legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
According to the Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney, over 40,000 cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are reported annually in Indiana. However, only 1 in 14 nursing home abuse cases is reported to authorities, meaning that the actual number is likely much higher.
Indianapolis is the most populous city in Indiana, home to almost 900,000 residents. Seniors account for 12.4% of the population (110,000 people), while people with disabilities under the age of 65 make up 10.4% (90,000).
Many of these disabled and elderly residents of Indianapolis live in nursing homes. Unfortunately, not all nursing home residents are safe from abuse and neglect in these facilities. Many receive inadequate care, while others suffer far worse from the malicious acts of caregivers, visitors, and even other residents.
Did you or a loved one suffer nursing home neglect or abuse? At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our affiliate Indiana personal injury attorneys can help you recover financial compensation for the injustices against you and your family.
Call our Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or fill out this contact form 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 term “nursing home abuse” also encompasses abuse, neglect, and mistreatment in assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, adult day care centers, and other residential care homes.Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act or lack of action that causes physical, psychological, or financial harm to a person aged 60 and above. It can occur in any relationship with an expectation of trust, such as in a caregiver relationship.
Since over 90% of nursing home patients are seniors, elder abuse is the most common type in nursing homes.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 national minimum standards and state regulations related to the licensure, operation, and reimbursement of nursing homes under the Medicaid program.Types and Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Disabled and elderly patients in nursing homes may experience abuse in many forms, including:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse involves deliberately using force against a resident, causing injury, pain, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions like slapping, striking, kicking, burning, pinching, and restraining without valid reasons.
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 Mental or Emotional 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 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 valuables, 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 patient’s basic needs, including food, medication, clothing, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a patient.
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
Nursing home abuse can happen to anyone. However, some nursing home patients are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect 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
Nursing home neglect and abuse can lead to many severe and long-term consequences for victims and their family members, such as:
- 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
Nursing home negligence can lead to severe injuries, especially in patients who are already physically compromised. Common injuries related to 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
Elderly patients are more at risk of severe injuries and wrongful death from abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, seniors have a 300% higher risk of death if abused or neglected.Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home employees are responsible for the majority of abuse and neglect cases. A nursing home resident is more likely to lack proper care and suffer harm if the following problems are present in the facility:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Lack of proper qualifications, experience, and training may increase the risk of medical negligence and abusive or neglectful employee behavior.
- Understaffing: A nursing facility with insufficient employees is less likely to provide safe and reasonable care to all residents. Furthermore, understaffing prevents patients from receiving the minimum required hours of direct care daily, increasing the risk of neglect.
- Poor Management: A subpar management team can create a work culture with no accountability and improper behavior towards residents. Poor management can also lead to overworked, underpaid, and disgruntled employees who may focus their frustration on residents.
- Underreporting: Federal law requires nursing home employees to report a reasonable suspicion of a crime against a patient to the police or the Department of Health. Unfortunately, only a tiny portion of cases are reported to the authorities, leaving many to remain unresolved and allowing cultures of neglect and abuse to continue.
Report known or suspected nursing home abuse or neglect to the local police department. Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger. Remove your loved one from the potentially dangerous situation until the police investigate your report.
Nursing home abuse victims and their family members can also report Indiana nursing home abuse to:
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Department of Health (IDOH)
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)
- Indiana Attorney General
A nursing home or assisted living facility that fails to comply with state or federal regulations may lose its Medicaid or Medicare funding. Furthermore, the facility may face fines and lose its certifications and licenses.
Additionally, the local law enforcement entity may file criminal charges against perpetrators of abuse against residents. Depending on the crime's seriousness, the at-fault party may face either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
After filing a complaint to state and local authorities, call an Indianapolis nursing home attorney to discuss your legal options.Medical Malpractice vs. Nursing Home Abuse Cases
A nursing home negligence case is filed against a party in a caregiver relationship with the victim, e.g., a nursing home employee and a resident. On the other hand, medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to provide a patient with the standard duty of care.
Although these two cases are similar, you can only file a nursing home abuse case against medical professionals in a caregiver relationship with you or your loved one.Filing an Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other residential care facilities have a legal duty to protect residents from abuse and neglect. Failure to uphold this duty violates state and federal regulations, meaning you could file a legal claim or lawsuit against a negligent nursing home.
A skilled Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyer could help you seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim.The Role of Your Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Aside from exploring your legal options, your Indianapolis nursing home abuse attorney 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 case in civil court, if necessary
Multiple people may take part in nursing home abuse, including:
- Nursing home staff
- Fellow residents
Even if only a single employee or nursing home patient is directly responsible for abusing your loved one, the nursing facility may also be liable for failing to protect them from avoidable harm.Evidence
Obtaining fair compensation from at-fault parties requires substantial evidence. Your nursing home abuse lawyer will help you gather proof of nursing home negligence, such as:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records, including psychological evaluations
- Incident and police reports
- Witness accounts from employees, visitors, or other residents
- Expert testimony
The potential value of your settlement will depend on the extent of your losses, which may include:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for your loved one’s health care following the abuse or neglect, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your family member 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.
Your attorney will estimate the settlement value you deserve during your free case evaluation. Note that settlements vary from case to case, especially in multi-factorial issues like nursing home abuse.Settlement
After you or your family file a personal injury claim, the facility’s insurance company may offer you a settlement outright. However, the offer may be lower than what you deserve for your damages, so it is best to consult a lawyer before accepting it. Moreover, you cannot pursue additional damages if you take the initial offer.
When dealing with the responsible party’s insurance company, remember to:
- Avoid signing over any documents or giving recorded statements
- Look for signs of bad faith insurance practices (e.g., using excessive measures to pressure you to accept the settlement)
- Always consult your lawyer before communicating with the insurance company
Most personal injury cases settle out of court to avoid expensive legal fees and lengthy trials. But what if the nursing home refuses to pay the amount you deserve--or refuses to pay at all?
If this happens, you could pursue compensation for your damages by filing a civil lawsuit. Your personal injury case will go to trial, wherein a judge or jury will hear both sides of the story.
Your lawyer will serve as your legal representative during the trial. They may also help you explore other options to avoid going to court, such as mediation or arbitration, during your free case review.The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Indiana is two years (Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4). Usually, the “clock” starts on the date of the underlying incident or its discovery.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible is crucial. The court may refuse to hear your case if you miss the deadline. Even if you file your personal injury lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss your case.
Enlist the help of family members if you cannot handle a lawsuit alone. Your personal injury lawyer will also help you file your case on time to avoid its dismissal.Schedule a Free Case Review With an Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residential care homes are legally obligated to protect all patients from physical and emotional abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and other forms of injustice. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes meet their obligations, putting vulnerable individuals in harm’s way.
Take legal action if you or a loved one are a victim of nursing home negligence. The nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC will fight for your legal rights and help recover the compensation that your family deserves.
Call (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. All information you disclose during your free case review will remain confidential under an attorney-client relationship.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers handle all accepted nursing home neglect cases on a contingency basis, meaning our services are 100% free unless we recover financial compensation for your family.Resources: