If your family member was the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, do not hesitate to contact Wallace Miller. We could help you pursue legal action against the negligent party and recover compensation on your loved one’s behalf.
When the elderly require daily care and assistance, they often need to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility. The nurses and other staff members provide the necessary services to ensure that residents are healthy and thrive in these environments. It’s challenging to think about a trusted caregiver taking advantage of a vulnerable adult. However, elder abuse is prevalent in the United States.
Statistics show that approximately one in six people at least 60 years old experienced some type of abuse while in a community setting, such as a nursing home. Older adults typically can’t defend themselves from a physical attack. They’re not strong enough to fight back and often sustain severe injuries. Some nursing home residents have cognitive impairments that prevent them from remembering what happened. That allows incidents of abuse and neglect to go unreported.
At Wallace Miller, our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys understand the devastation of discovering that your loved one suffered at the hands of a person responsible for their care. We are ready to represent your loved one in an insurance claim or lawsuit to pursue the money owed to them. You can count on us to advocate for your family member’s rights and fight for the justice they deserve.
For a free consultation to learn more about how we can help, call Wallace Miller at (312) 261-6193 today.
Common Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
You might picture a physical altercation when you think about abuse. However, elder abuse comes in multiple forms. It doesn’t always involve actions that cause an older adult physical injury.
The most common types of nursing home abuse are listed here.
Physical abuse is using physical force to cause physical pain, bodily harm, or impairment. This can include aggressive and violent behaviors, such as:
- Using unnecessary restraints
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
Psychological abuse involves verbal or nonverbal acts to inflict emotional anguish, distress, or pain. The most common behaviors involved in psychological or emotional abuse include:
- Verbally assaulting
Psychological abuse can significantly damage an older adult’s mental health. Nursing home residents who don’t have a strong support system often suffer in silence. They have no one to turn to and begin to withdraw. Depression, anxiety, and mood changes are common with psychological abuse.
Sexual abuse is forced sexual activity with an elderly person who does not give consent. In some situations, nursing home residents cannot give consent because of mental illness, dementia, or another cognitive impairment.
Unfortunately, noticing the signs of sexual abuse can be a challenge. Some incidents don’t cause physical injuries. Instead, looking for emotional or nonverbal cues is necessary to determine whether sexual abuse occurred.
Neglect refers to a caregiver failing or refusing to provide their patient with adequate care. There are multiple types of neglect in nursing homes, such as:
- Medical neglect – Medical neglect occurs when a caregiver doesn’t provide a resident with medical needs, such as medications or treatment of an existing medical condition.
- Social neglect – Social neglect involves a lack of social interactions that improve an older adult’s mood and overall mental health. A staff member might keep a patient isolated in their room or choose not to engage with a resident who has severe cognitive disabilities.
- Neglect of basic needs – Basic needs include things like water, food, and a clean room. This type of neglect occurs when staff doesn’t meet an older adult’s nutritional needs or fails to wash soiled bedding promptly.
- Personal hygiene neglect – Some nursing home residents can’t maintain their own personal hygiene. They need staff to assist them with showering and dressing. Neglect occurs if an employee doesn’t properly bathe a resident or help them change into clean clothes.
Financial abuse occurs when someone improperly or illegally uses another person’s money, personal property, or assets for personal gain. Common examples of financial abuse in a nursing home include:
- Stealing cash from a resident’s room
- Forging a signature on a financial document
- Changing the passwords for online banking accounts
- Withdrawing large amounts of money from the ATM
- Unusual changes to a power of attorney, healthcare directive, or another legal form
If you suspect your family member has experienced some type of abuse while living in a nursing home, contact Wallace Miller immediately. One of our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys can investigate the incident and determine whether there’s a case to pursue.
Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
A range of factors can contribute to the abuse or neglect of a resident in a nursing home. The facility owner and its employees are supposed to meet a particular standard of care while providing patient services. Unfortunately, some circumstances cause a staff member to take advantage of a resident or harm them somehow.
The most common causes of nursing home abuse include:
- Understaffed facility – Staffing shortages place extra pressure on employees. They must pick up the slack and perform additional tasks. Some work long shifts and care for more residents than they can handle. Overworked staff is more likely to make mistakes that risk an older adult’s health and safety. Additionally, employees might take out their anger and frustration on their patients and cause injuries.
- Underpaid nurses – Nurses are vital to the overall well-being of nursing home residents. When nurses don’t receive adequate pay, they don’t feel appreciated for the amount of effort they put into their jobs. Some stop caring about the quality of their work, leading to poor treatment of the residents.
- Inexperienced staff – Employees who don’t have the proper experience or qualifications don’t know how to handle difficult situations. Knowing what to do when a patient is unruly or lacks mental competency is crucial to keep them and everyone else safe. Inexperience can lead to harmful mistakes that cause injuries.
- Negligent hiring – During staffing shortages, a facility owner might decide to hire employees without performing background checks. This can result in staff with criminal records or a history of violent behavior towards the elderly working closely with residents.
No matter the cause of nursing home abuse, it is your right to advocate for your loved one and seek compensation on their behalf. Their abuser should face the consequences of their actions and provide the compensation your family member needs to recover.
Common Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Some forms of abuse cause physical injuries and obvious warning signs. However, there are times when abuse isn’t apparent. The signs can be subtle or might not seem to indicate a severe problem.
It’s crucial to watch for the red flags that can alert you to your loved one’s abuse. Warning signs depend on the form of abuse but could include:
- Nursing home staff who won’t discuss your family member’s injuries
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Broken eyeglasses or hearing aids
- Sudden cognitive decline
- Unusual financial transactions
- Evidence of unnecessary restraints
- New or worsening depression, anxiety, or another mental illness
- Bruising in the genital region
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Broken or lost teeth
- Fear of a specific staff member
- Missing personal belongings
- Loss of mobility
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Frequent falls of a physically disabled patient
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and favorite activities
You are your loved one’s best advocate during this traumatic time in their life. They might be unable to speak for themselves or pursue legal action alone. You can be the one to help them get through this difficult ordeal by preventing them from suffering additional harm and seeking compensation on their behalf.
Wallace Miller will be there for both of you. We will fight on behalf of your family member and guide you through the complicated process. You can count on us to take over every legal aspect of the case, so you’re not responsible for any tasks that deal with pursuing compensation. Your only job should be to get your loved one the treatment they need to heal and find a safe place for them to live.
Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse
You could file a claim with the nursing home’s insurance company. Facilities like this often carry liability insurance to cover an injured party’s expenses from an accident. The settlement you receive on behalf of your family member could compensate them for losses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Damage to personal property
Punitive or exemplary damages might be available if you file a lawsuit against the party at fault for the abuse or neglect. This form of compensation punishes the defendant for their misconduct and deters similar actions in the future.
However, you must provide clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoing to receive this financial award. Each state has its own laws regarding the type of evidence you must present. Wallace Miller can review the laws in your state to determine what you need if you decide you want to pursue exemplary or punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse
There’s a timeframe you must observe if you want to sue the negligent party for abusing your loved one. Every state has a statute of limitations that typically allows between one and five years. You must file your lawsuit within the specified timeframe if you want to seek compensation. You could lose your right to pursue legal action if the timeframe passes.
At Wallace Miller, our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys have decades of experience representing clients against negligent nursing home facilities, nurses, and other parties. Whether the abuse left behind physical injuries or psychological damage, you can count on us to fight for your family member’s safety and future. We will create a strategy to hold the negligent party liable and try to reach the best possible outcome in the case.
If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call Wallace Miller for your free consultation at (312) 261-6193.