legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Baltimore Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Baltimore is the most populous independent city in the United States, housing over half a million people. Fourteen percent of Baltimore’s massive population comprises senior citizens, while approximately twelve percent are people with a disability under age 65.
Many of these vulnerable individuals reside in nursing homes where facilities, equipment, and professional care are available to help keep them safe and healthy. In ideal situations, nursing homes help disabled and elderly individuals achieve the highest quality of life despite their conditions. They also give families peace of mind knowing that their loved one is in safe hands.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Thousands of nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect every year. As the elderly population grows, more and more people will need nursing home care. But without proper action against nursing home neglect and abuse, we can expect the number of victims to rise.
If your loved one was abused in a nursing home, don’t stay silent. The affiliate Maryland personal injury lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help your family hold negligent nursing homes accountable for their actions. With the assistance of our law firm associates, you could recover financial compensation for your family’s economic and non-economic damages.
Contact our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation at our law firm.What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a single or repeated act that causes physical, psychological, or financial harm to a resident. It can result from negligence, carelessness, or intentional acts of a staff member, visitor, or fellow resident.Elder Abuse
The law defines elder abuse as a single or repeated act that causes or increases the risk of harm to a patient aged 65 or above in a relationship with an expectation of trust (e.g., a caregiver-patient relationship).Prevalence of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Elder abuse is common in both community and institutional settings. The World Health Organization (WHO) found 2 in 3 nursing facility staff admitted to committing abuse in 2017 alone, and rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, there is not enough data to show the overall prevalence of abuse based on reports of older adults and their proxies. Similarly, no relevant studies show the abuse rates of younger disabled residents.
Due to underreporting, the actual rate of abuse in nursing facilities remains unknown. Nevertheless, it is a massive public health problem that needs addressing.The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
State and federal laws help protect the legal rights of nursing home residents. These laws include:Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act defines what services nursing homes and other residential care facilities must provide residents and establishes standards for these services. This law aims to protect the legal rights of 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 nursing home 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 rights of Maryland nursing home patients mirror federal regulations, as outlined in Section 19-343 in the Maryland Code.
The Maryland Code also enforces regulations for the following:
- Safe patient lifting
- Quality assurance
- Annual assessment of workplace safety issues
- Sanctions for non-compliance
Maryland also allows electronic monitoring devices in nursing facility patients’ rooms (Vera’s Law) with certain restrictions. This law enables families to install cameras in loved ones’ rooms to protect them from abuse and neglect.Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Knowing the types and indicators of abuse can help determine if your family member is suffering from maltreatment before it’s too late.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, nursing home abuse can take many forms and manifest in various signs, including:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse involves intentional acts of violence against a resident, causing bodily harm. It includes but is not limited to actions such as slapping, striking, kicking, burning, pinching, and restraining a resident without medical reasons.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Broken bones
- Unexplained injuries (e.g., cuts, burns, bruises)
- Physical marks of restraint on wrists or ankles
- Broken eyeglasses
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychological abuse, also known as mental or emotional abuse, involves verbal and non-verbal acts that cause residents psychological harm and emotional distress. 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
- Difficulty sleeping
Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact with a resident, including those who cannot give valid consent (e.g., a mentally disabled person). It can take many forms, including verbal sexual harassment, unwanted touching, explicit photography, sodomy, coerced nudity, and rape.
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 is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s personal property, including money and assets. It can take many forms, including manipulating bank accounts, stealing personal belongings, and unauthorized transactions on credit cards.
Signs of Financial Exploitation
- Sudden bank account changes
- Unexplained transactions on debit or credit cards
- Missing belongings
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- Inconsistencies in financial records of the facility
- Sudden changes in financial habits
Neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide a resident’s basic needs, including food, medication, clothing, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a patient. Whether intentional or unintentional, neglect is considered abuse.
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene
- Bed sores
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Extreme weight loss
- Untreated medical conditions (e.g., recurring urinary tract infections)
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inadequate clothing for the weather
- Lack of medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids)
- Medication errors
Any nursing home resident can be a victim of institutional abuse or neglect. However, some individuals are more vulnerable than others, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients that need additional nursing home care
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Women and children
- Bedridden patients
Nursing home abuse affects every victim differently. However, most people experience the following consequences:
- Severe injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Loss of personal property
- Monetary losses
- Loss of quality of life
- Reduced family or social ties
- Increased risk of illnesses
- Wrongful death
Many nursing home abuse cases involve injuries, such as:
- Bed sores
- Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones, especially hip fractures
- Bruises and cuts
- Soft tissue injuries (e.g., sprains, strains)
- Spinal cord injuries
Nursing home abuse can occur in any facility, regardless of quality. However, it is more likely to occur in facilities with the following problems:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Nursing home employees that lack proper qualifications, experience, and training may be less capable of caring for disabled and elderly residents. This incompetence can lead to an increased risk of abuse and neglect.
- Understaffing: Staffing shortages result in some care standards being ignored, processes being deprioritized, and work environments becoming highly stressful. Consequently, employees may be more likely to abuse residents due to high-stress settings or neglect them unwillingly.
- Poor Management: Substandard management practices often lead to a lack of accountability, proper communication, and supervision, increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.
- Underreporting: Although it is required by law, many nursing homes do not report incidences of abuse or neglect. As a result, negligent facilities continue operating despite violating nursing home regulations.
Report suspected abuse to the Baltimore Police as soon as possible. The police will investigate your claim and remove your loved one from the premises, if necessary.
Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger.
You can also report abuse to:
- Adult Protective Services
- Maryland Department of Aging
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- Office of Attorney General in Maryland
- Maryland Department of Health - Office of Health Care Quality
Maryland nursing homes and assisted living facilities could lose certifications, licenses, and Medicaid or Medicare funding if found guilty of non-compliance with state or federal regulations.
Additionally, local law enforcement may file criminal charges against individuals (e.g., a staff member or a resident) found guilty of abusing or neglecting a nursing home resident. Depending on its extent, this crime can result in a misdemeanor or felony. Punishments range from fines up to $10,000 to imprisonment or both.Filing a Baltimore Nursing Home Abuse Claim
According to the law, a nursing home facility must enforce reasonable standards to protect residents from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. If your loved one’s nursing home violated this legal duty, you could hold them accountable for their negligence with the help of a Baltimore nursing home abuse attorney.
Filing a personal injury claim is often the easiest and most effective way to seek justice for your family’s suffering. This type of claim is based on negligence, which, in this case, will hold your loved one’s nursing home liable for their actions (or inaction).The Role of Your Baltimore Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Your nursing home neglect attorney will serve as your legal counsel and representative throughout the process. Their responsibilities include helping you:
- Understand the legal process
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- File your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Handle all claim-related paperwork
- Negotiate settlement values
- File your lawsuit in civil court, if necessary
Possible perpetrators of nursing home abuse include:
- Nursing home staff members
- Other residents
These parties may face criminal charges for their misdeeds, depending on the extent of the crime. However, your personal injury claim will be aimed at the nursing home that is ultimately at fault for failing to protect your loved one from harm.Evidence
Proving the liability of responsible parties requires substantial evidence. Your Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer will help you gather relevant documents to build your personal injury claim, including:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Witness accounts from family members, employees, visitors, or other patients
- Expert testimony
With a personal injury claim, your family could recover financial compensation for the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your loved one’s medical treatment, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your family member becomes disabled. These damages may include loss of quality of life, disability services, and medical equipment.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, etc.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for your loved one’s reduced quality of life, which may manifest in loss of enjoyment in daily activities, reduced independence, and reduced societal ties.
- 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, and grief.
- 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.
Your nursing home abuse attorney will estimate the settlement value you deserve based on these damages and other applicable factors. Having an estimate will help ensure you obtain nothing less than fair compensation.Settlement
After you file a personal injury claim against the negligent nursing home, the facility’s insurance company may come forward with an initial settlement offer. If this happens, you can either accept the offer or negotiate for a better one. Either way, you need the help of a Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer.
You can no longer sue the facility for additional damages once you accept the offer, so be careful. Consult a nursing home abuse attorney if you think the initial offer is insufficient to compensate for all your losses.Other Legal Options
Most nursing home abuse cases settle out of court to avoid the expenses and tediousness of trial. But suppose you cannot negotiate a better settlement (or the nursing home denies responsibility for the injuries caused to your loved one). In that case, your Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer could file a civil lawsuit.
When your case goes to civil court, a judge or jury will hear both sides of the story and determine a verdict. This process can take a few weeks to months, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Your Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer can also help you pursue other legal options, such as arbitration or mediation, which are less expensive and time-consuming than litigation.The Statute of Limitations in Maryland
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Maryland is three years (Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-101). Usually, the clock starts running on the date of the underlying incident or its discovery.
File a personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline and losing critical evidence. Maryland County courts do not grant extensions unless exceptional circumstances apply to your case, e.g., if the victim is a minor at the time of the incident.
Your Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer will help file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations and request an extension should exceptions apply to your case.How to Avoid Nursing Home Abuse
The nursing home industry is responsible for preventing these abuse and neglect cases. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is an ever-growing problem that has yet to receive concrete action from regulatory bodies.
Hence, families must do their part in protecting their loved ones from abuse or neglect while in a nursing home by:
- Visiting loved ones frequently.
- Ensuring that their loved ones’ Baltimore nursing home does not have existing sanctions for abuse or neglect
- Learning the difference between the signs of nursing home abuse vs. dementia or mental illness
- Checking for less apparent indicators of abuse, such as bed sores hidden by clothes and untaken medication
- Listening to their loved ones’ verbal complaints and taking them seriously
- Observing how nursing home staff members treat patients
- Asking other patients about their experiences
- Investigating suspicious falls, which are the leading cause of unexplained injuries in nursing homes
- Installing an electronic monitoring device in your loved one’s room (with the consent of the facility and your loved one’s roommate, if they have one) to catch and deter abuse or neglect
- Getting to know primary caregivers, doctors, nurses, and other medical providers
Most importantly, family members must take immediate action as soon as they suspect nursing home abuse. Giving nursing homes the benefit of the doubt can lead to even dire consequences, and most nursing home residents cannot advocate for themselves.
Report known or suspected abuse to the authorities as soon as possible, even if you don’t have concrete evidence yet. Then, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to determine the next best course of action.Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Baltimore Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse in a Baltimore County nursing home or assisted care facility? At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our skilled attorneys can help you recover fair compensation from the parties responsible.
Our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers serve as legal advocates for countless victims across Maryland. We help ensure that negligent nursing homes are held accountable for their actions and that victims obtain the justice they deserve for unnecessary pain and suffering.
Contact our Maryland office at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form for a free case review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our nursing home abuse law firm will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our Baltimore nursing home abuse attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our services are free unless we win your case.Resources: