Do I Have a Nursing Home Negligence Case?
Choosing the perfect nursing home or long-term care facility is often a grueling task, so finding out your loved one is being neglected or abused while living at the facility can be devastating.
Educating yourself on nursing home negligence and abuse can help you advocate for your loved one.
Nursing home negligence happens when the elderly person's basic needs aren't met or when they don't receive proper protection from safety hazards. It is also called nursing home neglect, and it results in physical or mental consequences for the elderly patient due to not getting the proper care they need. Negligence can happen due to a variety of reasons, including inadequate staffing or staff members without proper training.
Nursing home abuse refers to intentionally causing harm or putting the senior at risk. The intentional nature of abuse is different from negligence, which is unintentional yet still potentially harmful. Both nursing home negligence and abuse can have serious consequences for the elderly person.
Some examples of nursing home negligence include:
- Not giving the patient enough food or water
- Mistakes with medication, such as not administering medication at the right time
- Failing to provide other medical care
- Not providing proper support to get to the bathroom
- Failing to give patients access to wheelchairs, canes or other mobility support items
- Not checking on patients often enough
- Failing to perform basic hygiene tasks for patients
- Allowing an unsafe environment with hazards in it
- Creating unsanitary conditions
Some examples of nursing home abuse include:
- Physically assaulting patients, such as hitting or slapping them
- Verbal and emotional abuse
- Sexual assault
- Intentional deprivation of food or water
- Unreasonably restraining a patient
- Abandoning or secluding a patient
- Financial abuse
You can file a nursing home negligence case if your loved one suffered due to neglect or abuse while in the care of a nursing home. This can include physical harm, such as broken bones or severe bedsores, or mental suffering. In severe cases, the nursing home neglect or abuse can result in the death of a patient. If the care facility didn't meet your loved one's basic needs, either intentionally or unintentionally, or the facility didn't meet the requirements established by your state laws, you could have a nursing home negligence claim.
Generally, you need to show that neglect or abuse occurred and that it caused injuries or suffering to the nursing home resident. Proving the case can be tricky, especially if your loved one was already prone to falling, was ill or experiencing dementia. You’ll also need to prove that damages — like extra medical bills or pain and suffering — were caused by the neglect.
Because nursing home negligence can be difficult to prove, it's best to get advice from an attorney before pursuing legal action. Every situation is slightly different, so determining whether your situation constitutes nursing home negligence can be difficult.
Before you do anything else, ensure your loved one gets the medical attention they need to help them recover from the negligent care they're receiving. Ensure any injuries they received are treated properly and that they are now getting the care they need.
Another important step to take is to document everything. Write down all the incidents you've witnessed or that your loved one has told you about. Document everything your loved one has said about their treatment. Take photos of injuries and unsafe conditions inside the nursing home as evidence.
You should talk to a lawyer who specializes in nursing home negligence cases. They can explain to you how a lawsuit works and what you can expect. They can also review your specific situation, including the evidence you have, to evaluate whether nursing home negligence took place and if you have a strong case.
You may consider talking to other nursing home residents or their families. These people may be experiencing similar problems or be witnesses to information that could help your case. However, you should be aware that conversations you have with witnesses can sometimes impact a court case. If you have the option, speaking with a lawyer first can be helpful.
If a loved one experiences nursing home negligence, you can file a civil lawsuit against the facility. You can sue the facility for compensation to cover things like medical bills and pain and suffering due to negligence. If a loved one died due to negligence or abuse, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is also a civil lawsuit. It's best to have an experienced attorney file the civil suit for you.
Report any suspected negligence or abuse immediately. You can call 911 or contact the police for immediate assistance if your loved one is in danger. Another important call is Adult Protective Services for your state. You can also contact the long-term care ombudsman for your state. You don't need to have proof of the abuse to file a report to these agencies. Provide as much detail as possible when reporting the situation so the agency can properly investigate the situation.
It can be difficult to tell if your loved one is being neglected or abused when they live in a long-term care facility. You're not there constantly, so you don't see everything that happens. It can be especially difficult if your loved one has dementia or can't communicate well.
Some signs that the nursing home is being negligent or abusive include:
- Unexplained injuries or marks on your loved one
- Malnourishment or signs of weight loss
- Unsanitary or unsafe conditions
- Discrepancies in finances or unpaid bills
- Changes in emotional state, especially being withdrawn or fearful
- Not wanting to talk in front of staff members or not wanting to receive care from staff members
- Poor hygiene, including bad odor or dirty hair
- Unexpected medical complications that come from improper care
Being observant when you visit your loved one can help you spot the signs of negligence or abuse in the nursing home. Trust your instincts and investigate more if you feel your loved one is in danger or not receiving proper care.
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