Have you or someone you love suffered abuse in a nursing home in Bakersfield? Did this abuse cause you serious injury or trauma? If so, you should consider speaking to the Bakersfield personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw about filing a claim or lawsuit for compensation.
We have almost two decades of experience helping Bakersfield residents and others get compensation for their injuries, and we can use that experience to help you and your loved ones. Call us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the just compensation you deserve.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
Nursing home abuse is causing harm to residents of a nursing home or care facility through action or inaction, either intentionally or unintentionally. It comes in many different forms, and sadly, is a growing problem in the United States. Two out of three staff members of nursing homes or care centers report abusing a resident in some form in the last year.
According to the National Council on Elder Abuse, there were approximately 52.4 million adults over 65 in the United States in 2018. By 2040 this number is expected to grow to over 80 million. As the aging population increases, nursing homes all over the country fill up quickly, and the instances of abuse grow more frequent. Also, very little nursing home abuse is reported. The World Health Organization estimates that only one in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported to the appropriate authorities. This is due to a variety of factors, like fear of retaliation or inability to report the abuse.
There are many different types of nursing home abuse, such as:
- Psychological or emotional abuse. This can be something as simple as mocking an elder-care resident and also includes threats, harassment, humiliation, verbal assaults, intimidation, or isolation.
- Neglect. This form of abuse is almost in a category of its own as it covers a wide range of possible actions or inaction. The NCEA defines neglect as “the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties of care to an elder.” This can include denying or forgetting to provide basic necessities such as food, water, clothing, hygiene, shelter, medical help, or personal safety.
- Physical abuse. This includes any non-consensual physical contact with an elder that can cause bodily harm, such as shoving, pushing, hitting, grabbing, restraining, shaking, slapping, kicking, and burning.
- Financial abuse. This includes any illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds or assets. It also includes deceiving an elder into signing documents or misuse of conservatorship or power of attorney.
- Sexual abuse. Any non-consensual sexual contact with an elder, including sexual assault or harassment, or any sexual contact with an elder incapable of providing consent.
- Desertion or abandonment. Deserting an elder for whom you are responsible for providing care. An example could be leaving an elderly immobile person strapped into a wheelchair for unreasonable periods of time.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Knowing the signs of abuse or neglect is key to stopping and preventing it. Here are some key signs to look out for:
- Feelings of despair
- Lack of self-care
- Increase in dementia-like symptoms, such as biting or rocking
- Withdrawal from daily life
- Distress or agitation
- Sudden changes in bank account information or large sums missing
- Abrupt changes to a will or other document
- Disappearance of possessions
- Depression or anxiety
- Unexplained injuries like abrasions or bruises
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections
- Change in sleep patterns
- Torn or bloody underwear
- Fear of nursing home staff
- Behavioral changes
- Appearance of unexplained injuries, such as bruises, abrasions, broken bones, burns, or open wounds
- Signs of a recent struggle, such as broken personal items or overturned furniture
- Evidence of physical restraints
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Untreated injuries or wounds
- Food or water deprivation
What to Do if You See Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you believe someone you love is suffering a form of abuse while under the care of a nursing home in Bakersfield, the first thing to do is talk with your OnderLaw attorney to determine whether your loved one is in danger and should be removed from the facility immediately. If not, here are some steps you can take to stop the abuse and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
- Start documentation immediately. If you suspect abuse, it’s important to start gathering documentation to prove it as soon as possible. Take photos, ask questions, take notes on what you and others have seen or heard. This information will be invaluable to your attorney later on in this process.
- Start by talking to the staff. A good portion of nursing home abuse or neglect is unintentional. Though this doesn’t absolve staff or administrators of their duty to care for their residents, it may explain why you see signs of abuse. Let the staff know about the problems you’ve witnessed and give them a chance to correct them before moving ahead.
- Talk to the Ombudsman. Most nursing homes have a patient advocate, or ombudsman, either on staff or working in the facility as a volunteer. This person’s job is to act as a liaison between residents and staff and work to prevent abuse and resolve disputes. If the staff or administrators don’t correct the problems you’ve seen, advise the ombudsman of the signs of abuse and see if they can help.
- Talk to the Family Council. If the ombudsman is unable to resolve the issue, see if the nursing home has a Family Council. This is a group of concerned family members or friends of residents that meet regularly without staff present and act as a unified voice to bring problems to facility management. If you’ve noticed signs of abuse, chances are others on the Family Council have seen it as well.
- Contact authorities. If you’ve exhausted all other options, it may be time to remove your family member from the facility and contact local authorities. Notify local police and California’s Adult Protective Services of the abuse, and remove your loved one as soon as possible.
- Contact an attorney. If you haven’t already, contact an attorney and retain legal counsel immediately. Advise them of the situation and provide them with the documentation you’ve gathered showing the signs of abuse. They will advise you on next steps.
Here is some contact information for local authorities to report elder abuse:
California Adult Protective Services has a hotline to report any and all signs of elder abuse 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1-833-401-0832.
Kern County Adult Protective Services
5357 Truxtun Ave
Bakersfield CA 93309
Long Term Care Ombudsman: 661-323-7884
Bakersfield Police Department
1601 Truxtun Ave
Bakersfield CA 93301
Kern County Sheriff’s Office
1350 Norris Rd
Bakersfield CA 93308
Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Compensation for injury claims depends on the losses or damages sustained as a result of the accident or abuse. Determining the exact amount you might be able to obtain for your nursing home abuse case is nearly impossible, as each case is unique with unique circumstances, but in general, the more severe or traumatic the injury or abuse, the more you should demand in compensation.
Damages with an exact monetary amount attached are called economic damages. Some examples include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Household expenses
- Lost opportunity
- Property damage
Damages that do not have an exact monetary amount attached and relate to the injury or abuse itself are called non-economic, or general damages. There are several different types of non-economic damages, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Here are some statistics on nursing home abuse in California and elsewhere:
- The NCEA predicts that the number of Americans over age 85 will increase from 6.7 million to 19 million by 2060.
- About one in six people over age 60 experienced abuse in institutional settings at least once in the past year in the United States.
- Older adults will outnumber children in America by 2035.
- California’s elder population is expected to double between 2000 and 2025.
- 13% of all reports to California’s Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman in 2009 involved some form of abuse or neglect.
Why Choose OnderLaw for My Nursing Home Abuse Case?
There are several reasons why you should choose us to represent you.
First, experience. We’ve helped thousands of clients since we began operating in 2002, from slip and fall cases to wrongful death claims. We have a vast array of experience with nursing home abuse cases as well, and we can use that experience to help you.
Second, service. We treat all our clients with dignity, compassion, and respect because we know you’re not just a statistic. We will take the time to get to know you and the intricacies of your case as we build a bond based on honesty, trust, and candor.
Third, and perhaps most important, we’re very good at what we do. We’ve successfully obtained over $3 billion in settlements and awards, and though we can’t guarantee a positive outcome for every case, we can guarantee that we will work tirelessly to get you the help you need.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
The attorneys at OnderLaw are standing by to take your call. Don’t let nursing home abuse determine the course of your family’s future. Call today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today.