Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Elderly abuse in nursing homes takes many different forms. Most people focus on the physical abuse of elderly people when they talk about nursing home abuse or negligence. However, emotional and psychological abuse is probably even more common in Tennessee and elsewhere in the South, yet it is often harder to identify. The abuse may be perpetrated by a caregiver, volunteer, or administrator. It may be verbal or nonverbal, including ridicule of an elderly person, habitual blaming or scapegoating, degrading behavior, menacing conduct, isolation from friends or social activities, or intimidation, such as threats and yelling. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our Memphis nursing home negligence attorneys can investigate and aim to hold the responsible parties accountable as appropriate.Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Some signs that your loved one may be experiencing emotional or psychological abuse include that your loved one avoids contact, does not speak openly, experiences personality changes, has low self-esteem, withdraws, or suffers mood swings or changes in sleeping or eating patterns. When they are not allowed to join in social interactions or calls, these may also be red flags. It is crucial to report the suspected abuse and remove your elderly loved one from the nursing home where the emotional or psychological abuse is taking place.
In some cases, simply moving an elderly person to a different setting may improve matters, but in more severe cases, an elderly patient may need therapy and medication related to coping with the emotional distress. Most states permit the elderly person or their loved ones to recover damages for emotional or psychological abuse. In some cases, the damages are primarily non-economic, like pain and suffering, but in other cases, they will be a mixture of economic and non-economic losses. For example, elderly people may need therapy or medications as a result of emotional and psychological abuse, and these are economic damages.
It is often necessary to obtain an expert certificate to determine whether the nursing home staff's actions fell below a professional standard of care. For example, if a nurse was emotionally abusing you in a nursing home, it may be necessary to retain a nursing expert to show that the abuse showed incompetence by the nurse and that this failure to meet the standard of care was an actual cause of your emotional or psychological injuries. Sometimes emotional abuse is coupled with physical abuse. Sometimes there are both physical injuries and emotional injuries, or physical injuries are made worse by accompanying emotional abuse. If liability is established, it may be possible to recover compensatory damages for both forms of harm.
When a plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted recklessly, fraudulently, intentionally, or maliciously through clear and convincing evidence, it may be possible to seek and recover punitive damages under Tennessee law. Generally, in those cases, the jury will first decide whether to award compensatory damages (such as medical expenses and emotional distress), the amount that they should be, and whether the defendant's actions meet the level of egregiousness required. The court will then hold a separate hearing for the jury to determine whether punitive damages should be awarded and how much.
To decide the amount of punitive damages, the jury will usually consider factors such as the nature and reprehensibility of the defendant's misconduct, the defendant's financial condition, the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff, the defendant's awareness of how much harm was being inflicted, the duration of the misconduct, whether the defendant profited from the actions, and whether the defendant tried to conceal them. It may also consider whether a defendant took remedial actions or tried to make amends by offering a prompt and fair settlement for the harm caused.Discuss Your Nursing Home Abuse Case with a Memphis Attorney
If you or a loved one was harmed by emotional or psychological abuse in a nursing home in Tennessee or another Southern state, you may be able to recover damages. Our firm, which employs 33 attorneys and over 120 staff members, may be able to help you. We serve nursing home residents throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri, including in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Tupelo, Meridian, Jackson, Caruthersville, Hayti, Oxford, Starkville, Grenada, Little Rock, Jonesboro, and Columbus. Call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004 or complete our online form for a free appointment with an injury lawyer.