legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is a big problem in the United States. It can lead to life-threatening situations and even death if not taken care of properly, but there are many ways you as an individual may be able to help prevent these sorts of problems from happening in the first place.
Contacting a Florida Nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible allows them to receive expert assistance on how best you can handle cases like yours.
Our law firm has represented many victims of nursing home abuse, and we can help you protect your loved one's rights. Call our Fort Myers nursing home abuse lawyers today at (888) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation.What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
The National Council on Aging defined nursing home abuse as the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish. Abuse towards the vulnerable and elderly residents has become increasingly common in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities, leading to an ever-growing concern.
Besides physical harm, abuse in nursing homes also constitutes financial, sexual, and psychological mistreatment. Regardless of age, medical condition, or background, any dependant or senior individual can be a victim of nursing home abuse.
Many signs may point to nursing home abuse. Thus, knowing what to look for if you have a loved one in a nursing home is essential.Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If your loved one is in a nursing home, you must be vigilant about signs of abuse. Since most cases of abuse are unreported, it's up to the families to be on the lookout for any changes in their loved one's behavior or appearance that could indicate abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Cuts, Bruises, and Broken Bones: These abrasions can occur to the physical autonomy of your loved one. Usually due to drops, getting pinched in equipment, or physical fighting such as slapping or controlling their limbs.
- Sudden Weight Loss: If the nursing home staff is not feeding your loved ones properly, they may lose a significant amount of weight. If your loved one’s health deteriorates and if they have difficulty eating food, a drop in weight can be a sign. Also, a decrease in weight can be a sign of immense stress.
- Malnutrition: Not receiving adequate food or the right kind of food can slowly kill someone you love. Signs of malnutrition are feeling tired or weaker, rapid hair loss, wounds not healing, and a way to be sure is to conduct a blood test.
- Dehydration: The average individual should be drinking 1.7 liters a day to keep themselves from dehydrating. Signs of not drinking enough water can be feeling thirsty, dizzy, confused, or tired. Physical symptoms would include dry mouth, lips, and eyes, not frequently peeing throughout the day, and/or having very dark urine.
- Bedsores: Bedsores are caused by not being moved often enough and can be a sign of neglect. Bedsores have four stages of severity and can lead to infections, amputations, or death. Since the staff is responsible for the elderly's daily living needs, they can be held accountable for not moving them enough.
- Dirty Clothes or Living Conditions: Poor hygiene, like soiled bedding, dirty clothes, or a generally unclean environment, are all signs of neglect. These crimes can be intentional; the staff may not like the resident or simply not want to improve their living conditions. Unintentional neglect can be from being understaffed and not getting around to completing daily cleaning tasks. Neither are justifiable under the court of law.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
- Changes in Behavior: If your loved one is suddenly withdrawn, depressed, or agitated, it is common in nursing home residents that have been emotionally abused.
- Isolation: A nursing home usually has daily events or even just visiting friends within the facility to engage residents throughout their stay. If staff is keeping the resident in some sort of solitary confinement to their room against their will, starting rumors so others will not visit the resident, or anything that would make the individual isolated from friends or family is a form of emotional abuse. There are even incidents where the resident will isolate themselves because they suffer from other forms of abuse.
- Sleep Problems: Stress, fear, confusion, and uncertainty can lead to sleep deprivation. If the residents often defend themselves against physical abuse or are depressed, they can sleep too much. Chemical restraints can also lead to sleeping difficulties depending on the prescription used to control them.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Bruising or Scratches: Discoloring of the skin, with a glossy and swollen appearance, are bruises. They may not be visible at first and then change color over time from the crime if you find bruising around the wrists, ankles, or inner thigh. They complain about soreness when the individual is not very active. Be sure to photograph the contusion and document the healing progress and how frequently they occur.
- STDs: Logically, the only way for an individual to contract a sexually transmitted disease is through physical contact with an infected person. Regular blood testing on your loved ones to monitor your health can help detect if they have been sexually abused depending on their lifestyle. Getting a loved one to discuss these matters within the facility can be difficult, be sure to provide a safe space when asking questions regarding their status and thank them for being honest.
- Torn or Bloodied Undergarments: When an article of clothing is destroyed, the facility must conduct a report so that there is a record and can replace the item. Therefore if you find torn or bloody undergarments, it is essential to document the find before reporting it to authorities in case it “disappears” or is misplaced under the administration's watch.
- Changes in Sexual or Emotional Behavior: You may also notice changes in sexual behavior, like acting out sexually or being unusually subdued. The individual can be withdrawn, dissociate, or have bursts of anger.
As soon as you know about sexual abuse or have found evidence, report it to the police or authorities immediately so that it can be investigated to the fullest extent and transfer your loved one to a safe location. This action alone can stop the abuse in its tracts so that it will not happen to anyone else at the facility.
Signs of Financial Abuse
- Fraudulent Signatures: When caregivers work closely with their victims and gain their trust, they then gain access to essential documents like checks or financial power of attorney forms. Then the criminal will forge their signature, usually without them knowing until it’s too late.
- Unexplained Withdrawals: Caregivers will often purchase items for their residents or have access to their accounts through their billing information from the monthly rent. However, the caregivers must log any purchases and have proof of receipt of payment. Extra purchases and extra withdrawals on your loved one dime can still occur; document any changes that you notice, and keep track of repeated offenses.
- Unpaid Bills: When a loved one is on a fixed income due to their disability or age, many bills can be on auto-pay or are just paid at the beginning of the month like clockwork. If you get returns of checks bouncing or accounts with a remaining balance, this could signify that your family member is a victim of financial abuse.
- Missing items: when valuables or family heirlooms go missing, it is essential to try and recover concrete evidence of when you had it in your possession last. Be sure to describe the item and include the numeric value of the item in the report to the police or authorities. Theft is a crime in the state of NM and is punishable in a court of law.
Make sure to record any evidence, make copies for yourself, and include all the details possible when making a report. If you can have others corroborate the events from that day, encourage them to provide a statement. Most importantly, have a knowledgeable attorney represent you to that you can get financial compensation for any losses incurred.Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home residents may be subjected to different types of abuse while in an assisted living facility's trusted and expensive care. Here are the common forms of abuse in Fort Myers nursing homes:
Physical abuse can be intentional or not on purpose, from staff, another resident, a one-time event, or something that happens daily.
Types of physical abuse are:
- Throwing objects to cause harm
- Cutting or scratching the face, eyes, skin
- Pulling hair
- Holding a patient so tightly causes bruising or torn ligaments
- Physically restraining an individual
- Chemical restraints such as prescriptions or injections
- Forced constraints such as binding someone to a wheelchair or bed
Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse in which an offender subjects a nursing home resident to unwanted sexual contact or forces the resident to engage in a sexual act.
Types of sexual abuse are:
- Unwanted touching
- Forced rape or oral sex
- Repeated offenses of any of the above or just a one-time event
Psychological elder abuse is the most common form of abuse in nursing homes. Emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, intimidation, humiliation, and ridicule. It also encompasses threats of punishment, confinement, or abandonment.
Types of psychological abuse are:
- Racial Slurs
- Isolating the resident
- Hurtful insults
Staff, other residents, or visitors may financially exploit residents in nursing homes.
Types of Financial abuse:
- Stealing money or property
- Using a resident's money or property without permission
- Coercing a resident to sign a document
- Fraudulently obtaining power of attorney
Nursing home neglect is also a type of abuse since it results in the deprivation of basic needs, such as food, water, safe shelter, clothing, hygiene, and medical care.
Types of Neglect are:
- The failure to provide adequate supervision of residents in their care
- Residents sustaining injuries from falls due to a lack of training
- Wandering off the premises
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Ignoring a call button
- A facility not staffing enough caregivers to attend to all residents' basic needs
- Not monitoring visitors on the premises.
- Becoming complacent in their tasks to maintain state health standards
- Exhaustion from overworking can cause the caregiver to be too tired to complete all the usual tasks
- Forgetting to complete daily logs or leaving important information required and outlined in a resident’s health plan
- Ignoring to take the resident to an appointment or to see other people because they are too tired.
- Sleeping while on the clock
- Medication error
Elder abuse can happen to anyone, but there are some groups of people who may be more likely to be targeted. Here are some risk factors that make specific individuals more vulnerable to abuse at the hands of a staff member or fellow resident:
Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease
Cognitive decline can make it difficult for an individual to understand what is happening to them or to communicate their experiences. Thus, it makes them more likely to be victimized.
Nursing home residents who don't have frequent visitors may be more likely to be abused. They may not have anyone to tell about the abuse; therefore, the abuse continues, and abusers may think they can get away with it.
History of Abuse
People with a history of abuse are more likely to be victimized again. They are reluctant to report abuse because no one will believe them or the abuse will worsen.Causes of Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse
There can be many causes of nursing home abuse. Some of them include the following.
When there are not enough staff members working at a nursing home, the quality of care can suffer. In addition, it can lead to residents being neglected or even abused.
In addition, excessive workloads can lead to employees feeling stressed and overworked. Thus, they may take their frustration out on residents.
If nursing home staff members are not trained, certified, and pass a background check, it can lead to accidents, improper care, medical malpractice, or even wrongful death. It can cause them to make mistakes that could harm residents by dropping them or getting them trapped in hoist machinery.
The staff should be trained annually to meet professional standards of care. All equipment needs to have regular inspections and documentation that the machinery passed. Every facility will have documentation of these basic standards of care at any time since they may be audited by a health inspection randomly.
A knowledgeable attorney can help you obtain the evidence needed to retrieve any monetary losses that are possible to gain back and a complete and accurate report to the authorities.
A nursing home with low-grade amenities can put residents at risk for injury or even death. For example, residents could fall and hurt themselves if there are trip hazards or uneven floors. They can get stuck in the bathroom with a broken toilet seat and have to be rescued.
Or, if the nursing home does not have enough beds, residents could be forced to share bedrooms with other residents or sleep on the floor. These unsafe living conditions could lead to falls, physical fights, and other issues.
Some nursing homes do not have a proper ventilation system, which could put residents at risk for respiratory illnesses and the spread of disease.
Lack of Supervision
All nursing homes should have supervisors to implement the established standards of care. If there's no supervision, the staff could neglect or abuse residents. Although there are health standards and regulations, some employees are not adequately trained and do not know the implication of their crimes, and others see a flaw in the system and monetize off of it. They leave your loved ones in an environment where abuse and neglect thrive.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can have a devastating effect on residents and their families. If you suspect your loved one is abused at a nursing home, you should explore your legal options as per state law.Resources for Victims of Elder Abuse
Victims of abuse while residing or visiting assisted living facilities can use government and non-governmental resources to understand their options and get assistance. Here are some resources for nursing home residents:
Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative
The Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative supports elder abuse victims, assists law enforcement and prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting elder abuse cases, and educates the public about the prevalence and consequences of elder abuse.
US Government Accountability Office (GAO)
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) is responsible for auditing and evaluating the programs and activities of the federal government.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is a resource center that provides the latest information on elder abuse and neglect. NCEA is a program of the Administration on Aging, the Older Americans Act, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The NCEA website provides information on elder abuse prevention, research, training and education, and resources for professionals and the public.
National Center on Law & Elder Rights
The National Center on Law & Elder Rights is a national resource center dedicated to improving the quality of legal representation for low-income older adults. It provides training, technical assistance, and materials to support advocates serving older adults. The Center also engages in policy advocacy to promote the rights of low-income seniors.How Can Nursing Home Residents Report Abuse?
If you or a loved one is experiencing Fort Myers nursing home abuse, your first resort should be to consult the authorities. The nursing home administrators are responsible for their patient's well-being and should be notified immediately if there is any indication of something wrong. However, many nursing home residents are reluctant to come forward with reports of abuse for fear of retaliation.
There are a few different ways that nursing home residents can report abuse without fear of retribution. One option is to contact the Elder Abuse hotline. The hotline is staffed by trained professionals who can help you navigate the process of filing a complaint. Another additional resource to report a severe problem is to contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
The department has a dedicated team of investigators who will look into your allegations and take appropriate action against the Fort Myers nursing home or the responsible staff member.
If the nursing home negligence has resulted in criminal behavior, ranging from sexual assault to as severe as wrongful death, you should contact the police. Give them all the relevant information about the incident.
If you believe that your loved one is being mistreated in a Fort Myers nursing home, contact our team of experienced attorneys. We will provide them with aggressive legal representation according to Florida law so they can seek justice for their client.Why Do You Need a Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
If you or a loved one has been a victim of abuse in a Fort Myers nursing home, you should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. Nursing home abuse lawyers in Fort Myers can do everything from help you file a police report to filing a civil lawsuit against the nursing home.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury is an injury to the body, mind or emotions. When this happens, the victim has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the injury due to their egregious conduct. A personal injury lawyer will help you gather evidence and build a case to present to the court.
Nursing home abuse lawyers also help their clients obtain the compensation they deserve. It can include money for medical care, pain, suffering, and monetary damages, to even getting the facility to pay fines or shut down entirely.
Abuse can result in broken bones, pressure ulcers, or infections. Thus, treatment incurs medical expenses like hospitalization, surgeries, and medication. An experienced lawyer will help you recover costs for physical and mental health issues resulting from abuse and nursing home negligence.
Besides medical expenses, you can also receive compensation for:
- Pain and Suffering: Physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
- Loss of Consortium: It is the loss of a spouse's companionship, love, and support of a spouse due to injuries caused by nursing home abuse.
In some cases, residents may be entitled to punitive damages too. These are damages meant to punish the nursing home and act as a deterrent for future misconduct. Our nursing home abuse attorneys will ensure you get the maximum compensation and punitive damages.
Understand Legal Documents and Jargon
Understanding legal jargon can be complicated, especially when it comes to deciphering what all of the different terms mean. However, nursing home abuse attorneys can understand the law and terms for you and explain the legal options available and what you may be entitled to receive.
Some standard terms that you may hear when discussing nursing home abuse cases include:
- The burden of Proof: To win a nursing home abuse case, you must prove that the facility or staff was negligent in caring for your loved one. This burden will require solid evidence, witness statements, and an investigation report that includes their non-partisan findings.
- Statute of Limitations: There is a limited amount of time in which you can file a nursing home abuse claim. It is different for each crime, so it is vital to act immediately and call us today.
When you get your free case review from our attorneys, they will explain all these terms, helping you make an informed decision.Hire a Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Attorney From Our Law Firm
Family members of abused nursing home residents should consult our affiliate law firm, Nursing Home Law Center LLC, as soon as possible to ensure they file a lawsuit against the negligent facility in the state's designated statute of limitations. Serving clients in Cape Coral, Southwest Florida, Fort Myers Beach, Lehigh Acres, and all regions of Fort Myers, our lawyers can help residents and their family members receive justice.
Since our law firm has served the community for decades, we have the experience and resources to handle even the most complex cases. All confidential or sensitive information you share during the case review will remain private per our attorney-client relationship. We don't charge any attorney fees unless we win the case for you.
Call us at (888) 926-7565 for a free case evaluation at our law firm to ensure that the negligent nursing home is held liable for its actions.