Seeking Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse With a Claim
In 2016, more than 30 members of Congress, dissatisfied with nursing home regulation proposals, called on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to enact harsher final rules. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), lead signatory on the letter, noted some positive reforms but demanded increased nursing home accountability and elder protection.
The reforms Schakowsky sought included:
- A requirement that facilities have a registered nurse on staff at all times
- A mandate for better staff-resident ratios for direct care nurses
- Addressing the pervasive use of antipsychotic drugs and decreasing that use
- Moderating staff levels
- Allowing residents to appeal any denial of a request for readmission to a facility
If you or someone you care for has experienced these, or any other problems, while in a nursing home facility, there is a path toward justice. Hiring an attorney who has experience working on nursing home issues can help determine whether the staff was negligent, and can also lead to improved conditions for the residents.
Nursing Home Abuse Claims
What types of injuries can occur in nursing homes, retirement homes, and other long-term care facilities?
According to the Pew Research Center, there are currently no national statistics on the number of elderly individuals who are mistreated financially, emotionally, or physically. However, elderly Americans are more likely to be socially isolated, be physically weakened, and struggle to maintain their independence. Most of our elderly population depends on caregivers, family, and friends to maintain their quality of life.
Regulations vary by state, and there is currently no federal funding for Adult Protective Services agencies, which are generally the go-to state agencies for elder abuse and safety. Most states do their best to create and fund this service.
Types of Elder Abuse
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that there are six types of elder abuse most frequently reported, listed below:
- Taking money from an elderly adult’s account without authorization
- Unauthorized credit card usage
- Modifying a will illegally without permission
- Forced or unwanted sexual interaction
- Sexual harassment
Neglect (failure to meet an elderly person’s needs), which includes a failure to provide:
- Essential medical care
- Name calling
- Destroying property
- Isolating an elderly adult
Signs of Elder Abuse
Often, elderly individuals are afraid to speak up when suffering abuse, or they are too embarrassed to disclose their injuries to someone who could help. Here are some common signs of nursing home abuse:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Symptoms of malnutrition, such as weight-loss, dry skin, and paleness
- Soiled bedding
- Untreated medical issues
- Cuts, bruises, abrasions, or unexplained wounds
- Sprains or strains
- Diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases
- Fear of physical contact
- Medication irregularities
- Sudden unexplained weight loss or gain
- Personality changes
- Interfering when you want to meet with your family member alone
Who Is at Fault for Nursing Home Abuse?
Some of the most common claims of nursing home negligence are:
- Hiring negligent or potentially dangerous staff members
- Lack of adequate security
- Improper monitoring of staff
- Not imposing adequate rules and policies
- Failure to properly discipline staff members who have violated company policies
- Not remedying hazards or dangerous conditions in the facility
- Failing to adequately train employees
- Failure to provide necessary shelter, food, water, or medication to residents
- Lack of proper medical care
What Damages Can Result From These Nursing Home Abuses?
Non-economic damages take the form of:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical injuries
- Physical harm
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
Economic damages are easily quantifiable, and include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
Punitive damages may be possible if the abuse was particularly negligent or severe. They can even improve a claim’s chance of success in certain instances. For example, if an elderly nursing home resident were abused and the staff member responsible was arrested and found guilty in a criminal trial, the information from that trial can help prove a connection between a liable party like the nursing home’s negligence and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
What Can an Abused Nursing Home Resident Do?
According to the World Health Organization, the following actions can assist older adults who may be enduring abusive situations:
- Build evidence on the scope and types of elder abuse.
- Collect evidence once the abuse has been reported.
- Develop guidance for all relevant sectors, and strengthen the parties’ responses to the guidelines.
- Spread information to states that support the national elder safety efforts that are currently in place across the nation.
- Collaborate with national agencies and organizations.
These are noble efforts, but the first step, after removing the older adult from the abusive situation and getting any necessary medical assistance, is to report your concerns through the proper channels of the facility’s administration. If no action is taken, alert a law enforcement agency. You should also contact an experienced attorney who has worked on elder abuse issues, and who is equipped to help you or your loved one get the result to which you are entitled.
What Can an Attorney Do for Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
When a facility has not fulfilled the mandates that are required when caring for elderly adults, it can be held accountable for any neglect, abuse, or related injuries that occur. Anyone who has observed signs of any nursing home abuse should immediately report the incident to the facility’s administration and then contact a trusted attorney. If you or a family member suffered elder abuse while in a long-term care facility, speaking with an experienced attorney can help to ascertain how the facility may be liable for any losses or injuries suffered by your family members.
The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in St. Petersburg, Florida, is well-versed in elder abuse law, and we would be happy to assist you with any problems that may be afflicting a family member or loved one who is currently residing in a nursing home. We take pride in our compassion and accessibility. When we take your case, we will give you your lawyer’s cell phone number, so your ability to communicate with your attorney is never impaired. We also offer a free consultation and do not charge attorney’s fees until we have either secured a settlement amount or a damages award in your case. Contact us today for a case evaluation at (727) 222-6922 or online.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712