Virginia nursing home neglect attorneys
As the U.S. population ages, the populations of nursing homes increase. Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable people in our society, particularly when they are living in situations that make it difficult for them to defend themselves.
Today, more than 3.2 million adults in the U.S. are living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Many receive excellent care, but sadly, many others are victims of abuse and neglect. Most cases of nursing home abuse are committed by the caregivers working in the facility.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, it is important that you know what to do and then take action immediately. Schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys today by calling (804) 413-6777 for legal advice on the best way to proceed.
Abuse of residents in a nursing home facility can take many forms, and not all may be immediately obvious. Remember that abuse takes a psychological toll on victims, especially those who are mentally or physically vulnerable. Your loved one may not want to admit it, or even be aware of the abuse they are suffering. That’s why you should know the different types of possible abuse:
- Physical abuse: Any condition or event that causes physical harm, including pinching, hitting, restraining, or failing to provide the needed physical care.
- Sexual abuse: Unwanted sexual attention or exploitation, including sexual attention to residents with dementia.
- Emotional abuse: Intimidating or demoralizing treatment, which may include criticizing, shaming, humiliating, or yelling at a nursing home resident.
- Resident-to-resident abuse: A growing problem in which one nursing home resident is allowed to abuse another.
- Financial exploitation: Caregivers with access to a nursing home resident’s financial information steal or compromise a resident’s financial status.
- Neglect: The nursing home fails to take care of needs such as personal hygiene, food, clothing, and water, often because of not having enough staff.
Elder abuse can be difficult to detect in a residential care facility. For every reported case of abuse, many more go unreported. Victims may suffer from dementia or other memory-related issues, or they may feel unsafe reporting their abuser to other potentially complicit staff members. Many factors may cause your loved one to not admit there’s a problem. They may not even be able to recognize the abuse themselves. But the signs will be there if you know what to look for.
Common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include the following:
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Cuts, bruises, or welts
- Broken bones
- Frequent infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Poor physical appearance
- Poor personal hygiene
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts
- Reclusiveness or refusal to speak
- Refusal to eat or take medications
- Caregiver not wanting to leave a resident alone with others
If you notice any of these, you should act immediately. Your actions could include taking your loved one out of the facility for a brief time, reporting potential abuse to the proper authorities, and/or speaking with a lawyer about filing a claim. Your loved one may be completely dependent on you to recognize abuse or neglect, so keep the signs in mind when you visit.
When we bring our loved ones to a nursing home, we assume the facility will take good care of them. Sadly, this isn’t always true, and abuse can have devastating effects. The elderly are in nursing homes to live out their last years with the support and help they need. But abuse can make those last years a living nightmare.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can result in dire consequences:
- Mental illnesses
- Pain and suffering
- Severe injuries
- Infections and illness
- Loss of financial stability
- Early death
No one wants to see a loved one suffer. Protecting older family members may require you to go against a nursing home and its staff. Holding abusers responsible does require the help of skilled and compassionate attorneys.
When you report abuse, the nursing home management may claim it was caused by one “bad apple.” They may say that once the offending staff member is fired, no more neglect or abuse will occur. Don’t fall for this common argument.
A well-run nursing home should know the treatment their residents are receiving and be able to quickly spot cruel or neglectful behavior by the staff. If abuse is happening in a nursing home, typically those managing the home are at least partially to blame.
Nursing homes are often responsible for the reprehensible behavior of their staff due to:
- Hiring staff negligently
- Overworking staff
- Understaffing the facility
- Improperly training new staff on procedures
- Small or subtle encouragement in mistreating residents by upper management
Rarely is nursing home abuse caused by “one bad apple.” Usually, the nursing home has a culture of neglect and cruelty encouraged by those in charge. Simply firing one or two employees is usually not enough to ensure that your loved one won’t face abuse again. Often holding those in charge of the nursing home responsible is the only answer.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has defined clear rights for elderly citizens under the law. This means that any nursing home that restricts these rights, such as by not providing proper care for a resident, is violating the law. A nursing home must provide and promote a resident’s quality of life through thorough care and consideration.
On top of that, nursing homes are required to make sure their residents are not abused -- physically, mentally, or financially. Nursing home staff are the facility’s responsibility. If the home fails to protect a resident, the home can be held liable for a staff member’s abuse or negligence. This is especially true if the nursing home created an environment where abuse was likely to occur.
If your elderly loved one has faced abuse or neglect at the hands of a staff member, you can file a claim against the home. In such a claim you may be able to recover costs including:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Punitive damages
However, the nursing home is likely to fight any charges, and they may have a team of skilled attorneys to do so. Holding a nursing facility responsible for abuse and neglect requires the help of an experienced attorney who isn’t afraid to face a powerful facility or corporation.
It is critical to contact an attorney if you know or suspect nursing home abuse is happening at a long-term care facility. When you come to us for help at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we will work with you to gather the facts of the case, report the abuse to the proper authorities, make sure that your rights are protected, and file a lawsuit for damages on behalf of your injured loved one.
Once a lawsuit is filed, we continue to gather and develop the evidence through interviews, depositions, and medical expert opinions. Your case may be resolved in a settlement or proceed to court. Our Virginia injury attorneys have a successful track record in the courtroom, and we are not afraid to go to trial to fight for your loved one’s rights.
- Some falls shouldn’t happen: Is your loved one’s nursing home safe enough?
- John Singleton speaks at Gloucester’s Senior Safety Fair, reviews key legal documents seniors need
- Virginia Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Elder Abuse - MedlinePlus
- Elder Abuse - National Institute on Aging
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