legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Germantown Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Abuse has been a problem in nursing homes for as long as institutional care has existed. Hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents across the US suffer from abuse and neglect yearly, sustaining severe injuries, becoming disabled, and even dying in their supposed safe havens.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is also a public health issue in Germantown. At Nursing Home Law Center LLC, our Germantown lawyers are dedicated to defending the legal rights of abuse victims in nursing facilities and helping them seek justice.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse in a Germantown nursing home? If so, our affiliate Maryland personal injury attorneys can help you take legal action against the negligent facility.
Call our Germantown Maryland nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team 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 intentional acts of nursing home workers, visitors, or other residents.Elder Abuse
The law defines elder or elderly 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). It is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes, considering over 90% of residents are seniors.The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
State and federal laws help protect the legal rights of nursing home patients. These laws include:Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987
The federal government established the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 to help improve the quality of care in nursing homes.
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 law also allows electronic monitoring devices in patients’ rooms (Vera’s Law) with certain restrictions. This law enables families to install cameras in loved ones’ rooms to prevent them from being abused or neglected.Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Knowing the signs of abuse is crucial if you have a loved one in a nursing facility. Abuse in nursing homes can take many forms, including:Physical Abuse
This abuse involves intentional acts of violence against a resident, causing injury, pain, or impairment. 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)
- Broken eyeglasses
- Restraint or grip marks on wrists or ankles
- 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
- Difficulty sleeping
Sexual assault or 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
Some residents are more susceptible to abuse and neglect due to certain conditions. These high-risk individuals include:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients with additional care needs
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Bedridden patients
- Patients in understaffed nursing homes
Nursing home abuse victims may suffer the following consequences:
- Severe injuries
- 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
- Untimely death
Nursing home neglect and abuse can result in significant 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
Experts believe that residents in nursing homes with the following issues are more likely to experience abuse and neglect:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Nursing employees that lack proper training, education, and experience may be less capable of caring for disabled and elderly residents. As a result, these vulnerable individuals suffer from the lack of proper care and may even be at risk of medical malpractice.
- Understaffing: Nursing homes with chronic staffing shortages may experience reduced care standards, deprioritization of critical medical processes, and high-stress environments. These issues put residents’ health and well-being at risk, especially if the nursing home fails to correct the staffing issue.
- Poor Management: Nursing homes with substandard management teams put residents in harm’s way by creating toxic environments, lack of accountability, and inadequate communication between employees, among other problems.
- Underreporting: The federal government requires nursing homes to report incidences of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of cases are reported to the authorities, leaving many unresolved. As a result, some negligent nursing homes continue to operate despite violations of state and federal regulations.
- Lack of Background Checks: Background checks are necessary to ensure a safe environment for residents and employees in nursing homes. Unfortunately, some nursing homes skip this vital step, potentially allowing employees with histories of abuse or violence to work directly with vulnerable patients.
Report known or suspected abuse to the Germantown Police. Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger. If you need to remove your loved one from the premises, ask the police or emergency services for assistance.
You can also report nursing home negligence to the following agencies:
- Adult Protective Services
- Maryland Department of Aging
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- Office of Attorney General in Maryland
- Maryland Office of Health Care Quality
State or local bodies may suspend or revoke the licenses, certifications, and government funding of nursing homes that violate state and federal regulations. Nursing homes with widespread abuse or neglect issues may also face permanent closure.
In addition, local law enforcement may file criminal charges against individuals found guilty of abusing or neglecting a nursing home resident. Depending on its extent, this crime can result in a misdemeanor or felony. Punishments for abusers range from fines up to $10,000 to imprisonment or both.Filing a Germantown Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residential care institutions are legally required to protect nursing home patients from abuse, neglect, and other forms of harm. Nursing homes must employ reasonable strategies to ensure that residents are safe, such as conducting employee background checks and elder abuse awareness training.
Did your loved one’s nursing facility fail to meet this legal obligation, causing harm to your loved one? Could the injury caused to your loved one be avoided with reasonable measures from the nursing home? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, you could hold the negligent nursing home accountable by filing a personal injury case.The Role of Your Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Legal action against nursing home negligence is not easy without proper representation. Hiring a lawyer is important as they can help you:
- 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 lawsuit in civil court, if necessary
Possible perpetrators of abuse in nursing homes may include:
- Nursing staff members
- Other residents
Regardless of who is directly responsible for the abuse or neglect, the negligent nursing facility may also be liable for the victim’s damages for failing to protect them from harm.Evidence
After you identify the liable parties in your case, your lawyer 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 documents, in cases of financial exploitation
- Witness accounts from nursing staff members, visitors, or other patients
- Expert testimony
Filing a legal claim against a negligent nursing facility could help you recover financial compensation for:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your loved one’s medical care, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your family member becomes disabled from their injuries. 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 trauma, 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 family member 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 Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer will estimate the potential value of your settlement based on your losses and other applicable factors. This estimation should help you obtain a value no less than what you deserve.Settlement
After you file a claim against the negligent nursing facility, its insurance company may offer you a settlement outright. You could accept the offer immediately, but this will take away your opportunity to sue for additional damages.
Consult a lawyer before accepting payment from the facility’s insurance company. Better yet, allow your lawyer to communicate with the other party on your behalf. Your lawyer could also negotiate for better compensation and maximize the value of your settlement.Other Legal Options
Most nursing home abuse cases settle out of court, but this does not always happen. A civil lawsuit could be in order if negotiations are unsuccessful or the nursing facility denies responsibility for the abuse.
Your Montgomery County attorney will help you file a lawsuit in civil court should the need arise. If your case goes to court, a judge or jury will hear evidence from you and the other party to determine a verdict. This process is called litigation, which can take a few weeks to months.
Your lawyer can also help you pursue other legal options if you want to avoid litigation, such as arbitration or mediation. These alternative dispute resolution methods are less expensive, formal, and time-consuming than a court trial, making them more ideal in most cases.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 lawsuit as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline and losing critical evidence. The court will likely dismiss your case or refuse to hear it altogether if you file it outside the statute of limitations.Hire a Skilled Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Germantown, MD
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must respect the legal rights of all residents, as mandated by law. Failing to prevent abuse or neglect from happening is violating one of those rights and is therefore subject to legal repercussions.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse or neglect in a Germantown nursing facility? If so, you have the legal right to seek financial compensation for the injustices your family has experienced.
The nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC will serve as your legal advocates during this challenging process. Our skilled attorneys have years of experience handling abuse, neglect, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases involving residents in Montgomery County nursing homes.
Call our Montgomery County law office at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All sensitive or confidential information you disclose with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our services are free unless we win your case.Resources: