When you decide to bring your parent, spouse, aunt or uncle to a nursing home, you expect the nursing home to take care of them. It’s the nursing home’s job to take care of their residents. This is the reason you pay the nursing home to take care of your loved one. So when you see signs of abuse or neglect upon your loved one, such as falls or bed sores, you should complain with the New York State Department of Health, Division of Nursing Home and ICF/IID Surveillance and consult with a New York-licensed nursing home neglect lawyer. The longer you prolong taking action, the larger the damage it can cause to your loved one.
A nursing home neglect lawyer will accept your case on contingency basis if your case is strong. This means that you do not have to pay any upfront costs for legal fees. Your lawyer will only charge you fees when your lawyer is able to successfully recover an amount, either through an award or through settlement.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
What are the signs you should look out for to know whether your loved one has been subjected to nursing home neglect or abuse? Generally, you can divide these signs into four types of abuse or neglect: physical, financial, sexual, and emotional. When you see some signs of abuse or neglect, it’s important that you investigate further and gather evidence to ensure that the cause is the nursing home’s negligence or nursing home’s staff.
Physical neglect or abuse
- Bruises or bleeding
- Bedsores (deep tissue injury)
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Unexplained or untreated diseases or infections
- Physical discomfort
- Medication errors
- Excessive restraint
- Inadequate personal hygiene
- Broken bones
Financial neglect or abuse
- Sudden financial difficulties
- Bills left unpaid by the elder
- Changes in the will
- Change in power of attorney
Sexual neglect or abuse
- Bruises on or around the genitals
Emotional neglect or abuse
- Emotional withdrawal
- Silence around caretakers
- Negative changes in the person’s behavior or appearance
- Frequent crying
- Complaints of poor treatment
- Agitation and fear
Bedsores and falls
Bedsores and falls are the most common causes of nursing home neglect. When a patient or resident in a nursing home falls, it may be caused by the failure of the nursing home staff to take care of them or to prevent such fall from happening. Bedsores, deep tissue injury or pressure sores are also usually caused by nursing home neglect.
Bedsores are skin tissue injuries that occur due to consistent pressure that happens over a period of time. It is usually experienced by immobile elders who cannot move alone by themselves. To prevent bedsores, nursing home staff should shift the patient’s weight frequently to ensure that pressure is not concentrated in one area of the patient’s body for long periods of time. Bedsores, if left untreated, can damage the bone, muscles, and joints, and can lead to deadly infections or require amputation.
What to do when you suspect nursing home neglect
If you suspect that your loved one has been subjected to nursing home neglect or abuse, it is important for you to investigate and gather evidence to prove nursing home neglect or abuse or medical malpractice. Mere allegations are not sufficient to win a case. Evidence can take the form of photos, witness testimonies, expert testimonies, and medical records.
Different types of lawsuits for nursing home neglect
If you want to claim nursing home neglect or abuse, there are three different types of causes of action you can allege: personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death.
Personal injury is a negligence action where the injured party claims damages due to negligent acts caused by the nursing home. To succeed in this claim, you must prove:
- The nursing home had a legal duty to care for the victim.
- The nursing home, through its staff, harmed the victim through negligence or intentional acts of violence.
- The victim suffered long-term injuries because of the nursing home’s action.
- The victim and/or his family suffered damages in order to heal or treat the victim.
The nursing home’s negligent acts include negligent hiring, inadequate training of their staff, being understaffed, or being responsible for an attack or abuse caused by third parties to the victim inside then nursing home.
Medical malpractice occurs when the duty of care arises from a physician-patient relationship, and the patient is injured due to the physician’s negligent act. Examples of medical malpractice claims in a nursing home environment are medication errors, dosage errors, failure to treat recurring infections, and aggravating medical conditions. To succeed in this claim, you must prove:
- The physician deviated or departed from accepted community standards of practice
- Such departure was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
When the patient or resident dies due to the negligent or intentional acts of the nursing home or its staff, the next of kin can file a claim for wrongful death. To succeed in this claim, you must prove:
- The death of the patient
- The wrongful act, neglect or default of the nursing home by which the patient’s death was caused
- The survival of the distributees who suffered pecuniary loss by reason of the death of the victim; and
- Appointment of personal representative of the victim.
Where and when to file your claim for nursing home neglect or abuse
As previously mentioned, you can file your complaints for nursing home neglect or abuse with New York State Department of Health, Division of Nursing Home and ICF/IID Surveillance. If you seek damages, you can consult with a lawyer who can file your complaints with the proper courts.
Filing promptly with the courts is important in order to ensure your claim will not lapse. In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury actions is three years from the time the cause of action accrued – the time the negligent act was committed. Medical malpractice claims are filed within 2 ½ years from date of injury or from the end of continuous treatment during which the injury occurred. In case a foreign object is discovered, the claim must be filed within one year from discovery. Wrongful death actions are filed two years from date of patient’s death.
What to expect when a claim for nursing home neglect or abuse is filed in court
When you file a case for nursing home neglect, abuse, or medical malpractice, you can expect the nursing home to answer, denying your claims. Both parties then enter a discovery phase, where the legal teams collect and discover evidence – medical records, witness testimonies, etc. – in order to build a strong case. Most cases don’t go through trial and the parties settle the case. Your nursing home neglect lawyer will be able to negotiate a strong financial settlement on your behalf. If parties do not settle, trial commences and a judge or jury reaches a verdict, which can be appealed. Your nursing home neglect lawyer will know and advise if you have a strong enough case for trial.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home, it’s always good to find out what your legal options are. It’s very important, once you find evidence of abuse, to memorialize it by taking photos and/or gathering witness testimony. If you are able to gather enough evidence to make a strong case, your nursing home neglect lawyer will surely accept your case on contingency. This means, the lawyer will get a small percentage of your settlement or judgment award in exchange to cover for the legal services given for free. Should you need assistance in evaluating your case, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.