legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Disabled, elderly, and other vulnerable individuals require more care and attention due to their conditions. Unfortunately, not all families have the means to care for their vulnerable loved ones at home. The next best option for many of these families is to admit their loved ones to a nursing home, where there are facilities, professionals, and equipment that disabled and elderly people need.
Sadly, not all nursing homes provide proper care to their residents. Some even fail to prevent their residents from suffering outright abuse. In many nursing home abuse cases, vulnerable adults and their families deal with unnecessary pain and suffering--or worse, an untimely death.
If you or a loved one suffered physical, financial, or psychological harm in a nursing home, seek help immediately. The affiliate Missouri personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you recover financial compensation from a negligent nursing home through litigation or an out-of-court settlement.
Call our St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. All information you provide 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 nursing home resident. Both intentional and unintentional harm may be considered nursing home abuse. It can result from reckless, negligent, or malicious actions of nursing home staff, visitors, and other residents.What Law Governs The Nursing Home Industry?
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act specifies what services nursing homes must provide to residents and solidifies standards for these services. This law aims to protect the legal rights of nursing home residents, 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
A nursing facility’s failure to respect these rights may serve as grounds for a personal injury claim or civil lawsuit.
The state law determines residents' rights if federal statutes do not regulate the nursing home. Laws regarding nursing home abuse vary from state to state.How Often Does Nursing Home Abuse Occur?
In a 2020 study, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 2 in 3 nursing home employees admitted to committing abuse. Unfortunately, many times nursing home abuse is underreported, meaning the number can be higher in reality.
Furthermore, there are no relevant studies on nursing home abuse involving residents below the age of 60. Nursing home abuse victims also include disabled younger people in care facilities.What are the Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
Knowing the type of abuse your loved one suffered is crucial to deciding the best way to help them. Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including:
Physical assault or abuse is an intentional use of force that causes physical harm (injury, pain, impairment) to a nursing home patient. It includes but is not limited to actions such as:
- Using physical restraints without a medical reason
Psychological abuse, also known as mental or emotional abuse, involves verbal or non-verbal acts that cause psychological harm to a resident, such as:
- Humiliation or disrespect
- Geographic or interpersonal isolation
Any non-consensual sexual contact with a nursing home patient is considered sexual abuse. Sexual contact with a patient unable to give valid consent (e.g., a mentally-disabled patient) is also regarded as sexual abuse.
Acts of sexual assault or abuse include but are not limited to:
- Sexual harassment
- Touching or groping
- Coerced nudity
- Explicit photography
Financial abuse is the unauthorized, illegal, or improper use of a patient’s resources, including money, benefits, personal property, and assets, for the benefit of someone other than the patient. It includes but is not limited to:
- Forging checks
- Stealing valuables
- Making unauthorized transactions on credit cards
- Coercing the patient to make bank transfers
- Charging unnecessary services
Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide a resident’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment, causing or increasing the risk of harm to a patient’s health and well-being. Nursing home neglect can occur in many ways, including:
- Failing to provide adequate food and water
- Not supervising a resident
- Disregarding the cleanliness and safety of the patient’s living conditions
- Failing to provide medical care promptly
- Failing to answer call lights and other assistance calls
- Not dressing the patient according to the weather
- Medication errors
- Disregarding a patient’s hygiene
Neglect can be intentional (active), such as when a caregiver purposefully ignores a patient’s needs, or unintentional (passive), such as when a caregiver does not have enough time to care for a patient properly. Both intentional and unintentional neglect may be considered abuse.What are The Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can manifest in many ways, some more obvious than others. Family members of vulnerable adults must take every warning sign seriously to stop the mistreatment before it worsens.
The following are the common warning signs of each subtype of abuse.
- Unexplained injuries (e.g., bruises, burns, cuts, abrasions)
- Broken bones
- Restraint or grip marks
- Broken eyeglasses or torn clothing
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Unexplained scars
Mental or Emotional Abuse
- Being withdrawn or non-communicative
- Extreme anger
- Depression or anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Genital infections
- Injuries around the breasts or genitals
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Fearfulness around specific people
- Fear of being touched
- Unexplained withdrawals or credit card transactions
- Changes in financial habits
- Missing belongings
- Fraudulent signatures on financial documents
- Unexplained weight loss
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inappropriate clothing for the weather
- Untreated medical conditions (e.g., pressure sores)
- Urinary tract infections
The signs of nursing home neglect and abuse may mimic those of a mental illness or dementia. For instance, some indicators of elder abuse are similar to symptoms of dementia (e.g., mood or behavior changes, withdrawal from social activities, difficulty concentrating). Common signs of psychological abuse are similar to mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.
Mistaking abuse and neglect for a mental illness or degenerative disease can lead to even worse consequences for the victim. Consult a specialist if you are unsure whether your family member is suffering from abuse or displaying signs of a mental condition.Is Nursing Home Abuse The Same as Medical Malpractice?
Nursing home abuse and neglect occur when a nursing home employee fails to provide a standard duty of care to a resident. A caregiver relationship must exist for a nursing home abuse claim.
Medical malpractice, on the other hand, is when a medical professional’s negligence leads to substandard treatment, causing injury to a patient. No caregiver relationship exists, so the claim cannot be under nursing home abuse.Which Nursing Home Residents are More Vulnerable?
All nursing home residents have some level of risk of abuse or neglect. However, some individuals are more susceptible than others, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Women and children
- Patients with access to cash and bank accounts
- Patients that require additional medical care
- Patients in understaffed or poorly managed facilities
- Patients isolated from their family members
A nursing home facility may be more prone to abuse and neglect if the following issues are present:
- Understaffing: A lack of staff members increases the risk of abuse and neglect because it leads to high-stress environments and a team that is stretched too thin.
- Underqualified or Improperly Trained Staff Members: Vulnerable adults in nursing homes require a level of care that makes proper qualifications and training necessary. Residents risk substandard care if a nursing home fails to hire and train qualified staff.
- Poor Management: Employees under poor management are more likely to lack accountability, supervision, and employee satisfaction, increasing the risk of neglect and abuse.
- Lack of Resources: Like understaffing, a lack of equipment, space, and facilities cause high-stress environments, making way for abuse and neglect.
Nursing home abuse and neglect lead to several adverse effects on residents and their families, including:
- Physical injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Mental anguish
- Monetary losses
- Reduced family and societal ties
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
These effects are significantly worse for an elderly person who may be more physically and mentally vulnerable than a younger resident.What Should You do if a Nursing Home Resident is Being Abused?
Report known or suspected abuse to the St. Louis Police Department as soon as possible. The police will investigate your claim and remove your loved one from the premises if necessary. They may also file criminal charges against the perpetrator if they find evidence of malicious intent.
If you think your disabled or elderly loved one is in immediate danger, call 911.
You can also report St. Louis nursing home abuse or neglect to the following agencies in Missouri:
- Department of Health & Senior Services
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline
- State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
Government agencies may suspend or revoke the licenses and certifications of nursing facilities with serious offenses.How Do You File a St. Louis Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse Claim?
Have you or a family member suffered physical or psychological harm due to a nursing home’s negligence? You could hold them accountable by filing a personal injury claim with the help of a St. Louis nursing home abuse attorney.
When filing a personal injury claim, your nursing home abuse lawyer will determine who should be held accountable for the abuse, neglect, or mistreatment. Responsible parties may include:
- Nursing Home Staff Members: The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that around 64% of nursing home employees admitted to committing elder abuse in 2020. Staff members are the most common perpetrators of mistreatment in nursing facilities.
- Visitors: A nursing home resident could also suffer abuse from a visitor of another resident. Many cases of visitor-related abuse fall under financial exploitation.
- Other Nursing Home Residents: Nursing homes must mitigate risks relating to potentially dangerous residents. Failure to do so can lead to the assault or mistreatment of other individuals in the facility.
- Owners and Administrators: The owner or administrator of the nursing home may also be held liable for preventing abuse, mistreatment, and neglect in the facility, even if only a single staff member or resident caused the injuries.
Filing a personal injury case against a negligent St. Louis nursing home can help you recover financial compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for treating injuries or trauma caused by abuse or neglect. Treatment costs may include hospitalization, medication, emergency transportation, and therapy.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related losses if you or your family member becomes disabled from the mistreatment. These losses may include mobility aids, loss of quality of life, physical therapy, rehabilitation, etc.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional injuries, such as emotional distress, mental trauma, and physical pain.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life caused by the abuse or neglect. These losses may include loss of independence, reduced family or societal ties, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, etc.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for funeral and burial costs, the grief of family members, pre-death medical treatment, and other death-related losses if your family member dies from the mistreatment.
- Punitive Damages: Payment on top of compensatory damages that aims to punish the at-fault parties for their dangerous actions (or inaction) and deter harmful behavior in the future.
Some personal injury cases are worth more than others. For instance, a wrongful death claim is worth more than a case involving nonfatal yet serious injuries. The value of your settlement will depend on the extent of your damages, among other factors.
Seeking compensation from a negligent nursing home requires substantial evidence. Your lawyer can help you gather proof of the mistreatment, such as:
- Medical records
- Psychological evaluations
- Photos of injuries
- Witness accounts from employees or other nursing home residents
- Fraudulent transactions or forged documents
- Expert testimony
Your St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer will tell you what evidence you need during your free consultation. Collecting as much proof as possible is crucial in legal battles involving large institutions like nursing homes.
The Role of Nursing Home Lawyers
Handling a nursing home abuse case without a legal team is unwise. Personal injury law is complicated, and many insurance companies put their clients’ interests over victims’.
Hiring a skilled nursing home attorney is necessary to recover fair financial compensation from responsible parties. Your attorney can help you:
- Establish the liability of the nursing facility
- File a claim against at-fault parties
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Source a medical expert to testify, if necessary
- Negotiate settlement values with the facility or their insurance company
- Handle all legal paperwork and communications
- Serve as legal representation in civil court
Dealing With Insurance Companies
When you file a personal injury case against the facility, their insurance adjuster might offer you a settlement. You may be able to negotiate the offer if you think you deserve more, but this may be difficult without legal help. If you accept the payment, you can no longer sue the facility for additional damages.
Here are several tips to help you handle settlement offers properly:
- Avoid communicating with the facility’s insurance until you seek legal help
- Contact a lawyer before you sign any document from the insurance adjuster
- Do not feel pressured to accept the settlement right away
- Report bad faith insurance practices to your attorney (e.g., making threatening statements)
- Do not give recorded statements or sign over any documents without consulting your attorney
Many victims and family members settle out of court to avoid the expenses and tediousness of trial. Your St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer can help you negotiate fair compensation if you want to avoid going to court. However, if negotiations are unsuccessful (or the nursing home denies liability), you could file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
The case will go to civil court, where a judge or jury will hear both sides of the story and decide on a verdict.
One of our St. Louis nursing home abuse attorneys will walk you through your legal options during your free consultation.
The Statute of Limitations
Missouri residents have two years from the date of the underlying incident or its discovery to file a case. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is three years.
A lawyer can help you file a case within the statute of limitations. Delaying the filing of your case may lead to loss of evidence. If you miss the deadline and still file a claim, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss it. You may no longer be able to receive financial compensation, regardless of the severity of your injuries.How to Protect Nursing Home Residents From Mistreatment
No nursing home patient is 100% safe from abuse or neglect, even in high-quality facilities. Nevertheless, family members can do their part in protecting their loved ones from mistreatment by:
- Visiting loved ones frequently
- Encouraging loved ones to talk about negative experiences
- Giving loved ones a means to contact the family in emergencies
- Watching for signs of abuse or neglect, especially the less obvious indicators
- Learning the difference between the signs of abuse and typical signs of aging, dementia, or mental illness
- Reviewing medical and financial records to look for inconsistencies or suspicious entries
- Forming a relationship with loved ones’ primary caregivers in the facility
- Checking if the facility has violations using the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services complaint tracker
- Addressing suspected abuse as soon as possible
- Installing monitoring devices in loved ones’ rooms, if permitted
Nursing homes are legally obligated to provide quality care to all nursing home residents and protect them from abuse and neglect. Sadly, not all facilities meet this obligation, and vulnerable residents suffer serious injuries, trauma, and sometimes even death.
Were you or a loved one a victim of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a St. Louis nursing home? If so, the nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you seek compensation for your unnecessary pain and suffering.
Our affiliate St. Louis nursing home attorneys work tirelessly to protect the legal rights of residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care institutions. With their skills and experience, our nursing home abuse lawyers force accountability from the nursing home industry one case at a time.
Contact our legal team at (800) 926-7565 for a free case evaluation. One of our skilled nursing home abuse lawyers will provide formal legal advice with no financial risk for you. We handle all accepted cases on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t have to pay unless we win.
All information you provide during your free case review will remain confidential under an attorney-client relationship.