for his or her interests. If you suspect abuse, you have to say something.
When you report abuse within a nursing home, you can expect that the authorities will investigate. If they find grounds for prosecution, they will lay criminal charges against the home and the personnel involved. When that happens, the people who are charged may plead guilty, or they may plead innocent and go to trial. Either way, a criminal trial will not compensate you for monetary loss, or for pain and suffering.
In order to be compensated, you will need to bring a lawsuit against the parties responsible. If your suit is successful, you may be able to receive monetary compensation for medical treatment and also for physical and emotional suffering incurred by your loved one. In Colorado, there is a cap on emotional pain and suffering of $250,000. This is simply because of the tendency of jurors to want to award absurd amounts if they feel that the plaintiff has been treated exceptionally badly. Whether right or wrong, it works to eliminate the emotional element from the final decision.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
Once you suspect that a loved one is being abused in a Colorado nursing home, you will want to act quickly. The obvious reason is that you want to stop any further harm happening to your loved one. Also, once you commence an action, your attorney will be able to contact witnesses while memories of the event are still fresh in their minds – it really is true that time destroys memory, and you want to make sure that all the facts and details are clearly delineated before you go to court, or better yet, settle out of court.
You also want to be sure that you can take action before your loved one deteriorates any further, and you need to make sure that you act before the statute of limitations on such actions runs out. In Colorado, you have to file your nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit within two years of the time that the abuse or neglect actually occurred.
The most important thing you can do is get legal representation immediately.