Nursing homes should be safe places for elderly adults to land. But, unfortunately, abuse and neglect are too common in these long-term care settings. If you or a loved one have suffered abuse, or you suspect abuse, don’t wait to call a lawyer.
You might have a legal claim against the nursing home or the abuser. At John Foy & Associates, our nursing home abuse lawyers will ensure you know your options. We’re not afraid to stand for justice and fight for you and your family. To discuss your case during a free consultation, call or contact us online today.
How do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?
There are a few ways you can report abuse in a nursing home. First, if a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 to contact the police. Otherwise, report abuse to the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH).
The Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR) division oversees healthcare facilities in Georgia. You can file a complaint against a nursing home for poor treatment. You can also report abuse or neglect to:
- A care team member or healthcare provider
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- The Department of Human Services (DHS) Aging Services division
Doctors, nurses, and other providers are “mandatory reporters. These people must report any neglect, abuse, or exploitation they suspect. Talking to a provider you trusted about a loved one’s care can help you get the help you need. We also highly recommend talking to a nursing home abuse lawyer. If the nursing home was negligent in your loved one’s care, you might have a legal case.
An experienced lawyer can investigate what’s been happening and determine if you have a claim. Seeking compensation for abuse can help a family work towards justice and help recover what got lost.
If you suspect abuse of any kind, don’t wait to report it. Instead, file a complaint with local authorities and agencies that handle elder abuse cases. Also, talk to a trusted attorney for help with the process.
What Is Considered Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is the harm caused to someone living in a long-term facility. The victims are often elderly adults.
According to the National Institute of Aging (NIA), most people living in nursing homes are permanent residents because of physical or mental needs. If a staff member, another resident, or someone is being abusive, the nursing home can be a terrible place. Many different actions can be considered nursing home abuse.
Physical abuse can look like bruises, cuts, or broken bones. The staff could use restraints or against residents that cause physical or mental harm. Residents might also suffer injuries from falls without any explanation.
Neglect is also an indirect form of physical abuse. Staff neglect is a common cause of unnecessary suffering, infection, malnourishment, and bedsores. Whether indirect or direct, you should never tolerate physical abuse or let it go unpunished. Neglect is the most common type of physical abuse and often the hardest to notice.
Nursing home staff might cause psychological or emotional harm to a resident. Even if there are no physical injuries, the resident could be a victim of emotional abuse. Examples include yelling, shouting, or isolating, or intimidating.
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact. It can also include forcing a resident to watch sexual actions. Sexual abuse in any form is a heinous crime, and we want to help you get justice against the abuser.
Family members might notice changes to a loved one’s bank account or financial situation. These could be signs that the nursing home is financially exploiting a resident.
Don’t wait if you see any signs of abuse towards a loved one in a nursing home. Report the behavior and speak with a lawyer who can help you take action.
Why do I Need an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for My Case?
You might need a lawyer if there is any chance a loved one is suffering from abuse. An attorney will know how to seek the fullest compensation possible. They’ll also protect you from the nursing home or insurance company trying to blame you. Here are some reasons you might need a lawyer.
Nursing home abuse lawyers have vast experience with these types of cases. The attorney will also have connections to experts when they build your case. When you call an experienced lawyer, they’ll take the reins for you. You’ll have immediate guidance on what to do and how to seek justice for your loved one.
No Upfront Costs
Since most lawyers work on contingency, you won’t have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees. “Contingency” means you pay nothing unless the lawyer wins you money. The lawyer’s fee is simply a percentage of what they win for you.
Our lawyers based in Atlanta and all throughout Georgia only get paid if you win. Our primary goal is to get you the money you rightfully deserve and find closure through justice. So you can get started today without stressing about legal expenses.
Better Chances of Winning
Most family members have never had to deal with a legal claim. But a nursing home abuse lawyer has the schooling and experience you need. As a result, your lawyer will maximize your chance of winning, whether you negotiate an insurance settlement or go to court.
How Can I Help Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?
Everyone can help prevent abuse by knowing the signs and risk factors. In addition, family members can help protect loved ones by speaking up if they suspect abuse or neglect. Staying informed helps spread awareness and make sure a loved one’s pain doesn’t go unnoticed.
It also helps to know the reasons for nursing home abuse. Abuse might happen because of:
- Poor staff training
- Inexperienced workers
- Too few employees for the number of residents
- Lack of personalized care and attention
- Shortage of resources
Many nursing homes are understaffed, making it easy for residents’ needs to fall through the cracks. In addition, employees might become tired or resentful due to overworking and underpay. Unfortunately, this might lead staff members to turn on the people for which they’re supposed to care.
Family members can help by reporting anything that seems off. Even if the conditions are challenging, there is no excuse for abuse or neglect. Nursing homes have a duty to provide quality care to residents. That includes listening to complaints and addressing problems as they come up.
If abuse has happened, the nursing home might be legally liable. Talk to an attorney about your options and how you can make sure your loved one is safe from further harm.
Who Can Report Nursing Home Abuse?
Anyone who knows about nursing home abuse can and should report it. Those people can include:
- Family members
- Physicians or nurses
- Other residents
- Staff members
Mandatory reporters, such as healthcare workers, have a legal duty to report abuse or neglect. They should alert the proper authorities. If they fail to report abuse, they can get into trouble with the law. Concerned family members can report abuse in several ways:
- Call or file a complaint online with the Georgia Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR) office.
- Contact the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services to file a report.
- Get in touch with the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local police to report immediate danger.
Anyone who notices abuse should report it. If a nursing home resident needs emergency care, don’t wait to call 9-1-1.
Family members can bring their concerns to the nursing home if they suspect foul play. However, if the care supervisor or manager is not cooperative or denies abuse, then it’s probably time to speak with a lawyer.
We also recommend calling a nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can determine your legal options and help you seek justice. For example, the nursing home might owe the resident or family compensation for abuse-related injuries or death.
How Can I File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
If abuse or neglect happened at a nursing home, you probably have a case. You can file a lawsuit through the following steps.
Calling a Lawyer
The best first step is to talk to an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. You can learn your legal options, and your lawyer can start building your case.
Building a Case
You will need to gather information to back up your lawsuit. For example, if the nursing home was negligent, you might be able to get a settlement through an insurance claim.
You can build your case by compiling evidence of the abuse and the facility’s carelessness. Your lawyer will also examine medical records and contracts with the nursing home.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you cannot settle with the insurance company, you might need to proceed to court. The first step of filing a lawsuit is the complaint—this document details why you’re suing and your claims against the nursing home.
Getting Ready for Court
Your lawyer will help you prepare for trial. You’ll have chances along the way to settle with the nursing home.
Most cases settle out of court, but there are exceptions. Again, your attorney can help you determine the best course of action for you.
How Can I Hold a Nursing Home Accountable for Abuse?
You can hold a nursing home responsible for abuse by reporting the wrongdoing.
You can file a complaint with the Healthcare Facility Regulation, which is part of the Georgia Department of Community Health. The Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services also takes reports of elder abuse in the community.
If the facility was negligent in the abuse, you can bring a personal injury claim for compensation. Additionally, you might report the harm to the police, especially if the victim is in immediate danger.
Nursing homes are liable for the actions of their employees, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-2-2. If a staff member caused harm to a resident, the facility is probably at fault. You can prove fault by demonstrating that:
- The nursing home owed the resident a duty of care.
- The nursing home breached its duty of care.
- The failed duty caused harm to the resident.
- The resident has damages because of the abuse.
The nursing home or employee might also face criminal charges for the abuse. If so, that can help your personal injury claim. Talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer about your legal rights and what you can recover.
Who Can I Sue for a Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?
You can usually sue the nursing home if a resident died from careless actions (or inactions). In some cases, you might have a lawsuit against a caregiver, nurse, or doctor. Anyone whose actions led to the resident’s death could be liable.
Certain family members can file a case to recover damages on behalf of the loved one. The claim seeks to recover for the “full value” of the deceased’s life. The family member brings a lawsuit in place of the loved one who cannot.
Not everyone can bring a wrongful death claim. Those who can bring a case include, in order:
- Spouses of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
A spouse can represent any minor children of the victim, but the spouse cannot receive less than a third of the recovered money. An estate representative can also bring a wrongful death suit if there are no surviving family members. Any damages the representative recovers will stay in the estate for the victim’s next of kin.
Before you can sue for wrongful death, there must be evidence of negligence. The at-fault party’s actions must have contributed directly to the resident’s death. In other words, the resident wouldn’t have died at that time if the at-fault party hadn’t been negligent.
Can I Move My Loved One to Another Nursing Home If I Suspect Abuse?
If you think a loved one was abused in a nursing home, you have a right to request a transfer. Unfortunately, nursing homes rarely move residents to new locations unless there is a good reason. But when a resident gets abused, the facility is depriving them of their fundamental rights.
Before moving a loved one, look into any health insurance rules covering their stay. Some providers, such as Medicare, have guidelines for requesting transfers. You’ll also want to ensure the new home takes the loved one’s healthcare coverage.
Most importantly, make sure your loved one is safe. If they are in immediate danger, call 911 to notify the police. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns about abuse or neglect.
Filing a Legal Claim
If you suspect abuse, document everything you can. Crucial evidence includes:
- Pictures of physical abuse injuries
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Statements from the resident about their experience
A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you gather the proper evidence and build a legal claim. Talk to your lawyer about your options for moving your loved ones and keeping them safe. You have the right to recover compensation for what your family member has suffered at the hands of the nursing home.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
There can be many signs of abuse in a nursing home, and some might not be obvious at first. Some of the most common ones include:
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Being emotionally withdrawn or upset
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, or broken bones
- Seeming fearful of staff members
- Unexplained falls or head injuries
- Rocking back and forth or other similar behaviors
- Isolating from others
- Not doing things they used to enjoy
If the abuse involves medications, the resident might seem loopy, sleepy, or “off” in some other way. Staff members could have given the resident too much or not enough of the medication they needed.
Nursing home abuse can also be financial. For example, a staff member might withdraw money from the resident’s account or change details on their will. A worker could even pressure or intimidate a resident into making these changes.
Family members should watch for any signs of abuse or neglect. If someone at the facility caused harm, it’s reasonable grounds for a lawsuit. Loved ones can help the resident bring a personal injury claim to recover damages and seek justice.
How Can a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Lawyer Help My Family?
Nursing home abuse is heartbreaking for loved ones to uncover. If a family member has suffered abuse, a lawyer can help. Here are some of the main ways a nursing home abuse or neglect attorney can help.
Investigating the Details
Building a claim to prove abuse is complicated. The nursing home and its insurance company will probably look for ways to avoid trouble. For example, they might deny that there was any wrongdoing at all or even try to blame the resident.
Your lawyer will uncover the facts and protect your rights. That includes:
- Getting statements from witnesses and past employees
- Reviewing medical records
- Looking at all evidence of abuse
- Helping you document the abuse or neglect
- Applying the law to your case
Your lawyer will determine who is liable for the harm that happened. From there, you can begin seeking justice.
Negotiating a Settlement
An attorney will help you begin the legal process. They’ll send a demand letter to the nursing home detailing the abuse and what you deserve in compensation. The insurance company might respond with a settlement offer.
Do not accept the first settlement offer. Talk to your lawyer instead. The first offer is usually way too low, so your attorney will work to negotiate a better offer. Most cases settle after the negotiation. However, if you cannot settle, you can take your case to court.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your lawyer will help you prepare for trial. Along the way, you might settle. However, if you continue to court, your lawyer will fight for what you deserve. While it’s possible to represent yourself at trial, you should always retain legal representation to assist you. Not doing so will put you at an extreme disadvantage against the insurance company.
How Long do I Have to File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
In Georgia, you have two years from the incident of abuse to file a lawsuit. Two years is the statute of limitations period for the state of Georgia. Other states may have different deadlines to file a case.
If you miss the statute of limitations, you’ll probably be unable to recover any damages. The courts are likely to throw out a case that has passed the deadline. But if you’re not sure about the timeline, call a lawyer as soon as possible.
You and your lawyer will need time to:
- Gather evidence of the abuse or neglect.
- Talk to witnesses about what happened.
- Document as much of the abuse as possible.
- Prepare a demand letter.
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Prepare for trial (if necessary)
- Protect your rights
A nursing home abuse attorney can make sure you stay on track. They’ll pay attention to the deadlines and build your case while you spend time with your loved ones.
Your lawyer can also ensure the other side treats you fairly. For example, insurance companies often look for ways to blame the victim or get you to settle too soon. Having an experienced lawyer on your side levels the playing field from the beginning.
What Are the Damages I Can Recover in a Nursing Abuse Case?
You can recover both economic and non-economic damages for nursing home abuse. Let’s look more closely at each category.
Economic damages are also known as special damages in Georgia, according to OCGA §51-12-2. These damages must result directly from a negligent act, such as abuse.
Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medications
- Mental health counseling
- Relocation costs
- Property damage
Victims should not have to pay for the financial costs of harm done to them. After abuse or neglect, the nursing home is liable for these costs. You will need to provide proof of economic damages. That may include medical records and other documentation.
Also known as general damages in Georgia, non-economic damages are more complicated. These losses are about how an incident affects the victim’s life. You do not have to provide proof of any amount for these damages.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Abuse can affect the resident and their family members in many ways. An experienced lawyer will know how to prove these damages and help you recover them. Before accepting any money from the insurance company, speak with a lawyer. You’ll want to understand all of your losses and the type of settlement you deserve.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Nursing Home Abuse Claim in Georgia?
According to a report from Health Affairs, the average nursing home abuse claim is about $406,000. However, every case is different. One victim could recover more or less, depending on the details.
On the other hand, some abuse cases are worth hundreds of thousands or millions. To get the best idea of what you might recover, talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer. Your settlement will depend on:
- Your total damages
- Both economic and non-economic losses
- Insurance policy limits
- The insurance company’s response
- Whether or not you go to trial
- Whether or not you have a lawyer
The settlement could be much higher if a family brings a wrongful death claim following nursing home abuse. Wrongful death claims account for the value of the victim’s life and what they suffered. Insurance settlements are typically lower than trial verdicts. However, going to trial comes with risks.
You either win what you deserve or leave with nothing. It’s best to discuss the possibility of going to court with your lawyer. Either way, the nursing home might deny any wrongdoing. Plus, the insurance company will look for ways to pay you less. Be careful not to accept any money or sign anything without consulting your attorney first.
Will My Nursing Home Abuse Case Settle Out of Court?
Most nursing home abuse cases do settle out of court. Around 92% close with a settlement and don’t go to trial. If you can get a fair settlement offer without a court case, that’s ideal for most victims and their families.
Whether or not you go to court may depend on:
- Your total damages
- The severity of the harm done
- How willing the insurance company is to make a fair offer
- How you feel about a court case
- The advice from your lawyer
The first step is typically to send a demand letter to the insurance company. If the insurer makes a fair offer, most victims’ families will agree to a settlement instead of going to court. Avoiding court helps you avoid the time and money involved with a trial. It can also save victims and family members from having to relive painful trauma.
At the same time, going to court might be the best option for some. For example, you might go to trial if you cannot get what you deserve in a settlement. If you’re unsure what to do, walk through the pros and cons with your attorney. They can help you decide what’s best for you and your family members.
Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we have over 20 years of experience helping those injured by someone else’s actions. To learn your rights and get started today, call or contact us online for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to provide you with assistance. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment.