Understanding Washington, D.C. Nursing Home Injuries

By Peter DePaolis

Nursing home abuse and neglect are unfortunately relatively common. By some estimates, there are 5 million elder abuse cases each year, which may be a low estimate due to under-reporting. If you’ve started to notice signs of neglect or abuse, or you believe the nursing facility may be covering up an accident, speak with a knowledgeable Washington, D.C. nursing home injury attorney. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP fights for the justice that victims deserve.

Forms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Abuse and neglect of the elderly come in many different forms. They include:

  • Physical. Failing to meet the medical, health, or other physical needs of an elderly person could be the result of neglect. Abuse may take the form of beatings or other deliberate infliction of physical pain.
  • Mental and emotional. Nursing home staff have been known to treat the elderly poorly by calling them names and berating them. Mental and emotional abuse can cause health problems such as depression, anxiety, and decreased quality of life.
  • Sexual. This can take the form of rape, molestation, or other inappropriate or violent sexual conduct on the part of the nursing home staff. It can also happen when other residents or visitors are allowed to do the same.
  • Financial. Financial crimes against the elderly – such as identity theft or stealing cash and personal property – are a growing problem. The staff is entrusted with a great deal of control over nursing home residents, and some take advantage of that.

There are also cases of wrongful death involving nursing home residents. Abuse or neglect that is allowed to continue unchecked can kill an older person, especially if he or she suffers from health problems.

Nursing home facilities are required to take reasonable steps to care for and protect their residents, and to provide a safe and secure environment in which they live. This obligation is sometimes called the duty of care. A nursing home or similar institution that fails to meet this standard can be held liable when abuse, neglect, or wrongful death occurs.

Holding the facility liable requires proving that it somehow breached the duty of care. This can happen in a number of ways, such as:

  • Not hiring or staffing a sufficient number of nurses
  • Hiring inexperienced or unqualified staff members
  • Not performing background checks on employees
  • Allowing residents who are known dangers to come into contact with others
  • Negligent security or supervision of residents

If you have a relative who resides in a nursing facility, it’s important to regularly visit them. There is strong evidence that residents who are isolated or have few or no visitors tend to be vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Visiting your loved one keeps the nursing home in check and allows you to keep an eye out for problems.

An injured nursing home resident, or their family members in the event of a wrongful death, can sue the facility for negligence. Depending on the circumstances involved, an array of damages from medical expenses to pain and suffering could be available. The key is to not delay taking legal action if you suspect that abuse or neglect is happening.

The Washington, D.C. nursing home injury lawyers of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP are ready to help. When you retain us, we get to work investigating what happened and demanding the maximum damages available under law. Call us today to learn more.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.