legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Many disabled and elderly individuals require constant care and attention to remain safe, healthy, and engaged in daily activities. Unfortunately, not all families can meet the needs of their disabled or elderly family members, leading them to decide to admit their loved ones to a nursing home.
When you admit your loved one to a nursing home, you expect them to receive proper care and be treated with dignity and respect. However, not all nursing homes meet these obligations, which are required by law.
Were you or a loved one abused or neglected in a Birmingham nursing home? Did these injustices lead to significant physical, mental, and financial harm to you and your family? At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our affiliate Alabama personal injury attorneys are ready to fight for your legal rights and ensure that negligent nursing homes are held accountable for their actions.
Call our Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your lawyer will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.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 malicious intent of nursing home workers, visitors, or other residents.The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
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 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
A 2018 study suggested that 2 in 3 (64%) nursing home employees admitted to elder abuse in the past year. However, there was a lack of studies to determine the overall prevalence based on self-reported data from older adults and their proxies. Hence, the actual rate of elder abuse in institutional settings like nursing homes remains unknown.
What is known is that nursing home abuse is a massive yet underreported public health issue across the United States.
According to a 2017 Office of Inspector General alert, only 1 in 5 nursing home abuse cases severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room were reported by facilities. It is safe to assume that less severe cases are even less likely to be reported to the authorities, even though it is required by law.Types and Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There are five different types of abuse that a nursing home resident--regardless of age--may experience, including:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is using force against a resident, causing injury, physical pain, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions like slapping, striking, kicking, burning, pinching, and restraining without valid reasons.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Broken bones
- Unexplained 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 (anguish, pain, or emotional distress). These acts may include verbal assault, 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 may include 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 funds, property, or assets. It can occur in many forms, such as manipulating bank accounts, stealing valuables, 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 nursing home staff fails to provide a patient’s basic needs, including food, medication, clothing, social activities, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a patient. Nursing home neglect may be intentional (active) or unintentional (passive) but may be considered abuse either way.
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene
- Bed sores
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unexplained weight loss
- Untreated medical conditions
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inadequate clothing for the weather
- Lack of medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids)
- Medication errors
Nursing home negligence can affect almost anyone, regardless of age. However, some residents are more vulnerable than others, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients with additional care needs
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Women and children
- Bedridden patients
Nursing home abuse can have several physical, financial, and emotional effects on a disabled or elderly resident, such as:
- Serious injuries
- Untreated medical conditions
- Psychological trauma
- Monetary losses
- Loss of quality of life
- Reduced family or social ties
- Increased risk of illnesses
- Wrongful death
Many nursing home residents are physically compromised. Hence, physical abuse can lead to severe injuries, such as:
- Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones, especially hip fractures
- Bruises and cuts
- Soft tissue injuries (e.g., sprains, strains)
- Spinal cord trauma
- Internal bleeding
Many factors lead to abuse and neglect in nursing homes, including:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Without proper education and training, nursing home staff cannot perform all their duties to residents, increasing the risk of abuse and substandard care.
- Understaffing: Some nursing homes hire fewer employees to save money. However, a staff shortage leads to specific responsibilities getting dropped and standards of care falling. Staff members given more responsibilities than they can handle are less likely to care for all residents properly, leading to higher incidences of abuse and neglect.
- Poor Management: Poor work culture, unsafe operations, and toxic interpersonal relationships are results of substandard management. The leadership team's actions (or inaction) ultimately lead to the standards of care delivered to patients.
- Underreporting: Lack of consequences is one of the main reasons nursing home abuse continues to thrive. Due to massive underreporting of abuse and neglect cases, many nursing homes continue to operate despite medical neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation.
Report known or suspected abuse to Birmingham police as soon as possible. Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger.
You can also report a negligent nursing home to the following agencies in Alabama:
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Department of Public Health (ADPH)
- Department of Senior Services (ADSS)
- Office of Attorney General
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)
A Birmingham nursing home may lose its Medicaid or Medicare funding, licenses, and certifications if found guilty of non-compliance with state or federal nursing home regulations. Additionally, individual perpetrators of abuse could face criminal charges if the police find evidence of malicious intent against them.
After filing a complaint to proper authorities, contact a Birmingham nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your legal matter.Filing a Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Any nursing care facility that fails to respect residents' rights could face legal repercussions for its negligence. Filing a personal injury claim against a negligent nursing home could help you and your family recover fair compensation for your losses.The Role of Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Enlisting the legal services of a nursing home abuse attorney is the best way to ensure you recover fair compensation. In addition to guiding you through the legal process, your Birmingham nursing home abuse attorney can help you:
- Investigate all relevant information regarding your claim
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- File your claim within the statute of limitations
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Handle all claim-related paperwork
- Negotiate settlement values
- File your case in civil court, if necessary
Our lawyers perform other responsibilities aside from the ones mentioned above. You will find out more about these during your initial consultation.Liable Parties
One of the most critical steps in filing a personal injury claim is determining who is at fault for your loved one’s injuries. Perpetrators of nursing home abuse may include:
- Nursing home staff members
- Other residents
Nursing homes will also be liable if a resident is abused or neglected in their facility. Failure to protect residents from abuse or neglect may be considered non-compliance with state and federal regulations.Evidence
Pursuing justice against a negligent nursing facility requires substantial evidence. Your lawyer can help you gather the following forms of evidence to support your claim:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Witness accounts from employees, visitors, or other residents
- Expert testimony
One of the main factors affecting a case's valuation is the extent of the damages. A skilled nursing home abuse lawyer could help you recover financial compensation for the following economic and non-economic losses:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for your loved one’s health care, 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, including physical pain, mental anguish, emotional trauma, 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.
- 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.
Nursing home abuse lawyers must assess each case’s facts and circumstances as they apply to the law. Therefore, settlement values for nursing home abuse cases vary. During your free consultation, your nursing home abuse lawyer will estimate the compensation you deserve depending on your damages, the extent of the abuse, and other factors.Settlement
The facility’s insurance company may offer you a settlement after you file a personal injury claim. You can accept the offer if you think it will cover all your losses. However, receiving a fair initial offer from an insurance company is rare.
Consult an attorney before signing any document from the nursing facility’s insurance. Accepting the settlement offer will remove your opportunity to sue for additional damages.Litigation
Your nursing home abuse attorney can negotiate the settlement value on your behalf. If negotiations are successful, you could end up with a settlement nearer to the amount your loved one deserves.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Negotiations may fail, or the nursing home may refuse to take responsibility for the abuse of your beloved family member. Your lawyer could file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation if this happens.
During litigation, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties. The legal process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (your lawyer will walk you through the process if a civil lawsuit is necessary).
Other lawyers may suggest going through other legal options aside from litigation, such as mediation or arbitration. Ask your lawyer what you can do to avoid a trial during your free case evaluation.The Statute of Limitations
Alabama sets the statute of limitations for personal injury cases at two years (Code of Alabama section 6-2-38). Usually, the “clock” starts at the date of the underlying incident or its discovery.
If you miss the deadline, the court may refuse to hear your case, or the defendant may file a motion to dismiss it. Unless exceptional circumstances apply to your case, there is no extension for filing a lawsuit.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers can help you file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations to ensure you don’t miss your chance to recover compensation.How to Avoid Nursing Home Abuse
While nursing home abuse is a public health issue that requires government action, families can do their part in shielding their loved ones from it. If your loved one is going to or is already admitted to a nursing home, follow these safety precautions:
- See if the care facility has previous violations or sanctions (this data is usually available to the public)
- Visit and check in with your family member as frequently as possible
- Learn the difference between signs of nursing home neglect or abuse and typical signs of aging, dementia, or mental illness
- Give your loved one a means to contact the family in case of emergencies (e.g., a mobile phone)
- Check financial and medical records from the facility for inconsistencies
- Be vigilant about prescribed medications; watch for overdosing or underdosing
- Get to know primary caregivers; observe how they treat your loved one and other residents
- Listen to your loved ones when they talk about their negative experiences in the nursing home
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, take action immediately. Remove your loved one from the premises as soon as possible and file a complaint to local authorities. Even if you have no concrete evidence of abuse or neglect, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Once you have evidence of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.Schedule a Free Consultation With a Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
Nursing home abuse can lead to severe physical injuries, trauma, and even death. But regardless of the extent, any harm caused to a resident’s health and well-being is unacceptable.
Was your loved one abused or neglected in a Birmingham nursing home? If so, the nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC are ready to serve as your legal representation during this battle.
Our skilled personal injury lawyers are committed to obtaining justice for victims and forcing change in the nursing home industry. Our nursing home abuse attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency basis. Any legal services performed for your case are paid by our lawyers until we recover compensation for you and your loved ones.
Call our Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or use a contact form for a risk-free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our lawyers will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.Resources: