Did your loved one sustain injuries at a nursing home? Do you have reason to believe that it was the result of abuse? If so, contact OnderLaw, LLC now, and our Newport Beach personal injury attorneys will begin working on your case immediately.
Older adults who get taken advantage of by a caretaker, nurse, maintenance worker, or another staff member deserve justice for the pain they endured. Elder abuse is common, with approximately one out of every six individuals over 60 years old experiencing some type of abuse in their community. Rates are even higher in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
At OnderLaw, LLC, we understand the devastation you’re feeling after discovering the people you thought you could trust hurt your family member. Moving someone into a nursing home is never an easy decision, and one you did not take lightly. Your loved one deserves compensation for the abuse they suffered. We will help you hold the facility and staff members accountable for their actions.
Call us at (314) 963-9000 for a free consultation with one of our Newport Beach nursing home abuse lawyers.
Defining Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual, and other types of abuse that occur at long-term care facilities against elderly residents. The National Center on Elder Abuse acknowledges seven main types of abuse that can occur in nursing homes.
Physical abuse involves using physical force that could cause physical pain, injury, or impairment. Examples include kicking, punching, slapping, and physical punishment. Common signs of physical abuse are:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Lacerations, bruises, puncture wounds, and welts
- Dislocations and sprains
- Internal injuries
- Broken or lost teeth
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Fear of a specific individual
Sexual abuse is non-consensual contact of a sexual nature. It could include rape, unwanted touching, and taking explicit photographs. Common signs of sexual abuse are:
- Bruises on the genitals or pelvic areas
- Unexplained sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Bleeding from the anus or vagina
- Stained, torn, or bloody clothing and underwear
- Emotional withdrawal
- Trouble walking or sitting down
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when someone causes emotional pain, anguish, or distress with verbal or nonverbal acts. Behaviors could include insults, humiliation, and harassment. Common signs of emotional or psychological abuse are:
- Depression or anxiety
- Isolation from family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Avoid eye contact with others
- Trouble sleeping
- Change in eating habits
- Mood swings
Neglect is the result of someone failing to fulfill their duties of providing care. Examples could include withholding food and water or refusing to maintain the patient’s personal hygiene. Common signs of neglect are:
- Unclean living conditions
- Untreated medical issues
- Appearing lonely or depressed
Abandonment occurs when a person responsible for caring for an elderly patient deserts them. An example of abandonment: a nurse who leaves their patient in a wheelchair unattended for hours. Common signs are:
- The person seems lost, confused, or scared
- Poor hygiene
- Untreated injuries
- Malnourishment or dehydration
Financial exploitation refers to the illegal or improper use of another person’s property, money, or assets. Perpetrators typically forge the victim’s names on documents, use credit cards without authorization, and withdraw cash from the ATM. Common signs of financial exploitation are:
- Additional names on a bank account or credit card
- Unusual withdrawals from an account or ATM
- Transfer of assets to an unfamiliar person
- Missing cash, property, and other personal possessions
- Unexplained and sudden changes to a power of attorney, will, or another legal document
- Financial decisions that don’t include adequate documentation
Self-neglect is behavior that puts an older adult’s own health or safety at risk. They might refuse to eat or take medication, or they may engage in activities that could harm them. Self-neglect is something that nursing home staff should watch for and address. Common signs of self-neglect are:
- Inadequate or inappropriate clothing
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Poor personal hygiene
How Should I Handle Nursing Home Abuse?
If you are afraid that your loved one is the victim of abuse, there are steps you should take to ensure their safety, treat their injuries, and protect them from further harm.
Step 1 – Remove your relative from the facility. Have them transferred to another nursing home or the hospital to treat their injuries.
Step 2 – Request a copy of patient records from the nursing home and all medical providers.
Step 3 – Document all evidence of abuse, such as photos of visible injuries, bank statements, receipts, prescriptions, pictures of their deplorable living situation, and anything else that can prove what happened.
Step 4 – If necessary, notify law enforcement and file a police report.
Step 5 – Hire a Newport Beach nursing home abuse lawyer.
Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
There are federal and state laws to protect nursing home resident’s rights and protect them from injury. However, many employees abuse their power and take advantage of their patients, especially those with physical limitations, mental deficits, and severe medical conditions.
Nursing home abuse typically occurs because of the following reasons:
Inexperience – When nurses do not have adequate experience in providing care, they could administer the wrong medication or fail to turn an immobile patient to prevent bedsores. Facilities will hire unqualified employees if they can’t find enough candidates or don’t want to spend the time looking for experienced staff.
Understaffing – Nurses who have to care for more patients than they can handle because there aren’t enough employees might take out their frustration on the residents.
Inadequate supervision – If there isn’t anyone supervising what the employees do, they can get away with treating their patients how they see fit and ignore necessary protocols. Additionally, if there are problems, they usually go unreported.
Poor wages – A toxic environment is common in facilities where staff don’t make fair or adequate wages. They might feel like they aren’t appreciated for the hard work they do. If they no longer care about their performance, they could neglect their patients or abuse those who cannot defend themselves.
How to Pursue Compensation for Abuse at a Nursing Home
A critical component of any nursing home abuse case is knowing who the abuser was and having evidence to prove what they did. You could also pursue compensation from the facility if they were aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it or negligently hired an unqualified staff member.
If you want to file an insurance claim, you could seek compensation from the nursing home’s liability insurance company. General liability coverage provides settlements to victims when the business is liable for the injury. In this situation, the nursing home could be held accountable for your family member’s injuries, and the insurance company would be responsible for covering the resulting damages.
Damages refer to any losses suffered due to someone’s negligent actions, such as:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Out of pocket expenses
- Loss of consortium
It’s possible you could file a lawsuit to compensate your family for the expenses your loved one incurred while treating their injuries. You could also possibly seek punitive damages in a lawsuit against the nursing home or the specific individual responsible for the abuse. Although rarely awarded, you might be able to get a jury to determine you deserve punitive damages if you can provide clear and convincing evidence that your loved one’s abuser acted with fraud, malice, or intent to oppress.
California Statute of Limitations for Civil Lawsuits
Filing a lawsuit in the civil court system requires following a statute of limitations. It is a strict deadline, and if it passes, the judge will most likely dismiss your case if you try to file. California is governed by a two-year statute of limitations in these cases. That means you would have two years from the injury date to sue the at-fault party.
Some situations could delay the deadline. This is known as “tolling.” It essentially pauses the clock until circumstances allow for it to begin again. Common examples include:
- The defendant leaves the state before you were able to file suit. Their absence would not count towards the two-year deadline. The clock would start once they return to the state.
- The plaintiff was mentally incompetent at the time of the injury. The clock would not begin unless they become mentally competent.
OnderLaw, LLC will thoroughly review all the details and advise you if you can toll the statute of limitations in your loved one’s case. It could be helpful to have additional time to prepare for a lawsuit, so we can obtain sufficient evidence and create a legal strategy to prove the nursing home or employee should be held liable for the harm they caused.
Contact OnderLaw, LLC to Speak with a Newport Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
OnderLaw, LLC has built a reputation for working hard on the cases we take and achieving favorable results. We have received recognition from multiple legal organizations, such as the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Super Lawyers. We also hold an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a peer review ratings service.
We will always remain transparent in our communication with you and keep you updated on the status of your case. We will also treat you with the compassion and respect you deserve. You can depend on us to provide the one-on-one attention you need.
If you believe your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, call OnderLaw, LLC at (314) 963-9000 today. One of our Newport Beach nursing home abuse lawyers will review your case at your free consultation and determine your options for seeking justice and financial compensation.