Indiana Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys
Placing a loved one in an Indiana nursing home is often a last resort for a family that is 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 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 largely 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 sort of 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 home abuse and neglect remains unknown, experts believe it to be quite pervasive. NCEA and the Centers for Disease Control have concluded that due to challenges involved in gathering accurate data and deficiencies with state reporting, the vast majority of abuse nationwide likely goes unreported.
If you suspect your loved is one being abused or neglected in an Indiana nursing home, you should contact an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to get help in investigating your concerns today.The Prevalence of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Indiana
Sadly, Indiana nursing facilities are not an exception to the national trend. While federal and state laws exist to provide sanctions for nursing home abuse, some nursing home companies disregard the law in pursuit of profits and remain continually understaffed or staffed with low-paid, medically untrained caregivers.
Inspections conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that 174 (32 percent) of Indiana’s 552 nursing facilities had serious violations and deficiencies in care that put residents at risk for severe harm or even death. In addition, over 58 percent of nursing homes may 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 your loved one to become part of these statistics. If your family member was abused, neglected, mistreated, or died unexpectedly while residing at an Indiana nursing facility, we invite you to contact the Indiana nursing home 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 has enacted several laws designed to protect vulnerable elderly patients, which apply to all long-term care facilities in the United States.
- The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987 to establish basic standards of care for nursing home residents that promote their physical, psychological, and social well-being, as well as set forth fundamental rights. These include, among others, the right to be free from abuse, mistreatment and neglect; to be granted privacy; to be treated with dignity; and to make certain decisions.
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program created a network of advocates for nursing home residents in each state who investigate and attempt to resolve specific complaints involving abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a resident.
The Adult Protective Services Act is the governing state law intended to protect the welfare of nursing home residents. The law sets forth specific reporting procedures when a nursing home resident is believed to be an “endangered adult” who is the victim of exploitation, abuse, or neglect. The Act provides that nursing home workers who have reason to believe a resident is endangered have a legal duty to report it to state authorities.
Family members and staff workers may also call a toll-free hotline to report any observed or suspected incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Complaints of abuse should be made as soon as possible so an endangered adult can begin to receive protective services.
An Indiana nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help you protect the safety and rights of your loved one under the law. Speak with an Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer about possible courses of action today.Indiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Serve Victims of Bed Sores, Falls, and Medication Errors
Each residential nursing facility is responsible for providing every patient a professional level of care at all times, and when it deviates from that standard it can result in numerous health hazards. Due to the growing demand for nursing home care in the state, the number of qualified nurses and nurse’s aides available for hire is limited. Consequently, many homes are forced to hire unskilled and untrained caregivers, which often places the welfare of residents at risk. As a result, the patient’s quality of life is often diminished and their risk of developing serious health complications rises.
Following are some of the most common and preventable consequences of neglect in nursing homes in Indiana and nationwide, which can all lead to potentially life-threatening injury:
- Pressure sores. Physically disabled or immobile patients in nursing homes may be prone to developing pressure sores (also known as bed sores and pressure ulcers) in areas of the body where the patient’s own 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.
- Falls. Elderly patients are at risk of sustaining serious injuries from falling as a result of the aging process, which may 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.
- Medication errors. Patients are often placed on increasingly more medications as they age, raising the chances they will experience an adverse drug interaction or be injured by a medication error as a result of staff negligence or inattention. Their caregiver may administer medications at the wrong times or frequency, or their doctor may prescribe drugs without verifying their safety.
- Deliberate abuse. As much as we don’t 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 may 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 important to recognize the signs of abuse in order to protect those you hold dear.
When a patient develops a bed sore, it is usually because nursing staff were not attending to their needs. Given the fact that pressure sores are easily preventable with proper training, most cases can be traced to staff negligence.
A comprehensive discussion of Indiana bed sore settlements and verdicts is here.
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 serious falls in nursing homes. Immobile patients who rely on staff to help them move from place to place are most often dropped during routine transfers, a consequence of overworked or poorly trained staff not following safety protocol or using bad judgment.
Patients may sustain bone fractures, brain damage, and other internal injuries as a result of these falls. Our nursing home negligence lawyers have found that these injuries can impair the victims’ quality of life in their final years.
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. 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.
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 commonly complained of abuse in nursing homes was physical abuse by staff, followed by resident-on-resident incidents and psychological abuse.
If your loved one is physically or sexually assaulted by an employee or another resident with a history of abusive behavior, the facility can be held liable for their actions.
If your loved one has suffered from any of these forms of abuse or neglect, the Indiana 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 injury, or wrongful death if a patient dies from related complications. Contact our office for a free review of your case so we can advise you of your legal options.Pursuing an Indiana Wrongful Death Action
Preventable death from an infected bed sore, fall, or other product of negligence occurs when nursing home residents are not properly cared for. Many victims of nursing home neglect 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 surviving family members are entitled to 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.
If you believe your family member died as a result of the negligent acts of Indiana nursing home staff, contact the attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center today for a free case review.How to Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The signs of abuse and neglect are not always readily apparent. While the serious lapses in safety and care described above obviously put elders at risk for injury, there are more subtle indicators of maltreatment that family members of Indiana 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; depression, sadness, or 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 may be a red flag of underlying abuse or neglect. An Indiana nursing home negligence attorney can advise you of your options and how to follow up on your concerns.Call 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 an Indiana nursing home, you must take action. Our attorneys are available to help families and residents throughout the state in such locations as:
Call an Indiana 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 case for compensation.Statutes of Limitations and Damages Caps in Indiana Nursing Home Negligence Actions
A person with a cause of action against an Indiana nursing home has a limited period of time in which to bring a claim. For personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death, the action must be filed within 2 years from the date of the event. (IC §34-11-2-4; §34-18-7-1). ***Depending on the ownership status of the facility at issue, there may be a tort claim notice requirement of 180 days. Many times the ownership status of the facility is not readily apparent. Consequently, it is imperative that families consult with an attorney to advise of the status of the facility as soon as feasible.
- For medical malpractice, the total amount recovered for the injury or death of a patient against all providers may 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 may 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 personal legal representative of the deceased person, and neither punitive damages nor damages for individual grief may be granted. Damages for lost love and companionship are capped at $300,000 in situations where there is no surviving spouse, but do have surviving, nondependent children. (IC §34-23-1-2)
- 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