At Morgan & Morgan, our nursing home abuse attorneys have decades of experience handling elder abuse lawsuits and have the resources needed to help nursing home residents and families with their personal injury claims.
While each case is different, our attorneys have recovered significant awards in nursing home abuse cases, including a $2.6 million settlement for the family of a resident who was attacked by a certified nursing assistant. The goal of our nursing home lawyers is not only to recover compensation for nursing home residents who have been abused, but also to deter other nursing homes from engaging in similar conduct.
Has your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home? If so, fill out our free case review form to see how our nursing home abuse attorneys may be able to review your claim and find out if you can pursue a lawsuit against the facility.
When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Elder Abuse and Neglect?
If it can be demonstrated that a nursing home or its employees have acted negligently, they may be held liable for any resulting damages. Damages available in a nursing home abuse lawsuit may include medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability. Some states also allow for punitive damages, which are intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct; however, these are only awarded in rare cases.
The following may be grounds for filing a nursing home abuse claim:
Negligent Hiring: Nursing homes have an obligation to their residents to hire personnel who are properly qualified, have the requisite academic degrees for the position for which they are hired, and have no record of abuse or violence. If a nursing home hires its employees without conducting background checks, it is the nursing home residents that are put at risk. Therefore, the nursing home can be held responsible in the case of abuse.
Understaffing: A report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the average staff to resident ratio is 1 staff member to every 1.64 residents. When a nursing home fails to employ a reasonable amount of staff members, residents may be neglected because there is no-one to look after them.
Additionally, the low staff-to-resident ratio causes more work for staff members who may not be compensated properly for how much work they are required to do. This can lead to stress in staff members, often causing a loss of morale and compassion. Nursing homes can be found liable if a resident suffers an injury or dies as a result of the failure to have an adequate number of caretakers.
Inadequate Training: In some cases, nursing home employees are not provided with proper training to handle disabled or disobedient residents and do not provide the level of care required by law and expected by a family. Nursing homes can be held accountable when inadequate training of their staff leads to the injury of a patient.
Third-Party Responsibility Claim: Nursing homes can be held responsible for any abuse caused by third parties within the residence. This is because they have a duty to provide a safe environment for the residents. For instance, if a resident is injured by another resident or a guest of another resident, the nursing home can be found liable if they failed to provide adequate security to prevent such an incident.
Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights: Nursing home residents are entitled to autonomy, dignity, and privacy. A nursing home can be held liable if one of its employees violates these fundamental rights.
Medication Errors: Medications are a part and parcel of old age and nursing home residents can suffer if they aren’t provided the right dosage of medication at the right time. If the resident is injured by a prescription drug error, the physician, pharmacy, or pharmacist can be held accountable.
Nursing Home Abuse Cases Under Investigation
Our lawyers are investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of residents who suffered from the following types of abuse:
Physical Abuse: Not limited to battery or other physical contact, this type of nursing home abuse can also be seen in force-feeding, overmedication and excessive use of chemical or physical restraints.
Emotional Abuse: Mental abuse in a nursing home can refer to verbal degradation or threats, isolation, sarcastic remarks or insults. Mental abuse can also refer to emotional manipulation, which occurs when a staff member deceitfully influences a resident for their own advantage. For instance, nursing home residents may be manipulated into overlooking forms of nursing home abuse for fear they will not be fed, bathed or groomed.
In addition, nursing home residents can be manipulated into acting in ways that don’t create “difficulties” for the employee but may be harmful to the resident themselves. For instance, a nursing home resident may be afraid to ask for a glass of water or snack for fear they will be reprimanded or hit. As a result, the resident may become dehydrated or malnourished.
Likewise, nursing home abuse may also take the form of emotional threats, which occur when a resident is threatened into keeping quiet about abuse within the facility. Residents suffering from emotional abuse may exhibit less obvious warning signs, such as withdrawal, mood swings, low self-esteem, involuntary seclusion, unexplained confusion, anxiety or depression, and odd behaviors such as sucking, rocking or biting.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse in nursing homes can occur when the resident is forced or tricked into unwanted sexual contact or when the individual is too weak or ill to give consent. A nursing home resident can be sexually abused by a staff member, another resident, visitor, stranger or a family member.
Financial Abuse: Financial abuse occurs when the person responsible for monitoring an elder’s spending habits exploits their position through the misappropriation of funds, property, or other assets. Examples may include tardy bill payments, using funds or property for their own benefit, cashing checks without consent from the owner, forcing signatures to gain access to funds or possessions, taking advantage of a power of attorney for personal advancement, and tricking a resident into signing a will, contract or another legal document.
Neglect: Neglect refers to the failure of a senior’s caretaker to execute the degree of care expected from a person in their position. Some of the most common forms of nursing home neglect include failure to assist with personal hygiene, failure to provide appropriate food clothing or shelter, failure to provide medical treatment when vital, failure to address health and safety hazards, and failure to acknowledge unsanitary conditions and its effects on residents.
Gathering evidence early on can make or break a nursing home case.
Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs
Because signs of nursing home abuse are sometimes dismissed as indicators of old age or dementia, it is important that loved ones recognize the signs of mistreatment in a residence. There are several types of nursing home abuse, each with their own set of symptoms that may indicate that a resident is being abused.
The following are the common signs of nursing home abuse:
- Bruises or bleeding
- Emotional withdrawal
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Silence around caretakers
- Bruises on or around an elder’s genitals
- Unexplained diseases or infections
- Physical discomfort
- Sudden financial difficulties
- Bills left unpaid by the elder
- Changes in the elder’s will
- Change in power of attorney
Often, nursing home residents are too disgusted or ashamed to come forward and tell anyone of the hardships they are experiencing. As a result, it’s important that families of nursing home residents keep a close eye on their loved ones and seek legal counsel if they believe that abuse may have taken place.
How Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help
Our attorneys can report the nursing home abuse to the proper authorities and take the appropriate steps to ensure your rights are protected in case the abuse report is lost or altered. It is important to document all information relevant to the incident, as detailed accounts are often more likely to prompt investigations. With more than two decades experience handling nursing home abuse lawsuits, our attorneys understand how to file both nursing home abuse reports and legal claims against negligent facilities and employees.
In a nursing home abuse case, our attorneys will inform the nursing home of the pending allegations and give them a chance to respond to the claims. In the majority of cases, the nursing home will attempt to settle, typically by scheduling a meeting to discuss a potential compromise. By settling the nursing home abuse claim, the injured party can recover compensation for their losses, while the facility saves the time and resources a jury trial requires.
At Morgan & Morgan, however, we pride ourselves on being trial lawyers who are not hesitant to take even the biggest corporations to court. Our attorneys have access to expert medical witnesses who can testify in court, if needed, and explain how our client’s injuries were linked to the nursing home’s negligent conduct. This testimony plays a vital role in the success of a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact our nursing home lawyers today for a free consultation. There may be a time limit in your state for filing a nursing home abuse case, so do not hesitate to fill out the form on the right for a no cost, no obligation case review. Our personal injury lawyers are experienced in a number of practice areas, including car accidents and medical malpractice.