legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Nursing facilities owe a duty to their residents to treat them with dignity and respect. Most nursing home patients are there because they are physically or cognitively infirm and cannot care for themselves.
Accordingly, they are the most vulnerable members of society. Many long-term care facilities treat their residents with the level of respect and care that they deserve.
However, some skilled nursing facilities have staff members who actively mistreat the residents. Elder abuse is, unfortunately, something that must be dealt with throughout society. Not only can specific instances of abuse be considered criminal, but they might also be a legal cause of action for your family.A Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Can Help
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC can help your family if your loved one has experienced abusive care at a nursing facility. A legal team working on your behalf can provide immediate legal advice during a free case evaluation to ensure that your loved one receives the best health care required by Medicare and Medicaid regulations.
Our attorneys represent nursing home residents and surviving family members to ensure they receive maximum financial compensation for their damages, injuries, and wrongful death.Nursing Home Elderly Abuse Injuries FAQsWhat Are the 4 Types of Elder Abuse?
According to the American Psychological Association, nursing home senior abuse is a serious societal issue that often goes unreported. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) identifies the significant forms of abuse that include:
- Physical abuse involving physical force resulting in bodily injury, impairment, or pain
- Sexual assault involving an older adult's non-consensual sexual contact, harassment, and inappropriate sexual activities
- Emotional and mental abuse that could include non-verbal acts, distress, anguish, and pain
- Neglect involving a failure to follow the established standard of care or refusing assistance
- Abandonment where the nursing staff or facility employees deserted the elderly person
- Financial exploitation with the nursing staff, employees, visitors, friends, or family illegally or improperly accesses the victim's property, funds, or assets
Many civil lawsuits filed against the nursing staff or caregiving facility are based on the three most common complaints that include:
- Failing to provide the resident with all required services
- Failing to follow the resident's developed care plan seriously
- Improperly or illegally using physical and chemical restraints
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), nursing facility residents are more likely to suffer harm, injury, or wrongful death by the staff's neglectful actions. Next, patients are mistreated through psychological abuse, verbal mistreatment, physical assault, and financial exploitation.What Causes Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?
According to the National Institutes of Health, most elder abuse and neglect cases in nursing settings result from understaffing. Many registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants are overwhelmed in their duties and cannot provide needed care as required.
Many residents are abused or neglected through unintentional actions caused by:
- Chronic fatigue-related ongoing stress in the workplace
- The nurse's excessive daily responsibilities
- The medical team's excessive alcohol use or illicit drug abuse
- Psychological issues including depressive symptoms and bipolar disorder
- Limited financial resource-associated anxiety
According to the National Council on Aging, most abuse involving the elderly occurs by family members, spouses, and adult children. Senior citizens most vulnerable to abuse include those in social isolation due to Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
The early warning signs that an older adult was abused include:
- Physical assault revealed by pressure marks, bruises, burns, abrasions, or broken bones
- Emotional abuse displayed by an unexpected withdrawal from daily activities, depression, frequent arguments, tense or strained relationships, or sudden changes in the patient's alertness
- Neglect displayed by poor hygiene, unattended medical needs, bedsore development, and unexpected weight loss
- Verbal abuse involving threats, belittling, harassment, or using control and power over the patient
- Financial exploitation where the nursing staff, family, friends, and visitors have access to the victim's finances, property, and belongings
If you suspect that an elderly individual is being abused, mistreated, or in life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately to make a report. Additionally, you can contact the state's adult Protective Services.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) recommends calling (800) 677-1116 or use the Eldercare Locator online source for an online chat or to send an email.Defining Abuse
'Abuse' is a comprehensive classification that sweeps in many different types of mistreatment. One type of elderly abuse is sexual abuse (inappropriate sexual contact) of older adults in a long-term facility.
The other types of abuse involving home care residents include verbal assault, physical abuse, financial abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. While some staff members could only be having a bad day and might be verbally or physically rough with the resident, at a certain point, it crosses a line to where it can be thought of as abuse if it harms the patient's well-being.
Further, nursing home neglect is just one of the many types of elder abuse. Common warning signs of neglect and abuse include:
- Unsanitary hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lack of medical care
- Broken bones and fractures
- Bedsores (pressure sores)
Residents who develop pressure sores and infections from general neglect of care have also successfully brought lawsuits against offending facilities with a nursing home abuse lawyer's help.
Also, neglect does not have to be a result of the actions of the staff members. Other abusers, including other residents, might harm a resident. When that happens, the nursing facility might be liable because they failed to protect the elderly resident from harm.
Both physical and verbal abuse can be legally actionable. Verbal abuse that is egregiously shocking can be the basis for legal action, primarily if that abuse is intended to degrade or cause emotional harm to an older adult. Physical abuse that causes an injury could result in financial compensation for your family.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), tens of thousands of nursing home abuse cases are filed each year in the United States, where residents complain of financial exploitation, caregiver misconduct, medical malpractice, and nursing home staff negligence.Legal Obligations to Keep Patients Safe and Free from Abuse
Nursing facilities have many different obligations when it comes to instances where their residents might be abused. The requirements start at the hiring phas
A facility must run background checks of staff members to ensure that they have no prior incidents of abuse and that there are no felony convictions in general. Nursing centers and assisted-living facilities could face regulatory action from the state and federal governments if they fail to do so.
If a home does not give the proper level of attention to these background checks, it will be another factor in deciding to bring a legal claim for the actions of their employees.
Also, a facility must promptly investigate any allegation of abuse of elderly patients. The facility does not have the option of making their judgment about an allegation's plausibility without performing an investigation.
Investigators should search for the truth even if the resident has a history of making far-fetched allegations of abuse. There is a legal responsibility to immediately report every abuse allegation to the state right after being filed with no exceptions.Statistics on Abuse in a Long-Term Care Setting
If nursing abuse seems prevalent, it is because statistics show that a large percentage of senior citizens are subject to some mistreatment. A large majority of cases of elder abuse are not even reported to the authorities.
A study of 2,000 senior citizens in nursing facilities revealed that forty-four percent reported cases involved abuse victims. There is the possibility that some experienced abuse and did not even report it to the survey.
Also, nursing home abuse is something that is very much a part of public consciousness. The media reports of elder mistreatment seem horrifying and garner many headlines.
For example, a scandal at the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home revealed four teenage nursing assistants performing horrific acts of abuse on elders, including spitting in the residents' mouths, invasive sexual touching, and verbal abuse of residents.
The four nursing assistants faced criminal charges, and the state issued a massive fine for the abuse. There was also a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the residents. Headlines such as these are shocking and arouse public consciousness and ire.
The vulnerability and physical condition of residents mean that they will likely suffer more profound effects of the abuse. Seniors who have experienced abuse have a higher death rate than those who have not.
The worse condition that a senior is in, the more likely they are to suffer abuse. Those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease have a higher abuse rate than seniors who do not have the condition, in part because they are less likely to be able to report mistreatment.
Again, most errors and nursing neglect can be argued as abuse. Juries might be more sympathetic to plaintiffs when there are allegations of abuse as opposed to mere negligence.Sample Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Verdicts & Settlements
Here are some instances in which plaintiffs have received financial compensation because of nursing home negligence lawsuits.
Jury Verdict for $75,000 in Maryland (2004) – The nursing staff who found an older adult on the floor with bruises on her body claimed that her injuries were natural since the resident was bruised easily. The family alleged that another resident was physically abusing the loved one, and the facility failed to take steps to protect her.
The resident's son alleged that there were many assaults, and some cases were not reported to the family or the police. According to the lawsuit, the Maryland facility breached its duty by failing to move the resident to a safer place.
Jury Verdict for $11.1 million in New York (2012) – The developmentally disabled resident's elder abuse lawsuit alleged that the victim was subjected to a long pattern of psychological abuse. The resident had a condition where they repeated words spoken by others, and staff members would use profanity and then laugh and mock him when he repeated those words.
The NY nursing home's defense team claimed that the resident had the developmental capacity of a two-year-old and could not understand that he was being mocked. There were punitive damages of $3.5 million included in the jury award.
Settlement for $550,000 in Illinois (2008) – A patient allegedly pushed by another resident fell and fractured her hip and suffered other injuries that ultimately led to her death. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the IL nursing home failed to provide a safe environment and protect her from the other resident.
The family also claimed that these residents had threatened the plaintiff in the past, and the nursing home failed to take any action or intervene when other residents had physical confrontations with her.
Jury Verdict for $160 million in Texas (2005) – a resident whose roommate violently assaulted him suffered a brain injury, a concussion, and a subdural hematoma from the attack. The lawsuit claimed that the nursing home placed a resident with a known tendency for violence near the plaintiff.
The lawsuit alleged that there were doctor's warnings that the assailant was mentally challenged and should be placed in a locked area instead of in an unlocked area with the plaintiff. The TX nursing home was assessed punitive damages of $150 million as part of the total.
Settlement for $120,000 in Ohio (2013) – The elderly resident was attacked by another resident and suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in his death. The fatal attack was the third in a series of attacks by the same assailant.
The nursing home abuse lawsuit alleged that the OH nursing facility knew of the violent nature of the assailant and failed to take steps to remove the attacker from the facility and protect the resident who was assaulted. While there was a settlement, the nursing home was able to escape some liability because it was a mental health facility and was not liable for patients' acts.Was Your Loved One Physically Assaulted or Abused at a Nursing Home? Speak to an Attorney Now
The elderly abuse attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have assisted families for many years in obtaining justice. Let's discuss your case to ensure you have a viable lawsuit against the nursing home where your loved one was harmed.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our legal remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
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