If you believe your loved one is the victim of abuse in a nursing home, you have several legal options. Know the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect and when to contact a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney. You are, sadly, not alone; but, our Kansas City personal injury lawyers have decades of experience handling personal injury cases and can begin to help you immediately.
It can be devastating to learn our loved ones can no longer take care of themselves. When this happens, nursing homes can be a viable alternative for keeping our family members safe when work or other activities prevent us from doing so. While many nursing home facilities provide quality and compassionate care to their residents, some are negligent; some even employ abusive staff. According to the National Council on Aging, 10% of our elderly population – some five million people – struggle with abuse in any given year, yet only 7% of victims report these cases to the authorities.
The National Council on Aging defines nursing home abuse as any act that leads to potential or actual harm. This harm may be physical, but it can also be mental, emotional, or financial. There are four common examples of abuse in nursing homes:
Neglect rises to physical abuse when it results in actual harm. It’s one of the most common forms of abuse in nursing home settings, where many patients are incapacitated. Bedsores or pressure ulcers can be a sign of neglect, as they result from a lack of proper turning. Other signs might be lack of hygiene or weight loss.
Emotional and mental abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member or other resident manipulates the elderly patient such that they fear for their safety or the safety of others. A common form of this is “false imprisonment,” when a staff member restricts access to a certain area (such as a common area for socializing).
Financial abuse is becoming more common in nursing home facilities. Examples include coercing a resident to amend a will or deed. It can also include charging exorbitant or unsubstantiated fees to their room.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Sadly, nursing home abuse is a rather pervasive problem throughout the U.S. Researchers estimate that as many as two million senior citizens in the U.S. have suffered abuse, mistreatment, exploitation, and injuries from caregivers. One study of 2,000 nursing homes in the country found a neglect rate of 95% and an abuse rate of 44%. Experts estimate one in 10 senior citizens in nursing homes will suffer some form of abuse.
Keep in mind that these statistics likely fall short of the full picture, since only around one in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities. You aren’t just another statistic at Wendt Law Firm P.C. You’re a real person with real damages from the negligence and criminal acts of someone else. Our Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyers here to help you in your time of need.
The 7 Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse and neglect is a complex subject. Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, all with different potential signs. Learning the seven basic types of nursing home abuse and related injuries and illnesses can help you identify it quickly and fight for a resolution – before it’s too late. Contact Wendt Law Firm P.C. if you notice any of the following types of abuse in your elderly loved one in Kansas City:
Bedsores can form when a senior citizen’s stationary position places pressure on the skin for a prolonged period of time. Staying in a stationary position can cut off blood circulation to the area until the tissues begin to die. Sores often occur on the buttocks, tailbone, heels, hips, and backs of the legs. They are a sign that the nursing home is not taking proper care of its residents.
Failing to provide nursing home residents with proper food can take a significant toll on an elderly person’s health and well-being. Malnutrition can lead to illnesses and lowered immunity, as well as exacerbate health problems and damage cognitive abilities. Signs of malnutrition include pallid skin, unhealthy weight loss, yellowed eyes, and frequent injuries or illnesses.
Nursing home residents should receive ample fresh water to keep them sufficiently hydrated at all times. Nursing home neglect or abuse in the form of water withholding can be fatal for the elderly. Look for confusion, delirium, irritability, shallow breathing, low blood pressure, and dry or parched-looking lips and skin. Prolonged dehydration can cause brain injuries, kidney failure, seizures, coma, and death.
It is up to nursing home staff members to adjust the positioning of residents who cannot move freely on their own. Keeping a resident in an unsafe or improper position for too long can result in a lack of oxygen getting to the brain. Not getting enough oxygen can cause brain asphyxia and permanent cognitive damage, as well as death if prolonged too long.
Abusive use of restraints.
Abusive nursing home staff members may resort to the improper use of restraints to administer treatment or medication to residents, or simply to get the resident “out of the way” while they clean or take care of other tasks. Look for strap marks, unnecessary use of restraints, residents restrained for long periods of time, and behavioral changes such as depression or anxiety.
Use of chemical restraints.
“Chemical restraints” refers to medications such as sedatives that a nursing home may use inappropriately, excessively, or illegally without a prescription. Chemical restraint is a dangerous practice that can damage a senior’s mental and physical capabilities. Overprescribing medications can lead to overdoses, adverse drug reactions, mental health problems, coma, and death.
One of the most heinous forms of nursing home abuse is sexual assault. Sadly, incapacitated senior citizens often become victims of sexual abuse because they cannot do or say anything to stop the perpetrator. Weakness, limited mobility, and mental incapacities can make it impossible to fight back. Look for signs of sexual assault such as physical injuries, difficulty walking, sexually transmitted diseases, behavioral changes, and withdrawal.
Call authorities to report abuse the moment you notice signs of anything suspicious, unusual, or amiss while visiting your loved one at a Kansas City nursing home. Report your suspicions to the nursing home or to the police. Relocate your elderly family member to a safe place. Then, call Wendt Law Firm P.C. to talk to a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance filing your lawsuit.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, some of these criminals have become knowledgeable about hiding outright signs of abuse. Still, there are a few telltale signs:
Unexplained changes in weight (i.e., sudden or dramatic weight loss).
Suspicious injuries or bruising relating to “falls.”
Changes in spending habits.
Appearing excessively fearful, especially around certain individuals.
When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Kansas City
If you suspect a loved one may be experiencing nursing home abuse, remove this person from the situation immediately and take him or her to a safe place. Get in touch with the local authorities so they can investigate your claim and hold the guilty parties responsible.
Nursing home abuse is a criminal offense punishable by jail time, but victims can also file civil actions against the nursing home to collect damages. A personal injury claim might not erase the pain and suffering of your loved one’s experience, but it can help reimburse you for fees, medical care, and other intangible losses.
Don’t pay the price for someone else’s negligence. For more information about nursing home abuse and how our Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyers can help you move forward, contact us today.
How to File a Nursing Home Lawsuit
A nursing home lawsuit can expose an abusive, negligent, or criminal facility in your local community. It can shed light on dark places and bring justice to the perpetrators. Taking action can prevent similar incidents in the future to other vulnerable nursing home residents. Finally, it can give you and your family the financial compensation you deserve after experiencing harmful nursing home abuse or neglect. Here’s a general outline of steps you need to take to bring a nursing home lawsuit in Kansas City:
Investigate the Incident
Look into the suspected abuse yourself or hire a team of Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys to investigate for you. Search for signs and evidence of abuse, take photographs of the facility, and write down a description of what happened.
Calculate your loved one’s damages to make an official demand. Damages can include medical costs, past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, court costs, attorney’s fees, and any financial losses from elder exploitation.
File Your Claim
Fill out the paperwork to file a personal injury claim against the nursing home and/or another defendant. You will need to file your claim with the correct KC court within the statute of limitations (five years in Missouri, two years in Kansas).
Serve the Complaint
You generally have 30 to 60 days to serve your filed complaint to the defendant (or to hire a professional to do so for you). The defendant will have anywhere from 60 to 90 days to file a response after serving the complaint.
Enter Into Negotiations
You will enter into settlement negotiations if the nursing home accepts your claim or take your claim to court if it is denied. Hire an experienced Kansas City injury lawyer at this point in the claims process if you haven’t yet done so.
A nursing home abuse attorney can take over the claims process from the very beginning, putting experienced lawyers and experts on your case to optimize your chance of success. You won’t have to worry about the investigative or claims processes. The Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys at Wendt Law Firm P.C. do everything for you so you can focus on healing with your family. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.
Speak to a Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Prevention is important when it comes to avoiding nursing home and elder abuse. Do your best to select a trusted nursing home in Kansas City for your loved one. Scout different locations, read reviews, and visit the establishment in person to find the best fit. Your loved one might not speak up about abuse once at the facility. It’s up to you to visit the nursing home regularly, search for signs of potential abuse, and report any questionable actions or injuries to the authorities.
Stay in touch with your elderly loved one, keep him or her as active as possible, support interactions with the community, be wary of friends or caregivers in need of money, and – most of all – encourage your loved one to speak up about any neglect or abuse. Listen to your loved one’s allegations of abuse and take claims seriously. Let your loved one know that you believe him or her and will talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. Contact Wendt Law Firm P.C. when you’re ready to take aggressive action against nursing home abuse.