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Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are standard options for older adults who require daily around-the-clock surveillance and nursing care. Some studies indicate that approximately 1.4 million older Americans live in nursing facilities across the country, and that number will undoubtedly continue to rise. While some nursing homes provide safe conditions, many Indiana nursing homes engage in unsafe practices that can lead to abuse and neglect. 

Many older adults cannot effectively communicate the abuse and neglect they are experiencing. Thus, family members often bear the responsibility of pursuing suspicions of abuse. Those who have suffered the effects of nursing home abuse or neglect should consult an attorney to determine their rights and remedies. An attorney at Gerling Law can help ensure that these claims meet all of the procedural and statutory requirements under Indiana law. 

How Long Is the Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse? 

Indiana maintains laws to protect older adults and adults with disabilities who reside in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Indiana’s “Adult Protective Services” statutes outline nursing home residents’ rights and the duties of long-term care facilities. Further, the state’s statute of limitations defines how long you have to commence legal action against a negligent nursing home provider.

Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse in Indiana

How Long Do You Have to Report Abuse in a Nursing Home? 

Federal regulations require nursing home staff to report allegations of abuse or neglect within 24 hours of discovering the abuse. But this only applies to the nursing home staff. If your loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect, you must meet the state’s statute of limitations to recover compensation from the negligent or responsible party.

Nursing Home Negligence or Abuse Statute of Limitations

Those bringing a claim for personal injury alleging nursing home negligence or abuse must file their claim two years from when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. Typically, a decedent’s representative must file a personal injury claim within 18 months after the date of death. 

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Medical malpractice claimants must file their claims within two years from the date of the act, omission, or neglect. 

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations 

In Indiana, wrongful death claims involving nursing home abuse must be filed two years from the date of death. 

In addition to these statutes, other potential deadlines could impact a personal injury or wrongful death claimant’s ability to pursue a nursing home abuse lawsuit. An attorney can work with clients to address any potential barriers to recovery. 

Federal Statutes Addressing Nursing Home Abuse 

In addition to Indiana’s nursing home abuse laws, several federal statutes address nursing home abuse and neglect. 

Nursing Home Reform Act

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing home facilities must abide by several requirements, including the following:

  • Assessing every resident’s health status;
  • Developing a specific written plan for each resident;
  • Ensuring residents can be active and choose activities;
  • Keeping residents healthy;
  • Maintaining accurate records;
  • Maintaining healthy staff-to-resident ratios;
  • Providing proper hydration, nutrition, and hygiene; and
  • Providing adequate supervision to prevent injuries. 

The Nursing Home Reform Act also incorporates a Residents’ Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights outlines what residents can expect while residing in or under the care of a nursing home. 

Elder Justice Act

The Elder Justice Act requires nursing home staff members to report possible incidents of neglect and abuse. In addition, the Act establishes notification requirements in the event a facility must close, and it establishes background check requirements for nursing home staff. 

Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act is a federal initiative that funds essential services to keep older Americans healthy and independent. 

Violence Against Women Act 

The Violence Against Women Act does not explicitly address nursing home violence and neglect; however, it assists victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The Act is relevant to nursing home residents as older adults sometimes suffer sexual abuse and violence while living in nursing homes. 

Although preventing all forms of nursing home abuse and neglect may not be possible, addressing this issue is crucial to ensuring the safety and well-being of older adults and collecting compensation from the at-fault parties. 

Rate of Nursing Home Violations in Indiana

There are over 500 nursing homes in Indiana. Reports indicate that 119 facilities have “serious deficiencies” and 463 have “infection-related deficiencies.” As a whole, Indiana nursing homes have faced nearly $18 million in penalties. Despite these harrowing statistics, the prevalence of elder abuse in community settings continues to rise at an alarming rate. 

Most Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines elder abuse as any intentional act or failure to act that creates or causes a risk of harm to an older adult. In this context, the CDC defines “older adults” as someone 60 or older. There are a few different types of elder abuse.


This occurs when an older adult experiences illness, pain, distress, or death due to physical force. Some common types of physical abuse in a nursing home include pushing, hitting, shoving, and biting.  


Sexual abuse or assault involves any unwanted sexual interaction with an older adult. In addition to sexual contact, verbal sexual harassment or threats could also amount to sexual abuse. 


Psychological and emotional abuse is any conduct that inflicts mental pain, fear, or anguish on an older adult. Common examples of emotional abuse include harassment, isolation, and humiliation. 


Financial abuse in a nursing home involves the unauthorized use of a resident’s belongings, property, benefits, or money. 


Neglect encompasses failing to meet a nursing home resident’s essential health and safety needs. 

Do You Fear Your Loved One Is Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse?

If your loved one is being subjected to abuse or neglect at an Indiana nursing home, reach out to the dedicated personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys. At Gerling Law, we have more than 60  years of experience. We spend our days helping injured parties obtain fair compensation from those who are responsible for their pain. We offer free consultations to nursing home residents and their families, during which we will explain your rights and how we can help. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, call 888-437-5464. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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