Nursing home abuse cases are among the most poignant ones that our nursing home abuse lawyers handle. Families trust the health and well-being of their older or infirm loved ones to a nursing home, relying on the caregivers’ and nurses’ skills to tend to their loved one’s needs and ensure that they do not suffer harm.
When the unthinkable happens, you can hold the perpetrators of nursing home abuse accountable, not just to recover compensation for your loved one but to prevent the abuse and neglect of other residents.
A nursing home abuse attorney advocates for your family and your loved one, holding accountable the abusers and the nursing home system that allows the abuse and neglect of vulnerable residents.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse isn’t always overt. It can take many forms, including negligence. Abuse may be physical, financial, emotional, or sexual. Sometimes, it’s hard for family members to discern the differences between physical abuse and injuries from accidents common in elderly people, like falling or bruising easily.
Families whose loved one has a cognitive decline condition like dementia may not realize their loved one is trying to communicate currently ongoing abuse.
Nursing home abusers count on this to perpetuate taking advantage of nursing home residents without detection. They may also use threats or coercion to keep nursing home residents from disclosing the abuse, so residents may fear retaliation if they speak up or say something when their loved ones visit.
Nursing home residents have rights, and elder abuse is a crime. You and your family have legal rights, and a nursing home abuse lawyer can protect them, including filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit against the parties who committed or allowed the abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Many people in nursing homes may have mobility problems or are frail and easily injured, so it can be difficult to determine whether your loved one’s injuries are accidental or deliberate. If your loved one displays one or more signs of abuse, call an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Signs of physical abuse include:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Bruising or scratches
- Medication withholding, overdose, or missed doses
- Head injuries
Signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Poor hygiene, untrimmed nails, tangled hair
- Soiled clothing or bedding
Signs of emotional abuse or neglect include:
- Frequent crying
- Complaining of poor treatment
- Agitation or acting withdrawn
- Changes in personality
- Angry outbursts
- Obvious fear, especially when certain staff members or residents are around
Some indications of emotional abuse resemble dementia symptoms, and physical abuse could easily be explained away as the resident being clumsy.
Still, if you’re concerned that your loved one is unsupervised and getting hurt, or if you’re concerned about your loved one’s dementia symptoms not being addressed, it could be a sign that the nursing home lacks oversight.
A nursing home abuse attorney can help you learn more about the difference between abuse and the normal consequences of aging.
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Who Are the Perpetrators of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abusers are most often those in close proximity to their victims.
Abusers of the elderly can be anyone, but are most commonly:
- Nursing home employees
- Other residents
- People visiting other nursing home residents
When your nursing home abuse lawyer is determining which parties to name in your nursing home abuse lawsuit, they may include others besides the person or persons that were active abusers.
The nursing home director or property manager that created a climate of abuse could be held accountable, as well as employees who had a duty to report or stop the abuse and didn’t.
What Can I Do if I Suspect My Loved One in a Nursing Home Is Being Abused?
The most important thing you can do is document the abuse. This documentation includes taking notes of what your loved one discloses or recording your conversations with them. If you can, photograph any signs of physical abuse you see.
Ensure that your visits with your loved one are private, so they feel more secure talking to you. Make sure to note the date you documented the abuse and any potential witnesses to the abuse when it happened.
You may also want to take your loved one to a doctor not affiliated with the nursing home. It should be one who specializes in elder care and who can determine whether your loved one is being abused.
If you’re from out of town or unsure how to locate the best elder care physician in your area, consult with your nursing home abuse lawyer; they may have suggestions.
How Can Nursing Home Lawyers Help Me?
If a nursing home knows that you’re documenting your loved one’s condition with pictures and videos, or if your nursing home attorney has already served them with a written notice, you need to act fast.
The nursing home will quickly try to cover its tracks, including falsifying records, moving your loved one to another ward, or even firing an employee that could be a witness.
The nursing home may worry that you will talk to other residents’ families. Your loved one may not be the only victim.
Hiring a nursing home lawyer as soon as possible helps preserve any evidence of abuse. For example, your attorney may file a court order for all of your loved one’s care and medical records or subpoena testimony of employees that may have witnessed abuse.
Furthermore, there is a deadline for filing your nursing home abuse lawsuit, called the statute of limitations. In Virginia, the statute of limitations is two years after the injury, so you and your nursing home abuse attorney have to act fast.
Do You Need a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?
If you’re concerned that your loved one is suffering abuse in their Virginia nursing home, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help. Look for a firm that focuses on elder abuse and elder law and one that isn’t afraid to take a negligent nursing home to court.