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Was Your Loved One A Victim Of Nursing Home Abuse?

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Filing Civil Claims For Nursing Home Abuse In California

As our population ages, more people will be faced with difficult long-term care choices, such as whether or not to join a nursing home. While the majority of skilled nursing facilities offer excellent care to their patients, nursing home neglect can result in serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a nursing home's negligence, you have the right to file a complaint to recover damages with the help of a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney.

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Nursing home abuse is becoming more common as America's population ages. In several ways, older people are vulnerable, and they are often exploited and abused by caregivers, including family members. When caring for elderly parents and loved ones at home becomes too difficult to handle, many families look to nursing homes. People have faith in nursing homes to provide their loved ones with caring, kind, and consistent treatment. Unfortunately, an increasing issue of nursing home abuse of elderly residents is due to a variety of factors.

Half of the nursing homes in the United States are understaffed, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). As a result, these nursing homes are unable to fulfill their residents' needs while still maintaining their facilities. Unfortunately, understaffed nursing homes and overworked workers can lead to violence and neglect, which is still a significant problem around the country.

About 100,000 people live in nursing homes in California. Despite the fact that the state has stringent standards for nursing home treatment, there are still a troubling number of recorded cases of nursing home violence in California.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer if you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse. These attorneys specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect litigation, so they have the expertise and training to help you win your case. They will assist you in obtaining the justice and financial compensation that you are entitled to. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.

Statistics on nursing homes and eldercare

According to the CDC, approximately 13% of people aged 85 and up (1 in 8) live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, compared to 1% of people aged 65 to 74. According to the most recent CDC survey, about 1.4 million people were living in nursing homes across the country.

  • At some point in their lives, 52 percent of people aged 65 and up would need long-term care. Long-term care is expected to be needed by 47 percent of men and 58 percent of women aged 65 and up.

  • Senior men need long-term care on average for 1.5 years, while women require treatment on average for 2.5 years.

  • Long-term care is needed by 14% of people for more than 5 years.

  • 8% of people in their forties and fifties have a condition that necessitates the use of long-term care facilities.

  • Only about 7% of cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities, according to estimates.

California's nursing home occupancy rates

There are approximately 1,250 licensed long-term care nursing facilities in California, with a total population of 400,000 residents. California has an 87 percent nursing home utilization rate.

Assisted living facilities and Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly are licensed by the state of California (RCFEs). Every five years, these facilities are inspected, and most tenants stay for an average of 28 months.

With life expectancies that every decade, it's no surprise that a growing number of people would need to live in a nursing home at some point in their lives. If you're in charge of a loved one's treatment, there are a few things you can look out for at their nursing home or other facilities to ensure they've been well looked after.

What is nursing home abuse?

Abuse in nursing homes can take several forms, and it's not always clear when it's happening.

The following are examples of nursing home abuse:

1. Physical Abuse/Harm

Any incident or condition that causes physical injury or damage qualifies as physical assault. It may be done on purpose, such as with rough handling. Neglect, such as a lack of physical treatment or the overuse of restraints, may also cause it.

  • Unknown injuries, such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they occur symmetrically on both sides of the body.

  • Restraint signs, such as rope marks on the wrists

  • The caretaker is unable to properly clarify the situation.

  • Broken bones, sprains, and dislocations are all common injuries.

  • Frames or glasses that have been broken

  • Use of a physical or chemical restriction or psychotropic medication for any reason other than that which the physician has approved

  • The reluctance of the caregiver to let you see the elder alone

  • Injuries that necessitate immediate medical attention or hospitalization

  • Any accident or death that occurs during or shortly after a wandering episode

  • Without informing your doctor or family, you can experience rapid weight loss or gain.

  • A death that is unexplained or unforeseen

  • Illnesses that aren't reported to a doctor or family member in a timely manner

  • Deprivation of food or water for an extended period of time

  • Medication dosing that isn't right (too much or too little)

  • The elder claims to have been slapped or mistreated.

2. Sexual Abuse

Unwanted sexual attention or exploitation is referred to as sexual assault. It also has to do with consent. A patient with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or another cognitive impairment that prevents them from understanding what's going on or expressing their wishes is unable to agree.

  • Breasts or genitals bruised

  • Undiagnosed genital diseases or venereal disease

  • Vaginal or anal bleeding that isn't clarified

  • Underwear that is torn, stained, or bloody

3. Negligence

It's possible the neglect is unintentional. It also occurs when a facility is understaffed to properly care for residents' needs. Failure to provide personal hygiene, food, clothes, or water is considered neglect.

  • Bedsores, dehydration, and malnutrition

  • Food, clothes, or shelter are not given

  • Conditions that are unsanitary, unclean, or dangerous

  • Viruses and Infections

  • Weight loss that is unusual

  • Clothing that isn't appropriate for the season

  • Desertion is a term used to describe a state

  • a lack of medical attention

  • Health and safety risks are not adequately protected.

4. Financial Exploitation

If a caregiver takes advantage of a patient's financial condition, this is known as financial abuse. This may include stealing personal property from a citizen, as well as stealing from a bank account, using the patient's personal details to apply for credit and other forms of identity fraud for personal gain.

  • Withdrawals from accounts that are rare or important

  • Money or valuables were missing from the elder's house

  • Changes in financial and legal records, such as wills and powers of attorney that are suspicious

  • If it's unpaid bills or a lack of concern for financially secure elders,

  • Suspicious financial conduct, such as a bedridden account manager withdrawing money from an ATM

  • Purchases that aren't required

5. Emotional Abuse

The most difficult form of abuse to detect is psychological or emotional abuse. A caregiver can scream, criticize, shame, or humiliate a patient, causing anxiety, upset, or behavioral changes in the patient.

  • The caregiver's threatening, belittling, or controlling actions

  • Senior is irritated or agitated mentally

  • Suckering, chewing, and rocking are examples of odd activities that may indicate dementia

  • Withdrawal and non-communicative behavior are two examples of non-communicative behavior

  • Atypical senior behavior, such as withdrawal and non-communication, as well as humiliating, degrading, terrifying, or threatening behavior

  • Isolation

  • Being confined to a single room

6. Violence amongst residents

Abuse between residents is also a problem. Not all forms of violence are perpetrated by caregivers. This can be physical, psychological, or sexual in nature. It is the caregiver's duty to keep all patients safe and free from harm from others, regardless of who they are.

7. Healthcare Fraud

Financial exploitation may also take the form of healthcare fraud. It may be a factor if you accuse a member of your family of:

  • Taking too much or not enough drugs

  • Receiving substandard treatment despite the fact that services have been paid for in full

  • Receiving several bills for the same facilities, drugs, or assistive devices is a common occurrence.

  • Staffing shortages or a lack of preparation may also be indicators of fraud

Neglect Symptoms

Staff at nursing homes must ensure that the patients in their care have clean bedding and clothing, daily meals, clean water, and proper medical attention. When visiting an elderly relative or acquaintance in a nursing home, be on the lookout for signs that the staff isn't offering proper treatment. The following are some of the most common symptoms of nursing home neglect:

  • Clothing and bedding that has been soiled. Residents in nursing homes are often unable to clean or change their own clothing. Staff must ensure that their residents have clean sheets and garments, and soiled clothes and sheets must be removed and replaced as soon as possible. These are red flags for neglect if you find your loved one's clothing is dirty or if he or she does not seem to have had a bath recently.

  • Floors that are filthy and resident rooms that are filthy. Ascertain that your loved one has a clean living environment. If the open areas are filthy or badly maintained, it poses a health risk to all people.

  • Hallways that are clogged. Staff must ensure that their work environments are secure. If a nursing home looks cluttered or disorganized, it can indicate that staff is not performing their responsibilities.

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  • Malnutrition and dehydration are two of the most common causes of death. Severe neglect may include failing to provide food and water on a regular basis or failing to provide residents with food and water at all. If you find that your elderly loved one has lost a lot of weight after moving into a nursing home, it may be a sign that he or she isn't getting enough nutrients.

  • Sores on the bed. Some nursing home residents are confined to their beds or have limited mobility. To avoid bedsores, nursing home staff must reposition these patients on a regular basis. Bedsores are excruciatingly painful and, in some cases, life-threatening. When an individual stays in bed for a prolonged period of time, bedsores develop.

Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

Elderly nursing home residents are frequently neglected, but direct violence is often much worse. If your elderly relative or acquaintance is fearful, distracted, or unable to speak about his or her experiences at the nursing home, it's possible that the staff is abusing him or her. Physical harm, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial harm are all examples of nursing home abuse. To commit fraud, some nursing home employees can steal residents' personal belongings or even their identities.

  • If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, keep an eye on his or her finances and keep an eye out for any unusual behavior. If you think your loved one has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by his or her guardians, withdraw him or her from the situation as soon as possible and consult a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney. You and your partner can determine that the situation necessitates a police investigation in order to protect others in the house.

  • The right Nursing Home Abuse Attorney will help you find more appropriate living arrangements for your loved one and then create a case against the responsible parties for nursing home neglect or violence. Since many nursing home patients are unwilling to pursue justice on their own, it is up to friends and family members to keep an eye out for signs of violence and neglect.

There are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of your loved one being a victim of nursing home abuse:

  1. Make a guardian appointment. If you are unable to see your loved one on a daily basis, contact a volunteer organization to see if you can find someone to assist you. People who have family or friends "check-in" on them are less likely to be abused.

  2. Examine your financial records. If your loved one is unable to handle their own finances, make sure you or another trusted family member is checking their financial statements on a regular basis. Even a cursory review of bank statements, credit card payments and legal records on a monthly or quarterly basis is sufficient to look for any irregular transactions or adjustments.

  3. Unannounced visits are common. If you have the opportunity to visit, do so without informing the facility ahead of time. They can't make you call ahead, but it's fair to assume you'll arrive during the day or evening rather than when people are likely to be sleeping. You have the freedom to meet your family member anytime you want. Get to know the caregivers who work with your family member on specific shifts. When you know a caregiver's name and see their experiences or connection with the person in their care, they will feel more accountable.

Failure to Control

For his or her own protection or the safety of others, an elderly person can need physical restraints. Restraints should be used to limit movement rather than to punish or injure the individual. If the senior citizen has a physical or mental disability that puts him or herself or others at risk without limiting movement, restraints such as belts, vests, hand mitts, special chairs, lap cushions, or bed rails may be required. Physical restraints should be used as rarely as possible and only when other options aren't working. Failure to restrain when someone else's life or health is at stake, on the other hand, is a type of negligence.

You could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if your loved one was injured when a staff member refused to use restraints when he or she should have. You could be entitled to sue for neglect if your loved one's medical condition placed him or her at risk of falling out of bed at night, but the facility refused to have bed rails. You might also have a case if another resident that should have been restrained by caregivers – for example, someone with dementia who exhibits aggressive conduct – was not and assaulted or wounded your elderly loved one. The term "misuse of constraints" refers to both the overuse and underuse of this tactic.

Assault on an individual

If a caregiver, nurse, janitor, or other nursing home staff member assaulted and hurt your loved one in some way, you might have an assault case on your hands. This involves rape, assault, and sexual violence. If the facility played a part in what happened to your loved one, the perpetrator and the facility could be named as defendants in a nursing home abuse case. For instance, if the nursing home employed a staff member with a history of attack or abuse on purpose.

In this situation, you might be able to sue the nursing home for negligent employment practices since the facility should have been aware of the potential for harassment. Senior citizens may be assaulted by other patients or family members.

  • You may blame the victim as well as the nursing home or nursing home staff for failing to properly track your loved one in these situations. It is the responsibility of a nursing home to ensure the residents' fitness, protection, and enjoyment at all times. Negligence occurs when there is insufficient oversight and control, which leads to an attack.

  • A civil suit for damages may be filed along with a criminal complaint in an assault case if your elderly loved one is assaulted while in the care of a nursing home in California. Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney right away.

Errors in Medication

If a nurse or orderly makes a medication error, it may result in a nursing home resident's death. Senior citizens also take a variety of drugs for a variety of health issues, and they require precise types and dosages to stay healthy. Giving the wrong medicine to a patient can result in harmful interactions with other medications or an allergic reaction.

  • Even if the incorrect drug does not cause damage, the resident may have lost out on a medication that he or she urgently requires. Incorrect dosages can exacerbate a condition or even result in a fatal overdose.

  • It is important that caregivers prescribe drugs with extreme caution. Senior citizens who are in poor health cannot afford to take the wrong medications. A drug error may be caused by miscommunication, carelessness, or negligence on the part of a caregiver or nurse.

  • Proof that the defendant owed the resident a duty of care, that he/she violated that duty by improperly prescribing the drug, and that this error caused the plaintiff's harm will be required to prove this type of negligence or recklessness. These difficult cases will benefit from the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Attorney.

California's Nursing Home Abuse Laws

All nursing home residents in California have the right to a safe and sanitary living space. Furthermore, no resident should be treated unfairly. Discrimination based on a person's financial situation, ethnicity, age, gender, or nationality will not be tolerated.

Every day, healthy meals and snacks must be served to nursing home residents. This involves therapeutic diets designed to meet the needs of people with special needs. Each facility must have a licensed dietician on staff to help with menu planning and special dietary requirements.

Each nursing home must be accredited by the California Health Board, and each facility must have a certified physician, dentist, and registered nurse on staff. Nursing home residents must be provided with social and physical opportunities such as sports, entertainment, and exercise, in addition to adequate medical care. Residents who need counseling for emotional or behavioral issues must have access to licensed counselors. Residents are often entitled to visitation from relatives and friends.

Furthermore, any nursing home with more than 120 beds must have a full-time social worker on staff, according to the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. Every nursing home resident has the right to fully engage in care plans, and any changes in health care plans, treatments, or facility changes must be communicated to them in advance, according to the Nursing Home Reform Act.

  • A resident can never be physically or emotionally punished by a member of the staff. Physical punishment, neglect, demeaning language, food, and water deprivation, or lack of access to state-mandated programs and activities are all examples of this. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations in California is two years from the time the infringement was detected or could have been fairly discovered.

  • Half of the nursing homes in the United States are understaffed, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). As a result, these nursing homes are unable to fulfill their residents' needs while still maintaining their facilities. Unfortunately, understaffed nursing homes and overworked workers can lead to violence and neglect, which is still a significant problem around the country.

  • About 100,000 people live in nursing homes in California. Despite the fact that the state has stringent standards for nursing home treatment, there are still a troubling number of recorded cases of nursing home violence in California.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer if you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse. These attorneys specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect litigation, so they have the expertise and training to help you win your case. They will assist you in obtaining the justice and financial compensation that you are entitled to.

California's Nursing Home Abuse Consequences

California has stringent laws and regulations in place to protect elderly and disabled nursing home patients, as previously stated. If violations are discovered by workers and/or nursing homes, the penalties may be just as harsh.

Employees who are found guilty of nursing home violence may face a variety of civil and criminal penalties. Depending on the crime, criminal charges are categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony under California Penal Code 368 PC. Although the severity of the crime varies depending on the circumstances, the harsher the sentence, the more serious the violence.

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Probation, fines, restitution, and up to a year in county prison can all be imposed for misdemeanor offenses. Probation, fines, restitution, and potential sentencing in the California State Prison System are all possible consequences of felonies.

Employees who face civil lawsuits can be forced to pay a substantial amount of money to the victim and/or the victim's relatives. If a nursing home is found to be in violation of California state laws and fails to correct the violations, it could face hefty fines as well as the facility's permanent closure.

What to do if you suspect elder abuse in a California nursing home

The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act is a California statute (EADACPA). The aim of this legislation is to prevent vulnerable adults from being neglected or abused. It helps a nursing home resident or another dependent adult who has been the victim of elder abuse to recover monetary damages.

  • All should be recorded. If you think a loved one is being exploited or neglected, make a list of everything that comes to mind, no matter how insignificant.

  • Keep a record of the dates and findings you make. Make a note if you see an odd bruise, a family member says something peculiar, or the amount of pills in their possession seems to be off. If you need to investigate the matter further, this may be the best proof you have.

  • If the dependent adult has the legal capacity to do so, they will bring a case on their own behalf. If the individual has died, the estate or interested family members will be able to sue for injuries sustained prior to death, as well as punitive damages. If the individual died as a result of the negligence or assault, a family member would be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The California Ombudsman Program is governed by Section 9700 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. This service looks at any grievances made by a senior or dependent adult in a long-term care facility and tries to remedy them.

Who Would Sue for Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Families who suspect a loved one is being abused in a nursing home or by a dependent adult should withdraw them from the situation as soon as possible. Following that, families or victims should contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney as soon as possible, for every second they hesitate, evidence critical to bringing those responsible to justice may be lost. Victims and their relatives may be able to file a dependent adult or nursing home abuse claim against the person or facility that caused them pain and distress if they act quickly.

How Will Lawsuits Help?

Under the Welfare and Institutions Code and general negligence principles of law, an elderly person who is injured by a worker, employee, or agent of a residence, hospital, or similar facility may be entitled to compensation.

Litigation will include the following benefits to abuse victims and their families:

  1. Security for their future in the form of funds to pay for medical costs for any injuries the elder or dependent adult has sustained, as well as a better long-term care situation for the elder or dependent adult;

  2. Victims and families seeking closure by having the person or facility responsible for their suffering kept accountable.

  3. While several cases resolve without the need for a trial, you would also need a skilled Nursing Home Abuse Attorney who can prepare the case for trial, take depositions, and perform the necessary investigations in elder abuse, dependent adult abuse, or similar assault case to maximize the recovery.

  4. Consult and retain a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney to obtain the restitution you are legally entitled to. Our firm has extensive experience in the areas of dependent adult litigation and elder violence, assisting injured clients in obtaining seven-figure payments and recoveries. We know how to optimize your recovery by filing a lawsuit, litigating a case, and, if necessary, going to trial.

Furthermore, by keeping those responsible accountable, victims and their families bring attention to intolerable circumstances. This could lead to policy and procedure improvements in that facility and around the sector, reducing the likelihood of potential cases of violence.

  • Various parties can be held responsible for the harassment of a senior member of your family, depending on the circumstances of your case. They are as follows:

  • A nurse, doctor, assistant nurse, and social worker were among the hospital employees who perpetrated the actual violence.

  • The hospital's owner, whether it's an institution, a hospital, or a corporation.

In the event of elder abuse, a person may still sue the person who directly caused them physical or financial damage. If the person who abused them worked for the county, an experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney would help them recover from the individual caretaker and the hospital or organization that employed the abusive worker or staff member by navigating the Welfare and Institutions Code's liability issues.

When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Abuse of the Elderly?

If it can be shown that the facility or employees of a nursing home are the primary cause of nursing home violence, the nursing home can be held responsible for damages. Hospital care, costs for pain and suffering, injury, and disfigurement are all possible damages for elder abuse. Punitive damages can be awarded under exceptional circumstances.

The nursing home could be held responsible for the violence because of the following factors:

  • Understaffing or a scarcity of skilled workers

  • Incompetent hiring

  • Inadequate education

  • Mistakes in medication

  • Violation of rights

Damages You Might Get

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a nursing home facility's or a staff member's incompetent or wrongful acts, you may be entitled to reimbursement. While monetary damages may not be sufficient to reverse the harm done, they will aid in the restoration of your or your loved one's wellbeing and reputation, as well as holding the nursing home responsible for their negligence and preventing it from occurring again.

In a nursing home abuse situation, monetary compensation is usually divided into three groups.

Economic Damages. Economic damages are quantifiable forms of compensation. These types of damages typically arise in nursing home neglect cases from past and future medical treatment required to treat the abuse injuries, such as:

  • Transport by ambulance

  • Stays in the hospital

  • Surgical procedures

  • Visits to the doctor

  • Medical examinations (CT scans, MRI tests, X-rays, blood work)

  • Medication

  • Physical therapy

  • Wheelchairs and other assistive equipment

  • Health treatment in the future

  • Increased living support costs

Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are benefits that victims of nursing home violence cannot quantify. The following are examples of non-monetary damages, all of which have a substantial impact on the victims' quality of life:

  • Pain and Suffering

  • Depression, terror, sorrow, anxiety, and a lack of sleep are all examples of emotional trauma

  • Loss of pleasure in life

  • Injuries that result in permanent cognitive or physical impairments

  • Damages for retaliation

While economic and non-economic damages are meant to compensate the nursing home neglect victim financially, punitive damages are meant to punish the nursing home in the hopes of deterring potential neglect or violence. In situations where the nursing home facility or its employees participated in egregious conduct, such as staff members behaving with intent, punitive damages are usually accessible.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

A fatality caused by another person's negligence, carelessness, or recklessness is referred to as a "wrongful death." As a result, the remaining loved ones of the deceased file wrongful death lawsuits in order to obtain justice in the civil justice system.

Certain surviving family members in California may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one. A spouse, intimate partner, child of the deceased, or a personal representative of the deceased's estate are all examples of qualifying persons. It's best to meet with a Personal Injury Lawyer to see whether you're eligible for a lawsuit.

Please keep in mind that because wrongful death can occur in a variety of ways, these lawsuits are not limited to deaths that occur in a particular category of injuries, such as deaths that occur while under the care of a medical professional. Rather, the criterion for qualification is whether or not another individual is to blame.

May I Hire a Lawyer for Wrongful Death?

Of course, there is no way to put a monetary value on the loss of a loved one. There was no amount of money that could make your suffering go away or make what happened to you and your family right.

However, if you seek justice by legal means, you will be able to find some well-deserved peace of mind in knowing that the perpetrator has been held accountable for their acts. Furthermore, you might be able to alleviate some of the financial strain that this situation has put on you and your family.

Some of the financial losses for which you could be paid include:

  • Companionship loss

  • Loss of friendship

  • Loss of earnings/wages

  • Expenses for medical treatment are reimbursed

  • Funeral/burial costs are reimbursed

  • Prior to death, the deceased was in pain and suffering

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