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When Can You Sue for Negligence at a Nursing Home?

LeeAnn Riddle   |  August 19, 2018   |  

Many nursing home patients need constant attention, both physically and mentally. Although this is the attention our loved ones deserve, it may not always be the treatment they receive. Studies indicate that between one and two million Americans over the age of 65 have been victims of neglect and or abuse. It is often hard for nursing home residents to communicate that they are being neglected or abused. Thus, it is important to know the warning signs of mistreatment in a nursing home.

What Are the Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse?

Physical abuse is the most obvious form of neglect in a nursing home. There are many signs of physical abuse, but some include bedsores, mysterious bruising or bleeding, cuts, swelling, burns, soiled clothes, infections, under or overmedication, frozen joints, malnutrition, dehydration, considerable weight loss or weight gain and unexplained death.

Emotional abuse is neglect when an employee or caretaker is mean to the patient or does not give the patient the proper level of care they need. Possible instances of emotional abuse are insults, verbal threats, manipulation, humiliation, isolation, neglect, and harassment. Signs pointing to emotional abuse include depression, anxiety, sudden erratic behavior, emotional withdrawal, mood swings, agitation, the disappearance of personal items, and low self-esteem.

Sexual abuse is a serious form of nursing home abuse. A caretaker may engage in non-consensual contact with a patient. Possible examples of this include sexual assault or battery, rape, forced nudity, sodomy, sexually explicit photography, and sexual harassment. Signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home include bruising around the genital area or chest, unexplained genital infections, trouble sitting or walking, vaginal or anal bleeding, and stained or bloody sheets or clothing. These actions may be carried out by a caretaker, family member, stranger, or by another resident.

Lastly, financial abuse is rampant in the realm of elderly care. Common occurrences of financial abuse include deceiving a resident into signing a financial document, cashing a patient’s personal check, taking a patient’s possessions, using a resident’s ATM card, and providing medical or attendant care services that are not necessary. Signs of financial abuse are abrupt changes in a patient’s will or other financial documents, unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, the signing of contracts without the family’s involvement, forged signatures, and changes in banking practices.

The elderly are so vulnerable and the least likely to report nursing home abuse. Therefore, family members must be vigilant, alert and proactive. If you notice changes in your family member’s behavior or personality, please seek help.

What is Negligence?

Most civil lawsuits come down to the legal theory of negligence. “Negligence” is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. Nursing homes must adhere to a mandated standard of care. A deviation from the standard of care can be negligence. In terms of nursing home lawsuits, negligence can refer to any breach of duty of care to residents. The Federal law requires nursing homes to care for the wellbeing of patients on physical, emotional, and psychosocial levels. Any breach of these duties, resulting in the harm of a resident or patient, may qualify as neglect.  If injuries result from the negligence then the patient may be entitled to compensation for damages.

How Can I Fight Against Nursing Home Abuse?

Every state has resources including helplines, hotlines, explanations of the law, and links to relevant organizations. For all state-specific resources, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) website.

Even after contacting an organization, it is important to get quality legal representation to receive a favorable outcome. If you have a loved one that you believe may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, you may be able to seek justice through a nursing home lawsuit. Contact the compassionate Goldsboro nursing home abuse lawyers at Riddle & Brantley today. Our representatives are available 24/7 and our consultation is always free.