Neglect in a Nursing Home: When to Sue

Having a loved one in a nursing home or long term care facility can be stressful. When they can no longer live alone, you search diligently to find a place you believe to be safe. You want the best care around for him/her.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to know for sure what happens in the day-to-day functions of the facility. This is especially true if your loved one is not always able to communicate exactly what is going on.

The sad truth is that sometimes terrible things occur within those walls. Elderly neglect in a nursing home is inexcusable and if you suspect it is happening, you may have the grounds to bring a lawsuit against the facility.

Standards of Care

Not all nursing homes are regulated. Your first step should be to make sure you choose a good facility.

Any nursing home or long term care facility that accepts Medicare is required to follow federal guidelines for standards of care.

These standards include:

  • All areas of the residential space must remain free of any hazards that could potentially cause an accident
  • Each resident receives adequate supervision for their needs and abilities

Failure on the part of the home to meet any of these standards opens the door for nursing home lawsuits.

Behaviors That Can Lead to a Lawsuit

The list is quite extensive for the infractions that can result in needing an attorney for nursing home neglect. We cover a few here.

Unsafe Environment

Residents of any long term care facility or nursing home deserve a safe place to live. The facility must make sure the dwelling is free from hazards, including slips, falls, food poisoning, correct medication dosage, and proper hygiene care.

In addition, it’s the responsibility of the home to keep the residents safe from each other. Some may suffer from dementia or Alzheimers. They can be calm and reasonable one moment, and volatile and aggressive the next. As a result, staff members must maintain a watch at all times to keep an unruly resident from harming another.

Negligent Staff

It is the responsibility of the staff to hire experienced, trained, and conscientious people to care for the residents. Obvious signs of neglect may not be easily detected at first, but it falls on management to oversee their workers.

If any of the employees neglects or abuses your loved one, there is absolutely a case for a lawsuit.

Even if the staff isn’t abusive, but just unfit or not properly trained and an accident results, the facility can still be held liable. It is up to the employees to keep a clean and sanitary environment and to treat all residents with respect and care.

Inadequate Medical Care

Nursing homes are equipped with their own medical staff. They may work exclusively, or in conjunction, with your loved one’s own doctor. It is their responsibility to meet all of the medical needs of each resident.

This includes regulating medication, dietary needs, and daily monitoring of vitals if that is necessary. This also includes other medical attention that is required as it comes up and can include an illness or injury as a result of an accident.

If it can be proven that proper care was not afforded to your loved one and the result was a worsening condition or something more tragic, you will have grounds for medical malpractice.

Proving Your Case for Neglect in a Nursing Home

One of the first things you need to understand before filing a negligence claim on behalf of your loved one is that you will need proof. Some claims are easier than others to document.

If a resident falls or has an accident at the facility, the management is required to file an incident report. There should also be documented medical reports related to the injury.

Abuse and neglect are more difficult to prove. This is because there may not be any witnesses and there is obviously no official report. If you start to suspect your loved one is being mistreated, start a journal immediately of everything you notice.

Jot down and photograph any mysterious bruises or marks on their body. Make note of any emotional changes, especially if they are more noticeable around a particular staff member. Of course, if your loved one is coherent, they can tell you of any issues and can help get the details needed for the lawsuit.

Other staff and residents can also be helpful when gathering information for your lawsuit. Be sure to talk to anyone who may have seen or heard anything.

Types of Damages

Damages sought in a lawsuit fall into a couple of different categories. You can make a claim for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, and distress.

You can also make a claim for the cost and care of appropriate medical treatment. Depending on the severity of the claim, there could also be punitive damages awarded. An experienced nursing home neglect lawyer will work hard to get all the compensation you deserve.

No amount of money can erase the damage caused by neglect or abuse. However, the financial impact on the facility will also serve as a deterrent for future events.

The Sad Truth

No one likes the thought of sending their loved one to a long term care facility, but sometimes circumstances happen in life that makes it necessary.

When the unthinkable happens, and you are faced with neglect in a nursing home that causes injury, you owe it to yourself and your loved one to seek the justice they deserve.

For more information on how we can help get justice for your loved one, call 904-LAW-1212. We can help you! 

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