Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Can Help Protect Your Loved Ones
If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, it is imperative that the nursing home be held responsible for the actions of their employees. The personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law have spent many years helping protect the rights of individuals who are being mistreated and injured through no fault of their own – and they can help you find justice through this difficult situation.
An Aging Population With Increased Needs
With the life expectancy of individuals increasing, the number of our older loved ones continues to grow. According to the Administration for Community Living, over the past 10 years, the population of individuals age 65 and older has increased over 33%, and is projected to double to nearly 95 million by the year 2060. The older an individual gets, the more focused help they will require in their activities of daily living. With the population of individuals age 85 and over projected to increase to a whopping 14.4 million in 2040, it will be important to have safe and reliable help in the daily care of these precious loved ones.
When our parents or spouse get to the advanced age where health concerns become more than we are able to handle on our own, we often turn to nursing homes in the community to give them the daily care that is required to keep them healthy and safe. We trust these nursing homes to care for our loved ones in every way – medically, emotionally, and socially. Much of the time this happens as expected and is a blessing that allows us to be involved with the daily life of our loved ones, yet decreases the stress and heartache that accompanies our inability to fully care for them at the level their health requires.
When the unthinkable happens, however, and we find that our older loved ones are not being properly cared for in the nursing home, what recourse is available? At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we recognize and honor our aged population. These individuals have lived through a multitude of changes and challenges in their lives, and they deserve to be cared for with the love and respect that their own family would provide. When nursing homes fail to provide safety for their residents, either as a result of neglect or outright abuse, it is imperative that they be held responsible.
Neglect is the only type of nursing home abuse that could be considered unintentional. This often occurs when a facility often has poor management, is understaffed, has poorly trained staff, or fails to have proper oversight. Overcrowding can also lead to neglect of residents. Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms.
- Physical abuse: includes, hitting, slapping, pushing, or otherwise causing physical harm on purpose. Inappropriate use of restraints can also be considered physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse: includes any unwanted or inappropriate attention that is sexual in nature – fondling or touching, exposing oneself to a resident, or unnecessarily causing a resident to be naked can all be considered sexual abuse.
- Financial abuse: includes unauthorized use of a resident’s money, credit cards, or financial assets. This also includes billing for procedures that aren’t needed or weren’t received.
- Emotional abuse: is much more difficult to notice unless you witness it – but can include embarrassing a resident, belittling them, isolating residents, or threatening a resident (often to hide other forms of abuse).
What Does Nursing Home Neglect Look Like?
When our loved ones enter a nursing home, it is usually due to health concerns that are more than we can help them with on our own in our homes. We trust the nursing home staff to give these loved ones the attention and medical care that they critically need. What should we look for as red flags that perhaps our loved ones aren’t receiving the care they need? Some signs of nursing home neglect can include:
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Depression or isolation
- Continuous illnesses
- Unexplained injuries, falls, bruises, or sores
- Inadequate sanitation and hygiene
Because individuals of this population are considered “vulnerable adults” there are special legal considerations given to them. However, due to medical or other issues, they may not be able to tell us what is happening to them at the nursing home. It is important to be vigilant, and if you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect, contact an attorney right away.
At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we understand how devastating instances of elder abuse and neglect can be on the entire family. We feel it is important to talk about the issue and demand justice – not only for your own loved one, but also for the other individuals who may not have someone to advocate for them. If you suspect abuse or neglectful actions in a nursing home, call us today to speak with a local personal injury attorney – (888) 884-7337. We offer a free, no-obligations consultation and would be honored to earn your trust and help your loved ones live their golden years surrounded by love and respect.
How Can We Help You Fight For Justice In a Case of Nursing Home Neglect?
If you suspect neglect or abuse in a nursing home, it is important to find help right away. If neglect or abuse is happening to your loved one, it is most likely happening to many of the residents. You can be a force in stopping the abusive nature of the nursing home by bringing it to light. You can expect your personal injury attorney at Ritchie Reiersen Law to:
- Manage all communication with the nursing home, its insurance company, and its legal team;
- Fully investigate and collect evidence to support your claim, including gathering records that will prove the extent of damages your loved one has experienced;
- Help calculate the damages your loved one is owed due to their experiences and suffering;
- Communicate with you on a regular basis to keep you updated on the progress of your case;
- Attempt to negotiate a fair settlement agreement; and
- File a lawsuit on behalf of your loved one and represent your family in court, if necessary.
What Damages Are Available in Cases of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
As your legal representative, the personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law will listen to you and your loved ones experiences. We will fully investigate the situation. If we can prove that your loved one is experiencing abuse or neglect, we may be able to recover financial compensation for them. Some of the damages your loved one may be able to receive include:
- Expenses related to medical treatment
- Costs related to changing facilities
- Any out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred due to the neglect or abuse and the effects of that
- Reimbursement of money lost through financial abuse
- Damages for the pain and suffering your loved one experienced
Obviously no amount of financial compensation makes up for the neglect or abuse that was suffered – but it can bring a sense of justice to an unfortunate situation and help your loved one find a different nursing home facility if needed.
Why Choose Ritchie Reiersen Law to Help You Fight Nursing Home Neglect?
At Ritchie Reiersen Law, our clients come first. We are committed to treating all individuals with honor and respect. Not only are cases of nursing home abuse and neglect illegal, but it cuts deep in our hearts to see our valued older generation being mistreated. With a strong knowledge of the law and the ability to fight for the rights of your loved one, we will do everything in our power to not only put a stop to the abuse and neglect, but to help your loved one receive compensation for the damages they have had to endure. Our personal injury attorneys are passionate about standing up for justice and doing the right thing.
We offer a free consultation for all clients, and work on a contingency fee system. If we take your case, you don’t pay us until we win for you. There are no up-front costs, and no hidden expenses. We are open and honest in the way we conduct business, and we consider it an honor to earn your trust. Fighting against nursing home neglect can feel overwhelming – but you don’t have to do it alone. We have the skills and knowledge to take on that fight for you and help you and your loved ones find peace in their surroundings. Call us today at (888) 884-7337 and give us an opportunity to help relieve the suffering of your valued loved one.
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifies as nursing home abuse or neglect?
Nursing homes are where some of our most vulnerable loved ones live. They deserve to be in a facility that takes care of their needs and keeps them healthy and safe when they are unable to do so on their own. Nursing homes, at a very minimum, are expected to provide all the services that are necessary for the health and safety of the residents. This includes proper nutrition, clothing, shelter, hygiene, safety, supervision, and proper medical care.
Failure to provide these necessities constitutes neglect. Intentional failure to provide these necessities is considered abuse.
What is considered “exploitation” in a nursing home setting?
Exploitation is misuse of an older person’s funds, property, or person for personal gain or advantage. Often the resources in exploitation cases are obtained without the elderly person’s consent, or through undue influence, duress, false pretenses, or deception.
How prevalent is abuse or neglect in a nursing home?
In 2018, there were over 87,000 complaints of abuse or neglect happening in nursing homes; nearly 43% of these came from the residents themselves, according to the Administration for Community Living. While this is certainly not a problem all nursing home residents will have to experience, thankfully, it is more widespread than it should be. The best way to stop abuse and neglect from happening to our loved ones is to be aware of warning signs to watch for, and to keep an open dialogue and relationship with our older family members so we can take action if needed.
What are symptoms of neglect?
Some signs that could indicate a loved one is suffering from neglect could include bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, and poor hygiene. This can lead to infections, injuries, sepsis, and even death.
Are there warning signs to look for?
If you fear your loved one may be suffering from abuse or neglect, look for the following signs.
- Emotional changes: seeming upset, agitated, fearful, or withdrawn – especially around nursing home staff.
- Rapid weight changes, symptoms of malnutrition such as mouth sores, poor wound healing, bruising easily, etc.
- Unexplained injuries, such as cuts, bruises, or welts that are in different stages of healing.
- Sudden or unusual changes in behavior.
- Frequent illnesses, often not reported to family members.
Keep in mind that individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s may have difficulty communicating with you about what is happening to them. Others may hesitate to report abuse or neglect out of fear of receiving retribution from members of the nursing home staff.
What if my loved one is on Medicare and is in a nursing home and I suspect abuse?
Nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding are required to comply with federal regulations. According to CFR 483.13, nursing home residents have the “right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involunatry seclusion.” If you suspect abuse is happening to your loved one, call Adult Protective Services first; then consult with an experienced Nursing Home Abuse attorney. It is important to hold staff accountable for their actions, stop the abuse from happening, and stop funding facilities that aren’t able to meet the federal standard of care guidelines.
Should my loved one be in restraints in a nursing home?
While a nursing home is a medical facility, it is not a hospital and it is, in fact, the resident’s home. Use of restraints in a nursing home should only be done with extensive documentation and a direct written order by a physician. Restraints should be used sparingly, and only when all other attempts at keeping the individual safe have been unsuccessful.
Restraints include bed rails, wheel locks on wheelchairs that prohibit the resident from unlocking them, restraining jackets, wrist restraints, and hand restraints. Overusing restraints, or using restraints without a physician’s orders and without notifying the resident’s contact person can be considered abuse in most situations.
What are the common causes of abuse or neglect in a nursing home?
Inadequate staffing: Nursing homes often fail to provide adequate staffing around the clock. Staffing numbers are set by state regulations in many cases.
Poorly trained or untrained staff: All staff that provide direct care should be certified and properly trained. Some states have higher standards and regulations beyond this.
Lack of community: Many residents of nursing homes do not have frequent visitors. This can allow negligence to go on unreported for long periods of time.
Poorly maintained facilities or equipment: Because the residents of nursing homes tend to have greater medical needs than the average individual, it is imperative that all the equipment and the general facility in nursing homes are maintained properly and to a level that will provide safe use by residents.
I have a friend who is in a nursing home, and I believe she is being mistreated. Her family isn’t involved much with her. Can I report the abuse on her behalf?
Yes. Anyone who suspects that someone else is experiencing abuse or neglect has a duty and obligation to report those suspicions to the appropriate authorities. If you believe a nursing home resident is being abused or otherwise mistreated, call Adult Protective Services to make a report. Follow up with an experienced Nursing Home Abuse attorney to ensure the rights of your loved one are being protected.
What legal options are there for someone who has experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home?
There are three basic options for individuals who experience neglect or abuse in a nursing home.
Report to the appropriate protective service agency. This will usually lead to an investigation, which will take time. Results can be mixed. Often nursing homes can rise to the occasion and pass a random inspection without adequately changing their daily standard of care.
File a criminal complaint. If you believe the law has been broken, don’t be afraid to get involved and report this to the proper authorities. It is important that individuals as well as medical facilities are held accountable for their actions.
File a civil lawsuit. Individuals who have suffered damages can file a lawsuit against the nursing home. This includes residents, as well as family members in a case of wrongful death or medical malpractice.
What rights does a nursing home resident have?
A resident of a nursing home has the same basic rights as all other citizens living in the community. They are paying for the supervision and help in daily tasks, with the purpose and expectation of being safe and cared for. Every resident has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be free from harm. Failure to comply with these basic needs is a violation of their rights and often constitutes abuse or neglect.
Federal law guarantees the following:
- The right to participate in your care planning along with the right to refuse particular treatments.
- The right to privacy and to be treated with dignity and respect.
- The right to have your own physician and/or pharmacy.
- The right to be free from restraints.
- The right to be informed of nursing home policies and procedures.
- The right to know about all medical care and conditions.
- The right to know of the services the facility provides and the exact charges for such services.
- The right to privacy when it comes to your medical records.
- The right to use your own clothing and possessions.
- The right to manage personal finances.
- The right to be free from abuse in any form including: physical, sexual, neglect or isolation.
- The right to stay at a nursing home as long as the facility is capable of attending to medical needs, payment is timely made and the facility continues to operate.
- The right to speak freely about poor care.
- The right to have visitors.
For additional information, visit the Medicare website on nursing homes.
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