Albuquerque Nursing Home False Imprisonment Attorneys
When Elders Are Confined Against Their Will
False imprisonment is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, defined as follows under NM Stat Section 30-40-3: “False imprisonment consists of intentionally confining or restraining another person without his consent and with knowledge that he has no lawful authority to do so.”
In a nursing home environment, false imprisonment is a form of elder abuse in which a resident is restricted from going outside a certain area. Nursing home staff may falsely imprison residents in various ways, including depriving them of mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or crutches, threatening to withhold food or water, physically restraining them with equipment or devices, or chemically restraining them with drugs.
We at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP know how devastating it can be when your loved ones are falsely imprisoned in nursing homes. Not only does it put seniors at risk physically, but it can leave them psychological trauma. The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. That’s why we fight tooth and nail for our clients. If your loved one has been falsely imprisoned by a nursing home, contact us today at (903) 290-1774. When we take a case, we pursue it as far is it will go.
Residents’ Rights to Be Free of Physical or Chemical Restraints
The Residents’ Bill of Rights was established under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. Among the rights of residents in long-term care facilities is the right to be free from chemical and physical restraints. Denying nursing home residents these rights can be considered false imprisonment.
What Are Physical Restraints?
Physical restraints can be defined as any device, material, or equipment that restricts the movement of any or all body parts or access to the resident’s own body. Examples include arm, wrist, ankle, and leg restraints, hand mitts, geri chairs, and bed rails. Practices that can be considered physical restraint include tucking a blanket so tightly that the resident is unable to move, placing a lap tray that the resident cannot move on a wheelchair or moving a resident’s chair or bed so close to the wall that it prevents the resident from rising. Nursing home staff may restrain a resident in bed, or put up barriers outside the door or the entrance to a wing to prevent residents from leaving a particular area.
What Are Chemical Restraints?
Chemical restraints are drugs administered for the purpose of restraining a person. Elderly nursing home residents are sometimes given medications to induce sleep or a state of relaxation, to restrain them or control their behavior. If the drugs are not deemed medically necessary by a qualified physician, their use is chemical restraint.
Withholding Mobility Aids Is False Imprisonment
Many elderly nursing home residents need mobility aids to get around. They may not be able to travel across the room without the aid of a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair. It is false imprisonment when nursing home staff take away a resident’s mobility aids to prevent him or her from leaving a designated area.
False Imprisonment and the Use of Threats
Elderly nursing home residents are accustomed to listening to their caregivers. When they are told to stay in a particular area, some residents may do so. Others may prefer to move around in spite of instructions from staff. Nursing home staff may threaten residents who do not stay where they are told to stay with isolation, beatings, withholding of food and water, or other punishments. This is a form of false imprisonment and nursing home abuse.
What Are The Elements of a False Imprisonment Claim?
To prove false imprisonment in a civil lawsuit, you must show that following elements exist in the case:
- There was willful detention.
- The detention was without consent.
- The detention was unlawful.
It can be complicated to establish false imprisonment in a nursing home. Staff may need to restrict the movement of certain residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia to protect them from harm, and these residents may not understand the restrictions. But in many cases, residents have their movements restrained for the convenience of the staff, to make it easier for them to do their jobs.
How Can You Fight Against False Imprisonment
If your elderly loved one has been a victim of false imprisonment in a nursing home, the best way to fight against it is to get an experienced lawyer on your side. Our New Mexico nursing home abuse attorney at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP is a tough advocate for injured elderly people. In addition to his law degree, he has a master’s degree in business administration, which gives him a better understanding of nursing home abuse cases, from a corporate as well as a legal and medical perspective. Call us at (903) 290-1774 to schedule a free consultation. We can explain your options under the law.