No one wants to make the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home. But when someone needs 24-hour skilled nursing care, a nursing facility can present your only option. You expect the staff to care for and protect your loved one. But, when evidence suggests staff abused your family member, you must take the matter seriously and notify authorities. You may also pursue compensation from the nursing home through a civil claim.
If you suspect a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact the Birmingham nursing home abuse attorneys at Cory Watson Attorneys to discuss how you can pursue justice for your loved one.
Why Choose Cory Watson Attorneys for Your Nursing Home Abuse Case?
The personal injury lawyers at Cory Watson Attorneys have represented injured victims and their families for over 40 years. In that time, we have recovered more than $3 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients in a wide range of personal injury cases from car accidents and product liability cases to claims of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Based in Birmingham, Alabama, our dedicated staff understands what you and your family have gone through, and we want to offer you our 100 percent hassle-free guarantee. We promise to provide you with personalized legal protection and stand by you every step of the way. Contact Cory Watson Attorneys today for your free consultation.
For a free legal consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer serving Birmingham, call 877-562-0000
How Common Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Elder abuse, in general, is a common problem affecting about one in 10 older adults who live at home. According to recent studies, for those who live in institutional settings, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities, the rate is even higher one in six, according to recent studies.
But statistics probably underestimate the problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions. Most data on elder abuse only represent older adults whom emergency departments treat. The data does not include elders who other providers treated or who didn’t seek medical treatment for their injuries.
In many cases, the older adult is afraid or unable to tell police or family about the abuse, either because they have cognitive disabilities or the person abusing them is someone they rely on for their care.
Abuse of an older adult in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other setting can have several physical and emotional effects on the victim, some of which can worsen existing health problems or lead to premature death. No one should face abuse in any form, especially older, vulnerable adults.
Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Near Me 877-562-0000
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act or omission by caregivers or staff in a nursing home or long-term care facility that causes harm, distress, or a decline in the well-being of elderly residents. It can take various forms, all of which harm the elderly residents who need and paid for care and support.
Some common types of nursing home abuse include:
This involves the intentional use of force to physically harm a resident. It can include hitting, slapping, pushing, or inappropriately restraining residents. Physical abuse can lead to bruises, fractures, or other injuries.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Emotional abuse includes actions that inflict emotional pain or distress on residents. This can include verbal threats, insults, humiliation, intimidation, or isolation. Emotional abuse can have severe mental health consequences for the elderly.
Neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide residents with the necessary care and attention, leading to physical or emotional harm. Neglect can involve inadequate food, water, hygiene, medical care, or supervision.
Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual contact, advances, or coercion towards an elderly resident. This is a serious violation of their rights and can cause physical and emotional trauma.
Financial abuse occurs when caregivers or staff exploit residents for financial gain. This can include stealing money or property and coercing residents into signing over their assets or changing their wills.
Nursing Home Abuse Signs
Recognizing the sometimes subtle signs of nursing home abuse can protect the well-being of elderly residents.
Here are common signs of nursing home abuse:
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, fractures, or burns.
- Bedsores (pressure ulcers) or skin infections, which can indicate neglect.
- Injuries that are inconsistent with the resident’s medical condition or explanations provided by staff.
Emotional and Behavioral Signs
- Emotional withdrawal or sudden changes in behavior.
- Increased fear, anxiety, or depression.
- Agitation, mood swings, or frequent crying.
- Unexplained changes in appetite or weight loss.
- Poor personal hygiene, such as unwashed hair, dirty clothes, or soiled bedding.
- Dehydration or malnutrition, leading to weight loss and weakness.
- Lack of assistance with basic daily activities like bathing, dressing, or using the toilet.
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions in the facility.
Verbal or Psychological Signs
- The resident appears scared or hesitates to speak freely around certain staff members.
- Staff members belittle, insult, or use offensive language toward residents.
- The resident exhibits signs of confusion or agitation not related to an underlying medical condition.
Sexual Abuse Signs
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Torn or stained undergarments.
- Fear of being left alone with specific staff members.
- The resident reports sexual abuse or discomfort in private areas.
Financial Abuse Signs
- Missing personal belongings or valuables.
- Unauthorized use of a resident’s financial accounts or property.
- Sudden changes in the resident’s financial situation or estate planning documents (wills, power of attorney).
- Overmedication or undermedication leads to adverse effects or worsening health.
- Residents are given medication against their will or without proper explanation.
- Staff members prevent or restrict visits from family and friends.
- The resident is isolated from social activities or interactions with peers.
Violation of Resident Rights
- Ignoring resident preferences or decisions about their care.
- Lack of privacy or dignity in personal care routines.
Sudden Decline in Health
- Unexplained deterioration in the resident’s physical or mental health.
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What Should I Do if I Suspect My Family Member Is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?
If you suspect an Alabama nursing home abused your loved one, take immediate action to ensure their safety and well-being:
Ensure Your Loved One’s Safety
If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency services to ensure their safety and get them the necessary medical attention.
Contact the Nursing Home Administrator
Reach out to the nursing home’s administrator or director of nursing to report your concerns. Share your specific observations and ask for an explanation. Keep a record of your conversations and any responses you receive.
Contact State Regulatory Authorities
In Alabama, you can file complaints of nursing home abuse, neglect, poor care, inadequate staff, unsafe or unsanitary conditions, dietary problems, or mistreatment with the Alabama State Survey Agency. You can do this by calling the ElderCare Hotline at 1-800-356-9596, emailing NHComplaints@adph.state.al.us, or writing a letter of complaint to ATTN: Complaint Unit, Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Provider Standards, 201 Monroe Street, Suite 700, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017. Another resource is Adult Protective Services in the Department of Human Resources at 1-800-458-7214 or APS@DHR.Alabama.gov.
Keep detailed records of any signs or evidence of abuse, including photographs of injuries, written descriptions of incidents, and the names of any staff members involved. This documentation may assist investigations.
Contact an Attorney
If you suspect abuse, consult an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. They can guide you on legal options and help you navigate the process of pursuing justice for your loved one.
Speak with Your Loved One
If possible, have a private and supportive conversation with your loved one. Encourage them to share their experiences and feelings. They may hesitate or fear talking about what happened, so use patience and understanding.
Involve Other Family Members
Share your concerns with other family members and involve them in addressing the suspected abuse. A united family front can more effectively advocate for your loved one.
Continue to visit your loved one in the nursing home and maintain open communication with them. Your presence can provide emotional support and deter further abuse.
After reporting the suspected abuse to the nursing home and ADPH, follow up on the progress of any investigations or actions taken. Stay informed about your loved one’s condition and the steps taken to address the situation.
Consider Alternative Care
If you worry about your loved one’s safety, relocate them to a different nursing home or care facility where they can receive proper care and protection.
Make your loved one’s safety and well-being the top priority. Take immediate steps to ensure their safety, report the abuse to the appropriate authorities, and seek legal advice to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions.
What Compensation Available in a Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Case?
Nursing home abuse lawsuits allow victims of nursing home abuse or neglect to pursue compensation for the damages.
Depending on the case, your loved one can recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Prescriptions and medical devices or equipment
- Cost of doctor visits and treatments
- The cost of moving the resident to a different nursing facility
- Pain and suffering
Can I Sue the Nursing Home if I Sign an Arbitration Agreement?
An arbitration agreement is a legally binding contract between two or more parties that agree to resolve disputes outside of the traditional court system, typically through arbitration. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where parties present their case to a third party, known as an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators, who then make a binding decision on the dispute.
Until 2019, nursing homes in Alabama required residents or their family members to sign these binding agreements as a condition of admittance into a facility. Many families didn’t realize that by signing one, they waived their right to a jury trial in the event of a dispute, including allegations of nursing home abuse or neglect. Instead, the case would go to arbitration where the decision to hold a nursing home accountable lay with the arbitrator, rather than a jury. In many cases, nursing homes choose an arbitrator with an affinity toward the industry.
While arbitration agreements don’t excuse nursing homes from responsibility for negligence, they may enable the facility to diminish the compensation they owe you and your loved one.
Despite efforts to eliminate forcing nursing home residents or their family members to sign arbitration agreements as a contingency to their admittance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did issue a new rule in 2019 prohibiting nursing homes from requiring residents to sign binding arbitration agreements as a condition for receiving care. Nursing homes must also clearly explain the agreement so that the resident or their representative understands its meaning and give residents a 30-day right to rescind after signing it.
The legal team at Cory Watson Attorneys understands that the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is difficult and emotional. However, consult a lawyer and learn your rights before signing any agreement with a nursing home.
If you did sign an agreement, you still have legal options. A lawyer with experience handling nursing home abuse claims proves valuable in these situations.
Contact a Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Cory Watson Attorneys Today
We trust nursing homes to care for and protect our loved ones from harm. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
When nursing home staff abuses or neglects a vulnerable older adult, you can hold the nursing home responsible.
If your loved one suffered harm while under the care of nursing home staff, you have rights. Contact Cory Watson’s personal injury attorney in Birmingham by calling (205) 328-2200 or filling out our online form for your free consultation to discuss your rights.