Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
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As your loved ones advance in age, they often need more care than their family can provide. This need may have prompted you or your family to find a skilled nursing facility to provide the medical and personal care that you cannot. Unfortunately, nursing homes can be a haven for staff members who harm the residents living there. Others are understaffed and provide poor training for the people who work there, leading to cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Some signs of abuse or neglect are obvious, like bruising or unexplained injuries. However, many of the effects of elder neglect are not immediately noticeable. If you are concerned that your loved one is not getting the care he or she needs, look for the following signs:
- Unsanitary living conditions: unchanged bed linens, odd smells or uncleanliness in living areas
- Poor personal grooming: unchanged bandages, unchanged or soiled clothing
- Unmanaged symptoms such as: pain, agitation, and combativeness
- Unexplained health issues: bruising, dehydration/malnutrition, weight loss, pressure sores, unexpected death or hospitalization
- Emotional changes: agitation, irritability, withdrawing from family, sudden changes in behavior, unwillingness to speak when nursing home caregivers are present.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
There are many ways a nursing home’s staff may abuse or neglect residents. The signs of abuse or neglect may not always be obvious. This is especially true if your loved one is being neglected or sexually or emotionally abused. Family members often do not notice markers of abuse when there are no physical injuries to indicate that something is wrong.
Abuse sometimes involves a staff member intentionally hitting a patient or otherwise physically harming them in order to intimidate them or get them to obey. Staff members who do this may be trying to exploit your loved one for their money or valuables, using violence to get what they want.
Physical abuse can also take the form of overmedicating or withholding medication from a patient. Staff may medically oversedate patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in order to control their behavior. They may withhold pain medication or other medications as punishment or as a cost-saving measure.
Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are prone to wander away from safety, which is one reason their families often hire nursing homes to care for them. Serious injuries could result if patients wander away because of poor supervision or insufficient facility infrastructure.
What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
North Carolina’s Department of Social Services takes reports of elder abuse and neglect, including cases involving nursing homes. Such investigations may eventually involve local or state law enforcement.
Area Agencies on Aging, which are government agencies that advocate locally for seniors, are also often able to connect nursing home patients and their families with resources and investigate nursing home abuse cases.
These solutions may help your loved one in the short term. If abuse or neglect is occurring or if your loved one is being exploited, a criminal investigation and charges against the people involved in the abuse may result.
However, criminal cases do not provide compensation to injured people. Unless you file a civil lawsuit against the nursing home, your loved one will not receive compensation for the pain and suffering the nursing home and its staff caused.
Proving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
People who have been abused or neglected in nursing homes experience profound damages to their physical and emotional health. They may have lasting injuries or illness from instances where they wandered into danger, from bedsores, or from other instances of neglect or abuse.
Seniors who have lived in these dangerous environments often experience financial difficulties in addition to the physical and emotional damage that results from abuse or neglect. Surgery, ongoing physical therapy, and other treatments needed for serious injuries or illness can be catastrophic for elderly patients’ households, especially if they live on a limited income.
Handling an abuse or neglect case is often difficult for elderly nursing home patients and their families. Seniors who need round-the-clock care typically have pre-existing health conditions. These conditions tend to become obstacles to proving that nursing home neglect was the cause of a patient’s injuries or condition.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse cases are made more complex by the number of parties that are typically involved. The responsible staff member, managers, managing company and other parties could all be named in a lawsuit.
Patients and their families typically do not have the experience needed to prove nursing home negligence, to identify all the parties involved in an abuse case, or to manage other aspects of litigation.
Skilled nursing home abuse attorneys may be able to help victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Seeking compensation from a nursing home and the company that manages it may be too complex for families, especially when they are coping with the effects of elder abuse. In addition to advising seniors through each step of the legal process, personal injury attorneys can also work with medical providers so that they stop collection attempts.
Attorney Lakota R. Denton has the experience and expertise required to handle your case with expert care, and is prepared to discuss your nursing home case with you. Call or email today to schedule a FREE initial consultation and determine the next steps to take. Your attorney will handle all aspects of your elder abuse and neglect case so that you can focus on your family.