Terms to Know in an Elder Abuse Case

Dealing with a nursing home abuse case can be confusing. Here is a list of terms relating to nursing homes and the legal process. Understanding these terms can assist with any elder abuse situation that your family might face.


Neglect occurs when staff in a nursing home fails to provide basic needs for the patient. It could be intentional or unintentional. To find out more about neglect, read our earlier post: Understanding Neglect of the Elderly.


Abuse is the cruel treatment of a person. Abuse could be in the form of emotional, physical, sexual, financial, neglect, or discrimination. To find out information about each type of abuse, read our earlier posts.

Self Neglect

When a person has a lack of awareness or ability and disregards their health, this constitutes “self neglect.” This also happens when a person refuses care or help by choice.

Medical Error

A medical error occurs when a healthcare provider chooses an inappropriate care method or someone improperly executes an appropriate method of care. This is often a result of an inexperienced caregiver.

Medication Error

A medication error occurs when a patient doesn’t get their medications when needed or doesn’t get the right medications.


An ombudsman is a person who represents the interest of the public and is appointed by the government. This person investigates and addresses the complaints of violation of rights.


The defendant is the person being accused of committing a crime in a case.


The party bringing the charges against someone else in a case.


Liability indicates legal responsibility for the safety of the residents in the home.

Breach of Duty

In order to have a case, you need to be able to prove that the defendant in the case had a duty to the individual and breached this duty and caused the individual harm.

Pretrial Period

Before the trial takes place, there is a period where both parties can gather evidence.


Compensation is something you receive for any bills associated with the neglect or abuse that was experienced. In addition, the victim can recover money for pain or suffering.

Statute of Limitations

A time period that the victim has to file a lawsuit against the at fault party.

Getting Help

If you have questions about these terms or others, you can contact my office. I am happy to provide resources and help your family through this situation.

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