Nursing home abuse is a serious problem in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in six Americans over the age of 65 have experienced abuse in some form in a nursing home or senior care facility in the past year.

If you or someone you love has suffered abuse at the hands of professional caretakers, don’t wait any longer to contact the Irvine personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw . We have decades of experience assisting Irvine residents and others get the help they need by filing personal injury claims and lawsuits against negligent nursing homes. Call today for a free consultation, and let us review your case to determine whether you’re eligible for compensation. You’re under no obligation, and the consultation will be totally confidential. Call OnderLaw today.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Per the CDC, nursing home abuse is defined as the “intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” Any action or inaction that causes harm to a resident of a nursing home or senior care facility qualifies as abuse.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem, not just in California but across the United States. The most rapidly growing population segment is Americans over 65, according to the U.S. Census, and as life expectancy continues to increase, more and more members of this segment of the population will be moved into assisted living facilities, increasing the chances of abuse.

Abuse is very common. The WHO states that two out of three staff members of nursing homes have admitted to abusing a nursing home resident in the last year. This is likely a low figure, as only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported.

There are many types of nursing home abuse, such as:

  • Physical abuse. This includes any non-consensual physical contact, such as hitting, pushing, slapping, shoving, pinching, or burning an elder.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse. This includes any verbal or nonverbal actions that inflict fear, anguish, distress, or mental pain on an elder, including threats, shouting, humiliation, harassment, isolation, or cursing at a resident.
  • Sexual abuse. This includes any form of non-consensual sexual contact with a resident.
  • Financial abuse. This is any improper or illegal use of an elder’s assets, belongings, identity, or real property.
  • Neglect is defined as the intentional or unintentional refusal to meet an elder’s basic care needs. It can include withholding food, water, medication, hygiene, social contact, shelter, or clothing.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Preventing nursing home abuse takes knowing what to look for. Be on the lookout for these signs of nursing home abuse in your loved one:

Physical abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Unexplained mood changes
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fear of caretakers
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Refusal of medication or treatment for injuries
  • Signs of struggle, such as overturned furniture or damaged personal property


Emotional or psychological abuse:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Anxiety


Sexual abuse:

  • Unexplained sexually-transmitted disease
  • Unexplained injuries to genitals or breasts
  • Torn or stained underclothing or sheets
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Fear or agitation when in caretaker’s presence


Financial abuse:

  • Unexplained changes in bank account balances
  • Changes to wills or financial documents
  • Notices of unpaid bills or rent
  • Missing possessions
  • Changes to official signers on bank accounts or documents



  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dirty or soiled clothing
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Untreated health problems


What to Do if You Spot Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you spot any of the signs listed above, it’s important to act quickly to protect your loved one. There’s no telling how long the abuse has been going on or if any other residents in the facility are experiencing it as well. Here are some steps to take:

  • First, speak to an attorney. Depending on your circumstances, they may suggest you immediately remove your loved one from the facility. If not, follow these guidelines:
  • Advise staff and give them a chance to correct the problem. Although unintentional abuse is still abuse, staff and administrators should have a chance to correct the issue before moving forward. Advise them of the problem and set a follow-up date to make sure it’s been addressed.
  • Speak to the Family Council. Most nursing homes have a group of family members of residents that meet privately to discuss issues or problems called a Family Council. They can confirm whether or not anyone else has experienced the abuse you’ve spotted and give you guidance on next steps. If your facility doesn’t have a Family Council, consider starting one. Increasing the involvement of family members is a sure way to prevent future abuse.
  • Speak to the Ombudsman. As well as a Family Council, most senior care facilities have an ombudsman either on staff or working as a volunteer. An ombudsman acts as a liaison, advocate, and guide for anyone experiencing problems or abuse at a nursing home. They can provide guidance on who to contact if the abuse continues.
  • Contact APS. If you’ve tried speaking to the staff, a family council, and ombudsman with no results, it may be time to contact your local Adult Protective Services office and notify them of the problem.
  • Remove your family member from the facility. The authorities will likely start an investigation into the facility, and this can take time. You may need to remove your loved one from the facility to keep them safe while this is occurring.
  • Get legal help. If you or someone you love has experienced abuse, it’s imperative that you contact a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.


While following these steps, remember to keep a paper trail. Any documentation or evidence you can provide your attorney regarding what steps you’ve already taken will be invaluable when building a claim or filing suit.

Here is some contact information for local authorities that can assist with elder abuse cases:

Orange County Adult Protective Services Hotline, manned 24 hours: 1-800-451-5155

Council on Aging Southern California Ombudsman for Orange County: 1-800-300-6222

Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

We help Irvine residents obtain compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In order to do so, we must prove that negligence occurred. We must be able to show with documentation that the nursing facility had a responsibility to act in a certain way, didn’t act as they should, and their faulty action ended in an accident or injury.

The amount we may be able to obtain depends on the severity of the injury and the circumstances surrounding it. The more severe the injury, the more compensation you’re likely to obtain. For example, if your loved one suffered mild dehydration due to a caretaker’s forgetfulness, you’ll likely receive less compensation than you would for an abuse case involving a caretaker stealing thousands of dollars from a resident. We won’t be able to provide an estimate until we’ve fully reviewed your case.

Determining the amount to demand is done by reviewing the material and immaterial losses, or damages, you or your loved one suffered as a result of the abuse.

Damages that relate to the injury itself and not the costs of treating it are called noneconomic damages. Some examples include the following:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium


Damages that have a specific monetary value are called economic damages. These are any and all costs related to treating the injury or dealing with the consequences. There are several categories, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Household expenses
  • Transportation


Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Here is some statistical information regarding nursing home abuse in Orange County and elsewhere:

  • Between 2004 and 2014, the number of abuse cases reported to the Orange County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Registry increased by 74 percent.
  • There were over 9,000 reports of elder abuse in Orange County in 2014.
  • Elder abuse reports have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The most common form of elder abuse reported in Southern California is financial abuse.
  • The most common form of self-reported elder abuse nationwide is psychological abuse.


Why Choose OnderLaw to Represent Me?

You should choose OnderLaw because we have the experience and skills to get the help you need, and we have the understanding and compassion to treat you as you deserve to be treated. We will use all resources available to aggressively fight for your just compensation and provide the support your family needs during this difficult time. We know that behind the statistics and facts regarding the abuse is a life that deserves respect and dignity.

We don’t want financial constraints to be a barrier to good legal counsel, which is why there are no up-front costs for our services. We only take payment if we’re successful in getting you compensation. If we aren’t successful, we don’t get paid.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

Our attorneys are standing by to take your call. Call OnderLaw today to schedule a free consultation and let us review your case. California’s time limit on personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of injury, so time is a factor.

Call today. The first consultation is absolutely free, so you have nothing to lose. Call OnderLaw , and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.