You or your loved one resides in an assisted care facility, and you trusted that nursing home and its staff to keep you safe from harm until they didn’t. The caregiver you trusted to help you or your family member make it to the bathroom, to ensure you got fed, change you into fresh clothes or replace your bed linens when dirty, and to respect you let you down.
They violently assaulted, mentally or sexually abused, or financially exploited you, and now you’re the one having to deal with the repercussions of the harm they caused. What do you do?
Call to speak with a Clinton nursing home abuse lawyer in our office.
We offer no-risk consultations where we can converse about the mistreatment you faced, who inflicted the harm, and the options available for holding them accountable for their wrongdoing. Brief time limits apply to nursing home abuse cases like yours, so contact our legal team at GDH Law now.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect Occurring in Nursing Care Facilities
Family members and friends of nursing home residents are often the first ones to suspect something isn’t right with them. Sometimes, they may notice physical signs of abuse or neglect, such as:
- Broken bones
- Impressions or scarring left behind by restraints
- Bedsores (also referred to as pressure injuries or pressure sores)
- Lacerations or tears in the skin
- Soiled clothing or linens
- Respiratory infections, like pneumonia
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancies
At other times, they observe telltale signs of emotional trauma that’s indicative of mistreatment that they just can’t ignore, including:
- Acting withdrawn in social settings, including having an increased desire to be all alone
- Becoming increasingly fearful of speaking up/out (especially when the suspected abuser is around)
- A rapid decline in that individual’s cognitive functioning, including the ability to remember things
- Unexpected weight loss or gain
- A sudden shift in behaviors (i.e., not wanting to run errands or not wanting to hug)
- Increases in elopement or wandering from the residential facility
- Acting easily triggered (irritable or angered)
In addition to the concerns described above, it should also raise an alarm if your loved one increasingly:
- Claims to be unavailable to receive visitors
- Finds oneself repeatedly in and out of the hospital dealing with unexplained physical injuries
- Gets diagnosed with different illnesses that no one at the facility thinks to have them treated by medical professionals
- Seems sedated or otherwise “not themselves” when you call or visit them
The various lists of common indicators of abuse or neglect provided above are far from comprehensive.
Just as there are different types of mistreatment, there are just as many ways in which this harm manifests itself.
If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, there’s a strong chance it isn’t. You owe it to yourself and your family member to investigate the matter a little deeper to make sure everything is okay and, if it’s not, to take action.
A Clinton nursing home abuse lawyer can help point you in the right direction as far as the next best steps you should take in your case if you’re unsure what to do.
An attorney may suggest that you file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrators of abuse so neither your relative nor anyone else continues to endure mistreatment, and so the victim can receive compensation for what they’ve already been through. We can get to work for you after we first sit down for an initial consultation, so call our firm to have a discussion as soon as possible.
Is Elder Abuse a Criminal or Civil Matter?
First, let’s start by clearing up some common misconceptions.
Not everyone who lives in an assisted living facility is an older person, nor are they physically disabled. Instead, individuals who live in these facilities may have intellectual disabilities or memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also important to note that when abuse is inflicted upon elderly individuals, it doesn’t always just occur at nursing homes. It can happen in private homes as well.
What’s the point of clarifying this information? Well, it provides the context for understanding whether abuse or neglect is considered a criminal or civil matter.
See, according to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, abuse of a vulnerable adult may qualify as the crime of domestic violence when such actions occur at the hands of family members or a household caregiver. In contrast, while a non-domestic caretaker, such as a nursing home staff member, can certainly face criminal charges if their actions violate our state’s criminal statutes, including assault or battery, situations resulting from negligence warrant the filing of a civil action, like a claim or lawsuit.
Unlike criminal cases, where prosecutors decide whether to pursue charges and if they do, the burden falls on them to present the case in court and secure a conviction, the responsibility to file and prove a civil case belongs to an injured party, the plaintiff.
And, while criminal cases resulting in convictions may lead to defendants facing imprisonment, successful civil ones, like nursing home abuse ones, may lead to defendants having to pay a plaintiff’s losses, like medical bills and lost wages.
A Lawyer’s Role in an Abuse or Neglect Case in Clinton, MD
It may be your natural inclination to ask your loved one living in the nursing home whether they’re facing abuse and, if they say no, to take their answer at face value and drop the matter.
You may also decide to do the same if you confront a caregiver and they deny anything is happening. Again, though, you should really let your intuition guide you if something doesn’t feel right. It may just save your loved one’s life.
If you do decide to escalate the matter, it may feel like calling one of many local and state agencies is right, however, doing so may not ultimately be in your family member’s best interest. It may raise red flags that someone has made a report among nursing home staff, which can lead to the destruction of evidence necessary to prove your civil case.
Reaching out to 911 is best if your loved one is in danger of life and limb. However, your next step should be to call a Clinton nursing home abuse lawyer like ours to discuss your relative’s treatment and how to best preserve their rights.
If we choose to work together, you can count on us to thoroughly investigate what happened, who did it, the impact those actions have had on your loved one in the short term, and how they will affect them in the future.
All of this is critically important as we craft a demand letter to liable parties and their insurers requesting compensation in your case.
Schedule that free, no-risk consultation with an attorney today, before it’s too late.