Nursing Home Abuses and Negligence
As our population continues to expand and grow older, the likelihood of our elders falling victim to neglect and abuse increases as well. Though not solely confined to residents of nursing homes, a large majority of elder neglect and abuse cases occur within these residences regardless of the advertised quality. This is no surprise when 90% of the 16,639 registered nursing homes in 2010 lacked adequate staff to properly care for patients. Even with the many state and federal laws in place requiring nursing homes to comply with a certain standard of care and respect for residents, injuries, illness and premature death can still occur due to substandard and negligent care. This is true of all facilities, including those that participate in Medicare and Medicaid which must be certified as meeting federal requirements.
When you entrust a loved one to an assisted living facility you expect them to be treated as you would treat them yourself. When this trust has been violated and a loved one suffers from abuse, neglect of mistreatment at the hands of those who have promised to protect them it can be difficult to know where to turn next. Marjorie Chalfant’s nursing background* gives The Nurse Attorney, P.A. a unique understanding of how and why a nursing home could fall short of their promise to keep your loved one safe. We offer a free initial consultation to help you figure out how to proceed if you or someone you know has become a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one’s injury, illness or premature death is a result of being abused or neglected in a nursing home, assisted living facility or retirement home, the attorneys at The Nurse Attorney may be able to help. All nursing home negligence and abuse cases are on a contingency fee basis, so if we are not able to obtain a successful financial recovery for you, you pay nothing for our legal services. There is no charge for a consultation, and there are no costs or fees unless we win your case. Please call The Nurse Attorney today at (941) 210-4220 or (407) 849-0941, or send us an email at mchalfant@TheNurseAttorney.com.
*In addition to Marjorie Chalfant’s nursing background, she has extensive actual experience as a Nursing Assistant in numerous nursing homes throughout Florida, where she worked before and during nursing school.
Most Common Nursing Home Negligence Cases
Bed sores: Pressure sores or pressure ulcers; the skin or tissue is damaged as a result of friction, humidity or continuous pressure on a single area due to a patient not being moved or reposition or attended to.
Falls: Falls occur as a result of the nursing home staff’s poor training, lack of supervision or improper support techniques while transferring a patient (for example, moving a patient from a bed to a chair).
Medication Errors: A patient can be over-medicated, under-medicated, unnecessarily medicated, given the wrong medication, or not given mediation at all due to careless mistakes.
Dehydration and starvation: Failure of a caregiver to provide a patient with satisfactory access to water and nutritious meals on a daily basis, resulting in malnourishment and, in extreme cases, weight loss and death.
Types of Abuse & Warning Signs
Physical abuse encompasses the actual inflicting, or threat of inflicting, physical pain or injury upon an elderly resident.
Warning Signs: slap marks, unexplained broken bones, bruises, burns (like cigarette marks) or blisters and the majority of pressure marks
Neglect encompasses the caregiver’s failure and/or refusal to supply basic necessities (for example, proper and sufficient food, water, health care or shelter) or provide for a vulnerable elder’s safety, physical and emotional needs.
Warning Signs: bed sores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, pressure ulcers, unkempt surroundings (for example, soiled bedding), malnutrition, dehydration, unusual or unexplained weight loss
Emotional abuse encompasses verbal and nonverbal acts including threats, rejection, isolation, or belittling that result in mental anguish, pain or distress.
Warning Signs: unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, unusual depression or fear, frequent crying, or other unusual behavioral changes, or strained or tense relationships with caregivers
Financial abuse or exploitation encompasses the illegal taking, fraud, misuse, or concealment of money, property, or assets and undue influence/manipulation to gain control over money, property or assets.
Warning Signs: sudden, unexpected change in finances or accounts, unusual bank withdrawals, property loss, altered wills or trusts, or checks written as “gifts” or “loans”
Sexual abuse encompasses forced, threatened, tricked or otherwise coerced nonconsensual sexual contact, including anyone unable to consent or refuse, or forced witnessing of sexual behaviors.
Warning Signs: unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruises or abrasions around the breasts and/or genital area
How to Prevent Negligence and Abuse Before it Begins
Speak to and visit your loved one frequently; fluctuate your visit days and times to assess the care provided at any given time.
Voice your concerns to nurses and other resident staff.
Speak with the Director of Nurses, an associated social worker or an administrator.
Voice your concerns with your loved one’s physician.
The Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Case Step-by-Step
Step One: Gathering the Facts
The Nurse Attorney lawyers and staff work concurrently with you to gather the pertinent facts for your case. There is a wide range of information we will need to acquire including past medical history, medical history for the incident in question, employment and financial history and variety of other personal and public information.
Sources for this information include:
You, your loved one, family members and friends
Past employers, co-workers and volunteers with whom your loved one associates or has associated
Medical records from past and current hospitals and doctors
Many research sources
Step Two: Beginning Your Case
The official start of your case begins when your case is submitted in court and to the person(s) and/or entity(s) involved with the incident at issue. The amount of time taken to file a case varies depending on the individual situation, the statute of limitations and the scope of facts and sources collected in Step One.
With offices in both the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas, The Nurse Attorney’s lawyers have easy access to multiple courts and districts allowing us to take your case even if you are not in one of these immediate areas.
Step Three: Performing Discovery
Performing active, pre-trial discovery is fundamental to a successful case and the lawyers of The Nurse Attorney will always aggressively pursue this much needed additional information. We will take your sworn deposition as well as:
Conduct depositions of witnesses and issue subpoenas and requests for further essential documents from the defendants.
Utilize our vast, comprehensive medical and legal resources along with gaining medical expert testimony.
Cultivate evidence of the physical and emotional impact that the negligence and abuse has had on your loved one, yourself and your family.
Interview and depose the responsible parties under oath regarding the facts of the negligence and abuse.
Pursue any and all steps necessary to build the strongest case possible for you.
Step Four: Resolving Your Case
There are several avenues for resolving your case, including administrative settlements, settlements with mediation, arbitration awards, and verdicts and judgments with trials.
Settlement agreements through mediation or arbitration:
Settlement agreements or arbitration awards typically offer quicker resolution of your claim with sooner payment of financial compensation;
Settlement agreements or arbitration awards are based on amounts commonly awarded in litigated trials; and
Settlement agreements or arbitration awards usually allow the resolution to be molded to meet your unique needs and goals.
Administrative settlements are structured settlements offered by the defense or negotiated by your Nurse Attorney team;
The decision to accept or reject an administrative settlement offer can be difficult if you do not understand fine details, payment terms and the benefits and risks of the financial structure and plan;
Your Nurse Attorney team will advise you of the pros and cons of settling your case before trial versus actually taking your claim through trial. We will assist you with all aspects of the settlement process and help you determine if a settlement offer is fair and reasonable; however, the settlement decision is ultimately yours to make.
Litigation & Trial:
Litigation and trial is the final avenue for resolving a case, but not always and necessarily the best or most common method for resolution;
If the previous methods are unsuccessful for fair and reasonable compensation, we are prepared to take your case through trial in front of a judge and/or jury;
Litigation and trial can be a long and laborious journey to reach resolution, but you can count on the attorneys at The Nurse Attorney to be with you through each step, guiding you, and working hard to bring your case to a successful close;
The lawyers at The Nurse Attorney have diverse backgrounds in trial litigation which ensures your case will be considered from all possible angles and thoroughly prepared for trial.