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Can Home Health Aides Be Held Liable for Elder Abuse or Neglect?

High-quality elder care is becoming increasingly important every year, especially as our population ages. When the families of people of advanced age can’t or don’t want to utilize nursing homes, they often turn to home health aides to provide care for their loved ones, and they trust these workers to offer both professional living assistance and compassion.

But what happens when this trust is breached and harm occurs? Can people employed as home health aides be held liable for elder abuse or neglect?

The unfortunate reality is that elder abuse and neglect can and do occur frequently in Oklahoma, even at the hands of home health aides who families entrust to care for their loved ones. It’s crucial to understand that both home health aides and their employers, if they are hired through an agency or larger healthcare provider, can be held legally responsible if they engage in abusive or neglectful behavior while caring for others.

Understanding the Scope of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse encompasses a range of harmful behaviors. When caretakers abuse people of advanced age, the consequences can be devastating for them physically, emotionally, and financially.

In other cases, people of advanced age may be neglected by the workers who are supposed to be taking care of them, which can also put them at risk of serious health problems and psychological complications.

What Are the Specific Types of Abuse or Neglect by Home Health Aides?

Abuse or negligence from home health aides can manifest in many different forms, including:

  • Physical Abuse: This includes hitting, slapping, pushing, or any other form of physical harm. Inappropriate use of restraints or medication—such as sedation—also falls under this category.
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse: This type of abuse involves actions that cause emotional pain or distress. It includes verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and isolation from friends or activities.
  • Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual sexual contact or interaction, including sexual assault and exploitation, is a severe form of abuse.
  • Financial Exploitation: This occurs when a caregiver illegally or improperly uses an elderly person’s funds, properties, or assets. Examples include stealing money or possessions, forging checks, and identity theft.
  • Neglect: Neglect is the failure to provide necessary care, assistance, or attention, leading to harm or risk of harm. It can include failing to provide food, water, medication, medical care, or assistance with personal hygiene.
  • Abandonment: This is when a home health aide abandons an elderly person under their care for an extended period or indefinitely, leaving them without necessary support.

Family members and friends need to be vigilant and report any suspicions of abuse to home health aides’ employers immediately. Regular visits, open communication with the elder, and careful monitoring of their financial accounts and health status can help in identifying and preventing abuse and neglect from occurring or from worsening.

What Is the Legal Liability of Home Health Aides?

Home health aides are expected to adhere to a standard of care that ensures the safety and well-being of their charges. If they fail in this duty, either through direct actions (like physical abuse) or inactions (such as neglect), they can be held legally accountable.

In Oklahoma, victims of elder abuse or their families can file lawsuits against the individual aides and potentially their employers if abuse or neglect occur. Thankfully, Oklahoma law recognizes the vulnerability of aged individuals and provides legal avenues to seek justice and compensation for the harm caused by negligent caretakers.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping victims of elder abuse and their families navigate the legal system. Our Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyers work hard to hold those responsible accountable, whether it’s the individual aide, their agency, or other parties that may have contributed to the neglect or abuse.

Our approach to helping victims and their families involves:

  • Investigating the Abuse or Neglect: Gathering evidence is crucial in proving abuse or neglect occurred. This can include medical records, eyewitness testimonies, expert witness testimony, and documentation of any previous incidents.
  • Determining Liability: We assess who is legally responsible for the abuse. While the aide might be the direct perpetrator, their employer can also be liable, especially if they failed to conduct proper background checks or provided inadequate training.
  • Seeking Compensation: Victims of elder abuse may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other related costs. In severe cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if a home health aide abuse or neglect case goes to trial.

Contact Our Oklahoma Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we believe in justice for the most vulnerable among us. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect by a home health aide, it’s important to take immediate action.

Contact us for a free consultation, and let our experienced team help you protect your loved ones and hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and your loved one’s suffering.