When you place a loved one into a care home, you expect them to be taken care of by professional and well-meaning staff members. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many residents suffer from nursing home abuse. If this is the situation you find yourself in, it’s time to contact an attorney and file a nursing home lawsuit. Read on to find out what evidence you will need to provide in order to receive the maximum compensation possible.
Proving Duty Of Care
The first thing you’ll have to prove when filing a lawsuit is that the nursing home in question has a duty of care. This is generally quite easy because assisted living facilities and licensed residential care homes are subject to strict rules and criteria in Missouri, governed by the Department of Health and Senior Services. If your elderly relative was living in such a home, the staff automatically have a duty to care for him or her.
Aside from not causing any harm, this also includes neglect, which is much more common than physical or sexual abuse. By law, nursing homes must provide their residents with enough water, nutritious meals, appropriate medication and care, and assistance when completing daily tasks such as going to the bathroom or dressing themselves. All of this and more is part of a nursing home’s duty of care.
Proving Nursing Home Abuse
Next, you will need to prove that a breach of the duty of care has taken place. The easiest type to spot is physical abuse, which may be visible in the form of scrapes, bruises, or other injuries. This often requires treatment, so a medical paper trail will be left behind. In case your resident has been abused financially, you may also have a clear indication of this due to the records kept by banks and other financial institutions.
However, if the neglect is due to negligence, this may be less visible and harder to prove. It’s important to consider all options, such as the resident’s diary entries, any photographs or video evidence, notes taken during conversations with the nursing home’s staff, photographs or other records of the medication given to the resident, and any notes family members have kept over the past months detailing the state of health of the affected resident.
Proving That the Resident Has Suffered Harm
Finally, it’s important to prove that the neglect has resulted in significant harm to the patient. Often, abuse and neglect in a nursing home can lead to very severe issues, such as injuries, a low quality of life, and even death. In this section, let’s explore the different times of abuse and how you may be able to prove that the resident has suffered as a result.
There are a number of ways patients can be hurt by staff members in a nursing home. For example, they can be pushed, shoved, hit, kicked, or force-fed. This can lead to further complications and even early death if it’s not addressed. As soon as you notice the first signs of physical abuse, remove your elderly resident from the situation and contact your lawyer.
If the resident has been abused physically, this is usually easy to prove. There may be medical records of treatments related to the injuries, and the physical signs of abuse are easy to see. Another useful piece of evidence is photographs related to the incidents.
A particularly disturbing type of elder abuse is of sexual nature. Although it is rare that this involves a staff member, residents sometimes abuse each other, which can be just as traumatic and life-changing. It may involve inappropriate touching, someone exposing themselves in front of the resident without his or her consent, and any type of forced sexual actions.
When you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, look out for this type of crime, as it is not often reported. Evidence may come in the form of behavioral changes, blood in the undergarments, bruises or other marks, and any records of the behavior, whether in written or oral form. Make sure to keep extensive notes of any incidents or issues.
Emotional abuse is less visible, but just as damaging, and can usually be spotted in behavioral changes of the resident in question. It includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, embarrassing residents in front of each other, and isolating them from social contact. Emotional abuse isn’t always verbal, as nonverbal communication can be at play.
With this issue, it’s important to keep a very close eye on the resident, as the signs are not as clear-cut as with other types of abuse. Despite this, they will suffer great mental harm if the abuse is allowed to continue.
Sometimes, elderly people who are no longer capable of dealing with their own finances are taken advantage of, for example by staff members or other residents who steal money, valuable items, or even their identity. Keep close tabs on your resident’s possessions and financial assets to make sure that they are not stolen or misappropriated.
Unlawful Use of Restraints
There are certain laws surrounding the use of restraints, both chemical and physical. By restraining a resident against their will, nursing staff are violating their basic human rights to freedom and dignity, which clearly constitutes harm. Although this type of abuse sometimes leaves physical marks, this is not always the case. Evidence may also be found in the form of emotional changes, statements by the resident, and photographic or video evidence.
Finally, one of the most common types of abuse is neglect, which means that the nursing home did not provide the care they promised they would. The vast majority of homes are severely understaffed, so that there may be too many residents per staff member to be able to attend to all of their needs.
In such a case, you may discover body odor or soiled clothing if they are not bathed and washed regularly, weight loss if they are not fed well, as well as worry, anxiety, and depression. Another clear sign of neglect is bedsores, which indicate that your loved one has been left lying or sitting in the same position for too long. Check their hips, back, and shoulders to see whether they suffer from these painful welts.
Filing Your Nursing Home Lawsuit
Now that you know what evidence you may need to be successful in your lawsuit, it’s time to contact an attorney. Although abuse is clearly unlawful and needs to be compensated, injured parties are not always awarded all they are due, such as reimbursement for medical costs, mental pain, emotional distress, and physical pain. To make sure the process is smooth and you get the highest compensation possible, you’ll need to hire an expert.
What’s more, the process of filing a lawsuit can be very stressful and emotional, especially if an elderly person you love has been harmed. Engaging an impartial outsider with plenty of experience in this field can help you to make good decisions, even when emotions are running high. Your lawyer can make sure your lawsuit goes smoothly and give you guidance at every step of the way.
Nursing home abuse is a very serious issue that affects many people in the final stages of their lives. If your loved one is affected by this, contact The Nail Law Firm today to consult with an experienced and highly-rated attorney. Roger Nail will help you to file your nursing home lawsuit and receive the compensation you deserve.