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Spotting Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Are you concerned with potential nursing home abuse involving a friend or family member? Elder abuse, unfortunately, is relatively common. Learning to look for signs of abuse and knowing what recourse you have will help you win compensation and hold people accountable. The team at Leighton Law specializes in representing victims of nursing abuse and their families. Contact us to hear how we can help. 

When you arrange for your loved one to stay in a nursing home, everyone operates with the belief or hope they are happy and healthy.

No one wants to imagine that their relative may suffer abuse at the hands of staff or medical professionals.

Whether it’s neglect or willful abuse, seniors across the country experience abuse every day. It’s an unfortunate reality of life.

Unfortunately, like many instances of abuse, nursing abuse is notoriously underreported. As a result, people cannot communicate the abuse, or they live in fear of repercussions.

Consider the case of nursing home residents who are non-verbal or have dementia. It may be impossible for them to let their families know what’s going on. In some unfortunate cases, nursing home abuse victims worry others won’t believe them. These nursing home patients are the most vulnerable members of society.

Spotting the signs of nursing home abuse is important to recognizing bad situations. In addition, it’s the first step in pursuing a claim against a medical facility, individual employees, and the companies that operate nursing homes.

How Nursing Home Victims Suffer in Silence

Nursing home abuse is easy to cover up. Employees and other caregivers can brush off bruises and other injuries, especially when victims don’t have full mental capacity.

Older adults fall down or move slowly. They bump into things or cut themselves shaving. Elders bruise more easily than younger people.

These are all reasons given in response to questions from family members. It’s common for nursing home victims to put up little resistance because they:

  • Fear further abuse
  • Worry their family won’t believe them
  • Are under threat of lack of food and other care
  • Feel abandoned
  • Don’t fully recognize that they are being abused or neglected

There are many more reasons why victims either say little or nothing at all. They feel alone, and it’s hard to question the administrative power of medical facilities like nursing homes. So, they acquiesce and hope things go away.

The balance of power is skewed, for somewhat understandable reasons, in the company’s or nursing home’s favor. They have to bathe, feed, and otherwise care for people who can’t do things for themselves. In essence, they hold all of the chips.

Spotting the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse – What to Look For

How do you know when something is an accident, and something is abuse? It’s a valid point. Older people do have accidents. However, you should take seriously any outward sign of injury or verbal abuse complaint.

Sometimes, people hurt residents and patients purposefully. Other times, it’s neglect that causes injuries. Both are cause for concern and valid reasons to pursue claims against a nursing home or other responsible parties.

Here are some things to look for when spotting signs of nursing home abuse.

  • Frequent bruising or marks on the skin
  • Serious injuries that don’t align with a person’s physical fitness or routines
  • Increased anxiety or outward expressions of fear around certain individuals
  • Flinching on appropriate human contact
  • Lack of appetite or refusal to eat
  • Explicit complaints about abuse
  • Unexpected weight loss

Sometimes neglect is due to under-staffing of facilities.  Profit motives have a very strong impact in nursing homes and if the operator can use two staff where four should be on duty, they pocket the difference.  This is one of the most significant causes of neglect and abuse.  But there are industry and state standards for staffing.

It’s challenging to know the difference between abuse and aging. However, in many cases, the signs of abuse are clear.

What to Do If You Suspect Abuse

What should you do if you suspect nursing home abuse involving your loved one?

It’s a tricky situation. Even bringing up the possibility of abuse feels very intimidating. However, your family’s health and safety are on the line. This is not time to feel embarrassed or hesitant about the situation.

Follow these steps:

  1. Believe – Believe yourself or anyone else who claims abuse is happening. Don’t be quick to dismiss their sudden lack of appetite or lower desire to interact with you or anyone else in the nursing home. Pay attention to any bruises or other injuries.
  2. Document – Take pictures and record statements. Take dates of what happened and when. Pay attention to how your relative acts around the people who care for them.
  3. Get safe – Remove your loved one from the situation as safely and quickly as possible.
  4. Involve the authorities – Yes, call the police. Report your suspicions and any hardcore evidence of abuse.
  5. Hire a nursing abuse attorney – Hire a lawyer with experience in nursing home abuse cases to handle your case.
  6. File a claim and pursue it – Seek justice for the abuse.

These steps don’t always happen in an exact order, which is fine. Both the authorities and any attorneys you speak with will guide you in the right direction.

The Impact of Spotting Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

In many cases, spotting signs of nursing home abuse early on saves lives. It prevents physical and emotional stress and significantly improves victims’ quality of life.

People in nursing homes frequently receive less attention than other abuse victims. It’s wrong and needs to change. Everyone deserves to live with respect and dignity, no matter what kind of treatment they need.

Not only will spotting early abuse avoid future injuries, but it will also prevent other instances of abuse. Often, abusers abuse multiple victims. They vent their stress or take out frustration on people who can’t defend themselves.

Spotting abuse and working with a lawyer to pursue a personal injury claim will help:

  • Cover medical costs
  • Shine light on other instances of abuse
  • Protect victims
  • Recover any lost or stolen property
  • Lead to treatment for mental and physical distress
  • Obtain compensatory damages and sometimes punitive damages

Finding a lawyer you can work with can make your efforts more effective and resolve your situation faster.

Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Expert Attorney – What You Should Know

The legal team you hire will have a significant impact on your case. Ideally, you’ll hire a lawyer who has extensive experience representing nursing home abuse victims. They’ll know what to look for and how to defend your family aggressively.

Here are some ways you can narrow your search and better ensure you have the kind of support you need.

  • A Proven Track Record – Does the lawyer have a track record of successfully representing nursing home abuse victims? The right lawyer will have a demonstrated history of winning cases and significant settlements for families.
  • Availability – Are they free to cover your case and dedicate the time you need? These are complex cases that require a great deal of time and focus. You need someone in the trenches with you.
  • Resources – A good lawyer will have medical help and experts available for evidence finding. These are people who will prove abuse claims and make your case tight.
  • Court Experience – Large investors and companies with deep pockets often back nursing homes. It would be best if you prepared for the chance of going to court. If there are criminal charges, the authorities will handle those separately from your personal injury claims. However, court experience is still essential if your case moves to trial.
  • Experience – A nursing home abuse legal specialist knows what to look for and which questions to ask. They can get to a deeper level of understanding faster than other people. There’s no time to waste when you’re worried about potential abuse.

Why Nursing Home Care Is So Important

Nursing home patients deserve the highest level of care available. These are people at or near the end of their lives.

Just because someone is old or near death doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention, food, warmth, proper hygiene, and other hallmarks of good medical treatment. We owe the most senior members of our society the best care and concern, not the least.

Thankfully, recent cases and regulations place strict requirements on things like employee screening, shift length, care supervision, etc., to decrease the chance of nursing home abuse.

However, abuse still happens every day to someone in a nursing home.

In any instance of provable abuse, the assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other facilities are civilly liable. In addition, they must pay damages to victims as compensation for the abuse and safeguard against future abuse.

These people are vulnerable members of society. They deserve protection under the law and receive damages when things go wrong.

The team at Leighton Law specializes in protecting and representing victims of nursing home abuse. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to discuss the details of what’s going on and how you can establish a case going forward. Find out how you can start protecting your loved one today by taking the necessary steps to prevent abuse and pursue justice under the law.

Article by:

John Leighton

A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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