legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Abuse, neglect, and mistreatment have long been an issue in American nursing homes, including Atlanta facilities. Hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents suffer injuries, trauma, and financial losses from the actions of the people that are supposed to be caring for them.
In Atlanta, at least 47% of nursing homes have been cited for poor care. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) newspaper reported 690 abuse and neglect cases across Georgia from 2015 to 2019. However, journalists also note that nursing home abuse cases often go unreported.
It’s no secret that abuse and neglect in nursing homes are widespread. If you or a loved one are a victim of this kind of injustice, the affiliate Georgia personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Call our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or fill out this contact form for a free consultation. Let our skilled lawyers help recover the compensation that your family deserves.What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a single or repeated intentional act that causes a resident physical, psychological, or financial harm. It can result from negligence, carelessness, or malicious intent from employees, visitors, or other residents.Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act or lack of action that causes harm to an older person aged 60 and above. The mistreatment of an older person is considered elder abuse if it occurs in a relationship with an expectation of trust.
Since over 90% of nursing home residents are senior citizens, elder abuse is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes.State and Federal Regulations
National and local governments enact laws to protect vulnerable populations from abuse in nursing facilities. These laws include:The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act
The federal government created the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act to define what services nursing homes must provide residents and establish standards for these services. This law aims to protect the legal rights of nursing home patients, including:
- Freedom from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment
- Freedom from physical restraints
- Accommodation of physical, psychological, medical, and social needs
- Participation in resident and family groups
- Be treated with dignity
- Exercise self-determination
- Communicate freely
- Participate in one’s care plan review and be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or status change in the facility
- Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
The Georgia Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act (Sections 30-5-1 through 30-5-11 of the Georgia Code) aims “to provide protective services for abused, neglected, or exploited disabled adults and elder persons.”
The law also requires nursing home employees to report abuse or neglect. Failure to do so can result in a misdemeanor charge.Types and Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse takes many forms and manifests in different signs. Family members need to learn about these abuse types and signs to recognize abuse or neglect before it worsens.
The following are the most common types and signs of nursing home abuse:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse involves intentionally using force against a resident, causing physical injury, pain, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions like slapping, striking, kicking, burning, and pinching.
Restraining a patient without medical reasons may also be considered physical abuse and is prohibited by state and federal laws.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Broken bones
- Unexplained physical injuries (e.g., cuts, burns, bruises)
- Broken eyeglasses
- Restraint or grip marks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychological abuse, also known as mental or emotional abuse, involves verbal and non-verbal acts that cause psychological harm to a resident. These acts may include verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, gaslighting, and geographical or social isolation.
Signs of Mental or Emotional Abuse
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Depression or anxiety
- Being extremely withdrawn
- Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
- Bouts of anger
- Difficulty sleeping
Sexual assault or abuse is any unwanted sexual contact with another person. It can take many forms, including verbal sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sodomy, coerced nudity, and rape. Sexual contact with a person that cannot give valid consent is also regarded as sexual abuse.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Reluctance or refusal to be touched
- Unexplained bruises around the breasts or genitals
- Genital infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Refusal to be alone with specific individuals
Financial abuse, also known as financial exploitation, is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s personal property, including money and assets. Financial abuse occurs in different ways, such as forging checks, stealing bank account information, and using an elderly person’s credit cards without authorization.
Signs of Financial Exploitation
- Sudden bank account changes
- Unexplained transactions on credit cards
- Missing belongings
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- Inconsistencies in financial records of the facility
- Sudden changes in financial habits
Neglect occurs when nursing home staff fails to provide a patient’s basic needs, including food, medication, clothing, proper hygiene, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a patient.
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene
- Pressure ulcers
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unexplained weight loss
- Untreated medical conditions
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inadequate clothing for the weather
- Poor mental health
- Lack of medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids)
- Medication errors
Elder abuse may manifest in signs that mimic those of dementia. An abused elderly person may become withdrawn, experience mood changes, and engage in self-neglect, indicators similar to early-stage dementia.
Consult a specialist if you are unsure whether your family member is experiencing elder abuse or exhibiting signs of dementia.Abuse and Neglect vs. Mental Illness
The signs of nursing home neglect and abuse may be similar to mental illness, such as irritability, personality changes, frequent crying, and self-neglect. Again, it is highly advisable to consult a mental health specialist if your loved one starts to show changes in behavior or personality.Who is Most at Risk?
Some nursing home residents are more vulnerable to abuse than others, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients with special needs
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Women and children
- Bedridden patients
Nursing home negligence can lead to many negative consequences for victims and their families, including:
- Serious injury
- Untreated conditions (e.g., painful sores)
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Property and monetary losses
- Loss of quality of life
- Reduced family or social ties
- Increased risk of illnesses
- Wrongful death
The consequences of abuse are more dangerous for the elderly. For instance, an older person is likelier to suffer more severe effects from less serious injuries, such as bed sores. Pressure sores may easily lead to cellulitis, bone infections, and even sepsis for someone older.Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse often occurs due to multiple factors, including:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Vulnerable patients like the disabled and elderly require a particular type of care. If employees do not have the skills and experience to provide residents with the care they need, it increases the risk of abuse and neglect.
- Understaffing: Some nursing homes cut costs by hiring fewer employees, increasing the risk of high-stress environments that can lead to abuse and neglect.
- Poor Management: A subpar management team may lead to a lack of accountability and supervision among employees. These insufficiencies can lead to abusive or neglectful behavior. Sometimes, poor management can also create disgruntled employees who may take out their frustrations on residents.
- Lack of Background Checks: Some nursing facilities fail to screen applicants for criminal records. Employees with a history of violence or abuse may repeat their harmful actions on a vulnerable nursing home resident.
- Underreporting: Georgia law requires all nursing facility employees to report cases of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, many nursing home employees do not report abuse or neglect cases, leaving many to remain unresolved.
Call the Atlanta Police Department to report known or suspected abuse of a disabled or elderly person. If you think your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 and have them removed from the premises immediately.
You can also file a report to the following agencies:
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Department of Human Services - Division of Aging Services
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)
Atlanta nursing homes found guilty of negligence may lose their certifications or licenses. Similarly, perpetrators of abuse may face criminal charges if the police find substantial evidence against them.Filing an Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities owe patients quality care and freedom from mistreatment. Failure to exercise this reasonable care can lead to serious injuries and, in worst cases, wrongful death.
Did you or a loved one receive inadequate care or abuse in a nursing facility? If so, you could seek justice by filing a personal injury claim.The Role of Your Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
A skilled lawyer can help you hold the negligent care facility accountable for their actions or inaction. They can help you:
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Handle all claim-related paperwork
- Negotiate settlement values
- File your case in civil court, if necessary
Your nursing home abuse claim may hold any of the following parties responsible:
- Nursing home staff
- Health care providers (e.g., doctors)
- Other residents
Regardless of who is directly at fault for the abuse, the nursing home owner or administrator may also be legally responsible for failing to protect patients from avoidable harm.Evidence
Your attorney will help you gather evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Financial records, in case of financial exploitation (e.g., unauthorized transactions on bank accounts)
- Witness accounts from employees, visitors, or other residents
- Expert testimony
An autopsy may also be necessary if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit.Damages
Victims and their family members could recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for your loved one’s medical bills, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your family member becomes disabled from the abuse or neglect. These damages may include loss of quality of life and medical equipment.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries from physical or emotional abuse, including physical pain, mental trauma, emotional distress, etc.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for your loved one’s reduced quality of life after the abuse or neglect, which may manifest in loss of enjoyment in daily activities, decreased independence, reduced societal ties, etc.
- Lost Assets: Payment for the replacement of lost assets in the case of financial abuse.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one dies due to abuse or neglect. These damages typically include funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, grief, etc.
- Punitive Damages: Monetary awards on top of compensatory damages, aiming to punish negligent nursing homes for their actions and deter harmful behavior in the future.
When you file a claim against a care facility, its insurance company may offer you a settlement outright. You could accept the initial offer. However, insurance adjusters do not always offer fair payments to victims. You can no longer file for additional damages if you take the offer. That said, do not accept anything without consulting a lawyer first.
Your lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. But your lawyer could file a civil lawsuit if the facility refuses to make a better offer (or denies responsibility for the abuse or neglect).
During trial, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties before determining a verdict. The chances of winning the lawsuit will depend on several factors, such as the amount of evidence, the extent of the damages, and the other party’s defense.The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
The statute of limitations in Georgia is two years from the date of the underlying incident. Unless there are exceptional circumstances in your case, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years.
The court will refuse to hear your case if you miss the deadline.Find a Skilled Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer For Your Case
Any kind of mistreatment in care facilities is unacceptable and often illegal, especially involving a disabled or elderly person. Unfortunately, many nursing home abuse cases go unresolved.
Don't stay quiet if you or a loved one are a victim of nursing home abuse. Let the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC seek justice for you and your family.
Our affiliate Atlanta, GA attorneys have won countless nursing home abuse claims all over the country. Whether your loved one is a victim of physical, financial, sexual, emotional abuse, or neglect, we can help you recover the compensation that you deserve. You don’t have to pay for our services unless we win because we accept all cases on contingency.
Call our Fulton County law offices at (800) 926-7565 or use an online contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain protected under an attorney-client relationship.Resources: