Choosing the right nursing home for our loved ones is a major ordeal. We expect that all nursing homes provide quality care for our beloved family members. And while many do, you’ll find that some nursing homes hold many violations against them for neglect and abuse. If you have found your loved one in this situation, you must assess your next steps.
You can contact a nursing home attorney to build a case, but like any negligence case, you’ll need proof. This can be hard because many victims of nursing home abuse are afraid to speak up. Or, some nursing homes may argue that the injuries occurred due to the natural aging process. While this is possible–as many patients are elderly–if you notice that your family member is acting differently or has unexplained bruises, it’s wise to investigate. To help you get started, here is your guide on how to prove nursing home negligence.
Elements of Nursing Home Negligence
First, it’s important to understand the four key elements of negligence. These are required to bring about a claim:
- Duty of care. A negligence case is based on the concept that the nursing home owed a legal duty to the patient. This may be based on a contract, such as a nursing home agreement, or industry practices and accepted standards.
- Breach of duty. In a negligence case, a breach of duty means that the nursing home did something that it should not have done or failed to do something that it should have done.
- There must be a link between the nursing home and the injury. The nursing home’s actions or failure to act must have resulted in the patient’s injury.
- Damages refer to the specific harm that the victim has suffered. Damages are intended to compensate the victim for injuries and losses. They may include medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and mental pain and suffering. In cases of gross negligence, punitive damages may be available. These are to punish the defendant for wrongdoing in hopes that they will not do the same thing again.
Examples of Nursing Home Neglect
It is estimated that 20% of nursing home patients are neglected at least once per year. Common types of neglect include neglect of basic needs. neglect of personal hygiene, and social or emotional neglect. Examples of neglect in a nursing home include:
- Giving insufficient food or water, causing dehydration or malnutrition
- Medication errors
- Allowing pressure ulcers to form
- Failing to provide safe living conditions
- Ignoring bedridden residents
- Turning off call lights or alarms without tending to the resident
- Unsafely transferring residents between rooms
Signs of Emotional Exhaustion
Nursing home abuse happens quite often, with 2 in 3 staff claiming that they have committed abuse on patients in the past year. Abuse has increased since the COVID pandemic and is expected to get even worse as the population of older people has dramatically increased. While these signs may not be the result of neglect, they are still important to investigate for the sake of your loved one’s well-being.
- Lack of energy
- Changes in personality
- Lack of medical care
- Poor personal hygiene
- Weight loss
Red Flags for Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
It is estimated that 20% of nursing home patients are neglected at least once per year. Common types of neglect include neglect of basic needs, neglect of personal hygiene, and social or emotional neglect. Examples of neglect and abuse in a nursing home include:
- Unexplained broken bones or dislocations
- Bruises or scars on the body
- Broken eyeglasses
- Thumb sucking
- Sudden changes from normal behavior
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Unexplained genital infections
- Bleeding near the genitals or anus
You Need a Lawyer on Your Side, Too
Much like hospitals, nursing homes often have strong legal defense teams to handle their claims. Shouldn’t you have that support, too? Keep in mind that not just any lawyer will do. You must choose someone who has navigated this terrain before and can provide case results that prove their competency.
Here are a few more benefits of having an experienced attorney on your side:
- We know the laws involved. Each state has different laws and timelines for bringing forth a case. You need someone who knows the ins and outs of Illinois laws.
- We can file the paperwork. Lawsuits require a lot of paperwork. There are a lot of documents involved and they all need to be filed on time. A lawyer can help in this regard.
- We can collect evidence. You can’t simply claim that a nursing home was abusive to your loved one. You will need sufficient evidence to prove misconduct. Your lawyer can help gather relevant evidence to give your case the best chance of success.
- Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. It’s often best to settle with the nursing home and/or their insurance company instead of having to go to court. Your lawyer can help with negotiations, so you get a fair settlement.
- Filing a lawsuit in court. There are cases in which the insurance company may refuse to settle. They may refuse to pay fair compensation, stalling negotiations. This means your next step is to file a lawsuit in court and have a judge or jury decide on the amount of compensation you should receive.
Serving Chicago For Over 30 Years
For three decades, David H. Brinton has served justice to Chicago and the surrounding area. Since 1998, he has been known for his concentrated focus on nursing home negligence, abuse, and litigation. His passion for law goes beyond what you’re likely to find in many Chicago firms. This passion stems from the power that law carries in correcting the grave vices that our elders face in nursing homes.
Remember, if your loved one has been a victim, you need strong evidence to prove nursing home negligence. At the Law Offices of David H. Brinton, LLC, our team is here to assess your case and hold the nursing home accountable for their grave injustice. If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.