Has your loved one been treated neglectfully in a nursing home? Contact our law firm for a free consultation to see how we can help.
The aging population is growing in the United States, which means that more and more families will be choosing nursing home care for loved ones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 15,600 nursing homes in the U.S. with millions of residents throughout. Though we believe that our loved ones will be cared for in a nursing home setting, the sad reality is that there are risks to nursing home residents that we should never have to fathom. Elder abuse is always increasing within assisted living facilities due to many reasons we will outline below. If you believe that a loved one has been impacted by nursing home neglect or abuse, speaking with a Delaware nursing home abuse lawyer at Edelstein Martin & Nelson is the best course of action for your family.
An Explanation of What Nursing Home Abuse Is
With thousands of skilled nursing facilities in Delaware, many individuals decide that a nursing home is the right place for their elderly family member. Many families are left with no other choice but to place a loved one in a nursing home or other assisted living facility so that they can get care that they would not receive otherwise. Unfortunately, even when you trust that a loved one will be cared for, abuse could occur within the facility where your loved one is living.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that approximately 1 in 10 nursing home residents will experience elder abuse any given year. Even when you think that you have picked the best out of all skilled nursing facilities, nursing home negligence is a reality that could affect you and your family. Nursing home abuse takes place when any form of serious injuries or neglect affect your loved one while they are in a nursing home facility. Your loved one deserves the right to round-the-clock care and respect, not abuse and neglect.
Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?
Nursing home facilities are expected to abide by a certain standard of care. Many nursing home staff members are putting in long hours at nursing homes that are incredibly understaffed. Unfortunately, this means that staff members will suffer long-term effects as well. This situation can lead to issues, including:
- Burnout from working long hours
- Lack of proper training
- Lack of supervision when on the job
- Understaffing due to shortages in the workplace
When any of these elements occur, sometimes simultaneously, nursing home abuse cases are more likely to arise. Even when you believe that you have made the perfect choice in an assisted living facility, your family member could still be at risk. This is why it is important to know the signs of abuse so that you can take action if you believe that a loved one is being harmed.
Who Are Common Abusers in Nursing Home Abuse Incidents?
When you think of nursing home abuse, you may commonly believe that a personal caregiver is the one causing the abuse. Though this is the case in many situations due to understaffing and other above mentioned reasons, more than just a staff member may be liable for substandard care to your elderly loved one. Sometimes, entire administrations that oversee facilities can be to blame for this lack of care. This can make a medical malpractice claim entirely complex and confusing, which is why it is crucial to have help from a nursing home abuse lawyer at Edelstein Martin & Nelson on your side.
Types of Abuse and Neglect That a Nursing Home Resident May Experience
Nursing home abuse is more than just physical abuse, though it may be the most common type that you think about when you consider these situations. Here are some of the most common types of abuse that happens in nursing home settings in Delaware each year:
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse takes place in nursing homes more than many other forms of elder abuse. This form of abuse occurs when a caretaker inflicts pain onto an elderly person either in an intentional or reckless manner. Some of the most common types include hitting, pushing, or neglecting them to the point of severe injuries like pressure sores. On top of this, some nursing homes use physical restraints on elderly family members, which can also lead to physical harm.
Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse is, by far, the most common type of abuse that takes place in nursing homes each year. Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver inflicts some type of mental pain or distress onto a loved one. This could include threatening them, humiliating them, or even intimidating your loved one. Any time a caregiver in a nursing home facility yells at a nursing home resident or threatens them with isolation or harm, emotional abuse is happening.
Abandonment: Nursing home residents are typically unable to care for themselves in most ways. Therefore, abandoning a resident can lead to serious harm. Abandonment of your family member occurs when they are not being attended or left alone in a room for an extended period of time that is not acceptable. These incidents can be incredibly life-threatening, as a fall could occur that leads to significant harm.
Sexual Abuse: When any type of non-consensual sexual contact takes place, sexual abuse is happening. According to statistics, approximately 75% of all female rape victims over the age of 60 sustained sexual abuse in a nursing home or other assisted living facility. Sexual abuse can include unwanted advances from caregivers, sexual communications, and showing residents unwanted sexual images or videos. When a caregiver sexually abuses an elderly resident, both the caregiver and the facility could be held liable.
Financial Abuse: Financial abuse occurs when a resident’s money or property is stolen from them by a caregiver. Sometimes, an administration could overcharge a nursing home resident, coerce them to sign checks that they do not want to, or steal credit cards.
Neglect: Neglect takes place when a resident is not given proper nutrition or hydration, or not given other necessary assistance. When a loved one is not properly cleaned or given their necessary medications, neglect is taking place.
If you suspect that any of these types of abuse are taking place against a loved one in a nursing home setting, it is important to speak with a dedicated Delaware nursing home abuse lawyer about your options.
Injuries Most Prevalent in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
When physical abuse is taking place in a nursing home setting, some injuries are more common than others. A vulnerable loved one could suffer from some of the following serious injuries:
- Bed rail injuries
- Broken bones
- Falls, which also lead to slight fractures or broken bones
- Head injuries
Another common type of injury that takes place in a nursing home is bed sores. These injuries, which are also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, take place when a loved one is bedridden for any lengthy amount of time. Though these infections sometimes take place due to reasons that are not physical abuse, they are often a sign of abuse. These sores can range from minor to incredibly severe, causing immense pain to a loved one who is suffering. Any time a loved one has sustained a personal injury in a Delaware nursing home, it is crucial that you speak with a Delaware medical malpractice attorney who has handled nursing home abuse claims in the past.
What Can I Do When I Notice the Warning Signs of Abuse?
Speaking up if you suspect nursing home abuse of a family member is incredibly important. You should always take your concerns to authorities first, as they can help you and your family initially before you take additional steps. You should also report the abuse to the nursing home administration immediately so they can take steps to correct it.
Some of the most common warning signs of abuse of a loved one include the following:
- Serious injuries, from broken bones to bed sores
- Bruises with no explanation
- Dehydration or malnourishment/loss of weight
- Poor hygiene or soiled bedding
- Changes in your loved one’s personality
- Complaints that mistreatment is happening
After you have reported the abuse to authorities, seeking immediate legal help is important. A Delaware nursing home abuse lawyer can help you get justice when a loved one has sustained injuries or other types of harm in an abuse case. The welfare and rights of your loved one should always be protected.
What Compensation May Be Awarded to Victims of Nursing Home Abuse?
When you decide to file a nursing home negligence claim, there are many types of compensation that could be available. Every situation is different, but generally, depending on the severity of the abuse, you can expect to file a claim for many forms of compensation on behalf of a loved one who has sustained elder abuse at the hands of a negligent caregiver or facility. These include some of the following:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical expenses due to physical injury
- Emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages to punish the assisted living facility for their wrongdoing
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
The emotional distress that your elderly loved one sustained in an abusive situation can be catastrophic. Pain and suffering can be difficult to negotiate. There are many factors that will be considered in your claim for pain and suffering. These include the strength of your claim and how severe the elder abuse was. The law dictates how much you will receive in your claim based on various multipliers, which you can figure out with the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer. When any type of medical malpractice or abuse has occurred in a nursing facility, pain and suffering damages should be pursued.
Statute of Limitations on Nursing Home Abuse Claims in Delaware
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time you have to bring a claim before you are barred from doing so. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice and other personal injury claims in the state of Delaware is 2 years from the time that the abuse or injuries are discovered.
It is crucial that you act in a timely manner, which means collecting information and evidence of the nursing home abuse as quickly as possible before it starts to disappear. Nursing homes will sometimes do what it takes to protect their own, which means that you should never delay. Taking immediate action against wrongful and reckless assisted living facilities can stop these negligent acts from happening in the future across Delaware.
Wrongful Death Claim Following Nursing Home Abuse in Delaware
In some of the worst cases of nursing home abuse, a wrongful death can unfortunately take place and turn your life upside down. The fatal consequences of a nursing home abuse case can occur when a nursing home fails to give proper care and attention to your elderly loved one. Elder abuse that leads to a wrongful death can leave your family in a complex and challenging position, as well as cause grief and emotions that can make it hard to move on.
When a loved one loses their life due to nursing home abuse, a wrongful death claim is the best option to move forward. Bringing a wrongful death claim can help you and your family receive compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses your loved one has experienced, lost income, loss of companionship, and many other related damages. With the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer, you can successfully bring a lawsuit and receive the justice that you deserve.
Delaware Nursing Home Injuries Lawyers That Fight
Nursing home abuse is a reality that we cannot turn a blind eye to. The reality that this could be happening to our loved ones and causing serious injuries or emotional harm is an unfortunate truth but something that affects thousands of families yearly across Delaware. You must seek the counsel of a Delaware nursing home abuse lawyer who will fight to protect your loved one’s rights throughout the duration of the claim process.
Nursing homes should always be held responsible for the harm that they have caused your loved one so that you can move forward, and so that other residents do not suffer the same fate. Speaking with a knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer at Edelstein Martin & Nelson can help you get back on your feet and gain the compensation that you deserve during these difficult times. Call us at 302-504-4815.