Did your loved one suffer from physical abuse in a nursing home? Did they sustain injuries and require medical attention? If so, contact OnderLaw, LLC for assistance with your insurance claim or lawsuit. We have experience helping elder abuse victims receive the financial compensation and justice they deserve.
We know you didn’t reach the decision to move your loved one into a nursing home lightly. It’s a tough choice to entrust a family member’s well-being to strangers. However, you assumed they would be in excellent hands. There are nurses and other staff to provide medical care and assist them with daily tasks. Discovering an employee physically abused them is heartbreaking. You deserve to hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
Call OnderLaw, LLC at (314) 963-9000 for a free consultation. One of our St. Louis nursing home abuse attorneys will review the details of your loved one’s case and help them get on the road to recovery.
What Is Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse is the intentional act of inflicting bodily harm on another person. It’s one of the most common forms of abuse in nursing homes. Statistics show that 95% of elderly residents reported seeing other residents abused, and abused elders have a 300% higher risk of death. The perpetrator could be another patient, nurse, support staff, or maintenance employee. Unfortunately, older adults are more vulnerable to long-term harm from abuse because of their fragile bodies and underlying health problems.
Examples of physical abuse include:
Although some signs aren’t easily noticed, there are physical and emotional symptoms that could indicate physical abuse occurred. They include:
- Hair or tooth loss
- Dislocated joints
- Broken bones
- History of treatment for similar injuries
- Unexplained bruises, burns, or wounds
- Fear of specific people in the facility
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities
- Hesitation to explain how an injury happened
If you believe your loved one was abused, you should keep an eye out for the warning signs. Physical abuse is often easier to spot since it results in physical harm and visible injuries. Sometimes elderly patients are afraid to come forward for fear that their abuser will retaliate, or no one will believe their claims. You need to be their advocate and fight to keep them safe.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Physical Abuse?
Whether your loved one told you what happened, or you suspect there was an instance of physical abuse, you should take immediate action. Your number one priority should be their safety. To help protect your loved one and help ensure you’re able to hold the nursing home or staff member liable for the suffering your loved one endured, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Notify management of the incident. Ask to fill out an incident report that they can keep on file and be as detailed as possible. If necessary, call the police and file a police report.
Step 2: Transfer your loved one to another facility or a hospital for treatment of their injuries. If the doctor refers them for additional treatment, follow their orders, and continue bringing them to appointments until they recover.
Step 3: Ask the nursing home for a copy of their liability insurance policy. You might be able to file a claim for compensation of your loved one’s medical expenses and other associated costs.
Step 4: Talk about what happened with your loved one in private to ensure full disclosure. They might feel more comfortable talking about it if no one else is around. Write down everything they tell you and ask that they be as specific as possible, such as providing dates the abuse occurred, the names of the perpetrator, and injuries they sustained.
Step 5: Keep copies of all documents related to the ongoing case. That includes medical records, correspondence, incident/police reports, physician letters, and other relevant records.
Step 6: Seek legal representation. Contact a St. Louis nursing home physical abuse attorney from OnderLaw, LLC. You’ll need someone to help you navigate the complicated legal road and determine the maximum compensation your loved one deserves. An experienced St. Louis nursing home physical abuse attorney can improve your family’s chance of receiving fair compensation.
Determining Liability After Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home
It’s crucial that you know who was at fault for the abuse. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, you could hold the perpetrator responsible or go after the nursing home for their involvement. If management didn’t complete adequate background checks before hiring their employees, they could be liable for any harm the residents suffer. Additionally, you could file a lawsuit directly against the abuser for the physical acts they performed.
Once OnderLaw, LLC determines who was liable for your loved one’s injuries, we can file an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover the damages. Damages are the expenses and losses associated with an accident or injury. Common damages available in nursing home abuse cases include:
- Medical bills
- Out of pocket costs
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Psychological effects, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Expenses associated with transferring to another facility
All the damages listed above are available in insurance claims and lawsuits. A third type, known as punitive damages are only available in lawsuits in specific situations. You must provide clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party caused intentional harm or acted with deliberate and blatant disregard for the safety of another person. Instead of compensating the victim’s losses, it’s a form of punishment and aims to deter similar misconduct in the future.
Filing a Lawsuit for Physical Abuse in Missouri
If you choose to file a lawsuit against the nursing home or an employee, you must follow a strict deadline. It’s called a statute of limitations, and it is strictly enforced. The statute of limitations for nursing home physical abuse cases is five years. After five years pass, you won’t be eligible for financial compensation in this legal matter.
There are exceptions to this rule. You could potentially toll, or pause, the clock if:
- Your loved one was mentally incompetent at the time of the abuse. The clock would start once they regain mental competence.
- There was no way to know that physical abuse occurred or an injury resulted from the incident. The clock wouldn’t begin until the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they suffered harm.
Most of the time, cases get resolved during an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance company. However, insurance companies are never on the victim’s side. They’re in the business of saving money and will look for any reason to deny the claim or provide a low settlement offer. OnderLaw, LLC knows the tactics involved in their investigations and settlement negotiations. We’ll make sure they treat your loved one fairly.
If we’re unable to reach a fair settlement agreement, we have the resources and experience to litigate the case. We’ll collect sufficient evidence that proves liability and that your loved one should receive financial compensation for their injuries. We’re prepared to fight in court for the justice they deserve.
Why Does Physical Abuse Happen in Nursing Homes?
Nursing home physical abuse should never happen. There are state and federal regulations in place that should protect residents from physical abuse; however, many facilities and staff don’t follow those rules. When that happens, residents end up suffering physical, emotional, and psychological harm.
Understaffing is one of the most common reasons for physical abuse. When there aren’t enough employees, nurses and other staff members have to rush through their tasks, and the standard for patient care drops. Overworked nurses might take out their anger on residents, especially if someone requires more assistance than another or isn’t being cooperative.
Inexperience results in employees providing medical care who don’t know the proper protocols to follow or how to treat injuries. Nursing homes will cut costs by hiring whoever is available without performing background checks. That creates a collection of staff who don’t know the steps they need to follow while interacting with patients. Physical harm occurs if they’re not handling the residents with care.
Lack of supervision creates an environment where employees can get away with behaving however they choose. If a supervisor or manager isn’t performing employee reviews or watching how they treat elderly residents, there’s no way of knowing if there are signs of physical abuse. Additionally, problems go unreported because no one is there to notice areas that require improvement.
Poor wages can lead to a toxic work environment. When nurses aren’t paid well and feel like their hard work isn’t appreciated, they tend to provide inadequate care. They believe management doesn’t care about them or the residents, so they treat residents as they see fit. If they believe using physical force is necessary to get a patient to cooperate, that’s what they’ll do.
Contact OnderLaw, LLC Today
If your loved one was a victim of physical abuse in a nursing home, call us to speak with an experienced and dedicated St. Louis nursing home physical abuse attorney. Since 2002, our legal team has helped clients just like you seek the justice and compensation they deserve. We will advocate for your loved one’s rights and ensure fair treatment throughout the legal process.