Nursing homes are supposed to be a safe haven for older adults. Approximately 38.6% of residents at these institutions are older than 85 years. Usually, their family members choose such facilities because they don’t need hospitalization but cannot be treated at home.
These medical care institutions have skilled nursing aids to offer 24/7 care for every patient or resident. According to MedlinePlus, the staff at nursing homes provide exceptional medical care and occupational therapy. The administration always encourages the employees to develop personal relationships with the residents to ensure personalized care.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows at these institutions. One of the common issues faced by residents is nursing home neglect and abuse. Yes, residents might not get the care they deserve, which affects their physical and mental health. Statistics suggest that 15.3% of abuse complaints against the staff are for neglect.
In this blog, we will discuss the three things you need to do if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect.
#1. Understand the Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Do you think your loved one might be facing nursing home abuse or neglect, but you aren’t sure? That’s when you check for possible signs. The red flags you need to investigate include the following:
- Physical bruises like cuts and blood clots in various parts of the body
- Untreated injuries or illnesses, along with an untidy appearance
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases as signs of sexual abuse
- A sudden negative change in emotions, like an increased level of fear, depression, and confusion
- Strange financial transactions that the victim cannot explain
Furthermore, 24.3% of residents in nursing homes and their families reported at least one physical abuse incident. These instances can lead the victims to develop long-term disabilities like head injuries, broken bones, chronic pain, and infections. Similarly, 81% of staff have seen emotional abuse at such institutions.
Apart from these, other signs of nursing home abuse or neglect include anxiety, loss of weight, poor hygiene, and withdrawal from friends and family. All these can have a devastating physical and emotional effect on older adults. If the abuse continues, they can eventually stop trusting people and refuse to get any help.
When you’ve noticed these signs, it’s time to talk to the ombudsman. They will listen to your story and find ways to resolve the issue. But what if the financial exploitation becomes too expensive or the ombudsman’s solution doesn’t resolve the situation? Then, you can hire a lawyer.
#2. Hire a Lawyer
The next step is to call or hire a lawyer based in the victim’s state. With their experience in personal injury cases, they will help you file legal claims for damages caused. After assessing the victim’s medical damages and expenses, they will communicate with the insurance companies involved. All these will ensure that the plaintiff receives the rightfully owned compensation from the negligent parties.
The legal industry believes that the average settlement from nursing home abuse cases can be between USD 400,000 and USD 1 million. However, it depends on the state laws, the extent of damages, and the experience of the lawyers you hire. Even the statute of limitations will vary depending on the state regulations.
Let’s take Chicago, for example. Recently, plaintiffs received the largest nursing home verdict of USD 5.5 million. The case was against a Chicago-based nursing facility responsible for making patients suffer emotional and physical damage.
Similarly, at the East Chicago nursing home, a 96-year-old woman with dementia was sexually assaulted by a male resident. The victim’s family has since sued the abuser and the staff for their negligent behavior.
Back in 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported Wentworth Rehab Nursing Home had shut down due to serious allegations of repeated neglect, carelessness, and abuse. The following year, two Chicago-based nursing assistants were found guilty of taunting and terrorizing a 91-year-old patient for having dementia. All this proves how common nursing home neglect is in Chicago.
If you suspect that a family member residing in the city’s nursing facilities is being abused, then you’ll need an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer. They will help you file cases against the institution if a case of abuse or neglect happens.
These lawyers will help you gather proper evidence and make substantial demands on the victim’s behalf. Finding such an attorney will be easy because the city recognizes senior abuse at such facilities as a growing public health issue.
According to TorHoerman Law, the statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the injury date. This type of civil lawsuit will require the attorneys to mitigate injuries, assess damages, and gather evidence.
#3. Gather Evidence
With the help of a lawyer, you can prove that the nursing home is physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing your loved one. That’s because they’ll help you understand the kind of evidence you need to gather to strengthen the case. Without evidence, your lawsuit will not stand a chance against such facilities.
Yes, evidence plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of your lawsuit. Consider this evidence as a way to prove that your loved one has indeed suffered at the hands of the staff members. With proof, you can catch the abusers red-handed and hold them responsible for any damages caused.
Ideally, a lawyer will ask you to follow these guidelines to understand when and how you can get the evidence:
- Be in constant contact with your loved one, and ask how they are being treated regularly.
- Write down the dates and incidents when you witnessed something amiss that caught your eye.
- Collect medical records and financial reports to check for possible signs of abuse and neglect.
- Document unexplained behavioral changes in your loved one’s overall mood or temperament.
Furthermore, you should check how many times they were physically restrained. Remember to keep track of their weight and take complaints about mistreatment seriously. Photographic and video evidence of abuse or neglect can also help strengthen your lawsuit.
The Bottom Line
Most of the staff members at nursing homes are usually exhausted. Due to that, they feel frustrated and can abuse or harm nursing home residents. Moreover, abuse can result from greed, lack of training, and understaffing.
But irrespective of the reason for nursing home neglect or abuse, victims can gain hefty compensation if they file a lawsuit. However, it depends on how severe the neglect or abuse was and on potential medical malpractice. That’s why you must understand the signs, hire a lawyer, and gather incriminating evidence.