Deciding to place a loved one in a long-term residential care facility or nursing home is incredibly difficult. After considerable research and in-person visits, you hope the chosen facility has excellent doctors and a caring staff who will treat your family member like they would their loved ones. However, this is not always the case, and patients may be neglected, abused, and injured.
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect and abuse, it is vital that you speak with a knowledgeable South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer right away. At Derrick Law Firm Injury Lawyers, we understand how devastating it can be to have a loved one abused while under the care of trained professionals who have a duty to protect and care for their patients. We are here to help your loved one hold the nursing home accountable and fight for fair compensation.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Your loved one deserves to live with respect and dignity – free from all kinds of nursing home neglect and abuse. You can’t be at the nursing home 24/7, but you can watch for signs of the following types of abuse.
Physical Abuse and Neglect
Physical abuse involves any intentional act that causes harm to a nursing home resident. This can include actions such as hitting, slapping, pushing, or rough handling. Signs of physical abuse may manifest as:
- Unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts
- Broken bones or fractures with no plausible explanation
- Reports of resident's fear or avoidance of specific staff members
- Sudden changes in behavior or increased agitation
Neglect refers to situations where the nursing home staff fails to provide the necessary care and attention a resident requires. Signs of nursing home negligence can include:
- Untreated bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Poor hygiene and unsanitary living conditions
- Frequent infections or illnesses that don’t have other medical causes
Although it is distressing to acknowledge, sexual abuse can occur in nursing homes. Nonconsensual sexual contact can be committed by staff members, other residents, volunteers, or even visitors. Signs of sexual abuse may include:
- Unexplained pain or bleeding in genital areas
- Emotional withdrawal, depression, or anxiety
- Fear or discomfort around specific individuals
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with no reasonable explanation
Emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse, leaving lasting psychological scars. Recognizing signs of emotional abuse is essential to protecting your loved one's mental well-being. Watch out for:
- Difficulty regulating emotions or behavior
- Sudden social withdrawal and isolation
- Verbal abuse, including yelling, humiliating language, or threats
- Fearful or overly submissive behavior in the presence of certain staff members
Financial abuse is another form of mistreatment that can affect vulnerable nursing home residents. Perpetrators, including caregivers, may exploit residents for financial gain. Signs of financial abuse can include:
- Unexplained withdrawals from the resident's bank account
- Missing personal belongings or valuables
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- Sudden changes to wills, trusts, or powers of attorney without the resident's understanding or consent
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Discovering that your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect can be an overwhelming and distressing experience. However, taking immediate action is essential to protect your family member's safety and well-being.
1. Ensure Your Loved One's Safety
If you have immediate concerns about their well-being, seek medical attention promptly. If necessary, consider relocating your loved one to a safer environment while addressing the issue.
2. Document Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Gather evidence of the abuse or neglect by taking photos of any visible injuries, and recording any statements your loved one makes about their experiences. Be sure to include dates, times, and the names of individuals involved.
Keep all relevant documents, photographs, and records related to your loved one's case safe and organized. These materials may be crucial in any legal proceedings that arise from your complaint.
3. Report the Incident to Nursing Home Management
Report your suspicions to the nursing home's management and administration immediately. Request a copy of their internal complaint and investigation procedures. Ensure that your concerns are documented in writing and keep copies for your records.
4. Contact Authorities
Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to involve local law enforcement, the South Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman, or other relevant authorities. They can conduct an independent investigation and take appropriate legal action if necessary.
Additionally, you can contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), which is responsible for licensing nursing homes in our state.
5. Seek Legal Advice
Consult with a South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney. Nursing home abuse lawyers can provide valuable guidance and support in pursuing legal action against the responsible parties. They can also help you understand your loved one's rights and potential avenues for compensation.
8. Monitor Your Loved One's Well-Being
Stay engaged in your loved one's care and continue to visit regularly if possible. Ensure that their medical needs are adequately addressed and that they receive appropriate emotional support during this challenging time.
Remember that you are not alone in this journey. Many resources are available to assist you in addressing nursing home abuse and neglect. By taking these steps and seeking the necessary legal assistance, you can help ensure that your loved one receives the care and justice they deserve.
Three Reasons to File a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Lawsuit
Discovering that your loved one has been subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect can be a heart-wrenching experience. Filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties may be crucial in seeking justice, holding those accountable for their actions, and protecting your loved one’s rights.
Hold the Nursing Home Accountable
Filing a lawsuit could help ensure that those responsible for your loved one's suffering are held accountable for their actions. This accountability extends not only to individual caregivers but also to the nursing home facility itself. By pursuing legal action, you send a clear message that abuse and neglect will not be tolerated, and responsible parties should face consequences.
Help Prevent Future Abuse and Neglect
Another compelling reason to file a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit is the potential to prevent future instances of mistreatment. When nursing homes and their staff face legal repercussions for their actions, they are likely incentivized to implement changes to improve resident care and safety. A lawsuit may lead to better training, stricter oversight, and enhanced policies and procedures, ultimately safeguarding other vulnerable residents in the facility.
Seeking damages through a lawsuit might give your loved one the financial compensation they deserve. Damages that may be recovered in a nursing home abuse lawsuit could help cover various costs and losses, including:
- Medical expenses. A lawsuit can help recover the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care.
- Relocation and additional care. If moving your loved one to a different facility or providing additional care and support is necessary, damages can help cover these expenses.
- Emotional and psychological trauma. The emotional toll of nursing home abuse or neglect can be substantial. Damages can compensate your loved one for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the trauma they have endured.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages may sometimes be awarded to punish egregious behavior and deter future misconduct.
If you believe your family member has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, don't hesitate to reach out to Derrick Law Firm Injury Lawyers, your trusted South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney, for compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance. We are here to guide you through the process of seeking justice for your loved one.