legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Gulfport Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Disabled and elderly individuals need a particular type of care that not all families can provide. For many Gulfport families, admitting their disabled and elderly loved ones to a nursing home is the best way to ensure they receive the care they need.
Unfortunately, not all nursing facility residents receive proper care and attention. Some even suffer from outright abuse and neglect from their supposed caregivers, resulting in severe injuries, disability, and--in worst cases--even death.
Despite strict laws governing nursing care, many facilities fail to comply with state and federal regulations. At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our skilled lawyers prosecute these negligent facilities and help victims seek justice for their unnecessary pain and suffering.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a Gulfport nursing home? If so, our affiliate Mississippi personal injury attorneys can serve as your legal representation in your battle for fair compensation.
Call our Gulfport nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you disclose 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 a resident physical, psychological, or financial damage. It can result from negligence, carelessness, or intentional acts of nursing staff, visitors, or other residents.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).The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
State and federal laws help preserve the legal rights of nursing home patients. 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 patient 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 Mississippi Department of Health defines the minimum standards for personal care homes. Among these standards are:
- The duty to report fires, natural disasters, and avoidable deaths or injuries
- Fire safety regulations
- Employee criminal history record checks
- Medication administration and assistance regulations
Maltreatment in nursing facilities can take many forms, including:Physical Abuse
Physical 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 involves verbal and non-verbal acts that cause psychological distress 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 patient, 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 exploitation is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s resources, 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. Neglect may be intentional (active) or unintentional (passive) but is unacceptable either way.
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
- Unexplained falls
The signs of maltreatment against an elderly patient may mirror the indicators of dementia, making proper screening measures necessary. Consult a specialist if you are unsure whether your elderly family member is being mistreated or showing signs of a degenerative disease.
Similarly, people with mental illnesses may exhibit signs similar to abuse or neglect. Again, consulting a specialist is necessary if your loved one shows indicators of mistreatment or mental illness, such as mood changes, difficulty sleeping, out-of-character behaviors, and self-neglect.Who Is Most at Risk?
Although anyone can become a victim of maltreatment in a nursing home, 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
- Bedridden patients
These individuals are more likely to suffer maltreatment due to increased physical or mental vulnerability. That said, choose a high-quality nursing facility if your loved one belongs to one or more of these groups.
While maltreatment occurs even in “good” facilities, choosing a high-quality and well-equipped institution is a great preventive measure.Effects of Nursing Home Maltreatment
Victims may suffer the following consequences due to maltreatment:
- Severe injuries
- Untreated medical conditions
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Loss of personal resources
- Monetary losses
- Reduced family or social ties
- Increased risk of illnesses
- Wrongful death
Additionally, families of victims may suffer:
- Loss of income due to missing work to care for their loved ones
- Mental or emotional distress, guilt
- Monetary losses due to medical bills, disability expenses, legal fees, etc.
- Reduced relationships with loved ones
Physical injuries are the most common consequences of maltreatment. An abused or neglected resident may suffer the following injuries:
- Bed sores
- Head trauma
- Broken bones, especially hip fractures
- Bruises and cuts
- Soft tissue injuries (e.g., sprains, strains)
- Spinal cord injuries
These injuries have far more severe effects on elderly patients and residents that are already physically compromised. That said, have your loved one checked out by a medical professional as soon as you spot unexplained injuries on their person.
Something seemingly minor like an infection could be life-threatening if your loved one is elderly or immuno-compromised.Causes of Maltreatment in Nursing Facilities
Experts believe that residents in nursing facilities with the following issues are more likely to be abused or neglected:
- 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 facilities with chronic staffing shortages may experience reduced care standards, deprioritization of critical medical processes, and high-stress environments, putting residents’ health and well-being at risk. Unfortunately, most nursing facilities in the US often lack adequate employees for all patients.
- Poor Management: Nursing facilities with substandard management teams put residents in harm’s way by creating high-stress environments, lack of accountability, and inadequate communication between employees, among other problems.
- Underreporting: The law requires nursing facilities to report incidences of mistreatment. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of cases are reported to the authorities, leaving many unresolved. Consequently, many negligent facilities continue to operate despite violations.
- Lack of Background Checks: Background checks are necessary to ensure a safe environment for residents and employees in nursing facilities. Unfortunately, some facilities 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 Gulfport Police. Call 911 if you think your loved one or another patient is in immediate danger or needs emergency medical assistance.
Remove your loved one from the premises until you determine the next best course of action. Call the police for assistance if needed.
You can also file a formal complaint to the following Mississippi agencies:
- Adult Protective Services
- Department of Human Services
- Division of Aging and Adult Services
- Office of Attorney General, Vulnerable Adult Unit
Negligent nursing facilities could lose their licenses, certifications, and government funding if they violate state or federal regulations. Governing bodies may even order the permanent closure of facilities with widespread maltreatment issues.
Additionally, perpetrators may face criminal charges from local police, which can either be a misdemeanor or felony. Punishments for abusers range from fines up to $10,000 to imprisonment or both, depending on the extent of the crime.
After removing your loved one from the potentially dangerous situation and alerting the authorities, hire a lawyer to explore your legal options.Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Nursing facilities are required by law to shield residents from maltreatment. Failure to do so can result in injuries, disability, trauma, and even death, which a facility could avoid with proper compliance with state and federal regulations.
Did you or a loved one suffer from injuries, trauma, or other damages due to the negligence of a nursing facility? If so, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your losses.
By filing a personal injury claim, you can hold a negligent nursing facility accountable for its actions (or inaction). In doing so, you could recover financial compensation for your losses, both economic and non-economic.The Role of Your Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Legal representation is crucial for personal injury cases. Your Gulfport nursing home abuse lawyer will 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
Your attorney will discuss these responsibilities further during your initial consultation.Liable Parties
Your lawyer will help you identify who is responsible for mistreating your loved one and hold them accountable. Possible perpetrators of nursing home abuse may include:
- Other residents
Regardless of who is directly responsible for mistreating your loved one, the negligent nursing facility may also be held accountable for your family’s damages for failing to protect your loved one from maltreatment.Evidence
Your attorney will help you gather substantial evidence to support your claim. Relevant documents may include:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Financial records, in case of financial exploitation
- Nursing facility records
- Witness accounts from nursing staff members, visitors, or other patients
- Expert testimony
- An autopsy report, in case of wrongful death
Filing a personal injury case against a negligent nursing facility could help you recover the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Payment for your loved one’s medical care, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Payment for disability-related damages if your loved one becomes disabled from their injuries. These damages may include loss of quality of life, disability services, and medical equipment.
- Pain and Suffering: Payment for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, mental trauma, emotional distress, etc.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Payment for your loved one’s reduced quality of life, which may manifest in loss of enjoyment in daily activities, reduced independence, and decreased societal ties.
- Wrongful Death: Payment for death-related damages if your loved one dies as a result of the maltreatment. 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 attorney will estimate the potential value of your settlement based on the losses you have incurred and other applicable factors. This estimation should help you avoid accepting a settlement value less than what you or your loved one deserves.Settlement
After you file a case against the negligent nursing facility, its insurance company may offer you a settlement. At this point, you can accept the payment or have your attorney negotiate for a better value.
Accepting the payment will make you unable to sue for additional damages, so tread carefully. Consult your attorney before signing any financial document from the insurance company. Better yet, allow your attorney to handle all communications on your behalf.
Here are other things to keep in mind when dealing with the facility’s insurance company:
- Do not sign over any documents or give a recorded statement without consulting your attorney first
- Alert your lawyer of inconspicuous practices, e.g., the company using excessive pressure tactics to get you to accept the settlement offer
- Do not believe the adjuster’s value of your case
- Do not make unsupported demands
In some cases, insurance companies refuse to make a better offer. Some nursing facilities deny responsibility for an injured victim’s suffering to avoid paying a settlement. If this happens to your case, your attorney could help you file a civil lawsuit.
During litigation, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties and determine a verdict. Your lawyer will serve as your legal representation throughout the process.
Many families avoid litigation because they want to resolve their case as quickly and inexpensively as possible, but it is sometimes necessary to obtain justice.
Your attorney could also help you pursue other dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration and mediation, to avoid hefty legal fees and lengthy trials.The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Mississippi is three years (Mississippi Code § 15-1-49). Usually, the clock starts running on the date of the underlying incident or its discovery.
Have your attorney file a lawsuit in civil court as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline and losing critical evidence. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the court may refuse to hear your case or dismiss it entirely if you file it outside the statute of limitations.
Your Mississippi lawyer can help you file for an extension should exceptions apply to your case, e.g., if the victim is a minor at the time of the incident or the victim discovered the injuries later.How to Keep Your Loved One Safe in a Nursing Facility
Simple measures can help prevent your loved one from being abused or neglected in their nursing facility, such as:
- Visiting your loved one frequently
- Ensuring your loved one has a way to contact family members in emergencies
- Encouraging your loved one to speak up if they are being mistreated
- Listening to your loved one’s complaints about the facility, employees, or other nursing home residents
- Learning the difference between signs of mistreatment and typical signs of aging, mental illness, or dementia
- Observing how employees treat patients; watching out for potentially abusive or neglectful behavior
- Getting to know your loved one’s primary caregivers
- Looking for less obvious signs of mistreatment in your loved one, such as pressure ulcers and unexplained falls
Take immediate action if you suspect your loved one is being mistreated in their nursing facility. Avoid giving caregivers the benefit of the doubt to prevent further injuries or trauma from happening to your loved one. Once you have reason to believe your loved one is a victim of maltreatment, contact your lawyer immediately.Hire a Gulfport Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Resolve Your Case
When you admit your loved one to a nursing facility, you expect them to be treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, not all residents are safe in nursing facilities, and many suffer injuries, become disabled, and even die at the hands of caregivers.
Were you or a loved one abused or neglected in a nursing facility? If so, the nursing home abuse attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you seek the justice you deserve. Our network of extremely professional lawyers serves clients throughout Mississippi, assisting countless victims to recover the maximum amount for their damages.
Call our law office at (800) 926-7565 oruse the contact form for an obligation-free consultation with one of our lawyers. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your attorney will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our experienced lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our services are free unless we win your case.
Don’t let negligent nursing facilities get away with abusing your loved one. Hire an attorney today and start taking legal action against responsible parties.Resources: