legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Fort Wayne Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Admitting a disabled or elderly loved one to a nursing home is rarely an easy choice. However, many families do not have the capacity, equipment, or space to meet the particular needs of their vulnerable loved ones.
When you admit your loved one to a nursing home, you expect them to receive adequate care, supervision, and, most importantly--respect. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are safe environments for disabled and elderly individuals. Some vulnerable residents experience abuse, neglect, and mistreatment in nursing facilities, contrary to what the law requires.
Nursing home abuse is not only immoral--it is illegal. Take legal action immediately if you or a loved one suffered abuse in a nursing home.
The Indiana personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help your family hold the negligent nursing home accountable and recover financial compensation for your losses.
Contact our Fort Wayne nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation. All sensitive information you disclose with our legal team will remain confidential 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
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 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 state laws in Indiana match the federal regulations. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDOH) is responsible for enforcing the federal minimum standards and state regulations related to the licensure, operation, and reimbursement of nursing homes under the Medicaid program.Types and Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse takes many forms and manifests in various signs. The following are the most common types of abuse in nursing homes and how you can spot them:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse involves deliberately using force against a resident, causing injury, pain, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions such as slapping, striking, kicking, burning, pinching, and improperly restraining a resident.
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 to a resident. These acts may include verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, gaslighting, and geographical or social isolation.
Signs of Psychological 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 nursing home 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 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 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
- Unexplained 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
Abuse and neglect can occur in all medical facilities, even in high-quality ones. However, some individuals 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
An abused or neglected nursing home resident may suffer the following consequences:
- Severe bodily injury
- Untreated medical conditions
- 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
Common injuries resulting from nursing home abuse include:
- 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 trauma
These injuries may be significantly more severe and life-threatening if your loved one is elderly or physically disabled.Causes of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Nursing home staff members are responsible for most abuse and neglect cases. These injustices are more likely to occur if the facility has the following problems:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Caring for disabled and elderly individuals requires proper education, training, and experience. If staff members do not have these prerequisites, they may be unable to provide adequate nursing home care for vulnerable patients.
- Understaffing: Nursing staff shortages create high-stress environments and an imbalanced patient-to-caregiver ratio, increasing the risk of abuse, neglect, and even death.
- Poor Management: Without a good management team, nursing home employees may lack accountability and supervision, increasing the risk of abusive and neglectful behavior towards residents.
- Underreporting: Only 1 in 14 nursing home abuse cases are reported to the authorities, allowing negligent nursing homes to continue operating despite incidences of abuse and neglect.
Report known or suspected abuse to the Fort Wayne Police Department. Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger. Remove your loved one from the premises for the time being to be safe.
The following agencies also investigate cases of suspected abuse in Indiana:
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Department of Health (IDOH)
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)
- Indiana Attorney General
Negligent nursing homes may lose their government funding, licenses, and certifications if found guilty of non-compliance with state and federal regulations.
Moreover, individual perpetrators of abuse may face criminal charges, especially if the abuse is egregious. The punishment for nursing home abuse ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony, potentially resulting in fines or imprisonment.Medical Malpractice Claims vs. Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Nursing home abuse and medical malpractice cases are often confused with each other. However, the case depends on the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
A nursing home abuse case involves a caregiver relationship between the abuser and the victim. On the other hand, a medical malpractice case is filed against a negligent medical professional who does not have a caregiver relationship with the resident.
For instance, a nursing home abuse case is in order if the abuser is your loved one’s primary caregiver (or another staff member with a caregiver relationship with your loved one). If the abuser is your loved one’s doctor, their negligence can be considered medical malpractice.
You could file a nursing home abuse and medical malpractice claim simultaneously if your loved one’s abusers involve a caregiver and a medical professional in a non-caregiver role (e.g., a physician).Filing a Fort Wayne Nursing Home Abuse Claim
All nursing homes must enact proper health and safety standards to protect residents from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment. Failure to do so could translate to non-compliance with the law, potentially serving as grounds for a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse or neglect in a Fort Wayne nursing home? If so, you could seek damages by filing a personal injury claim with the help of a nursing home abuse attorney.The Role of Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Your Fort Wayne lawyer will play multiple roles in your nursing home neglect or abuse case. Their responsibilities include helping you:
- Investigate how and why the abuse happened to your family member
- 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
The first step to filing a claim is identifying who is responsible for the abuse or neglect of your loved one. Possible perpetrators may include:
- Nursing home staff members
- Other residents
Even if only a single staff member or resident is directly responsible for abusing your loved one, the nursing facility may be liable for failing to protect them from avoidable harm.Evidence
Personal injury claims require substantial evidence to prove the liability of at-fault parties. Your personal injury lawyer will help you collect evidence to support your claim, including:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Nursing home records
- Witness accounts from family members, employees, visitors, or other residents
- Expert testimony
The value of your personal injury settlement will largely depend on your damages. You could recover compensation for:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your loved one’s medical care following the abuse or neglect, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your loved one 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.
- 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.
Our Fort Wayne personal injury attorneys will estimate the value of your settlement during your free consultation. Note that the estimation is only the potential amount you could receive as other factors may come into play.Settlement
When you file a personal injury case against the negligent nursing home, the facility’s insurance company may come forward with an initial offer. You can accept the offer if you think it would be enough to compensate for your family’s losses. However, doing so will render you unable to sue for additional damages.
Do not accept the settlement offer before you talk to a personal injury lawyer. When the insurance company makes an offer, your attorney will negotiate a better value on your behalf.Litigation
Most personal injury cases settle out of court as many families want to avoid hefty legal fees and lengthy trials. However, an out-of-court settlement is not always possible.
Your lawyer could file a civil lawsuit if negotiations are unsuccessful or the facility denies liability for the abuse. If this happens, your personal injury case will go to court, where a judge or jury will evaluate evidence from both sides and decide a verdict.
Your Indiana nursing home abuse attorney will guide you through other legal options (e.g., arbitration, mediation) during your free case evaluation.The Statute of Limitations in Indiana
Personal injury victims have two years to file a lawsuit against a negligent Indiana nursing home, nursing home staff member, visitor, or nursing home resident (Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4). Usually, the “clock” starts on the date of the underlying incident or its discovery.
File your case immediately to avoid losing your chance to recover damages. 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, the court will not grant you an extension.
Our Indiana attorneys can help you file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations and guide you through the process if your case has particular circumstances.Hire a Fort Wayne Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Settle Your Case
Was your disabled or elderly loved one abused in a nursing home? Was the harm caused by a staff member, visitor, or another nursing home resident? Regardless of how the abuse happened or who is responsible for it, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering.
The Fort Wayne nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC have years of experience helping injury victims seek fair compensation for their losses. Our Indiana attorneys handle countless personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits resulting from the negligence of nursing homes. Through our work, our nursing home abuse lawyers also help raise awareness for the massive public health issue of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Call our Fort Wayne attorneys at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form for a free consultation. Our legal team will start working on your case immediately and provide guidance the entire time. All sensitive information you share with our attorneys will remain confidential under an attorney-client relationship.
The affiliate attorneys at our law firm handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our legal services are free unless we win.Resources: