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Nursing Home Abuse: Proof of Loss

Although most people tend to think of nursing homes as a benevolent place where elders can go to retire and enjoy the rest of their days, the unfortunate truth is that these places can prove to be just as corrupt as any other institution. Elder abuses can and do happen, and Texarkana nursing home abuse attorneys must regularly step in to protect these people in nursing home abuse cases. If you’re not familiar with what goes on in these cases, or you simply think that someone you know may be the victim of such abuse, then this guide should help you stay informed on the issue and what steps you can take to end it.

Establishing a Complaint

If you think that you or someone you know has been suffering while staying at a nursing home, then the first step will be to notify the nursing home of any abuses with a comprehensive list of complaints. Although the complaints you list will be unique to the nursing home you’re dealing with, there are a few that are the most commonly listed. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. In addition to these complaints, the associated damages will need to be outlined.

The damages that can be awarded from these complaints include any associated medical expenses, past expenses for physician or prosthetic fees, potential future costs associated with the abuse, pain and suffering stemming from the abuse, mental anguish or any elements of phantom pain that might arise, and harm due to a lack of sleep. All of these different areas can entitle a person to damages, should their complaints be found valid in a court.

Proving Mental Suffering

If your case involves mental suffering, then you could be entitled to damages for a variety of situations which involve both physical and mental pain. This includes harm that was caused from immobilization, harm from the fear in between knowing abuse was about to occur and its occurrence, fear stemming from further potential abuse, anxiety about the future, fear of future surgeries stemming from the abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If a case involves any of these situations, then the plaintiff could be entitled to damages.

Protecting the Dignity of the Elderly

If a situation could cause the elderly to suffer from disfigurement, including hair loss, the development of new scars, or an amputation, then this is considered especially damaging. In general, it is believed by the courts that the dignity of the elderly should be maintained at all times, and that they should not be put under undue stress that might cause their bodies to suffer any indignities or deprive them of a full life. If a person suffers so greatly from abuse in a nursing home that they begin to show physical signs of the abuse, then a complaint should absolutely be made in pursuit of damages. Of course, even if there aren’t physical signs, a complaint should still be made to prevent any further abuse.

Leading a Normal Life

Many states have additional laws that are designed to protect the elderly during their recovery time, so that they may properly live a normal life. If nursing home abuse leads to a person being unable to enjoy life normally, then it could qualify them for additional damages. The loss of enjoyment of life can apply to a variety of different circumstances, including some that aren’t commonly thought of. For instance, if a nursing home deprives its members from seeing their grandchildren, then this could be considered a form of abuse. Similarly, a nursing home that prevents its members from exercising or walking around could also be accused of treating its members poorly and depriving them of a normal life. If you know of someone who is suffering under these types of circumstances, then it’s important to document everything so that you can provide proof once the case begins to unfold.

Types of Payment

If a nursing home is found to be engaging in reckless or negligent behavior, then a case can be made against it for the plaintiff to seek punitive damages. During the course of these cases, the argument is then made the plaintiff was denied their basic statutory rights and is thus entitled to some form of punitive damages.

In other cases, a structured settlement might be awarded to the plaintiff. Unlike a lump sum payment, a structured settlement is designed to provide the plaintiff with a safe and secure method of yearly payments that aren’t as aggressively taxed. While the benefits of a structured settlement can be great for someone who doesn’t regularly deal with a lot of money, it does also mean that they might not reap the full benefits of it if they pass away before they’ve received the full settlement. In some cases though, a person can have it set up that any further payments from their structured settlement should go to their grandchildren, or some other beneficiary. In this way, the person can guarantee that their loved ones continue to receive payments from the settlement even after they die.

Cases Following a Death

In cases where the person who suffered the abuse from the nursing home has died, there are still some options. Survivors of the person’s estate can still press a claim against the nursing home. In these cases, the damages they seek from the nursing home can include damages for the loss of a relationship, loss of guidance or other advice from a mentor figure (such as a parent or grandparent), loss of companionship, mental anguish, and funeral costs. All of these cases are similar to ones involving the person who suffered the abuse, in that a link of negligence and abuse must still be proven for the nursing home in order for damages to be awarded.

Pursuing Nursing Home Damages

If you think that a nursing home has been abusing you or someone you know, then it’s essential that you not hesitate to file a complaint. Elders are one of the most vulnerable people in our society, and it’s our duty to ensure that they’re treated fairly with care and respect. If a nursing home is abusing its powers and mistreating its members, then it is our duty to ensure that they are deprived of that ability and forced to pay for the damages they have caused. As always, seek out respected and knowledgeable Texarkana nursing home abuse attorneys to help take on your case and make sure that it’s done the right way. These cases are simply too serious to let someone who is otherwise inexperienced handle them.

Types and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse

It’s estimated that around 44% of nursing home residents are abused every year. Out of those abused, 1 in 11 is harmed to the point of either critical physical condition or death. Unfortunately, due to fear of retaliation, many victims never speak out about their abuse, which leads to a number of cases going unreported.

Despite the rather high number of nursing home abuse cases, there is a lack of press coverage concerning the abuse. This abuse comes in many different forms and has profound negative effects on both nursing home residents and their loved ones. It’s time that an end be put to this senseless and violent behavior, which is plaguing nursing homes all throughout The United States. To help spot nursing home abuse, here are the types of abuse and the symptoms that accompany them.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in nursing homes ranges anywhere from physically hitting or being rough with a resident to neglecting a resident.
Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when caretakers make unwelcome sexual advances or remarks toward nursing home residents. This type of abuse includes sexual advances and remarks toward cognitively-impaired individuals who are unable to express themselves adequately.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse runs the gamut from shouting at and talking down to residents, to humiliating and shaming residents. This type of abuse can have a severe impact on a patient’s behavior.

Neglect

Whether done purposely or inadvertently, neglect includes any instance in which a patient’s needs are not met. From not providing food and water, to neglecting the maintenance of a resident’s personal hygiene, if a resident has unmet needs, that resident is suffering from neglect.

Resident on Resident Abuse

This abuse occurs when nursing home workers allow residents to physically, psychologically, or sexually harass each other.

Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse

Signs of nursing home abuse run the gauntlet from physical symptoms to emotional and psychological symptoms. It is important to notice these symptoms so that a person suffering from abuse can be helped in a timely and effective manner. Though these symptoms are not always a clear sign that abuse has occurred, they should be taken into consideration.

Physical Abuse Symptoms

Broken and fractured bones are clearly a troubling symptom for someone who is living in a nursing home and does not have a great ability to move on their own. Unless the resident suffered the broken bone from a fall, it’s a suspicious occurrence that could have come from someone physically abusing the resident.

Cuts, bruises, and welts are possible signs of physical abuse as well. There’s a chance these wounds could have come from accidental injuries, but if they seem to be present a great deal of the time, they are a red flag that must be looked at more closely.

Neglect Symptoms

Bed sores are a result of leaving the resident in one position on a bed for a long period of time. Nursing home workers should be changing residents’ sheets and repositioning residents so that they get relief from too much skin-to-bed contact.

Frequent infections come from poor hygiene and inadequate cleanliness which could be a result of nursing home workers neglecting to keep up with the routine maintenance of their residents. Though residents could very possibly develop infections from time to time, re-occurrence of these infections is a troubling symptom that must be further examined.

Dehydration is not always easy to detect, but it’s a very clear sign of neglect. If a resident’s not getting the proper fluids needed to stay hydrated, that resident is being neglected. Common signs of dehydration are weakness, irritability, cramps, and inability to pass sizable amounts of urine.

Inexplicable weight loss can come as a result of nursing home workers not giving resident’s adequate amounts of food and nourishment. It can also come as a physiological reaction to severe mental, emotional, and psychological abuse at the hands of workers. Monitoring the causes of weight loss in residents is an important part of detecting if abuse has occurred.

Mental, Emotional, Sexual and Psychological Abuse Symptoms

Mood swings and uncharacteristic anger could form as a result of mental, emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of nursing home workers. Residents could potentially be acting out this anger and emotional imbalance as a coping mechanism to deal with the abuse that has been done to them. They might be doing this to repress the truth because they fear that if they were to be truthful, they would receive retaliation from their abuser.

Uncharacteristic silence could be used as a form of coping mechanism to block out the pain of abuse. This sort of reclusive mood could also be a way for the resident to ensure that he or she doesn’t say anything bad about his or her caretakers. This could be done because of a fear of retaliation from workers at the nursing home.

Refusal to take medication could stem from a poor relationship with the caretakers who are providing said medication. Because the resident does not trust the caretaker, he or she will not ingest anything given to him or her by the caretaker. Depression can also factor into not taking medication, as the resident quite simply does not have the interest or wherewithal to do so.

Other Symptoms

Hesitance of caretakers to leave residents alone with others could very well stem from the fact that said caretaker does not want the resident to say something incriminating about him or her and the abuse that he or she has done to the resident. When visiting a loved one at a nursing home, it’s a good idea to have some alone time with that loved one to see how he or she acts when they’re away from their caretaker.

Aimless wandering around the nursing home could be done by some residents who are living in an abusive environment. This type of wandering is done in an attempt to get away from this harsh environment in the best way possible.

Nursing home abuse is a problem in need of solving. To help solve it, awareness must be spread, and vigilance must be practiced. By being aware of the different types of nursing home abuse as well as the symptoms that they cause, it is possible to spot abuse when it is occurring so that something can be done about it.

Nursing Home Abuse Now on Social Media

 

Nursing Home Abuse on Social MediaYou can find just about anything on social media. Local events, the best restaurants, DIY instructions, helpful hints and tricks, and of course cat videos, are all a few finger taps away. Sadly, nursing home abuse can now also be found on social media.

An investigation by ProPublica found 35 cases of nursing home employees sharing picture of residents in compromising positions on social media. This investigation started in 2012.

At least 16 of the 35 cases happened through the social media platform Snapchat, which allows users to send photos and videos to friends that are only able to be viewed temporarily. After the intended viewer looks at the photo or video, it will be erased.

These photos and videos captured nursing home residents while they were partially or fully nude, and typically while they were unaware they were being photographed. This is a massive breach of resident’s privacy, safety, and trust.

Not only this evidence of possible sexual abuse, it also might violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). The homes accused in the investigation are facing tough scrutiny from Congressmen and the public.

Most people think sexual abuse in nursing homes is rare, but studies show this kind of abuse isn’t as rare as most people think. The saddest part is that most of these cases go unreported.

The victims of abuse are typically reluctant to report abuse, but there are signs of nursing home abuse that loved ones can spot if they know what to look for. If one of your loved ones has been abused in a nursing home contact the Law Office of Flint & Soyars for a free consultation.

Top 5 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse typically doesn’t get a lot of press, and most people are unaware of how important this issue is. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are several signs of nursing home abuse you need to be aware of. More than half a million senior citizens are abused in nursing homes every year.

Nursing home abuse is usually classified with one of six categories. Regardless of the category, here the top five signs of nursing home abuse.

  1. Fear– Often times the victim will be visibly fearful and unwilling to talk with you if their abuser is present. Be on the lookout for any staff members that make your loved one feel uncomfortable. The victim might not say anything about the abuse, so you need to be vigilant. 
  2. Hygiene– One of the telltale signs of neglect is poor hygiene. In this case, the victim might smell like feces or body odor because they are not getting the care they need.
  3. Behavior– Change in behavior can be a sign of old age, but it can also be a sign of abuse. Mood swings, depression, and anxiety can sometimes result from abuse. It’s best to let a doctor, who doesn’t work for the nursing home, determine if the change in behavior is old age or abuse.
  4. Malnutrition– Unexplained weight loss, dehydration, cracked lips, and dry mouth are all possible symptoms of malnutrition. This can be a serious problem because malnutrition can lead to a long list of other illnesses and conditions.
  5. Bedsores– Perhaps the most noticeable sign of abuse, bedsores happen when the victim is confined to their bed and the caretakers are not taking proper precautions.

These five signs are not the only signs of nursing home abuse, so if you think you’re loved one is being abused or neglected call the Law Offices of Flint & Soyars for a free consultation today.

Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

When the time comes for a loved one to go to a nursing home, it can be a very difficult process. Choosing the right facility with all of the amenities and services can be overwhelming. Once you’ve selected the facility you’ll be facing a mountain of paperwork and legal forms to sign. One common legal form in a nursing home lease contract is an arbitration agreement. Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

 

In this arbitration agreement it usually states that if the resident or their family wants to pursue legal action against the nursing home, it must be done through a 3rd party arbitration instead of going to court.

 

The problem with using an arbitrator is their costs are far greater than the average court fees. A recent wrongful death case cost the plaintiff more than $30,000 in fees. Arbitrations are also often done behind closed doors and therefore do not get the same exposure public trials do.

To protect people from these outrageous fees, the federal government is looking at enforcing new laws that control the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements to residents.

The regulations would ensure residents fully understand the details of an arbitration agreement as well as prevent these agreements from being mandatory to obtain residency.

While many support this movement, more than 30 congressmen and 15 state attorney generals say this is not enough, and are pushing for a complete ban of arbitration agreements. There are more than 50 advocate groups that agree with the proposed ban.

Critics of the movement claim arbitration is a good option for everyone because it can render a faster decision than a court. They also point out that arbitration agreements are common in other medical situations such as surgeries.

If you need to take legal action against a nursing home for any kind of abuse or neglect call the lawyers at Flint & Soyars. Whether a nursing home arbitration agreement was signed or not, you deserve compensation for the wrongs committed.

Nursing Home Abuse

As unpleasant as it may be to imagine, abuse happens in nursing homes. In fact, it happens a lot more than most people think. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 500,000 elderly people are abused or neglected in nursing homes every year.

The CDC categorizes six types of abuse that commonly take place in nursing homes. They are:

  •   Physical abuse
  •   Sexual abuse
  •   Emotional abuse
  •   Neglect
  •   Financial abuse, and
  •   Abandonment.

Physical

There have been cases of nursing home employees physically abusing patients by slapping, hitting or pushing patients in order to control and order them around.

Emotional

Emotional abuse can take the form of screaming or verbally harassing patients. If the elderly patient is suffering from mental disabilities, they may be unaware this abuse is taking place.

Neglect

It can be hard to prove neglect because there are so many forms it can take. Defining neglect can also be tricky, but “a failure by a caregiver” typically serves as a broad definition for neglect. Nursing homes are liable for neglect in multiple ways. The most common are:

  •   Negligent hiring
  •   Understaffing
  •   Inadequate training
  •   Breach of statutory or regulatory obligations, and
  •   Medication errors

If you suspect you or a loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, call Flint & Soyars. They have been protecting the elderly against abusive nursing homes for more than 30 years. From bedsores to restraint injuries, Flint & Soyars handle a wide range of nursing home abuse issues.

 

Nursing Home Abuse: Proving Damages

Note: In our final segment, we will outline the steps of proving the claim against the nursing home at trial.

After a parent or loved one is injured due to a nursing home employee’s negligence, the first step if to create a claim against the facility. This document will explain our theories of liability (i.e. negligence) against the nursing home and the entity that insure it, and why we are entitled to damages in the form of compensation. A complaint, or lawsuit, is filed next. It delineates the parties involved and the statutory violations committed by the nursing home. The nursing home, and other defendants, will respond to the complaint by filing an answer with the court. After this, discovery will occur. This is simply a period during which both parties can obtain pertinent documents, take depositions, submit interrogatories (a list of questions one party sends to the other), etc. If the parties are unable to reach an agreeable settlement, the court will set a trial date.

At trial, our primary goal is to prove the negligence of the defendant. In other words, that the defendant had a duty of care to the nursing home resident, and the defendant breach that duty of care.

Next, we must demonstrate that negligence was the proximate cause of the injury. Not something else.

Finally, we must prove damages. Damages often include the following: pain and suffering from the physical injuries and mental anguish, past and future medical expenses, and past and future loss of ability to enjoy life.

Plaintiffs who bring a successful nursing home negligence lawsuit can collect compensatory damages. These damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the past and future costs of the abuse or neglect, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, if any. In blatant cases of nursing home abuse, it may be possible for the plaintiff to collect punitive damages. Punitive damages are available to plaintiffs who show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intended to cause harm. Overall, the most important showing during the damages phase of the trial is to demonstrate that the plaintiff’s life and future has been drastically affected by the defendant’s negligent act.

At the law firm of Flint & Soyars, our attorneys have 30 years of experience holding nursing homes accountable for the care they provide our parents and loved ones. We represent people injured or killed in nursing homes throughout the Ark-La-Tex region of northeast Texas, southwest Arkansas, and northwest Louisiana.

Contact a Texarkana nursing home abuse lawyer at Flint & Soyars today for a free consultation. We offer home or hospital visits for your convenience

Proving Nursing Home Liability

Deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home is a tremendously difficult decision. We do so under the belief that that nursing homes are loving, safe residences with proper safety measures in place and high standards of care. And fortunately, most are, and exceed our expectations.

Some nursing home residents, however, are victimized by physical or mental abuse or neglect. Who is legally responsible, or liable, when abuse occurs? Nursing home residents are owed a “duty of care” during the provision of services (food, water, hygiene, medication, and other medical care). This means that the nursing home has a responsibility to provide residents with a level of reasonable care. When the facility fails to provide this level of reasonable care, it may be liable for injuries that the residents sustain while in the facility’s care.

Liability occurs when a nursing home employee violates their expected duty of care by acting, or completely failing to act, in a negligent manner when performing a duty expected of the nursing home employee. Is the nursing home employee responsible for injury or death when employees should have reasonably taken some action to prevent the incident from occurring? If so, the nursing home may be held liable.

The plaintiffs, usually the residents themselves or family members, hold the burden of proof in proving nursing home liability. They must present evidence to prove that the nursing home failed to maintain the duty of care owed to the resident, and this failure resulted in injury or death.

At the law firm of Flint & Soyars, our attorneys have 30 years of experience holding nursing homes accountable for the care they provide our parents and loved ones. We represent people injured or killed in nursing homes throughout the Ark-La-Tex region of northeast Texas, southwest Arkansas, and northwest Louisiana.

Contact a Texarkana nursing home abuse lawyer at Flint & Soyars today for a free consultation. We offer home or hospital visits for your convenience

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

If a resident has been injured in the care of a nursing home, or from the actions of a nursing home employee, action must be undertaken. If the abuse or neglect constitutes a life-threatening emergency, call 911. If it less severe, report it to local law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and Adult Protective Services.

There are numerous federal laws that protect older adults including: The Elder Justice Act (enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010), The Older Americans Act, Title 20 of the SSA, and the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. It is important to realize that while these federal laws provide substantial funding, it is upon individual state and municipal agencies to monitor nursing home conditions and enforce the law if they violate federal or state law.

Every state has Adult Protective Services (APS) consisting of state and local departments to provide social services for the elderly and adults with disabilities. After a report of abuse or neglect is made to local law enforcement, or APS is directly notified, the agency will determine if the report meets the criteria for a suspected case of abuse or neglect, and will meet with the alleged victim. An APS professional will then assess the patient’s situation, contact additional law enforcement if necessary, and prepare an assistance plan specifying additional future action.

If you suspect elder abuse contact local law enforcement, the appropriate regional Adult Protective Services (Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas), and speak to a Texarkana personal injury lawyer at Flint & Soyars experienced in elder abuse law today.

The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 1.5 million Americans reside in nursing homes. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the number of residents will increase significantly in the upcoming decades. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, the possibility of abuse and neglect is a major concern. Nursing homes can be held liable for the abuse and neglect of their residents.

The first step to recognizing signs of nursing home abuse and neglect is to understand it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) defines elder abuse as “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.” Or, doing something, or failing to do something, that results in harm to an elderly person. Abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, financial, neglect, or abandonment. All states have enacted laws against elder abuse.

But what are the warning signs of elder abuse? The National Institute on Aging suggest watching for the following indicators of abuse:

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Bed sores (skin ulcers)
Dehydration
Malnutrition
Falls from beds unprotected by railings
Improper medication
Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained injuries
Withdrawal from normal activities
Unsanitary and unclean conditions
Poor access to medical services
Unreasonable physical restraint
Elder reports of being assaulted or mistreated

At the law firm of Flint & Soyars, our attorneys have 30 years of experience holding nursing homes accountable for the care they provide our parents and loved ones. We represent people injured or killed in nursing homes throughout the Ark-La-Tex region of northeast Texas, southwest Arkansas, and northwest Louisiana.

Contact a Texarkana nursing home abuse lawyer at Flint & Soyars today for a free consultation. We offer home or hospital visits for your convenience.