Residents in a nursing home expect a safe, comfortable, and healthy environment. Unfortunately, there are many instances of neglect in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the United States. More than 15,000 nursing homes exist nationwide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly half of the residents in these facilities experience abuse or neglect in some form. Most states have laws to protect the elderly and the disabled from negligence or abusive incident. However, the oversight of elderly patients striving for their basic needs in various nursing homes is sadly prevalent. Prove nursing home negligence with our best lawyers at Phillips law offices law firm.
Inadequate medical care in nursing homes can have negative implications. If you or your loved one seems neglected in a nursing facility, you should take legal action and report the incident. Any sign of negligence should be immediately reported to the authorities to ensure safety. Aged people have basic needs specific to their health, and the law protects those rights. By exercising due diligence, you can protect your loved ones from harm and avert legal action for abuse and neglect in nursing homes. However, if misconducted, consult an experienced nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. A proficient lawyer can help you pursue a claim against responsible parties by proving negligence.
Identifying signs of neglect in nursing homes
Good nursing homes provide shelter, clothing, food, water, hygiene, and essential medical care to their elderly residents. However, neglected patients may suffer psychological and physical health problems. Neglect in nursing homes refers to abuse committed against older adults. It involves poor care or duty violations that cause residents to suffer in assisted living facilities. But what are the warning signs of neglect? How can one recognize that the elderly patient is experiencing abuse?
There are several indicators of neglect that family members of elderly patients in nursing homes can identify. These signs are important to prove nursing home negligence:
- Born fracture
- Rapid weight loss
- Dissatisfaction with a staff member
- Dirty environment
- Depression and anxiety
- Open wounds
- Personality and mood change
Dehydration, malnutrition, or illness can all contribute to sudden weight loss in elderly patients. If a resident loses a lot of weight quickly, the quality of the care they receive is questionable.
Nursing home residents are also prone to bruises. Some bruises may develop because of abuse or neglect by staff members. Though elders bruise more frequently than younger people, a thorough investigation of a contusion in them will determine the potential causes of the bruise.
The lack of prompt care from the staff is one of the most common complaints among elderly patients in nursing homes. Sometimes they may require medical care immediately. For instance, a patient unable to move on his own might need to use the lavatory. If the staff does not pay attention, the person will urinate on a chair or bed. It will create hygiene problems that they could avoid with prompt care.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home neglect can take many forms, including physical injury, abandonment, or emotional abuse. Some of these forms may go unnoticed or undiscovered in facilities because there are no outward signs of physical harm. If you want to file a lawsuit, you must be aware of the conduct that constitutes negligence. Knowing about them is necessary to prove your point and claim for the incurred damages.
Physical abuse-related injuries come from slapping, kicking, hitting, pushing, or shoving. An elderly adult with fragile bones and mobility issues is likely to fall, break ribs, and sustain head trauma.
Visible signs of injury from such incidents include scratches, bruises, cuts, burns, or dislocated/fractured bones.
It may involve leaving a resident alone or not allowing patients to interact with others. Though social abuse shows no visible injuries, it can still have a profound psychological impact on the victim. Yelling, screaming, making derogatory comments, and behaving disrespectfully, can also affect their mindset. It can even lead them to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Unfortunately, there have been thousands of documented cases of sexual abuse in nursing homes. Elderly residents are specifically vulnerable to sexual assault, rape, battery, and improper touching when they have cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In 2017, CNN published several stories about caregivers and facility staff who sexually assaulted nursing home residents while on duty.
Residents could be victims of financial exploitation in nursing homes because they are old enough to manage their finances. Residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive issues are prime targets for financial theft. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that two nursing home employees stole more than $750,000 from a dementia patient before being apprehended by police.
Steps to report negligence in nursing homes
There are various reasons for nursing home abuse and neglect to occur. Most cases are due to untrained, underpaid, overworked, and stressed-out nursing home staff members and caregivers. Some cannot handle the situation, while others may suffer from sleep deprivation and tend to make mistakes. They are more likely to mishandle elderly residents and cause medication errors. Employees under these circumstances often have a negative attitude toward their jobs and patients.
Many nursing home residents do not oppose violations because they are afraid or unable to raise their voices. If someone you know suffers from nursing home neglect, the first step is to report it to the authorities. Remember to inform the negligence within the statutes of limitations (time limit specified by the state). The statutory deadline can prevent you from seeking justice and compensation for the injuries sustained due to nursing home neglect.
Some of the concerned authorities that can help you with your case are:
- Police or paramedics
- Nursing home ombudsman
- Adult protective service (APS)
- Social service workers
- Nursing home neglect attorney
Evidence needed to Prove Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing home neglect and abuse claims require proof before being pursued in a civil or criminal court. Irrespective of the type of lawsuit filed, you must establish nursing home neglect to receive compensation for damages. Depending on the facts of your case, there are different things you have to prove. Your lawyer can collect the required evidence to justify physical, emotional, or financial losses. This evidence typically consists of the following:
- Hospital bills related to injuries caused by nursing home negligence
- Insurance claim forms
- Photographic and video evidence of abuse or neglect
- Prescriptions recommended by licensed physicians
- Medical reports showing treatment
- Proof of your relationship with the victim
- Nursing home records about resident care
Settlement for nursing home negligence
If signs of potential abuse or neglect are apparent, expose the situation as soon as possible. A Nursing Home Neglect lawsuit can help you pursue justice and put an end to the elder’s suffering. The process involves filing a suit, discovery (pretrial investigation), demand letter, mediation, and settlement offer. The case gets settled when the defendant (responsible party) agrees to pay the plaintiff ( nursing home neglect victim) for the harm. In a settlement, you can expect financial aid for lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses, emotional trauma, punitive damage, and future healthcare expenses.
According to Health Affairs, the average settlement for such negligence cases in the United States is around $406k. You could get more or less than this amount, depending on the facts of your case. Some previous settlements were worth $1 million or more. The key to securing the best Nursing Home lawsuit settlement is associating with a qualified lawyer. You can consult our proficient Nursing Home lawyer Chicago at Phillips law offices to handle your case. We can help take necessary legal actions, gather evidence, and secure the highest settlement amount.