Social Media as Abuse in Nursing Homes

In many cases, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are a necessary and helpful form of support for elderly loved ones. They provide additional care and assistance that other family members and loved ones often cannot provide. However, these locations also create a distinct power imbalance between elderly residents and able-bodied staff members. This leads to a serious problem of nursing home abuse across the country that presents itself in a multitude of different ways. The Des Moines Register reviewed a new form of abuse that is becoming prevalent in Iowa and across the nation – the use of social media platforms, such as Snapchat, as a way to anonymously abuse elderly nursing home residents.

The Investigative journalism source ProPublica has been tracking the growing amount of exploitation of nursing home residents through social media since 2015. There have been 65 cases reported of nursing home staff taking and posting unauthorized photos of residents that are often lewd or vulgar. Although some of these photos have been found on social media, such as FaceBook and Instagram, the most popular location is Snapchat, due to the photos’ limited availability. 6 of these cases of social media abuse have been reported in Iowa, which has urged Senator Chuck Grassley to request that social media companies do more to prevent this kind of behavior. Nursing homes are also taking steps to stop this form of abuse by further training their employees on the importance of patient privacy and dignity; however, this cannot reverse the damage which has already been done. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are concerned that social media abuse may have long-standing mental and emotional effects on the residents. Additionally, the family members of the elderly who have been exploited are outraged by this degrading behavior. Due to the increasing number of social media abuse cases that have been reported, Iowa legislators are taking steps to create regulations that hold abusive nursing home staff accountable for their actions. They hope that other state legislators will follow their lead.

Nursing home abuse of any kind is unacceptable and devastating to its victims and their loved ones. Individuals relying on others for care should not have to worry about this type of exploitation. Unfortunately, the anonymity and protection of social media make this a difficult problem to recognize and to remedy. However, with the growing awareness of this problem, social media platforms are taking steps to make it easier to report abusive content, which will hopefully help quickly reduce the number of these cases.

It may be difficult for families to recover after they have been a nursing home abuse victim, but there are steps that they can take to make this process easier. Not only is it important to stop the abuse once you are aware of it, but you may also file a lawsuit against the caretaker or nursing home responsible. While this cannot undo the damage that has already been done, taking action against the person responsible can helps families feel that justice has been served.  

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How Much Responsible is a Property Owner for Accidents Occurring in His/Her Property?

Slip and fall is a very common accident that can cause injuries, such as a minor bruise or a serious fracture to the wrist or elbow, or a spinal column injury. This accident can occur anywhere, in a public or a private place, where one least expects it to happen.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than eight million slip and fall accidents occur in the U.S. every year. The most common causes of these accidents are wet, oily, icy or slippery floors or surfaces; loose, uneven and broken floors, steps, sidewalks or stairs; a faulty staircase; unsecured rugs or carpets; and hidden or tangled extension wires.

Slip and fall victims are most commonly the ones blamed for the accident and their injuries. However, rather than being less careless, thus, the accident, the Hankey Law Office rather believes that blame may be imputed on the property owner, who, most probably, negligently failed to keep his/her property free of safety hazards – the cause of injury to visitors.

Slip and fall accidents are filed as premises liability cases. Premises liability refers to a landowner’s accountability for injuries suffered by persons due to a defective or unsafe condition in his/her property. The scope of a premises liability lawsuit is not limited to injuries resulting from slips, trips or falls; rather, it includes injuries resulting from falling objects, electrocution, open excavations, broken chairs, and so forth, so long as these occur in someone else’s premises.

In determining the extent of a property owner’s responsibility and liability to injuries, a classification of those who enter his/her premise has been made. This classification refers to the three classes or categories of visitors, namely: an invitee, a licensee and a trespasser.

  • Invitee – refers to a person who has the landowner’s permission to enter his/her property. His/her being on the property can be due to the conduction of some kind of business, or because the property, being a public property, is made available to the public.
  • A licensee is a person who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter the property. His/her being there, however, is for his/her own purpose or amusement, rather than for business purposes.
  • A trespasser is a person who has no authority, whatsoever, to be on someone else’s property. Thus, being on the property illegally, the owner owes him/her no responsibility if ever he/she gets injured (unless he/she is a child).

In some states, like in Chicago, for instance, property owners have a legal obligation to reasonably maintain the safety of their premises. A property owner who fails to do so and if the slip and fall accident victim will be able to prove that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition that caused his/her accident, then it would be wise to pursue compensation through a lawsuit.

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Personal Injury

Often time’s accidents are just that- accidents. Yet sometimes they are caused by the negligence or oversight of another party. These are called “personal Injury” cases. Some of the most common kinds of personal injury cases include: car accidents, premises liability cases, and product liability cases.

According to the website of the Abel Law Firm, in the case of car accidents, a personal injury case can be filed if a victim is injured due to the fault of another driver or another party involved in the accident. The car manufacturer, tire manufactures, or even those in the city in charge of maintaining highways and roads could be at fault for an accident that injures a cautious driver who followed all rules of the road.

Mazin & Associates personal injury lawyers are typically aware that in cases of premises liability a victim is injured in a building belonging to a property owner who failed to construct or maintain the structure of their building. This negligence often leads to the injury of the inhabitants or visitors to the building. Some examples of this involve fires, star collapses, mold and asbestos exposure.

According to the website of The Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, In the case of product liability, the victim was injured by a defective product due to the oversight or negligence of the products manufacturer. Some common examples of this include toxic food substances or defective toys for children. These are particularly dangerous cases because they affect large groups of people, a sin the case of toxic food substances, or they affect some of the most vulnerable victims- children.

Cases of personal injury can be extremely harmful and in some cases, life threatening. Unfortunately these cases often could have been prevented. These cases are the fault of the carelessness or neglect another party involved. In these cases the victim of such a tragedy or their families may be owed certain damages.

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