Shocking findings reveal that as many as one in three elders have been victims of nursing home abuse. Moreover, two out of three staff members surveyed by the WHO said they had abused or neglected residents.
As experienced nursing home abuse attorneys, we know for a fact that abuse and neglect in nursing homes is a common occurrence. Put simply, nursing home abuse is said to have occurred when a resident of the facility is harmed by their caretaker. The harm inflicted may be intentional or unintentional, and may result in trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.
When you place your loved one in a nursing home, you expect the facility to provide them with a reasonable standard of care. Their assurances of looking after your elder and ensuring their good health makes you believe that they’ll never be at any kind of risk.
However, due to issues such as the lack of training, short-staffing, and so on, nursing homes often fail to deliver on their most basic responsibilities.
When it comes to identifying signs of nursing home abuse, you should know that it can take several forms, all of which ultimately result in harm to the resident.
Some Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse include:
- Physical abuse: Any physical harm inflicted upon a resident is unlawful and makes the nursing home liable for legal action. Examples include hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, and others.
- Emotional abuse: This can have a detrimental effect on the resident’s mental composure as well as physical state, causing depression, anxiety, and other issues. Examples include belittling, threatening, bullying, humiliating, depriving them of basic necessities, and so on.
- Sexual abuse: Shockingly, nursing home abuse cases involving sexual exploitation of seniors are real. Nursing home employees or other residents can coerce seniors into performing non-consensual sexual acts through intimidation or brute force.
- Financial abuse: Nursing home staff may illegally take a senior resident’s money, credit card, or property.
- Chemical restraint: Improper administration of drugs and medication to make the senior more docile or easy to control also qualifies as nursing home abuse.
- Neglect: This refers to the nursing home’s failure to ensure that a resident is fed, hydrated, kept clean, and generally cared for. One of the most obvious signs of neglect is the development or worsening of bedsores on a resident’s body.
All in all, any situation where the nursing home fails to provide the necessary care and a resident is harmed must be brought to the notice of the police, elder protection agencies, or an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
A nursing home abuse attorney will help you hold the facility responsible for their abusive and neglectful behavior, as well as help you seek justice. You can also pursue financial compensation to pay for your senior’s medical expenses. Your lawyer will ensure that your claims are filed within the applicable deadlines, while offering you their time-tested guidance throughout the legal process.
Here are the various ways in which a seasoned nursing home abuse attorney can help you and your senior loved one.
1. Investigate the Matter
At the time of your consultation with a nursing home lawyer, be ready with your case facts and any supporting documents you may have. Your attorney will study everything and inform you about your rights. If you have a case, they’ll start building your claim right away.
In other words, your lawyer will start protecting your right to seek justice and compensation from the moment they accept your nursing home abuse case. They will ensure that neither the care facility nor their insurers take advantage of you.
2. Protect the Victim’s Rights
Nursing homes are responsible for the actions and behavior of their staff, and need to pay damages when their employees fail to perform their duties. They can also be held accountable if their policies and procedures are found to be lacking in any manner.
Victims in nursing home abuse cases can file a civil lawsuit against their care facilities. In case, the abuse led to death, the surviving family members of the deceased senior may file a civil lawsuit, making it a wrongful death claim.
Many a time, victims or their families settle the claim out of court if the nursing home accepts responsibility for their wrongdoing, and offers a fair settlement. However, if they deny your claim or demand for compensation, you may take them to court, where a jury can decide on the fitting amount of compensation. Your nursing home abuse attorney will help you every step of the way.
3. Gather Evidence
If your senior displays any signs of nursing home abuse, document them as comprehensively as you can. This means taking pictures of physical injuries and videos of abnormal behavior, such as constant fearfulness or anxiety.
Your nursing home abuse lawyer will build on the proof you’ve collected by gathering more evidence. They’ll want to meet your senior loved one and speak with them about their experiences at the nursing home. They might also interview any eyewitness to your abuse or suffering. Their statements can further strengthen your claim.
Apart of this, your lawyer can speak to ex-employees of the care facility, who may be able to reveal a great deal about the nursing home’s quality of care. Other residents may be able to give their statements too. Your nursing home abuse attorney will take into account all these relevant factors to prove the care facility’s negligence towards your elder.
4. Review Records
Your lawyer will also examine your senior’s medical and treatment records. Based on these, they’ll try to decipher if there were any overlooks, falsified documents, medical errors/malpractice, or failure to provide proper care. That’s because any of these could have contributed to the abuse. The records may also reveal hidden signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.
If you suspect financial abuse, your nursing home abuse attorney will review your elder’s bank statements and other financial documents. All these steps will help your lawyer gain insights on whether or not the nursing home violated specific regulations or were negligent in providing care. Any violation discovered will further help support your case.
5. File Your Complaint
Family members of victims can report nursing home abuse to various organizations to bring their plight to light. This might also include contacting the Utah law enforcement authorities. Only an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help you by making sure that you file each complaint to the right agency.
6. Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Nursing home abuse cases usually begin with a demand letter that’s sent to the care facility. Broadly speaking, the demand letter mentions the type of abuse/neglect that has occurred, the damages suffered by the victim, and a reasonable compensation amount.
Thereafter, you might receive an offer from the nursing home’s insurance agency. More often than not, these offers are way too low. This is where your nursing home abuse attorney can be of tremendous help.
An experienced lawyer will anticipate the nursing home’s tactics and be prepared to negotiate. They’ll communicate with the insurers and put up a fight to obtain a fair settlement. If they make you a reasonable offer, you may be able to receive the money without filing a lawsuit.
7. Prepare for Trial
If the nursing home offers you a fair settlement, you may accept it and settle the matter out of court. If that doesn’t happen, your nursing home abuse attorney can help you sue them.
Your lawyer will assist you with filing a lawsuit and beginning the court process. They’ll prepare the case for trial, even if doesn’t come to that, while continuing to negotiate settlements before the court date.
Skilled lawyers for nursing home abuse will ensure that your claim is filed within the applicable statute of limitations, which differs by state. In Utah, the statute for nursing home abuse cases is four years. If your case involves medical malpractice or wrongful death, the timeframe may be reduced to two years. Missing the deadline can mean the loss of the ability to file a lawsuit.
If you believe that your elder loved one is being subjected to abuse and neglect or that their safety has been compromised in any manner by their nursing home facility, you should immediately consult a lawyer to explore your legal options. They’ll offer you the legal guidance and support that you’ll need throughout the claims process, while establishing the nursing home’s wrongdoings against your loved one.
At Carlson Injury Law, our nursing home abuse attorney works tirelessly to hold wrongdoers accountable and recover the rightful compensation for clients. We’ll help you report the abuse and fight to ensure that your elder loved one’s rights are protected as soon as possible. Call us at (801) 845-4577 or fill out our online form to get in touch.