South Carolina – March 22, 2021

South Carolina nursing home facilities have standard operating procedures requiring administrative personnel to protect residents.  When residents suffer harm directly related to a negative nursing home encounter that exacerbated an existing health condition, or placed them in danger, a skilled lawyer can identify the appropriate duty of care supporting legal action.

 Nursing home duty of care.

Nursing home residents are owed a legal duty of care, as outlined in federal and state laws.  Consultation with an experienced attorney about individual nursing home resident cases is advised to determine the duty owed, and the harm encountered, based on that breach.  In cases of negligence, a court will determine if the victim of harm was owed a duty of care.  A duty of care is measured by the circumstances surrounding a specific incident and South Carolina statutes, contracts, professional relationships, property interests and other circumstances establish the parameters of that duty and whether, or not a victim was owed that duty.

Resident sexual abuse.

Residents of sexual abuse may be to afraid to tell family members and loved ones about the negative experiences they are having at the place where they are living.  It is important for family members to pay attention to changes in behavior, physical appearances, and questionable injuries to determine if something dangerous is happening to their loved ones at the hands of a caregiver.  A resident loved one may exhibit signs of physical, or psychological abuse that include:

  • Onset of sexually transmitted diseases, or infections,
  • Bruises on thighs, breasts, or genital areas,
  • Vaginal bleeding,
  • Torn, or blood stained garments,
  • Difficulty, or pain with walking and sitting,
  • Mood swings, depression,
  • Withdrawing from company, or jumpiness when staff members are around.

Possible offenders.

Individuals who may pose a threat of sexual abuse to nursing home residents target people who have difficulty communicating, or who may be confused, and are fearful of revenge if they report the negative encounters.  Without proper screening workers may slip through the cracks, or lapses in monitoring of safe environments may allow others to endanger nursing home residents.  They can include:

  • Staff members who have ample opportunities to abuse elderly residents who may need help in the restroom, while bathing, and getting dressed.
  • Other residents can abuse weaker residents intentionally, or due to their own mental disabilities and confusion. Nursing home staff should be trained to watch for and stop this sexual abuse.
  • Other third parties who visit the nursing home, including vendors, salespersons, medical care providers, and resident visitors. It is important for a nursing home to protect residents by never leaving them in an unsafe, or unsupervised area where they are vulnerable to sexual attacks.

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can guide families, or residents who are concerned about sexual abuse to determine next actions including formal complaints and litigation.

Statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in South Carolina is three years from the date of injury, but in certain cases, could extend as long as six years under reasonable belief that a defendant’s negligence, or intentional action played a role in causing the harm.

Seek legal counsel.

Contact an experienced attorney at the McDougall Law Firm if a loved one suffered injury, or sexual abuse caused by unsafe nursing home practices, inadequate precautions, and sustained exposure to sexual offenders.  When criminal acts are suspected, the South Carolina police will formally investigate and refer the complaint to the judicial system.

McDougall Law Firm, LLC

115 Lady’s Island Commons
Beaufort, SC 29907

Phone: 843.379.7000

Sources.

https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t15c003.php

https://scdhec.gov/health-regulation/health-facility-regulations-licensing-con/medicaid-medicare-certification-1

https://www.scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/Regulations/R.61-17.pdfd

https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t44c070.php

https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t43c035.php

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