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What are the signs of nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse can take on many forms including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Emotional abuse
- Mal-nourishment and dehydration
- Failure to administer medications properly
- Deviation from the standard of care
In some cases there are obvious physical signs that may point to nursing home abuse, including:
- Soiled clothing or bed sheets
- Unclean bandages
- Bedsores or open wounds
- Grogginess from over medication
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain with no explanation
- Unexplained hair loss
- Unexpected deterioration in health
Other signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Unresponsive or listless behavior
- Unexplained loss of personal items of value
- Unusual financial transactions such as large cash withdrawals
- Emotional or physical withdrawal
It is not acceptable for caregivers to keep patients in an overly-medicated state or to intimidate them with physical violence to keep them quiet.
What should I do if I suspect my loved one is being abused?
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, start by asking some questions. Next, take pictures of anything suspicious such as cuts, bruises, bed sore, soiled sheets or dirty bandages and overall lack of proper hygiene. If the abuse is in the form of stealing then document all the missing personal items and obtain banking records or financial statements that show any unauthorized transactions. Once basic documentation has been done, you must notify local law enforcement or the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and also the authorities at The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) about the suspected abuse. You may want to look into options to move your loved one into a better facility. Last but not least, seek legal representation from an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.
Why do I need to hire an experienced nursing home abuse attorney?
Nursing home abuse falls under negligence and personal injury law. In personal injury cases the victim greatly benefits from having an advocate to stand up for their legal rights, stop the abuse and negotiate the biggest settlement possible. Don’t forget that the nursing home will likely try to contact you directly to settle your claim; their insurance agency may also try to offer a low settlement. Never sign anything from the nursing home or their insurance agency without the input of a nursing home abuse lawyer. Personal injury lawyers are very familiar with state laws and victim’s rights around nursing home negligence and abuse. They are the best way for you to determine whether you have a case and its value.
What will it cost me to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer?
Personal injury clients only pay a percentage of the settlement; there are no up-front costs to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer. The attorney is motivated to resolve cases for the highest amount possible as their clients are not required to pay anything up front and only pay attorney fees if they get monetary damages for their client.
What damages can be recovered in a nursing home abuse or negligence claim?
In most cases, victims of nursing home abuse are eligible to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include the cost to re-locate to a new nursing home, funeral expenses and additional medical care needed because of the abuse. Non-economic damages may include compensation for physical and/or emotional pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. In WA State there is no cap on economic or non-economic damages but punitive damages are very rarely allowed.
How long does it take to get a nursing home abuse settlement?
Each case will vary in length depending on the complexity and severity of the abuse/injuries and whether the case can be settled out of court or must go to trial. It is in the victim’s best interest to take the time to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer as research has shown that lawyers get settlements several times bigger than what a person could negotiate on their own.
What elements must be proved for a successful nursing home abuse / neglect injury claim?
There are many things needed to prove a case of nursing home abuse or neglect which is why hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer is so important.
- A caregiver/client relationship must be established that proves the nursing home owed your relative a “duty of care”
- Prove that the nursing home or caregiver breached the “duty of care” through negligence. Helpful evidence includes negligent hiring, inadequate training, lack of proper employee screening, breach of obligations, medication errors or that any criminal activity was responsible for the abuse or neglect.
- Prove that the injury incurred was directly related to the abuse or neglect