Nursing homes are trusted to care for senior citizens when they’re at their most vulnerable and needy. When these facilities don’t live up to that trust, a resident can get seriously injured or even killed. No one should have to watch their loved ones die or suffer because of nursing home abuse or neglect. The Washington, D.C. law firm of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP holds nursing facilities liable when their negligence and irresponsibility cause one of their residents to get hurt. If you or a loved one suffered from abuse or neglect in a Washington, D.C. nursing home, let us get to work fighting for the justice you and your family deserve.
The Facts About Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect
Washington, D.C. nursing home abuse and neglect cases are more common than you might think. Tragically, many victims suffer in silence because they are too afraid to report their injuries. Still, others are unable to tell family members they’ve been victimized because of their medical condition or lack of contact with outsiders. Isolation is one major reason why the reported statistics on nursing home abuse and neglect are probably much lower than reality.
For these reasons, it’s especially important for family members to stay in contact with their elderly loved ones who reside in these facilities. Regular visits, asking questions, and talking to management and staff members may decrease the likelihood that your relative will suffer.
You should also be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect. Some residents don’t even know they’ve been victimized, or may still be reluctant to discuss it for fear of retaliation. Abuse can come in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, or financial harm. Neglect occurs when someone is deprived of necessities or is not properly cared for. Examples of neglect include failure to clean, feed, or supervise a nursing home resident.
These are some possible signs of abuse and neglect you should know about:
- Unexplained or unusual physical injuries, such as burns, cuts, fractured bones, and bruises
- Frequent slips and falls
- Bedsores, which are typically avoidable with proper attention and care
- Poor hygiene
- Medication mistakes
- Evidence of sexual abuse and assault, such as stained or torn clothing
- Unexplained or unusual financial transactions, purchases, missing money, and missing personal property
- Requests to make unusual or abrupt changes to a will or other legal documents
- Timid behavior when in the presence of nursing home staff
- Social isolation
- Severe disciplinary measures or rules
- Increased anxiety or depression
Unfortunately, in some instances, victims succumb to their injuries and die. In cases like these, the family may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
Why Does It Happen?
Any nursing home resident can be abused or neglected. While positive ratings and reviews help families select good facilities, they don’t necessarily correlate to a resident’s well-being. Still, there are a few causes of nursing home abuse and neglect that Washington, D.C. attorneys frequently see. Understanding why a resident has been hurt is important since the burden of proof in an injury lawsuit lies with the plaintiff. Here are a few common reasons these cases arise:
- Poorly trained or inexperienced staff
- Lack of background checks on staff
- Staff not paying attention to their residents
- Ignoring licensing requirements and regulations
- Not being licensed at all
- Failure to monitor troublesome residents
- Failure to secure a nursing home from outsiders
How Do I Hold A Washington, D.C. Nursing Home Liable?
Nursing homes have certain responsibilities concerning their residents, which are collectively known as the duty of care. Generally, a nursing home is obligated to provide its residents with a reasonable level of care to keep them safe from injury, abuse, and death. That includes paying attention to a resident’s needs and taking reasonable steps to avoid non-health-related harms, such as identity theft.
An individual staff member who abuses or neglects a resident could be held criminally liable, and be held responsible in civil court as well. But these are not the best parties to pursue civil cases against due to their relatively limited financial resources. Also, abuse and neglect are typically systemic problems that occur throughout the nursing home.
If you believe a loved one has been abused or neglected, it’s critical to start documenting as much evidence as possible. This could include medical records and opinions from doctors, photographs, and personal statements from the resident. An attorney can help you obtain proof of the abuse or neglect, including evidence that’s in the hands of the nursing home.
You should speak with a lawyer right away to begin preserving evidence and to explore your legal options. Litigation will probably be necessary to win compensation for the victim’s injuries, although nursing home abuse and neglect cases sometimes settle out of court. Either way, the resident could be eligible for such compensation as:
- Medical bills and related expenses
- Refund of the cost of nursing home care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages for the family in the event the patient dies
Contact Our Washington, D.C. Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect Attorney
The most important thing you can do if you suspect abuse or neglect is to not delay taking action. It could prevent further injury to your loved one; it may even save his or her life. Give Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP a call today to learn more.