12-18-2017

Does My Loved One Have A Nursing Home Abuse Claim?

Many people struggle with the decision of whether to put their loved one in a nursing home or not. But for some people, putting their loved one in a nursing home facility is the only option. Sadly, many people end up regretting this decision after they learn that their loved one was treated poorly by the same people who were supposed to be caring for them.

Nursing home neglect and abuse is a growing problem in the U.S., but it’s difficult to determine how pervasive the problem is since many cases go unreported. Some victims are physically or mentally unable to report abuse, while others stay silent because they are scared, intimidated, or ashamed of what happened. Because so many victims do not come forward on their own, it’s the victim’s family members that often take legal action on behalf of their loved ones. But, how do you know when you have the right to file a nursing home abuse claim? Follow these steps:

Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

No one should ever expect their loved one to open up to them about neglect or abuse inside their nursing home. Instead, learn how to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect so you know when it’s appropriate to take legal action.

Physical abuse is usually the most obvious because it often leaves visible marks on the victim’s body. During visits with your loved one, look for signs of physical abuse on their body, including scratches, bruises, burns, and bite marks. Extreme physical abuse can lead to much more serious injuries, including broken bones and fractures. If you spot any of these marks or injuries, it could mean that your loved one is being physically abused.

Don’t forget to also look for signs of neglect. Nursing home residents who are being neglected often develop bedsores, but this is far from the only sign of neglect. Is your loved one losing weight? Do they appear to be severely dehydrated? Does it seem as if they haven’t bathed in a long time? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then it’s very possible that your loved one is being neglected.

It can be much harder to identify the signs of emotional abuse. Pay close attention to your loved one’s mood whenever you visit them. Has their mood changed drastically since your last visit? Are they avoiding making eye contact with you? Do they become tense or uncomfortable whenever a nursing home employee comes in the room? These are all signs that your loved one is being emotionally abused.

You should also learn how to recognize the signs of financial abuse, which is one of the more common types of nursing home abuse. Ask your loved one if either you or another family member can review their finances to make sure everything is in order. If there are any unexplained charges, transfers, or cashed checks, this could indicate your loved one is being financially abused. Before ending your visit, check your loved one’s valuables to make sure everything is still accounted for. It may even be helpful to make a list of what your loved one has with them in the room so you know what should be there.

Initiate A Conversation

Before taking legal action, it’s best to talk to your loved one about your concerns. However, keep in mind that this is an incredibly sensitive subject, so you need to approach it carefully. Be mindful of your loved one’s feelings and make it clear that you are only concerned about their wellbeing. Start off by asking how they feel about living in the nursing home. Do they have a favorite employee? Have they made any new friends? You may notice that your loved one seems uncomfortable or as if they are hiding something. Continue to gently push the topic to encourage your loved one to open up and confide in you.

Once they are more comfortable, you should directly ask them about the signs of abuse that you have noticed. Ask your loved one who has been treating them poorly, when it first began, how often it occurs, and if anyone else knows about it. The more information you have, the better.

Unfortunately, if your loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it may not be possible to have this conversation. In this case, simply speak to an attorney instead of trying to get more information directly from your loved one.

Seek Legal Representation From A Personal Injury Attorney

Now, it is time to get help from a personal injury attorney who has experience handling nursing home abuse cases. Hand over all of the evidence of abuse, including photos of injuries, financial records, medical records, and statements from your loved one. Let an attorney review all of this evidence to determine if you should move forward with a nursing home abuse claim.

If an attorney takes the case, they will immediately start to gather additional evidence that can be used to prove liability. To prove liability, an attorney must be able to show that the nursing home facility breached their duty of care to the victim, meaning their negligent conduct put the victim in harm’s way. Then, an attorney needs to show that the victim’s injuries were a direct result of the breach of their duty of care. This can be proven with the evidence you provided, along with surveillance footage from inside the nursing home, statements from other nursing home residents and employees, and personnel records.

Do you believe that your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home? If so, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman right away to discuss your legal options. Our personal injury attorneys will immediately begin gathering evidence that is needed to hold the negligent parties responsible for their despicable conduct.

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