What to look for in a Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect Lawyer
What to look for in a Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect Lawyer
As you begin your search for a nursing home abuse/neglect lawyer, your initial goal should be to create a list of potential lawyers you think might be suitable for your particular case. Once you have this list, you should then research each name further in order to reduce the list to three or four lawyers who you will arrange to meet with.
Beginning the Search Process
To find potential lawyers for your case, consider personal recommendations from lawyers you know—even if they do not specialize in nursing home abuse/neglect. If you know people who have been involved in nursing home abuse/neglect cases before, including friends and family, ask them too.
Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick Google search for nursing home abuse/neglect lawyers in your area in order to get a quick idea of what you should be looking for and the potential options that are available.
You Want a Lawyer that Suits Your Needs
Typically, every lawyer has a predominate area in which he or she specializes, so finding a lawyer that works with nursing home abuse/neglect cases is essential, you want to hire a lawyer who has worked with cases similar to yours and has experience working with the legal matters you are currently facing. When making your decision, it is important to understand your goals so that you can choose a lawyer that is best for your particular case.
Learn More About the Lawyer’s Experience and Past Cases
In your search for a nursing home abuse/neglect lawyer, research and learn as much as you can about each lawyer you consider—where they went to school, what they specialize in, the types of cases they’ve worked with in the past, any associations they are a part of, etc.
Educate yourself on your case and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Determine what you want a lawyer to accomplish for you, so you can be upfront with him or her when you meet to discuss the case.
Find Out How A Lawyer Expects to Be Paid and How Much
Before you hire a lawyer, you want to know how much you will be expected to pay, how you are expected to pay it, and the services included in the fee charged. Ask for this information during your initial conversation to determine whether the lawyer is within your budget.
Some lawyers charge by the hour, others charge a flat rate. Lawyers can also work on contingency, which means if the case wins, the lawyer takes a percentage of the money won. Contingency is often preferable for those who may not be able to afford a particular flat fee, because if the lawyer doesn’t win, the lawyer is not paid.
Nursing Home Abuse Cases in Georgia: Why You Need a Lawyer
When an individual acts in a way that causes emotional pain or suffering to an elderly person, they have committed emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can be verbal or non-verbal and is oftentimes difficult to recognize when taking place because of a lack of physical signs of abuse left behind. As a result of this lack of physical evidence, many emotional abuse situations are unfortunately never reported to the authorities.
Why Emotional Abuse Takes Place in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are generally for-profit businesses, which means the difference between the amounts of money a nursing home takes in and expends is crucial to its “success.” In an effort to cut costs, nursing homes fail to provide the proper ratio of staff to patients, oftentimes resulting in patients not receiving the proper attention they deserve.
Additionally, a lack of proper employee supervision or training can cause many cases of emotional abuse to go unnoticed. Alternatively, a nursing home facility might fail to conduct a background investigation on an employee with a history of mental abuse, thereby permitting the employee to cause harm to his or her patients. It is important to note that this emotional abuse can come from a caregiver, nursing home volunteer, or any person allowed inside of the facility.
Examples of Verbal and Non-Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse is easy to recognize if you are present when it is taking place. For example, if you witness a caretaker yelling, shouting, or screaming at a patient, this constitutes verbal abuse. If a caretaker threatens a patient or pretends to harm him or her, this is both verbal and emotional abuse.
Non-verbal abuse is more difficult to recognize, but is just as serious as verbal abuse. Non-verbal abuse can make patients feel isolated, helpless, and afraid. Examples of non-verbal abuse include: isolating the patient from other people; restricting access to food, water, or the bathroom; and taking away a patient’s personal items or hiding them.
What a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Do For You
If you suspect emotional abuse is occurring, you should immediately take action to have your loved one removed from the facility and report the abuser to the authorities. Reporting the abuse is a crucial step because the abuser is most likely abusing other patients as well.
Consider contacting a lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. A nursing home abuse lawyer with years of experience will have the resources necessary to help nursing home residents and their families with their claims.
If it can be demonstrated that a nursing home or its employees have acted negligently, the nursing home may be held liable for any resulting damages from medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement, or disability.
Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: Do You Have a Case?
Each day, families across America face the daunting prospect of moving loved ones into the care of nursing home facilities. The reason why a person becomes a resident of a nursing home facility varies patient to patient; however, every individual living within a nursing home environment is vulnerable to nursing home neglect and abuse.
Neglect is a broad term for what a nursing home resident might suffer at the hands of nursing home professionals. When residents of a nursing home are not cared for correctly or promptly, there could be a case of neglect. Individuals placed in the care of nursing home professionals should be cared for in every way necessary and done so in a timely manner.
Typically an intentional act with malicious intent, physical abuse in nursing homes can occur in a number of ways and for a variety of reasons. For example, if patients are hit or unnecessarily restrained or sedated, this constitutes physical abuse even without physical evidence.
If a staff member of a nursing home takes out his or her personal frustrations on a resident, or berates a patient for whatever reason, this could be a case of emotional abuse. If you suspect your loved one to be a victim of emotional abuse, report it immediately to a person of higher authority at the nursing home or, if this individual fails to take action, to the authorities.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse does occur in nursing homes. Residents could be taken advantage of sexually by other patients, staff members, or outside people visiting the home. Sexual abuse includes any unwanted touching, fondling, kissing, or intercourse.
Financial abuse is a broad category of abuse because it can occur in a range of methods and at varying levels of extremity. It can be as simple as stealing money or credit cards from a nursing home resident or as elaborate as someone tricking a resident into donating money to a phony charity.
How to Determine if You Have a Case
If you suspect a loved one to be the victim of any of the above forms of nursing home abuse, know that you do not have to accuse anyone of abuse immediately. It might be enough for you tell a supervisor or administrator at the nursing home about what you suspect.
If you choose to pursue legal action, it is important you consult a lawyer who is experienced with nursing home abuse cases. A nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to competently review the details of your case and collect all of the necessary medical records and evidence. He or she will also be capable of completing an investigation of the home and can satisfy the various legal requirements for notifications that many people are unaware of.
How to Recognize and Know the Stage of a Bedsore
There are four stages associated with bedsores, each one gradually worse than the stage preceding it. If you or someone you know has an increased risk of developing a bedsore because of prolonged confinement to a bed or chair, then you should be aware of the signs correlated with such an injury.
The earlier the signs and symptoms of a bedsore are recognized, the more likely a treatment plan can be put into place that can return the injured person’s health to normal.
Is it a Bedsore?
If you notice on yourself or a person close to you an area of skin that is red, discolored, or dark, you might be looking at a bedsore. A bedsore is generally hard and warm to the touch as compared to other surrounding areas of skin.
If you suspect that a bedsore might be present, you should consult a health care provider to conclusively establish the condition and put into place a treatment plan.
A stage 1 bedsore will appear as a red or discolored area of skin and might be a different temperature compared to surrounding areas of skin. The skin might be painful but there are not any breaks or tears present.
When a bedsore is in its second stage, the top layer of skin, the epidermis, is broken and a shallow open sore is present. In some cases, the second layer of skin, the dermis, is also broken. The sore might look like a scrape, blister, or shallow crater in the skin.
In stage 3, the wound extends through both layers of skin and into the fatty subcutaneous tissue. Looking at the wound, there are not any bones, tendons, or muscles visible.
Stage 4 of a bedsore is when the wound extends into a person’s muscle and possibly as far down as the bone. Usually there is a lot of dead tissue and drainage present, and there is a high possibility of infection.
When the Stage of a Bedsore Cannot be Determined
In some circumstances, the stage of a bedsore cannot be construed. This might occur if the base of a bedsore is covered and the doctor cannot see the base of the sore in order to determine the stage it is in.
Common Locations of Bedsores
For people who use wheelchairs, bedsores are most commonly found on the tailbone or buttocks, shoulder blades or spine, and backs of arms and legs. For those who are bed-confined, bedsores are found most frequently on the back or sides of the head, rims of the ears, shoulders or shoulder blades, hip or lower back, heels or ankles, and tailbone.
4 Myths Surrounding Nursing Home Abuse
For many families, pursuing the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is an intimidating feat. Many people are aware of various elderly abuse incidents associated with nursing home facilities. For example, there are instances in which residents of nursing homes have endured broken bones, bruises, financial ruin, inadequate nursing care, threats, and more while in the care of nursing home professionals.
It is 100% possible for a person to continue living a healthy and safe life after transitioning into a nursing home; however, there is always a chance elderly abuse might occur. This abuse can range from physical, emotional, sexual, and financial harm, in addition to neglect, the most common type of elderly abuse. Because of public concern with nursing homes and elderly abuse, there are a number of myths surrounding the subject.
Myth #1: Victims of Nursing Home Abuse are Mentally Incompetent
Elderly abuse is thought to occur most often to people who are mentally incompetent, meaning the victims are unaware of what is happening to them and might be unable to speak up about what is taking place. However, many victims of elderly abuse have completely intact minds. In some circumstances, victims’ bodies might be weak or disabled, but in the majority of situations people who endure elderly abuse know what is happening to them. Unfortunately, many times victims of elderly abuse are held back by fear or other reasons that cause them to refrain from reporting their suffering.
Myth #2: If there are No Visible Signs of Abuse, There is No Abuse
When people think “abuse,” an idea of bruises, cuts, scrapes or broken bones frequently comes to mind; however, elderly abuse is oftentimes not physically visible. Elderly abuse also comes in the form of financial and emotional abuse, and there are such things as “invisible” signs of abuse.
Myth #3: Elderly Abuse Only Happens to Women
Two out of three nursing home residents are female, so it is natural to think that women are the most common victims of elderly abuse in nursing homes. In fact, women are the most common victims of physical elderly abuse. However, this does not mean that male residents are not also susceptible to physical abuse, in addition to the various types of elderly abuse discussed above. The bottom line: any resident in a nursing home can fall victim to any type of elderly abuse.
Myth #4: There’s Nothing to Do if Nursing Home Staff Mistreat My Loved One
Most nursing homes receive internal quality assurance checks and are supervised by state agencies. As a result, nursing home facilities are inspected and monitored frequently. Therefore, if you suspect elderly abuse is taking place, do not ignore or hesitate to bring your concerns to an administrator or an employee higher-up in the nursing home. It is his or her job to make sure each resident is taken care of properly.
Before committing to a nursing home facility, families should research the facility thoroughly by considering its policies, staff, current residents, and feel. Moreover, once your loved one is living in the nursing home, visit him or her frequently and pay attention to his or her physical and emotional well-being. Changes might be a sign of abuse.
5 Signs of Mental Nursing Home Emotional & Psychological Abuse
In 2010, 5,961,568 cases of elderly abuse were reported to the National Center on Elder Abuse. The average age of sufferers was 78 years old, and 67% of victims were female. Of the total amount, approximately 435,195 of the cases concerned emotional or psychological abuse. This form of elder abuse is often the most common of elder abuse cases; however, it is also the most difficult to track and is oftentimes never reported.
What is Emotional and Psychological Elderly Abuse?
Physical abuse is the most obvious type of abuse—it is normally easy to spot bruises, cuts and scrapes, or broken bones. But how can one identify the ramifications of emotional and psychological abuse? What even is this type of abuse?
Emotional or psychological elderly abuse consists of a caregiver acting in a way towards an elderly patient that causes emotional pain or suffering. Many times emotional abuse is intentional, but sometimes caregivers are completely unaware of the emotional damage they are causing because of neglect. Emotional and psychological abuse can be verbal or non-verbal and can manifest in some of the following ways:
- Name-calling or insulting the patient
- Emotionally manipulating a patient
- Embarrassing the patient in front of others
- Withdrawing affection from the patient
- Giving the silent-treatment or ignoring the person being cared for
- Restricting access to food, water or the bathroom
How Can You Identify Emotional or Psychological Abuse?
If you know an elderly person living in a nursing home or in the care of an individual nurse or caregiver, then look out for changes in his or her personality and mood in order to identify signs of emotional or psychological abuse. Signs of suffering can appear in a multitude of ways, for example:
- Loved one avoids eye contact
- Will not speak openly and used to do so
- Seems hopeless or scared, or has a low-self esteem
- Has a desire to hurt him or herself, or another person
- Experiences changes in sleeping or eating patterns
Next Steps if You Suspect Abuse
If you are suspicious of any type of elderly abuse, you must report it immediately to government officials. If the elder is the victim of abuse, he or she will be removed from the environment immediately and placed in a safer setting.
There are adult protective service laws for elders in every state, including Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Any concerned person can report suspected abuse, so do not hesitate if you are in this situation.