The mistreatment of older people by nursing homes is a gross abuse of power. Awareness of elder abuse is on the rise because of the impending increase in the elderly population in the coming years. Yet, cases of nursing home abuse continue to arise and continue unnoticed, without investigation or legal action.
If you have a loved one in an elderly care facility who you suspect has been hurt, an Alpharetta nursing home abuse lawyer could help. Consulting legal counsel can be vital to taking mitigatory and investigatory steps and obtaining recovery. An experienced personal injury attorney could help you and your loved one seek compensation for the harm committed against them in a nursing facility.
Definition of Elder Abuse
The definition of elder abuse is typically an act or omission, intentional or unintentional, that harms an older person. Importantly, neglect is a common type of nursing home abuse that occurs when nursing homes fail to supervise, care for, treat, or otherwise look after their residents. Alpharetta elder abuse victims may suffer from any one of the below manners of abuse, as described below.
- Neglect: failing or refusing to satisfy a caregiving obligation
- Physical abuse: inflicting pain or injury with physical force, or the use of drugs or physical restraint
- Emotional or psychological abuse: inflicting mental distress through the use of insults, derogatory language, intimidation, or false accusations
- Sexual abuse: non-consensual sexual contact of any sort with an elderly person
- Financial abuse: improper or illegal exploitation or use of monetary funds or resource, theft, or blackmail
The causes of elder abuse at nursing homes range from lack of individual care, internal protocol, inadequate nutrition, and substandard facilities. Staffing issues are also common, including insufficient training and vetting for psychological problems among staff, work-related stress and burnout, long hours, and low pay. However, these do not excuse elder abuse.
What are Warning Signs of Nursing Facility Neglect and Abuse?
Warning signs vary in light of the type of abuse or neglect; however, all signs should be cited by the attorney during legal proceedings. Common symptoms include lack of interest in favorite activities, fearfulness around certain staff members, physical signs such as bruising, burns, and bedsores, and unexplained agitation or nervousness. The older loved one might seem sad or withdrawn from conversations. They may no longer wish to engage in social activities or are not excited to see family and friends. Additional warning signs include expressing their dislike of the facility or simply telling family members that they are being abused.
Should Family Members Report Elder Abuse?
Nursing home abuse of any kind should always be reported to the proper authorities. Family members can call 911 and or the Division of Aging Services’ Adult Protective Services near them. All reports are confidential and increase awareness of this ongoing problem. Reporting the abuse also provides legal professionals with more evidence for the judge or jury. If an elderly family member is in immediate danger, the state of Georgia strongly recommends calling 911 and taking other steps to remove the person from the nursing home. The elderly family member might need time to recover from their abuses; however, the sooner they are removed from the facility, the better their chances are of a full recovery.
What Happens to Individuals Convicted of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?
Convicted persons face one to 20 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. They also lose their jobs and typically face challenges obtaining employment in the future. If the convicted individual was a licensed professional, such as a nurse, doctor, or massage therapist, they will also lose their ability to practice in the state. Attorneys who represent clients in elder abuse cases generally ask for the maximum sentence due to the severity of the crime(s) and the repercussions they create, such as ongoing mental and emotional distress requiring therapy and other intensive care.
Liability in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Proving liability in an elder abuse case hinges around proving that the nursing home entity, whether the business itself or one or more staff members, was negligent. Proving negligence requires that a plaintiff, the person bringing the lawsuit, fulfill four elements.
First, a plaintiff must show that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the elder abuse victim. This could be the duty to provide safe facilities, adequate supervision, or an environment free from harassment.
Second, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the nursing home breached that duty by acting or failing to act in some way. Third, the act or omission must have caused the injury complained of. Proving causation can require the input of expert testimony.
An expert witness is a person trained, experienced, or credentialed in a particular field. In a nursing home abuse case, this could be a medical professional, or someone familiar with nursing home practices such as an academic or a person familiar with nursing home administration or abuse.
An Alpharetta nursing home abuse attorney could help hire and work with an expert for their client’s case. Since experts can be expensive to hire, an attorney’s management and oversight can help minimize costs.
Fourth, a plaintiff must prove that they were damaged or harmed by the nursing home’s negligence. This could be in the form of physical or psychological injuries sustained by the person abused. If successful, a plaintiff could obtain damages for consequent medical expenses, physical pain and emotional anguish suffered.
Consult an Alpharetta Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
Watching a loved one suffer at the hands of a person who is supposed to be caring for them can be traumatic. A nursing facility should provide care and support to your loved one, not mistreat them and break your trust.
Fortunately, you may have legal recourse. An attorney could appreciate the hardship you and your family are enduring and help you remedy the situation. Schedule a consultation with an Alpharetta nursing home abuse lawyer today to discuss your case.