Sending a loved one to a nursing home is often a difficult decision that often comes after trying other alternatives. When a loved one is sent to live in a nursing home, it is usually with the understanding that a professional organization can provide the proper care for him or her that is not otherwise available to the family.
However, nursing home abuse is all too common. It is important to take steps quickly after discovering nursing home abuse to protect your rights. An elder abuse lawyer can help families who learn their loved one is being mistreated.
Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse and sexual abuse. There are some signs that a nursing home resident may be being abused. He or she may have sudden changes in personality. He or she may become withdrawn or begin regressive habits, such as sucking his or her thumb or rocking back and forth. He or she may have a sudden change in appetite and weight loss. He or she may show signs of malnutrition or dehydration. The elderly person’s medication may be out of order or he or she may be missing glasses or a cane. The nursing home may impose restrictions so that loved ones cannot visit without notice. The elderly individual may have unexplained injuries. He or she may have unusual financial transactions occurring in his or her financial account.
Report an Emergency
If the situation rises to the emergency level, the family should contact authorities to ensure that their loved one receives emergency medical treatment or is removed from a dangerous situation. Taking this step can protect the loved one’s health. It also establishes a paper trail regarding the abuse.
Conduct an Investigation
Loved ones may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer once they believe that a loved one is being abused. He or she can help conduct an investigation. He or she can gather information to support the client’s claim. This may include taking pictures of the nursing home resident’s injuries or seeking medical records regarding these injuries or a worsening of conditions. The nursing home abuse lawyer may talk to other residents or caregivers who are not suspected of abuse.
Report the Abuse
The family may decide to report their suspicions of abuse to the nursing home. They may report it directly to the company that manages the nursing home, or they may decide to report it to a licensing agency or ombudsman. This may help launch an official investigation into the allegations of abuse.
Remove the Loved One from the Facility
If the nursing home does not take immediate action to protect the loved one from further abuse, the family may want to remove him or her from the facility. They may place the loved one in another facility that will provide the proper care for him or her.
Contact the Insurance Company
Before filing a lawsuit against the nursing home, the family may decide to contact the insurance company that insures the nursing home and file a claim with it. The nursing home may be covered by insurance that pays on claims of this nature. The nursing home insurance carrier may offer a settlement to avoid a lawsuit. However, this settlement may be a low figure that does not fully compensate a loved one for the pain and suffering that he or she has endured.
Initiate a Lawsuit
The next step is to file a lawsuit against the nursing home abuse. There may be a variety of causes of action that may be asserted against the nursing home. A nursing home abuse lawyer can explain the potential causes of action. For example, he or she may state that it is possible to bring a lawsuit based on a contract theory in which the nursing home agreed to provide proper medical care in exchange for payment for their services and the nursing home breached this agreement by allowing the resident to be abused. The lawyer may also state that the family can bring forth a tort claim, such as a claim based on assault or battery. The lawyer can explain what elements must be established to support a claim of this nature. A lawyer can also explain what the relevant statute of limitations is, which is the time limit that the family has to bring forth a lawsuit before the claim is barred.