When you entrust your loved one into a nursing care facility, you’ve already made a difficult decision. For those who need regular medical care, or can’t live on their own anymore, a nursing home should make life easier for them.
Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are the same. While it’s upsetting for someone who has to live in a home, it’s even worse when they are being neglected, mistreated, or abused.
Nursing home abuse is a nationwide problem, and is frequently under-reported by residents. Those with disabilities and/or dementia are particularly at risk. Some are unable to speak for themselves, and others fear retaliation by their abuser. Family members, nursing and other staff, other residents, and even friends may be responsible for physical, emotional, mental, sexual, or financial abuse of someone incapable of fighting back. Neglect by staff can make a bad situation even worse.
That’s when they will need your help the most.
Detecting And Documenting Abuse
If your loved one has made comments about mistreatment or abuse, take them seriously. You may see other signs of abuse or neglect, including:
- Bruises, cuts, burns or other abrasions
- Sprains or broken bones with little or no explanation
- Pressure ulcers (aka “bedsores”) from being left in one position too long
- Medication overdoses or incorrect dosing
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Premature or inexplicable death
- Lack of hygiene care and unsanitary conditions
- Emotional changes including crying, fear, withdrawal, nervousness and anxiety
Frequent visits can help you keep in touch with your loved one, and put others on notice that he or she is being watched carefully.
When you discover any of these conditions, it’s important to begin keeping a written record of everything related to their care. Whether hand-written in a journal or in a cloud-stored document, dates, times and names along with pictures are ideal for keeping accurate records.
Preparing A Case
Before filing a lawsuit there are a number of steps involved.
- The first step is the investigation, where an attorney engages in fact finding. This includes gathering evidence you’ve collected and collated, as well as other evidence including medical records, expert analysis, pictures, witness statements and anything else relevant to the case. The attorney will also identify all parties involved in the case.
- The discovery phase continues fact-finding, which includes information about the abuse, statements and explanations from the other parties, and any information the other party is in possession of for the case.
- Review and calculate the value of potential damages
- Pre-trial preparation includes follow-up on information from the discovery phase as well as building a case and devising a strategy.
Once the information and evidence gathering is completed, the attorney will file the suit in court.
What To Expect
For a nursing home lawsuit, an attorney must prove:
- That the facility was contracted to provide nursing care for the patient
- The facility failed to properly care for the patient
- That failure to provide proper care was the cause of the patient’s injuries and/or death
Despite the hard work to file your claim, the nursing home will not take this lightly. Expect pushback from their legal team and anyone else affiliated with the facility, denying liability and claiming it was not their fault.
Although many claims are settled out of court, many do make it to trial. The attorney should be prepared to go to court if necessary.
A trial will be an emotional experience, since your loved one will be discussed in many aspects. However, it may be the only way to get justice for them.
You may be able to collect monetary damages, including punitive damages, damages for emotional trauma, and other related expenses such as additional medical treatments and funeral expenses.
A Voice For Charleston’s Vulnerable
Filing a lawsuit for nursing home abuse is one of the most emotionally difficult claims we handle. However, when a vulnerable patient has been harmed by abuse or neglect, we work to ensure that they receive justice.
Because a nursing home lawsuit can be complicated, it’s important to have an attorney who understands the complexities of such a case. Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation. We’ve helped thousands of West Virginians fight for their loved ones in nursing homes, and we’re ready to fight for your loved one.