legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Indiana Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys
Placing someone you love in an Indiana nursing home is often the last resort for a family unable to provide round-the-clock care for an aging parent.
Entrusting your family member's well-being to a group of professionals requires a great deal of confidence in the medical and nursing staff who will be looking after their well-being, and most families hope that a nursing facility will provide them with a decent quality of life. They never expect to learn that their loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect after admittance to a nursing home.
As the U.S. population ages, poor treatment of residents in nursing facilities continues to be a mostly hidden problem in our society. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), more than three million Americans reside in nursing homes, with nearly a million more in some assisted living facility.
Nearly one in three of these homes fails to meet federal standards for safety and quality of care.
While the actual prevalence of nursing center abuse and neglect remains unknown, experts believe it to be quite pervasive. The NCEA and the Centers for Disease Control have concluded that most nursing home abuse cases nationwide likely go unreported due to challenges in gathering accurate data and force deficiencies.
An Indiana Elder Care Injury Attorney Can Help
Do you suspect that someone you love is being abused or neglected in an Indianapolis nursing home? If so, contact an experienced Indiana personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center to get help in investigating your concerns today.
Attorney Jeff Powless is licensed in the state and serves victims of nursing home negligence across the state. His main office is located at 9465 Counselors Row, Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46240.
Nursing Facility Abuse Injury FAQs
What Are the 5 Types of Elder Abuse?
The National Center on Elder Abuse identifies the different forms of harm occurring in nursing facilities that include:
- Physical abuse often involving physical force that causes bodily injury, impairment, or physical pain
- Sexual assault typically involves vulnerable adults leading to anal infection, genital bleeding, bilateral bruising of the inner thighs, or walking/sitting challenges. A sexual assault incident might involve rape, sodomy, inappropriate touching, sadistic sex acts, coerced sexual participation, sharing pornography, and sexual humiliation
- Negligence involving deprivation of supervision, assistance, food, fluids, a sanitary environment, and appropriate clothing. Negligence is also a failure of the staff to administer prescribed medications or give the wrong drug at the wrong dosage or at the wrong time
- Psychological abuse that might involve denigration, humiliation, shaming, disrespect, embarrassment, social isolation, or playing the blame game
- Financial exploitation where nursing staff, families, or other residents gain improper or illegal access to an elder's personal belongings, assets, credit cards, cash, or bank accounts
What Causes Nursing Home Abuse?
According to the National Institutes of Health, contributing factors at the nursing facility might involve nursing staff, families, and other residents knowingly, negligently, or intentionally causing the victim's injuries or death.
Abusive predators often select the most vulnerable adults to attack, like those with dementia, a disability, impairment, or weakening medical conditions. Victims are often placed in distress through verbal or emotional abuse and act out nervously, anxiously, or agitated.
The abuse is often the result of numerous physicians in the rehab facility that might have hired inexperienced workers or understaffing. One nurse or certified nursing assistant might be trying to provide care to thirty residents or more.
What Constitutes Neglect in a Nursing Home?
Families, friends, visitors, and other staff members often identify neglect in a nursing facility through apparent harm indicators. The nursing staff might be neglecting the victim by failing to meet the needs of the resident.
Some staffers might neglect the resident's basic hygiene needs or fail to help the resident with eating or mobility assistance. The resident might be living in deplorable conditions that violate their safety and security, creating an atmosphere ripe for developing sickness and infection.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse?
The state legislature passes bills outlining the statute of limitations or the restrictive amount of time any victim must file a lawsuit for damages. If the injured parties wait too long to file a claim, past the statute of limitations based on their case, they often lose the right to seek compensation ever.
Generally, the statute of limitations restricts the length of time to file a neglect or abuse lawsuit to two years after the harm occurred. However, specific circumstances can extend the time restriction based on the unique circumstances of the case.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Abuse and neglect in nursing centers can be horrific where the signs of mistreatment are apparent. The typical indicators of abuse might involve:
- Developing pressure sores (bedsores, pressure wounds, decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers)
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Incidents of elopement (wandering away) due to a lack of supervision
- Broken bones and fractures
- Fall-related injuries including traumatic brain injuries, broken hips, and spinal cord damage
- Agitation and emotional upset
- Isolation from others (psychosocial negligence)
- Death by asphyxiation
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Unexplained death
- Withdrawal behavior
- Physical or chemical restraint
- Sexual assault including rape, sodomy, and inappropriate touching
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Over-medication (sedation)
- Unexplained injuries including bruises, burns, welts, cuts, lacerations, and opened
- Unclean and unsanitary conditions
- Financially exploitation where nursing staff, families, and other residents have illegal access to the victim's belongings, bank accounts, cash, and credit cards
The Prevalence of Nursing Center Abuse and Neglect
Sadly, Indiana nursing facilities are not an exception to the national trend. While federal and state laws exist to provide sanctions for nursing facility abuse, some nursing home companies disregard the law to pursue profits and remain continually understaffed or staffed with low-paid, medically untrained nursing staff.
Inspections conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that 174 (thirty-two percent) of the state's 552 nursing facilities had serious violations and deficiencies in care that put residents at risk for severe harm or even death.
Also, over fifty-eight percent of nursing homes might have unsafe conditions that could pose serious accident risks for residents, issues like wet floors, broken equipment, improperly trained staff, lack of supervision, lack of safety devices, and insufficient equipment for reducing the risk of falls.
You do not want someone you love to become part of these statistics. Was a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, or sibling abused, neglected, mistreated, or die unexpectedly while residing at a nursing facility? If so, speak with the Indiana eldercare abuse and neglect attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center to discuss your claim for compensation during a free case evaluation.
Federal Laws Governing Nursing Home Care
The U.S. Congress enacted several laws designed to protect vulnerable elderly patients, which apply to all long-term care facilities in the United States.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, establishing essential nursing home patients' basic standards of care that promote their physical, psychological, and social well-being and set forth fundamental rights. These include, among others, the right to:
- Be free from abuse and neglect
- Be granted privacy
- Be treated with dignity and respect
- Be free to make personal decisions.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program created a network of advocates for nursing home patients in each state who investigate and attempt to resolve specific complaints involving abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a resident.
State Laws Designed To Protect Patients from Negligent Nursing Home Care
The Adult Protective Services Act is the governing state law intended to protect nursing home residents' welfare. The law sets forth specific reporting procedures when a nursing home resident is believed to be an "endangered adult" victim of exploitation, abuse, or neglect.
The Act allows nursing home workers who have reason to believe a resident is endangered to submit a report to state authorities.
Families and staff workers might also call a toll-free hotline to report any observed or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation incidents. Complaints of abuse should be made as soon as possible so that Adult Protective Services can protect the endangered victim.
An Indianapolis elder care abuse and neglect attorney can help you protect your loved one's safety and rights under the law. Speak with a nursing center abuse lawyer about possible courses of action today.
Indiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Serve Victims of Skin Breakdowns, Falls, and Medication Errors
Each residential nursing facility is responsible for always providing every patient a professional level of care, and when it deviates from that standard, it can result in numerous health hazards. Due to the growing demand for medical care in the state, the number of qualified nurses and nurses' aides available for hire is limited.
Consequently, many homes are forced to hire unskilled and untrained staff, which often places residents' welfare at risk. As a result, the patient's quality of life is often diminished, and their risk of developing severe health complications rises.
Following are some of the most common and preventable consequences of neglect in nursing homes nationwide, which can all lead to potentially life-threatening serious injury:
- Pressure sores. Physically disabled or immobile patients in nursing homes might be prone to developing pressure sores (also known as bed sores and pressure ulcers) in areas of the body where the patient's weight on a mattress or wheelchair goes unrelieved for an extended period.
If not treated promptly, these sores can rapidly progress to a painful open wound, predisposing the patient to bacteria that can infect vital organs. In some situations, the complications related to pressure sores may be fatal.
When a patient develops bedsores, it is usually because the nursing staff did not attend to their needs. Given that pressure sores are easily preventable with proper training, most personal injury cases can be traced to staff negligence.
A comprehensive discussion of Indiana bed sore settlements and verdicts is here.
- Falls. Elderly patients are at risk of sustaining severe injuries from falling because of the aging process, which might be aggravated by medical conditions affecting bone density, motor function, or balance.
Falls are the leading cause of death among patients over the age of 65. Residents of nursing homes are at greater risk for falls than are elderly persons living on their own.
- Nursing care facilities need to ensure the risk of falls is not compounded by negligence and disregard for safety. Lack of adequate supervision, environmental hazards such as wet floors, and failure to properly assist a patient getting in and out of a bed or wheelchair are common causes of severe falls in nursing homes. Immobile patients who rely on staff members to help them move from place to place are most often dropped during routine transfers due to overworked or poorly trained staff not following safety protocol or using poor judgment.
Patients might sustain bone fractures, brain damage, and other internal injuries resulting from these falls. Our nursing home negligence lawyers have found that these injuries can impair the victims' quality of life in their final years.
- Medication errors. Patients are often placed on increasingly more medications as they age, raising their chances of experiencing an adverse drug interaction or being injured by a medication error because of staff negligence or inattention. Their caregiver might administer medications at the wrong times or frequency, or their doctor might prescribe drugs without verifying their safety.
While the resulting injuries are usually not serious, some patients can suffer catastrophic harm simply because those responsible for their care failed to do their due diligence, leading to malnutrition, dehydration, and mistreatment. There should be a multi-layered system in place to prevent these errors.
Our nursing home injury lawyers examine the chain of responsibility to determine where things went wrong and which parties along the way failed to prevent the wrong medication or dose from being administered to the patient.
- Deliberate abuse. As much as we do not like to think about it, elderly nursing home residents are easy targets for all manner of abuse. They are dependent, vulnerable, and incapable of fighting back.
Their victimizers might be fellow residents, outside visitors, or even the very caregivers who are paid to look out for their welfare. Many victims remain silent out of shame or fear, so it is crucial to recognize the signs of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse to protect those you hold dear.
- According to a 2010 national study reported by NCEA, more than half of nursing home staff surveyed admitted to having inflicted physical violence, mental abuse, or neglect on patients, with neglect accounting for two-thirds of those incidents.
The most common complaint of abuse in nursing homes involved physical abuse by staff, followed by resident-on-resident trauma and psychological abuse issues. If your loved one is physically or sexually assaulted by an employee or another resident with a history of abusive behavior, the facility could be held liable for their actions.
The nursing home injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC are committed to protecting your family's legal rights and holding facilities accountable. We can help you recover damages for medical expenses or special care associated with the injury, pain caused by the serious injury, or wrongful death if a patient dies from related complications.
Contact our office for a free review of your case to advise you of your legal options.
Pursuing an Indianapolis Wrongful Death Action
Preventable death from infected pressure sores, unsupervised falls, or negligence occurs when the staff does not properly care for residents. Many nursing home neglect victims are vulnerable individuals who are unable to complain to anyone about the improper healthcare they are receiving.
In many cases, the patient suffers severe pain and discomfort before their demise.
No patient should ever die from a preventable injury. When negligence is involved, the family survivors must take legal action in a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible facility. A successful lawsuit often results in a monetary award at trial or settlement out of court.
Do you believe your parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or spouse died from the negligent acts of nursing home staff? Contact the attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center today for a free case review.
How to Recognize the Signs of Senior Home Abuse and Neglect
The signs of abuse and neglect are not always readily apparent. While the severe lapses in safety and care described above obviously put elders at risk for injury, there are more subtle maltreatment indicators that family members of nursing home residents should be on the lookout for, so they can promptly report issues and get legal help.
Some possible signs of neglect and abuse are:
- Unchanged or soiled bedding or clothing
- Spoiled or rotten food
- Unclean surroundings
- Bruises or scratches
- Sadness and anxiety
- Personality changes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Discomfort or silence in the presence of staff or other residents
If your loved one exhibits any of these signs, it might be a red flag of underlying abuse or neglect. An Indianapolis nursing home negligence attorney can advise you of your options and how to follow up on your concerns.
Call an Indiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Now to Ensure Your Loved One is Protected
If you believe your loved one is being harmed or neglected in a nursing home, you must act. Our attorneys are available to help families and residents throughout the state in such locations as:
Hire an Indiana Eldercare Abuse Attorney to Handle Your Compensation Claim
Call an Indianapolis nursing home negligence lawyer now to receive the assistance you need to file a claim on behalf of your loved one. Fill out and submit the form here to schedule an appointment.
The legal team at Nursing Home Law Center LLC will evaluate your claim against the nursing home to stop the negligence and begin the process of building a compensation case.
Contact our neglect and abuse injury attorneys at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Our abuse and neglect lawyers follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).
Statutes of Limitations and Damages Caps in Indiana Nursing Home Negligence Actions
A person with a cause of action against an Indiana nursing center has a limited period to bring a claim. For personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death, the action must be filed within two years from the event's date. (IC ยง34-11-2-4; ยง34-18-7-1). ***Depending on the facility's ownership status at issue, there might be a tort claim notice requirement of 180 days.
Many times, the ownership status of the facility is not readily apparent. Consequently, families must consult with an attorney to advise the facility's status as soon as feasible.
- For medical malpractice, the total amount recovered for a patient's injury or death against all providers might not exceed $1.65 million; as of July 1, 2019, that amount is increased to $1.8 million.
The total amount recoverable against a single healthcare provider is capped at $400,000, rising to $500,000 as of July 1, 2019.
- Punitive damages for negligence or medical malpractice might not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded or $50,000, whichever is greater. (IC 34-51-3-4)
- Wrongful death actions must be brought by the deceased person's personal legal representative, and neither punitive damages nor damages for individual grief might be granted.
Damages for lost love and companionship are capped at $300,000 in situations where there is no surviving spouse but do have any surviving, non-dependent children. (IC ยง34-23-1-2)
IN State Resources
- Adult Protective Services
- Department of Health, Long Term Care/Nursing Home Division
- Comprehensive Care Facility (Nursing Home) Licensing and Certification Program
- Family and Social Services Administration, Division of Aging