Abuse of any person at any age is disturbing and completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, we sometimes hear about staff actions in a nursing home environment that constitute physical abuse towards residents who are unable to defend themselves or report the abuse. These actions include:
- Sexual assault
When Can a Nursing Home Be Held Liable for Elder Neglect and Abuse?
If it can be proven that a nursing home or one of its employees has acted negligently, we could hold them liable for any damages that have resulted. Damages that can be sought in a nursing home abuse lawsuit include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
Some states further allow for punitive damages which aim to deter the defendant and others from continuing to engage in similar conduct, but these are typically awarded in rare cases.
The following scenarios could be grounds for filing a claim for nursing home abuse:
- Negligent hiring – nursing homes are obliged to hire personnel who are adequately qualified, have the required academic degrees for the position they are hired for, and do not have a record of violence or abuse. If nursing homes hire employees without doing the correct background checks, it’s the residents who are at risk and the home can be held responsible in the instance of abuse.
- Understaffed – according to reports, the average staff to resident ratio is 1 staff member for 1.64 residents. When a nursing home does not employ a good amount of staff members, residents risk being neglected as there is no one to take care of them. What’s more, a lack of staff per resident means staff members have to work harder and longer for inadequate compensation. This, in turn, results in stressed out staff members and a loss of compassion and morale. A nursing home may be found liable if one of the residents suffers an injury or even dies as a result of understaffing.
- Insufficient training – sometimes nursing homes fail to provide proper training to staff so that they are equipped to handle disobedient and disabled patients and therefore cannot provide the legally required level of care expected by the family. A nursing home can be held liable when poorly trained stuff lead to a patient getting injured.
- Third-party claim – a nursing home facility can be foundliable for any type of abuse caused by third parties in the nursing home facility. The facility has a duty to provide a safe environment. So, for example, if a resident is hurt by another resident, the home can be found liable if they did not provide adequate safety and security measures to prevent such an incident.
- Breach of regulatory or statutory rights – nursing home residents are fully entitled to privacy, dignity, and autonomy. A nursing home facility can be held responsible if one the employees violates any of these fundamental rights.
- Errors with medication – medications seem to go hand-in-hand with aging, and residents in nursing homes can suffer if they do not get the correct dose of medicine at the specified time. If a resident is hurt by a prescription drug error, the pharmacy, physician or pharmacist can be held liable.
When Do You Have a Case Against a Nursing Home?
Our expert team of lawyers at Dansker&Apsromonte have investigated a myriad of lawsuits on behalf of residents who suffer from one or more of the following types of abuse in a nursing home:
- Physical abuse – this is not just limited to physical contact and battery, but can also include overmedication, force-feeding, and even excessive use of physical or chemical restraint.
- Emotional abuse – mental abuse in such an environment can include isolation, threats, verbal degradation, insults, and sarcastic remarks. However, emotional abuse also refers to manipulation which takes place when staff members try to deceitfully influence a resident for their own good.
For example, residents could be manipulated into turning a blind eye to nursing home abuse for fear of being starved, left ungroomed, or left unbathed. What’s more, the residents could be manipulated into acting in ways that will not create certain difficulties for employees, but could well be harmful to the resident. For example, the resident could be scared to ask an employee for a snack or even a glass of water as they fear being hit or reprimanded. What then happens is that the resident becomes malnourished or dehydrated.
Furthermore, abuse in nursing homes can take the form of emotional threats. These occur when a patient is threatened into keeping silent about abuse that goes on in the facility.
Residents who are suffering from emotional abuse could well show less obvious signs of the abuse, such as mood swings, withdrawal, involuntary seclusion, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, strange behaviors like biting, rocking, and sucking, and unexplained confusion.
- Sexual abuse – this type of abuse in nursing homes can take place when a resident is tricked or forced into unwanted sexual contact or even when the person is too ill or too weak to give their consent. A nursing home resident may be sexually abused by another resident, a staff member, a stranger, a visitor, or even a family member.
- Financial abuse – financial abuse can occur in a nursing home when the person who is responsible for monitoring the resident’s spending habits exploits this position by misappropriating property, funds or any other assets. For instance, using property or funds to their own benefit, tardy bill payments, forging signatures to get access to possessions or funds, cashing in checks without consent from the resident, craftily getting a resident to sign a will or any other kind of legal document, and taking advantage of their power of attorney for their personal advancement.
- Neglect – neglect in the nursing home environment refers to the failure of the person’s caretaker to execute the degree of care that is expected of them in their position. Some of the regular types of neglect in a nursing home include:
- Failure to provide adequate shelter, clothing or food
- Failure to help with hygiene
- Not providing adequate medical treatment when needed
- Failure to acknowledge unsanitary conditions and the effects that has on residents
- Failure to address any safety and health hazards
Nursing Home Abuse – How to Recognize the Signs
Sometimes the signs of nursing home abuse are brushed under the carpet and considered indicators of dementia or old age. That is why it is important that loved ones recognize signs of abuse and mistreatment in residents. There are a couple of types of nursing home abuse, as you can see above, each with their own symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Emotional withdrawal
- Silence around the caretakers
- Bills gone unpaid by the elder
- Changes in power of attorney
- Physical discomfort
- Bruises on or around the person’s genitals
- Sudden financial difficulties
- Unexplained infections or diseases
- Changes in the person’s will
Most of the time, the residents in nursing homes are too ashamed or even disgusted to come out and tell anyone of the things they are experiencing. That is why it is important that families of these residents keep a close eye on them and seek legal guidance as soon as they think some form of abuse has taken place.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in a Facility?
Our knowledgeable and conscientious attorneys at New York City’s Dansker&Aspromonte are here to help if you suspect your loved one is being abused or harmed in a nursing home. Sometimes the only way to deter such activities in a nursing home is legal action that raises the chances of exposure and financial consequences. What’s more, you or your loved one may be entitled to a substantial compensation.
While we do our best to steer a claim towards an out-of-court settlement, we have a stellar reputation for seeking maximum compensation for our clients so that they can address injuries and suffering incurred due to nursing home physical abuse, negligence, and brutality.
Right from the beginning, we will build a strong case for trial which can involve:
- Embarking on a comprehensive investigation into whether training, hiring practices, and staff supervision at the nursing home complied with our New York state regulations and laws
- Calling upon experts and physicians to substantiate that the injuries incurred, including scarring, bruising, and broken bones, were caused by physical abuse or, if your loved one fell, that is could have, and should have, been prevented.
Call Us For a Free Consultation
Our attorneys have over 35 years of experience with nursing home physical abuse claims and have recovered hundreds of millions with our rigorous approach to claims. If you suspect your loved one is being abused in a nursing home facility, call Dansker&Aspromonte for a free consultation at 212-732-2929 or get in touch online. Our compassionate team are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.