Nursing home abuse and neglect happens far more often than we realize. The National Council on Aging says that 5 million US seniors are abused each year, yet only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported. Could your loved one have been abused or neglected in an elder care facility? Do not ignore the warning signs, which may not always be obvious.
There is more to nursing home abuse than just physical bruises and sores. Abuse comes in several different forms, with a wide range of symptoms and effects. Families could overlook or dismiss signs of serious abuse just because they don’t look alarming.
If you have reason to believe that your loved one has suffered from neglect or abuse in a California nursing home, call us at Barrios & Machado. As a trusted law firm based in Orange County, we can work with you to establish your loved one’s legal rights and to get your family compensated for injuries. Call (714) 515-9696 for your free and confidential consultation.
Types and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse
To recognize elder abuse or neglect, we must look out for physical signs as well as emotional, financial, or behavioral changes in our loved one. Here are different kinds of abuse that occur in nursing homes and the warning signs which should alert you:
- Physical abuse. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) bruises, bumps, cuts, pressure marks, broken bones, and burns.
- Financial abuse or exploitation. Unfortunately, many caregivers access and misuse the money of unknowing seniors. See if there is any change in your loved one’s finances. Review their bank withdrawals and spending. Look out for bounced checks and updates on their estate plan (wills and the like). Nursing home residents may also be financially manipulated, so take note of any secretive behavior around money.
- Emotional abuse. This is often inflicted through verbal harassment, intimidation, or threats, or through undue isolation or confinement of the resident. Signs of emotional abuse vary: sullen moods, withdrawal from the usual activities, strong dislike towards a caregiver, and flinching or panicking around staff.
- Sexual abuse. This does not have to be a sexual assault. Any form of sexual activity may be considered abuse if the resident does not consent to it or is unable to understand it. This includes touching, fondling, being sexually exposed, or being exposed to sexual material. Sexual abuse may have emotional signs such as flinching, panicking, and withdrawal from activities, as well as physical signs like stained or torn underwear, pelvic injuries, and bleeding.
- Passive neglect. Some facilities may not be actively hurting their residents but are still causing harm by failing to provide their vital needs (food, medical care, clothing). Residents who are neglected commonly have poor hygiene, dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, missed medication, and persisting health issues. You should also check your loved one’s provisions – worn clothing, unwashed sheets, and clogged tubes also indicate neglect.
- Willful deprivation. In some facilities, caregivers deliberately deny residents their provisions as a form of punishment or discipline. The resident who is deprived may show signs of neglect (see above) and may also have hostility or anxiety around the nursing home staff.
What to Do If Your Loved One Is Abused in A Nursing Home
If your loved one is in immediate danger or has a medical emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911. You can also contact Adult Protective Services in your county. In Orange County, the 24-hour APS hotline is 800-451-5155.
Whether or not the situation is urgent, you’ll want to take steps to build your nursing home abuse case. Take photographs of your loved one’s condition and environment. Compile their medical records, financial history, weight logs, and other relevant documents. Making a timeline of events is absolutely vital. Do so, even if you don’t have every exact date.
If possible, politely talk with the staff to get additional perspective on the resident’s situation. Raise your specific concerns (which they may have overlooked) and take note of their responses.
It is wise that you talk to an attorney. Even if you are not considering any claim or lawsuit at this point, you should learn about your legal rights to keep your loved one protected. California has several laws that deal with the protection and welfare of elders. A nursing home abuse lawyer should advise you on your best next steps under these laws.
If or when you do decide to file a claim over your loved one’s suffering, your lawyer should be capable of handling your case and representing you in the face of the nursing home management, operator, or insurance company.
What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Abuse Claims
Is nursing home abuse prosecuted as a crime?
Elder abuse has both civil and criminal dimensions. You can file a civil lawsuit aimed to compensate your loved one or your family for the harm suffered at the care facility. If the offense is also regarded as a crime under certain laws (e.g. assault, fraud, false imprisonment, etc.), prosecutors may also pursue a separate criminal case.
Here at Barrios & Machado, we handle civil cases of nursing home abuse, helping families obtain the compensation they deserve.
What kind of compensation is available in a nursing home abuse claim?
Compensation should cover both economic and non-economic damages that resulted from the abuse. These commonly include:
- Medical bills related to the elder’s injury
- Rehabilitation expenses (physical therapy, psychological therapy, etc.)
- Costs of additional elder care (new caregiver, specialists, etc.)
- Costs of additional equipment (wheelchair, ramps, etc.)
- Elder’s pain and suffering
- Elder’s emotional or mental distress.
Who can sue for nursing home abuse?
An elder abuse claim may be filed by the affected senior himself/herself. Alternatively, their family or any legally responsible party may also initiate the claim.
Who can be sued for nursing home abuse?
When we say “nursing home abuse,” it’s usually a generic term that also refers to abuse in assisted living facilities (ALFs), long-term care centers, senior living communities, and the like. Depending on the facts of the case, we may be able to file a claim against an individual abuser (such as a caregiver or employee), the abuser’s employer, the administrators of the facility, or even the owner.
If you have any other concerns regarding your loved one’s potential nursing home abuse case, we at Barrios & Machado are ready to listen and provide counsel. We can skillfully represent you if you pursue an elder abuse claim.
Free Consultation with Barrios & Machado
Southern Californians trust Barrios & Machado because we fight tenaciously for the rights of injury victims, even when facing large healthcare organizations and their lawyers.
Your initial consultation with us is absolutely free and confidential. Call us at (714) 515-9696 today.