When your loved one is taken care of in a nursing home, you expect that they will be provided with high-quality long-term care that they deserve. You expect it to be a home where your loved one, who may be elderly or disabled, will be kept safe and treated with dignity. Sadly, not all nursing home residents are kept safe from danger and given the peace that they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, please know that you have legal rights and do not have to just put up with the illegal acts being done against you. Our nursing home abuse lawyers at Shegerian & Associates will work hard on your behalf to hold nursing homes accountable for their actions and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Sadly, nursing home abuse is more common than you may expect. According to statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2022, 1 in 6 people 60 years or older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the previous year.
Nursing home abuse protections in California also apply to “dependent adults,” who are considered 16-64-year-old individuals with physical or mental limitations that limit their ability to carry out typically normal activities and protect their rights.
Abuse occurs when nursing home staff intentionally or negligently inflict some type of harm onto its residents. The main types of abuse that occur in nursing homes are:
Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home resident suffers bodily injury, harm, or pain that is inflicted by a caregiver, nursing home staff, or another resident. Physical abuse may include:
- Pushing or shoving
- Rough handling
- Inappropriate restraint
Every year, thousands of nursing home residents suffer from injuries from physical abuse. In some cases, the abuse can lead to permanent damage or can exacerbate an already serious health condition. Signs of physical abuse among residents often involve unexplained injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
Emotional abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member or another resident inflicts psychological distress on a resident by insulting them or using threats to control them. Types of emotional abuse include:
- Insulting the resident’s appearance or intelligence
- Isolation from friends and family
- Making threats
Residents who suffer emotional abuse may exhibit negative changes in their mood or behavior. Victims may also develop long-term mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Neglect is a form of nursing home abuse, although it differs in how the harm is inflicted. While abuse occurs intentionally and directly, neglect is often the result of carelessness on the part of the nursing home. For instance, when a nursing home facility or home health agency is careless in its ability to maintain a safe environment for residents, nursing home neglect may be found.
Neglect is often the result of negligent hiring, inadequate staffing, and poor training. Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Poor personal hygiene of residents
- Medication errors
- Bedsore or pressure ulcers
- Ignoring a resident’s requests or complaints
Sexual abuse in nursing homes occur when a resident experiences any form of unwanted sexual contact against their will. This is considered sexual assault. It can also occur to elderly or disabled residents who are unable to legally give consent. Nursing home sexual abuse can lead to harm in the form of:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Emotional trauma
Financial abuse of the elderly is becoming far too prevalent an issue to be ignored. According to MetLife, older Americans lose an estimated $26 million each year due to financial exploitation and abuse.
Financial abuse may involve:
- Forgery of signatures
- Use or property without permission
- Exposure to financial scams or schemes
- Use of deception and undue influence to obtain money or financial authority
- Promising favors, protection or special care in order to gain access to finances or private financial information
Financial abuse of the elderly is not limited to theft or robbery. It can also include coercion and fraud. This may happen even if an elderly individual is receiving fixed income or other types of government assistance. It’s important to be aware of the many ways that the safety of elderly individuals can be threatened, especially when their finances are accessible to those entrusted with their care.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is underreported in America due to a variety of reasons, including residents’ inability of victims to communicate, confusion due to dementia, and fear of retaliation. It is crucial that family members and loved ones ensure that they are able to recognize the warning signs of nursing home abuse. This way, they are able to advocate on the elderly’s behalf and know when to seek help from a nursing home attorney.
Warning signs may include:
- Frequent visits to the ER
- Unexplained injuries
- Changes in the resident’s mood or behavior
- Poor personal hygiene
- Infections or bedsores
- Fear when a certain staff member is near
- Contracting a sexually transmitted disease
- Unusual bank account withdrawals or gifts given to staff
What To Do When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you believe that you or your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you have legal rights and options. First and foremost, you should ensure that your loved one is out of harm’s way. If necessary, call 9-1-1 to request paramedics and help from the police. After this, you can any or all of the following:
- Report the issue to Adult Protective Services (APS) by calling the Elder Abuse Hotline or filing a report online
- Report the issue to your local Ombudsman office, a part of the California Department of Aging who investigates the claim before moving it to forward to the California Department of Public Health
- Report the abuse to police in order to pursue criminal action
- File a nursing home abuse civil lawsuit for damages in the county where the abuse occurred
Once you have reported the nursing home abuse to the proper authorities and taken steps to ensure your loved one’s safety, the next step is to contact a nursing home abuse attorney near you. Nursing home neglect lawyers are able to review your case for free and pursue compensation and justice on your family’s behalf.
When a nursing home abuse claim is made, it is the responsibility of the party bringing about the claim to meet the burden of proof. This means the amount of evidence necessary to show that the claim is more likely to be true than not true. In general, negligence must be shown to have existed for a nursing home abuse claim to be successful. Evidence that can shown negligence include:
- Past complaints against the facility
- Signed statements from eyewitnesses
- Surveillance camera footage
- Photographs of injuries
- Testimony from qualified experts
- Medical records
- Proof of financial losses, such as bank statements and receipts
- A copy of the police report
If you and your nursing home abuse attorney successfully prove that nursing home abuse did occur, you may be entitled to financial compensation for a variety of losses. While no amount of money can take away the pain of knowing that your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, it can alleviate your family’s financial stress during this time and bring peace knowing that responsible parties will be held accountable. Damages you may receive include:
- Medical bills and healthcare expenses
- Bills related to ongoing care
- Psychological medical treatment
- Any lost wages or inheritance
- Emotional harm
- Psychological damage
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death damages
We Are Here to Protect Your Family
Coming to grips with the fact that a family member or loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse can be extremely devastating. Many families are left with no one to turn to in order to seek justice for the silent suffering of an elderly parent or relative. However, both federal and state laws exist for families in need of help keeping their loved ones safe.
If you suspect nursing home abuse has occurred to someone you know, do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys today. We specialize in upholding the rights of the elderly in cases of abuse, neglect and beyond. Our nursing home abuse lawyers are well-versed in the area of elder care and nursing home abuse and are standing by to help. Call Shegerian & Associates today to get the justice you deserve.