If your elderly relative suffered injuries or emotional distress while in institutional care, a nursing home abuse or neglect lawyer can assist your family. They will assist you and your family in receiving fair compensation for the harm caused by negligence or intentional acts.
Nursing homes are rife with elder abuse. It also has long-term consequences for its unfortunate victims, necessitating the need to hold those responsible accountable for the damages.
What a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer or Legal Professional Can Do
An attorney who handles nursing home abuse and neglect can help you pursue a claim against perpetrators and responsible parties. To seek compensatory damages is to establish civil liability on the incident. Without legal assistance, doing so is difficult and may even result in denied claims.
Similar to other personal injury cases, your lawyer has to prove that abuse or neglect occurred in the care facility. They will show that the claim is substantial and has two essential elements—liability and damages.
To establish liability, they will demonstrate that the caregiver or facility must provide a minimum standard of care. When the other party breached said duty, it led to abuse or neglect that harmed or put the resident at risk. They will also prove that the victim suffered from injuries and experienced pain and suffering due to the harm, otherwise known as damages.
If your lawyer believes that you have a strong case based on their investigation, they could negotiate a reasonable out-of-court settlement payout or file a claim against the nursing home on your behalf. If these actions are unsuccessful, they could then file a lawsuit, ensuring that it is within the statute of limitations and follows the guidelines set by federal and state laws.
The Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Elder abuse is relatively prevalent in today’s aging population, with one in ten adults aged 60 and above having experienced it, according to the National Council on Aging. Pay attention to the following red flags when you visit your elderly loved one:
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, scars, open wounds, and burns
- Bleeding, broken bones, dislocations, or sprains
- Signs of physical restraint on the wrists and ankles
- Sudden weight loss or symptoms of dehydration
- Develops bed sores or a worsening medical condition
- Unkempt appearance, dirty clothes, and other signs of poor hygiene
- Displays aggressiveness, anxiousness, confusion, or other unusual behavior
Apart from these, abuse also occurs when there is financial exploitation. Look for substantial withdrawals from your relative’s accounts, suspicious activities, missing valuable items, and other significant changes in their finances. Many family members tend to miss the warning signs, allowing maltreatment to continue.
Why Abuse or Neglect Happens
Older adults are susceptible to abuse or neglect because of their increasing dependence on others for their needs. There are many identified risk factors on why the mistreatment of the elderly happens. For instance, overworked and stressed staff members become more likely to neglect or act maliciously towards residents, especially if the facility has no adequate workforce.
Moreover, a senior is more vulnerable to abuse if they have severe medical conditions, disability, or mental impairment, preventing them from performing daily tasks with ease. Other victims also include older adults who appear socially isolated or have no nearby friends or relatives. These conditions present an opportunity for abuse to happen.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse
When you suspect that abuse is happening, it is crucial to report the incident immediately. Many maltreatment cases go unreported because elderly victims often fear retaliation from their abusers, who are often their primary caregivers as well. They are afraid of what the perpetrators can do to them once authorities step in to resolve the situation.
Rather than confront the abuser, it is better to notify authorities and consider moving your senior loved one to a safer facility. Afterward, speak with a lawyer to know your legal options for damage recovery from liable parties. Hiring a professional can help prove that you have enough merit against those responsible for the sustained harm.