Confused. Angry. Scared. Stunned.
It can be sickening to discover that your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse. The people you trusted to care for your elder family member’s needs did the opposite: intentionally ignored or harmed your loved one. Your intense feelings are a healthy response to an unacceptable situation.
We’re deeply sorry that you’re living this nightmare. Trying to balance your everyday life with this horror is a stressful, frustrating, and maddening task. With your time, energy, and headspace under pressure, you’ve got to sort out next steps before you can take time to process what’s happening. It’s a situation that’s stretching you beyond your limits.
The most important thing is to ensure the safety of your loved one so their needs are met and your peace of mind is restored. You thought you provided the best care possible, but you found out the hard way that instead of dignity and respect, neglect and abuse were served to your family member. You may have a reason to hire a personal injury lawyer who will hold accountable the people who caused additional pain and suffering for your loved one.
What should I do if I think there’s nursing home abuse or neglect going on?
Your loved one’s health and safety are our first priority, so they should be evaluated by a medical professional. If you’re not sure whom to call, we’ll help you find someone who will treat your loved one well.
In Georgia, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Residents’ Advocate provides advocacy and informal resolution of concerns of residents in long-term care facilities. They have resources and materials, as well as knowledge about laws and policies, that may be helpful to you. You can contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman here.
Remember that state and local investigators don’t work for you; their focus is on determining whether abuse or neglect happened in a nursing home. You and your loved one may be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained as the result of someone else’s abuse or neglect. Call or text us at 404-491-7561 to schedule your free case consultation.
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How do you know when elder abuse is happening?
Abuse vs. Neglect
At a minimum, nursing homes should be safe places where residents are able to get their basic needs met. It’s reasonable to assume that your loved one is being fed, bathed, clothed, and attended to medically as needed. And it’s not a far stretch to believe that your loved one would be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse. But here in Georgia, one of six nursing home residents is the victim of someone else’s negligence or abuse.
Legally, here’s how we define abuse and neglect:
Abuse is the intentional infliction of care deprivation, injury, intimidation, punishment, or unreasonable confinement that causes physical harm, emotional anguish, or pain.
Neglect is the failure to provide a patient with the care and services necessary to keep the patient free from pain or harm, whether the failure is intentional or not. It can also be the failure to react to a situation which results in physical or emotional harm to the patient.
Unfortunately, your vulnerable family member may have experienced one or more of the following in a nursing home:
Signs of Abuse
As a result, your loved one may have show or more of the following:
The staff’s behavior is also worth noticing. It might be nursing home abuse if the staff displays the following:
I don’t see signs of physical or financial abuse, but something doesn’t seem right.
What should I look out for?
Trust your gut. Your loved one may be suffering from psychological abuse. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 33% of staff have admitted to yelling or verbally harassing their patients. This can cause anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and declining physical health.
The health and wellbeing of your loved one is of utmost importance. Emotional abuse may come in the form of verbal harassment (yelling, bullying, belittling); psychological manipulation (threatening, blaming); or isolation from friends, family, or socialization.
Your loved one may:
- Seem afraid of their caregivers
- Seem depressed or withdrawn
- Avoid eye contact
- Change eating or sleeping habits
- Rock back and forth
- Neglect themselves
- Be prevented from seeing loved ones
If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs, call us at 404-491-7561 to discuss your legal options.
How do I report suspected nursing home abuse or neglect?
Talk To Administrators
The first thing you’ll want to do is report abuse or neglect to administrators. This is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s critical to make them aware of the situation. Document the conversation, including date, time, your complaints, and their response.
File A Complaint
File a complaint with The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. They’ll investigate your claims that contain any information regarding action, inaction, or decisions that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, or rights of residents.
Abuse is a crime. Get the police involved. Call the police department where your loved one’s nursing home is located and file a report.
Seek justice for your loved one and family. Contact us at 404-491-7561 for a complimentary case consultation. If you decide to work with us, we’ll start our own investigation to help you reclaim the dignity, care, and peace of mind you all deserve. We’ll also ensure your loved one gets proper medical attention, see to it that official investigations are underway, help move your loved one to another nursing home as needed, and file a lawsuit against the nursing home.
we're ready to fight for you
Why might we be entitled to compensation in the case of nursing home abuse or neglect?
If your loved one is injured due to the negligence or cruelty of others, they may need even more medical attention than before. Physical therapy, procedures, or surgeries can cause undue financial strain. Additionally, you and your loved one will experience additional stress and loss of enjoyment of life. Someone must be held accountable. While financial compensation is no substitute for compassion and respect, a lawsuit is one avenue we have to hold abusers accountable and make nursing homes safer for everyone.
How do you hold nursing homes accountable for abuse and neglect?
Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are difficult. In addition to the heavy emotional load that comes with discovering your loved one has been wronged, the mental stress is crushing. Laws governing the services of nursing homes are complex. And the nursing home itself controls much of the information that could be used to establish liability. Their priority is to protect themselves—not to provide compensation for victims of their abuse and neglect.
You’re inevitably going to face a struggle establishing and proving liability, which is how we can help. Because the elder population is vulnerable, nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents. They should provide your loved one (and all others) with safety and all reasonable nursing services. But sometimes, they fall short. Here’s how:
Nursing homes face financial pressures, and that often causes management to make poor decisions to take shortcuts that put your loved one at risk.
Nursing homes are chronically understaffed. They don’t have enough staff to care for residents properly, despite laws explicitly stating staffing requirements. On top of that, the staff may be chronically overworked, which decreases a person’s capacity to adequately care for someone else’s needs. This scenario might result in your loved one being the victim of emotional or verbal abuse.
Even if they have enough staffing, nursing homes may not properly train their employees. Staff may also not be in the right positions, meaning they lack the experience and/or education to perform their responsibilities. This, of course, translates to sub-standard care, when people like your family member are deprived of basic needs. This may also result in staff members misunderstanding cognitive decline as behavior issues, which may elicit an abusive or neglectful response from staff.
Nursing homes are largely privately run. Pay rates vary from facility to facility. The emotional work required to be a caregiver is high, and staff members often feel underpaid and undervalued. Prolonged feelings of being undervalued eventually lead to a lack of motivation, and staff may not want to go above and beyond to help residents like your family member. Also, this situation could lead to resentment and disengagement, which contributes to a higher rate of mistakes and failure to meet standards.
People are all carrying things we don’t know about, and sometimes their issues push them to the limits of their compassion…and your loved one got the short end of the stick. Caregivers may be experiencing their own burnout or stress; personal issues like divorce or financial troubles; poor health; mental illness; personal history of being abused. Sadly, one person’s inability to cope with their own struggles can trigger abusive behavior. While we can understand that this happens, it doesn’t make abuse or neglect acceptable.
Nursing home abuse often goes unreported, which means there aren’t any consequences for their bad behavior. Even if abuse or neglect are reported, cases may go uninvestigated or unpunished by authorities. And if fines are assessed, they’re usually under six figures—for them, it’s hardly a slap on the wrist.
And complicating matters further, sometimes third parties come into play. For example, if the nursing home uses a contractor for security and that company’s negligence caused an injury, they may be held partially or completely liable. If a supplier or manufacturer provided the nursing home with faulty equipment that contributed to an injury, they should be held accountable. And if an outside provider abused or neglected your loved one, that must be confronted.
Wow. That’s a lot to think about.
How do you go about investigating abuse and neglect in nursing homes?
You’d think the nursing home would want to communicate openly and make sure you’re comfortable with your loved one’s care—especially if you’ve complained. Unfortunately, they often deny that they’ve done anything wrong. We’ve seen nursing homes go as far as altering or destroying records to try and protect themselves. They could have spent that energy taking care of your family member instead, and they deserve to be brought to justice.
We’ll ask the tough questions—and demand answers—to ensure you get the answers you deserve. While the nursing home tries to deny or hide their egregious actions, we’ll be there to hold their feet to the fire. Some of the questions we’re going to answer include:
Between the nursing home’s attempt to cover up information and the challenge with witnesses, you’ll want to pursue litigation quickly. We’ll put our team to work quickly so that your questions are answered and you can have the closure you deserve. Call us at 404-491-7561 for your complimentary case evaluation.
Do I really need a lawyer for nursing home abuse and neglect?
One of the latest statistics we read was that for every one report of nursing home abuse or negligence, 12 cases go unreported. That nursing home abuse and neglect happen at all is tragic. But to know that it could be happening so frequently is heartbreaking, especially when it’s happening to your loved one. Because these cases are so demanding, it can help to have someone walk by your side.
You’re going to want to know what your options are and how you can ensure your family member is safe and well cared for. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing any of the following, call a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to find out what your rights are:
Physical abuse – Intentional use of physical force against your loved one that caused illness, pain, or injury. Actions like hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, or burning fall into this category.
Neglect – The failure by a responsible caregiver to meet your loved one’s needs. Things like this fall into the neglect category:
Emotional or psychological abuse – This is any behavior that elicits fear, distress, or mental anguish from your loved one. This could come as shouting, name calling, or humiliation. It might show up as destruction of property. And it could involve isolation, like placing unreasonable restrictions on visitation.
Financial exploitation – Improperly using your loved one’s money, property, or assets. This could happen with inappropriate billing, stealing money or assets, identity theft, unauthorized use of your loved one’s credit cards, or making changes to your loved one’s will or trust without appropriate authorization.
Sexual abuse – Any non-consensual sexual interaction falls into this category. If your loved one was sexually harassed or was the victim of unwanted sexual contact, the offending party must be brought to justice. Your loved one is vulnerable as a resident of a nursing home, and even if their ability to consent is compromised, their dignity should always be honored.
To truly ensure the safety and wellbeing of your loved one, your best bet is to seek help from someone who understands this complex area of the law and can help you get the resources you need to help your elder family member.
What are my loved one’s rights when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect?
When the unthinkable happens, knowing your rights should help you put yourself and your loved one in a position to advocate for the best care possible. Even if you have a suspicion but no proof, get a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer involved immediately to protect your rights and the rights of your loved one.
There are standards of care provided under the law. The type of facility your loved one is in will determine the regulations that govern how they operate. We can help you sort out what the nursing home should be doing versus what they are actually doing.
The Right to Know. Nursing homes are required to have written policies that outline procedures to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect. This document must be provided to your loved one before they’re admitted to the facility. They have the right to know about all services offered, how much those services cost, and how to contact state offices and advocacy groups if they have concerns or need to file a complaint. If your loved one has sensory impairment or doesn’t speak English, their needs must be accommodated.
The Right to Choose. Your loved one has the right to access their own medical records and participate in any decisions about their treatment—including the right to refuse treatment. If your loved one isn’t mentally competent to make these decisions, these rights apply to the next-of-kin unless power of attorney has been granted to someone else.
What we know is this: where there’s smoke there’s fire. It’s a red flag to us if your loved one’s basic rights are overlooked, and we won’t stop until the liable parties are held accountable. Call us at 404-491-7561 to find out how we’ll fiercely advocate for your loved one’s rights.
What happens when we take legal action?
Under some circumstances, the state or county prosecutor may file criminal charges against the nursing home. You maybe be asked if you would like to press charges, but in a criminal case, the prosecution represents the State of Georgia, not your loved one or your family. You may be issued a subpoena and required to testify on behalf of the prosecution. Your personal interests remain unrepresented.
Testifying in a criminal trial is nerve-wracking at the least. Talking about neglect, abuse, injury, or the death of your loved one can be horribly painful. And when the defense comes to cross-examine you, it won’t be a walk in the park. You can expect to have your credibility questioned, your evidence challenged, and your dignity threatened. After all, this is a defense attorney’s job: throw shade on the witness.
The nursing home may face some fines, and those responsible for the nursing home abuse and neglect may see some prison time…but that still leaves your loved one in a horrible situation. Something must be done to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your elder family member. And after going through a humiliating experience like that, your loved one won’t receive compensation unless you file a civil case.
Whether or not the State of Georgia decides to file criminal charges, you have the right to file a civil suit on behalf of your loved one. We’ll ask for monetary damages because your loved one deserves the best care they can receive after the trauma they’ve endured. And here’s the good news: verdicts in a criminal case must be based on reasonable doubt. In civil cases, decisions are based on the preponderance of evidence, a lower standard. This makes it much more likely that your case against the nursing home will land in your favor. By extension, that makes it much more likely that the facility and/or people responsible for the abuse and neglect of your loved one will be punished in accordance with the law.
If you’re concerned that your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, call 404-491-7561. We’ll help you secure what’s needed to restore your loved one’s dignity and your peace of mind.