legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
When Should my Family Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?
A. You should reach out to an attorney if you even suspect abuse, and certainly if you spot any telltale signs that there is abuse.
As family members of a nursing home resident, you are in a difficult position when you suspect that you loved one is being abused either by staff at a nursing home or by a fellow resident. While your loved one may not be able to articulate exactly what they are going through, you still want to take all steps necessary to protect your family member and hold the nursing home accountable if there is something nefarious happening. The first line of defense for nursing home abuse lies with you as the family members. Once you have established that something is wrong and that your loved one has suffered harm, you should immediately contact an attorney since they can help you further develop your possible case against the nursing home.
The exact answer to this question depends on your ability to spot that there is abuse occurring. This may largely depend on whether you are able to observe some of the circumstantial signs of abuse. Of course, if your loved one tells you that they are being abused and there is even a shred of a possibility that it is true, you should immediately contact a lawyer. Absent that, there are various signs of abuse that you should look for and be vigilant in doing so.
The most telling sign of abuse is that your loved one has unexplained injuries or bruises that nobody can explain to you. This is often a sign of physical abuse that is being covered up by the nursing home staff. If your loved one has a fracture, but there is no evidence of a fall, you should be contacting a lawyer at that point for a potential nursing home abuse case.
In addition, if there is an aggressive nursing home staff member who is truculent, you should be paying a little extra attention. While this does not necessitate calling a lawyer at this point, this should prompt you to be on the lookout when it comes to that particular staff member. The urgency would be somewhat more accentuated if you notice that your loved one seems to become visibly anxious or cowers in their presence. At the point, you need to have a conversation with the nursing home administrator. If you do not get satisfactory answers, it is best to contact an attorney at that point.
Other signs of abuse include a loss of appetite or an unexplained change in your loved one’s mood or demeanor. If your family member is verbal or outgoing and suddenly becomes catatonic, this is a sign that they may be facing the stress of nursing home abuse.
Clearly, if you have any concrete evidence that your loved one is facing physical or financial abuse, you should immediately contact an attorney to see whether you can file any legal action against the nursing home. The gray area is when you have a suspicion of abuse, but no evidence to prove that there is abuse. An attorney will likely want to know what your suspicion is based on and may not want to take the case if it is entirely speculative.
However, this is a decision that you should let the attorney make as opposed to you not contacting an attorney because you do not think that you have a strong case. At the very minimum, you should at least reach out to an attorney even if you do not feel like you have a slam-dunk case for abuse. Even if the attorney does not take your case, they can likely give you some tips as to what you should be looking for, and they will tell you under what circumstances you would have a viable case for nursing home abuse. Further, they can you to whom you need to report your suspicions because nursing homes are obligated to inform the state of allegations of abuse. In that case, the state may then perform its own investigation that could develop the record for you and could help you in a civil case.