NURSING HOME INJURY AND MISTREATMENT
Putting a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility should leave you feeling happy and confident that they will be cared for as they would if they lived in your home. However, this does not always happen. While the majority of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are safe and run without incident, there are of course cases where an elderly person is not treated properly. In fact, they may even suffer terrible abuse at the hands of the nursing home or assisted living facility staff.
If your family is experiencing this, a Tacoma nursing home abuse lawyer could assess the situation, explain your rights, and help make sure that this does not continue to happen. Our dedicated injury lawyers are here to protect your rights. Contact us to get started on holding a manipulative retirement home accountable.
For a free legal consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer serving Tacoma, call 206-558-5555
NURSING HOME ABUSE EXPLAINED
While there can be early warning signs of abuse or neglect, oftentimes there are none until it is too late. The ill effects of abuse or neglect can lead to injury, hospitalization, and even death of the elderly family member. Thankfully, if a senior citizen is harmed, the facility may be sued.
Detecting nursing home neglect can be challenging because many residents are in poor condition when they enter the facility. Distinguishing between expected decline and possible abuse requires close attention. Family members should not be shy about questioning nursing home personnel and the resident’s physician if they notice a change that concerns them.
Nursing home neglect usually results from staffing shortages and is not intentional. However, it can harm the patient’s physical and emotional well-being. Discussing a concern with a facility administrator and consulting with a retirement home abuse lawyer in Tacoma could influence the facility to make necessary changes.
Laws Regarding Nursing Home Abuse
If your elderly loved one was abused or assaulted at a nursing home, you have the right to bring a claim against the nursing home. Legally, you will have to show the nursing home was negligent in some way. You can help your case by proving, with the assistance of the Jackman Law Firm, that the abuse to your elderly loved one happened because the nursing home or assisted living facility failed to:
- Properly train, hire, and supervise staff members who might have committed the abuse.
- Adequately supervise other tenants in the facility who might have assaulted your elderly loved one.
- Monitor a visitor who might have committed the abuse.
In most cases, it is not hard to show that a duty of care existed. When you entrust your elderly loved one to a facility, you expect that they are going to be protected, and rightly so, because the nursing home has a duty to watch over them and protect them. If one of the members of the staff or a fellow resident harmed your elderly loved one, then that is the breach the law speaks about. Importantly, you must be able to prove that your elderly loved one’s injuries are directly related to the abuse suffered by the nursing home or a fellow resident, as opposed to their injuries just naturally occurring.
Because of a legal principle called “respondent superior” (also known as vicarious liability) the actions of the nursing home’s staff also make the retirement community itself responsible for any abuse or assault your loved one may suffer. That is why, in the lawsuit, you should not just name the person or persons who caused your elderly loved one’s injuries, you should also name the nursing home or assisted living facility itself.
This can get complicated, but a seasoned Tacoma lawyer could help a family solidify the nuances and details of their nursing home abuse claim.
Common Examples of Nursing Home Neglect
While nursing home abuse and neglect take on a variety of forms, the most common are:
Bed sores or ulcers, including decubitus ulcers
Dehydration and malnutrition, Infections, including urinary tract infections (UTI)
Sexual and physical abuse
Patients being allowed to wander off the premises
Many of these unfortunate forms of mistreatment are caused by understaffing. Ideally, a nursing home should never have one staff member assigned to 10 or more elderly people. Even 10 may be too high of a number. The lower the staff-to-patient ratio, the better the nursing home and the lower the chances of injuries to elderly residents. However, this kind of low staff-to-patient ratio is not always the case. Many nursing homes have seen dramatic increases in the number of people admitted to their facilities in recent years.
When it comes to the kind of abuse an elderly person may suffer, there are many different signals that indicate mistreatment. Sometimes, if the abuse is emotional, the outward signs might be harder to detect and will be evidenced by being withdrawn and not acting like one’s normal self. However, there may be very obvious signs of abuse or mistreatment, including but not limited to:
Losing too much weight
Bruises or marks on the skin
Cutes or lacerations from being restrained
If you spot any of these things on an elderly person’s body, then there is likely abuse going on. The neglect or mistreatment may be coming from either a staff member of the nursing home or it could be from one of the nursing home’s fellow residents.
Sadly, there may be instances when the nursing home may be occupied by individuals who are suffering from such a degree of dementia that they may not be aware of being neglected or abused. If this is the case, the nursing home is not excused from liability for this. Retirement communities have a duty to make sure that these elderly people, assuming they are suffering from terrible dementia, are being kept safely away from the rest of the non-violent elderly.
In addition to reporting signs of abuse to the nursing home management, it is also a good idea to notify the better business bureau, the police, the Department of Health and human services, and a skilled Tacoma lawyer from Jackman Law Firm so we can bring a case on your behalf against the nursing home to bring justice to you and your elderly loved one.
Proving Negligence in Nursing Homes
The Revised Code of Washington §74.34.200 creates a cause of action allowing a vulnerable adult or their guardian to bring a negligence lawsuit against a nursing home, hospice, or long-term care facility where they suffered abuse. A “vulnerable adult,” under the law, is anyone over age 60 without the functional, physical, or mental capability to care for themselves. Anyone admitted to a nursing home is also a vulnerable adult under the law, regardless of age.
The retirement community could be liable to pay any medical costs associated with treating the physical and emotional injuries the resident suffered due to the abuse. The resident may also receive compensation for their pain and suffering, lawyer fees, and litigation costs. A knowledgeable Tacoma lawyer could advise a resident’s family members on whether pursuing a negligence action could be effective in a specific nursing home abuse case.
Tacoma Nursing Home AbuseLawyer Near Me 206-558-5555
RESTRAINT AS A FORM OF ABUSE
While many nursing home facilities treat their patients with care and go years without incidents, on occasion there are issues in these communities that lead to elderly loved ones being hurt.
One way that nursing homes and assisted living facilities injure their elderly residents is by restraining them unnecessarily. While restraining an elderly person may seem unthinkable to some, unfortunately, it happens all too often. If an elderly resident is restrained, the nursing home has to have a compelling and legal reason to do so. If they don’t, they can be held liable for the injuries the elderly resident might suffer at the nursing home or assisted living facility. A compassionate lawyer in Tacoma could help detect restraint and fight against it with a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
OTHER COMMON KINDS OF RETIREMENT HOME NEGLECT
The children of the elderly sometimes do not make it to see their relatives or parents as often as they would like, and when they do, they are very surprised to see their relative suffering from malnutrition, looking thin, underfed, and unhealthy. When this is the case, the nursing home or assisted living facility should be held accountable for the damages to the elderly.
When you place your elderly parent or loved one into a nursing home, it probably never crosses your mind that your parent or loved one could face abuse or mistreatment. You trust, however blindly, the nursing home or assisted living facility to properly care for the elderly. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes these trusted facilities and nursing homes end up harming your loved one by not giving them enough water to drink. Dehydration of an elderly person can be especially devastating given that over 60% of our body is comprised of water. Our most vital organs, our heart, and our brain, are more than 70% water.
Without water, the brain and body will die. The elderly can become dehydrated at a faster rate than younger people and thus, their need to be hydrated is even greater. Since the elderly who are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities may not be terribly mobile, possibly even confined to a bed or wheelchair, they are normally more dependent on the staff to administer the proper amount of fluids they need to remain healthy. If a retirement community fails to do this, a nursing home abuse claim is an option, especially when working with our dedicated legal representation.
Slips and Falls
Unexpected slips and falls could be incredibly dangerous for any nursing home resident. In many cases, these accidents are caused by negligence or oversight on the part of the retirement community. Falls at nursing homes can be very devastating to the elderly because of their frail, fragile, and vulnerable physical condition.
Of all the reasons that elderly residents are taken to the ER, nearly 40% of the time it is because of falls at a nursing home. Slippery floors and understaffing are one of the leading causes of nursing home slips and falls. Other potential hazards that lead to slipping accidents include improper lighting, uneven floors, and loose objects left on the ground.
When a family can determine the exact hazard that caused their elderly relative to slip and fall, they could work with our Tacoma lawyers to hold the nursing home accountable.
The elderly in nursing homes are often unable to protect themselves and are very vulnerable to others. Recently, there was a story that made national news about a woman who was in a coma, in a long-term care facility, who had become impregnated by a one of the assisted living center’s staff members. This kind of shocking sexual abuse, unfortunately, does happen at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is not always easy to tell when an elderly loved one has been sexually abused if the elderly man or woman has dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other kind of age-related disorder.
Our compassionate representatives understand the trauma associated with these situations and could fight back against sexual abuse in nursing homes.
Choking injuries, unfortunately, happen at nursing homes from time to time. These incidents can be very serious and lead to death if nobody comes to save an elderly resident. Many of these accidents are unnecessary and preventable.
Retirement home staff members should all be well trained in basic CPR and other life-saving forms of first aid, including giving mouth-to-mouth and the Heimlich maneuver. Unfortunately, this training is not always adequately performed. These negligent training practices could have serious consequences, as our firm understands. After a choking accident at a nursing home, a dedicated lawyer in Tacoma could fight to demonstrate that the abuse or neglect could have been prevented with the proper precaution and instruction.
Financial exploitation is another form of retirement home abuse. Nursing homes or individual staff members sometimes take advantage of a vulnerable person’s confusion to steal money from them. Staff members might use emotional manipulation, physical intimidation, or threats to force an elderly person into paying them.