Millions of Americans trust nursing homes to care for their aging parents and relatives. Unfortunately, these facilities often fail to live up to the responsibility placed in them. Nursing home abuse and neglect have become tragically all too common, leaving countless elderly patients to suffer and even die from their injuries.
When abuse or neglect happens as a result of negligence, patients and their families have the right to pursue compensation. The Chicago personal injury law firm of Hale & Monico fights for the justice that injured nursing home residents deserve.
What To Know About Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect
Abuse and neglect cases are sometimes made more complicated by the victims who are involved. This is true for children, and also for the elderly. Both groups are vulnerable and often find it difficult to speak up about their suffering.
The elderly, in particular, are vulnerable because they have little control over their circumstances. Many of them are sick and frail, and simply can’t defend themselves from abusive nurses, residents, and others. Still, other patients are afraid to speak out about abuse and neglect for fear of retaliation.
The problem is compounded by the fact that many residents are isolated. Not only do their families rarely visit, but patients are sometimes not allowed to socialize with others. With no one to turn to, abuse and neglect stay hidden, and victims suffer in silence.
That’s why it’s critical for the family members of nursing home residents to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. Abuse may come in the form of physical, sexual, or emotional harm. Neglect happens when someone is deprived of basic necessities or is not properly cared for. Failure to clean, feed or supervise a resident can be considered neglect.
Here are some signs to look for:
- Unusual or unexplained physical injuries, including burns, cuts, broken bones, and bruises
- Frequent slips and falls
- Bedsores, which are usually avoidable with proper attention and care
- Poor hygiene
- Medication errors
- Signs of sexual abuse and assault, such as torn or stained clothing
- Unusual or unexplained financial transactions, purchases, missing money, and missing property
- Requests to change a will or other legal documents
- Signs of timidity when in the presence of nursing home staff
- Social isolation
- Severe punishment or disciplinary measures
- Changes in behavior
- Increased anxiety or depression
Why Do Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect Occur?
Abuse and neglect can happen to anyone, and the rating of the nursing home doesn’t necessarily correlate to the well-being of its patients. Nonetheless, some facilities are more prone to problems than others, and there are reasons their patients suffer. Knowing why abuse and neglect happen is important because holding a nursing home liable requires explaining how specifically it was negligent. These are a few of the most common reasons:
- Inexperienced or poorly trained staff members
- Understaffing, or having too many residents and not enough staff
- Inattentive or neglectful nursing home staff
- Failure to follow Illinois nursing home licensing requirements
- Not being licensed at all
- Failure of the nursing home to conduct proper background checks of employees
- Failure to keep an eye on residents
- Failure to secure a facility
These conditions may be evidence of negligence and lead to the facility being held responsible.
Who Can Be Held Liable For Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect?
Individual staff members who abuse or neglect a patient may be held legally responsible. However, these may not be the best individuals to pursue legal action due to their limited personal resources. Abuse and neglect are often systemic problems owing to the nursing home’s negligence. For instance, failure to properly screen employees or adopt reasonable safety policies could render the facility liable after an injury.
How Do I Hold A Nursing Home Liable?
Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents. That means they have to provide reasonably safe and secure facilities and take reasonable steps to prevent abuse and neglect from happening. The burden of proof is on the patient and/or his or her family to demonstrate that the nursing home failed to uphold its legal obligations through some act of negligence.
Working with an attorney, you will start by documenting evidence of the abuse or neglect. This can come in several different forms, such as photographs of injuries, medical records, or witness statements. You will probably need to subpoena records from the nursing home or use other means to obtain key records related to the abuse or neglect. That might include, for instance, documents showing the facility was not properly staffed.
Litigation will likely be necessary to win compensation for the patient’s injuries. But cases can and do settle outside of court. Understanding the value of your case is essential before agreeing to settle. That’s where it helps to have an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
Every abuse and neglect care is different, but a nursing home patient may be entitled to such damages as:
- Medical expenses
- Refund of the cost of nursing home care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages available to the family in the event the patient dies
Contact Our Chicago Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect Attorney
The most important thing you can do if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect is to speak up. Taking action can prevent serious injury. It can even save the life of your loved one. Call Hale & Monico today to get started.
Older adults who require nursing home care deserve to live in a safe, comfortable environment where they are treated with courtesy and respect. Sadly, this is not always the case. If you believe your loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Hale & Monico in Chicago right away to discuss your legal options.