Nursing Home Abuse
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When choosing the nursing home for your loved one, you likely did your homework, ensuring that the facility would offer them the utmost care. Unfortunately, despite those efforts, there are cases when the unthinkable can happen. Elder abuse does occur in nursing home facilities, even though it is entirely preventable if the proper safety precautions are met. By teaming up with an experienced elder abuse attorney, you can uncover evidence of a nursing home’s malicious behavior and hold the abusers accountable for their actions.
You place a significant amount of trust in the nursing home staff that cares for your loved one, and to find out they’ve endured abuse is nothing less than a betrayal. Most abuse occurs behind closed doors, but Morgan & Morgan has the resources to expose it and to take on a bully of any size. Our experienced attorneys have seen your situation before and want to help you and your family recover from this traumatic event.
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What Does Elder Abuse Look Like?
Staff members and other residents are commonly the abusers in nursing homes, but anyone who has access to the facility can potentially harm its residents. By understanding the early warning signs of abuse, you can recognize when your loved one is in danger and intervene before it’s too late. The following are some common red flags of nursing home abuse:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Emotional withdrawal
- Bruises or bleeding
- Unexplained infections or diseases
- Sudden financial problems
- Changes in the resident’s legal documentation (power of attorney, will, etc)
Nursing homes must retain qualified and well-trained staff to deal with any situation that may occur on the premises. Administrative negligence, such as understaffing, can put all residents within the facility at risk of injury, or potentially expose them to a violent staff member that didn’t complete a thorough background check.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Discovering that your loved one was abused by their caretaker can overwhelm you with stress or can even evoke feelings of guilt concerning your own responsibility. There is no need to go through this alone. An experienced attorney can help you hold the abusers accountable for their actions. With their help, you can conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident and uncover concrete evidence to use in the courtroom.
While money isn’t the first thing on your mind, the compensation from an elder abuse lawsuit can support you throughout the legal proceedings and help your loved one receive the proper care they need. Our attorneys have a proven track record of recovering damages in cases like yours and will never let an unethical third party devalue the extent of your situation. You need someone who will fiercely advocate for the rights of you and your family, and that’s Morgan & Morgan’s specialty.
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Elder abuse shouldn’t occur under any circumstances, and for it to happen to your loved one is an intolerable crime. Our compassionate attorneys understand how much your situation has affected you and want to offer their assistance during a traumatic period of your family’s life. All law firms are not the same, and Morgan & Morgan has the resources to help you fight back against nursing home elder abuse.
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Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
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.
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