Louisiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Deciding how best to get an elderly loved one the care they need can be a difficult decision to make. In-home care is an option but is not always sufficient, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, family members and loved ones often decide that a nursing home facility is best.
Once the decision is made, you may spend days or even weeks researching the best facilities in your area. This can be a challenge as you understandably want your loved one to receive the best care possible. Finding a quality nursing home facility can bring you comfort, knowing that your family member will be well looked after.
Unfortunately, even some of the best facilities in the country deal with nursing home abuse issues. Elderly abuse in care communities and facilities is widespread and can be a known issue that is ignored or can happen under the radar without management’s knowledge. Either way, it can be devastating to discover that your loved one is being abused after all of the time and money you put into finding them a quality nursing home.
If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from elder abuse, the Louisiana nursing home abuse lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC can help. We understand how delicate and traumatizing these situations can be and are here to offer you the support and guidance you need to ensure you are compensated, and the liable parties are held responsible.
Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Statistics
Elder abuse in care communities, nursing home facilities, and even in in-home care is a significant public health issue. In some cases, it is committed as a single act, but it can also occur over and over again due to poor management or a lack of appropriate action. Most often, it is the result of an individual or a facility abusing its power and taking advantage of an elder who is vulnerable and trusting.
This kind of abuse is considered a woeful violation of human rights and can happen in various ways, which often causes severe mental and physical distress and harm to the elderly person. In some cases, the elder can also be financially taken advantage of, which can cause even further distress and financial devastation.
According to the World Health Organization, statistics on elder abuse are as follows:
- Nearly 1 in 6 people 60 years of age and older experience elder abuse in a community or facility setting each year.
- Rates of elder abuse are much higher in nursing home settings and long-term care facilities, with 2 out of 3 staff admitting to having committed abuse in the past year.
- Rates of elder abuse have gone up since the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Elder abuse is expected to continue being an issue and may even increase as the country experiences a rapidly aging population.
Why is Nursing Home Abuse Such a Prevalent Issue?
The general scope of the issue is that elderly individuals are highly vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. They, and their loved ones, put a lot of trust in care facilities and thus put their wellbeing fully in the hands of the nursing home staff. Unfortunately, staff members can see this as an easy opportunity to take advantage of someone so trusting and vulnerable.
In other situations, the abuse doesn’t necessarily occur on purpose but as a result of poor operations, a lack of training, and poor management. It can also happen when staff simply provide poor care because they don’t think the elderly are deserving or because they think they don’t matter that much since they are old and don’t have much life left to live. This, of course, is dangerous thinking and is wrong.
No matter their age and condition, all individuals deserve to live the best life possible and be taken care of. Unfortunately, elders who are in poorer physical condition, have functional disabilities, and have cognitive impairments or poor mental health are the most often taken advantage of and abused.
Importance of Hiring a Good Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, you should report the incident immediately. Unfortunately, even after the situation is brought to the attention of management or even the authorities, there is no guarantee that the issue will be appropriately dealt with. In many cases, even after the abuse is reported, it continues to occur, and the situation can get worse for your loved one.
By getting a lawyer involved, you can ensure that the issue will be dealt with promptly. Our attorneys have years of experience handling these types of cases and know what it takes to prove what is happening and who should be held liable. It is not uncommon for these situations to be dismissed when you are not able to provide sufficient evidence. But our attorneys know exactly what to look for and how to prove that your loved one is being abused.
Nursing homes are highly profitable businesses, and they are used to these types of accusations being thrown at them, so without an attorney, they are likely to ignore the report or will fail to fully address the situation. This, however, is an abuse of your trust and your money.
At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, we believe in standing up for what is right and stopping individuals and facilities from continuing to cause harm. You and your loved one deserve to be compensated for your suffering and ensure the guilty parties are held responsible for their negligent and abusive actions.
How Do I Know If I Need a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
If you aren’t positive that your loved one is being abused, it’s understandable that you may want to avoid turning it immediately into a legal situation. The idea of dealing with a potential lawsuit on top of everything else can seem overwhelming. So it’s not uncommon in these situations for family members to simply transfer their loved one to another facility to avoid further abuse.
Still, there is no guarantee that they won’t be abused at the next facility, and even if they are not, they may have already suffered so much previously that it severely affects their physical and mental health going forward.
Even if you don’t yet have proof, if you suspect even the slightest bit of harm or abuse is being done to your loved one, you should contact an attorney. Simply reaching out to a lawyer does not mean you will have to follow through and file a claim or a lawsuit. Our attorneys will sit down with you for an initial consultation to review your case and advise you on the best course of action, but it is ultimately up to you to decide what you want to do.
In most cases, we find abuse is occurring, and the only solution is to follow through. If you want to ensure your loved one is well cared for moving forward and compensated for all they have suffered, you will need to work with an attorney. This will not only help you and your loved one recover compensation, but it will also ensure the individual or facility responsible is held fully accountable to ensure the abuse doesn’t continue.
An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you:
- Understand and navigate federal and local laws concerning nursing home abuse
- Gather sufficient evidence, including witness statements
- File your claim in a timely manner with the appropriate court
- Advocate on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one
- Negotiate for the highest settlement possible that you deserve
- Help you take your case to trial if an initial settlement can’t be agreed upon
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Elder abuse in care facilities can come in many forms. When most people think of the word “abuse,” they tend to think of physical abuse. However, there are various ways an elder can be abused, and it’s important to understand this as it can help you identify the potential signs of abuse if you suspect harm is being done to your loved one.
Most reports of nursing home abuse are due to physical abuse because this type of abuse leaves behind the most obvious signs and symptoms. However, if an individual is being physically abused, they are likely suffering other forms of abuse as well. Examples of physical abuse can include patients being hit and beaten, restrained, force-fed, kicked, pushed, or physically punished in numerous other ways.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Emotional abuse is much harder to recognize, but it is quite common. This type of abuse can wear down on a patient’s mental and emotional state, which can sometimes be more traumatizing than physical abuse. This includes bullying, harassment, intimidation, coercion, manipulation, humiliation, and yelling or chastising.
It can be extremely difficult to discover that your loved one has been sexually abused. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is not uncommon and can leave behind both physical and emotional scarring. Sexual abuse can be any form of non-consensual contact, such as unwanted touching and physical contact.
Neglect is a form of abuse that can be both intentional and unintentional. It is the duty of the nursing home and its staff to ensure each and every patient is cared for and has their needs met. This includes ensuring they are well-fed, have a clean, comfortable, and safe living environment, and that their hygiene is maintained.
In some cases, a patient will be neglected because of limited staff, lack of training, and disorganization. But there are also situations where staff members will purposely neglect a patient as a form of abuse or punishment. Either way, both of these situations are considered abuse and should be dealt with.
This is a type of abuse that occurs when patients are purposely isolated and restricted from things they should have access to. In these cases, patients may be restricted from leaving their rooms or going outside for fresh air. It can also include isolating them from their family and loved ones by restricting their visits, phone calls, and letters or emails.
Financial abuse or exploitation occurs when staff takes advantage of a patient’s finances or their assets. This type of abuse can be very hard to recognize, especially if the patient doesn’t have close family or loved ones to keep an eye on their finances for them. Financial exploitation can include stealing the patient’s money, or forcing them to sign or make changes to documents like power of attorney or their will. It can also involve the staff illegally using the patient’s personal property or their assets.
Signs of Abuse & Neglect
The signs and symptoms of abuse can vary greatly depending on the individual being abused and the specific type of abuse that is occurring. There are often times when there are no visible signs which can make it difficult to realize that abuse is occurring. Still, there are some general signs and symptoms that you can look out for to help you determine if your loved one is being harmed.
The most important thing to remember is that you should always listen to your loved ones if they complain about something. Complaints from elderly individuals are often dismissed as people just assume they are fussy or cranky with old age or simply don’t like being in a nursing home. But their complaints could also be a sign that they are being abused, so it’s always best to take them seriously and look into the situation.
Signs of Physical Abuse & Neglect
The following signs and symptoms can occur if a patient is being physically or sexually abused or neglected:
- Head trauma
- Wounds that won’t heal
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Urinary tract infections
- Bruising around the genitals
- Weight loss
- Mouth sores
- Skin discoloration
- Muscular issues
- Eye injuries or vision problems
- Poor hygiene
- Increasing or frequent health problems
- Unchanged bed sheets
- Withdrawn behavior
- Unwillingness to talk around staff
- Reluctance to talk about injuries or how they occurred
Signs of Emotional Trauma and Psychological Abuse
Emotional trauma can develop from physical and sexual abuse but can also signify that your loved one is being psychologically abused, harassed, or isolated. This can include:
- Withdrawn behaviors
- Unwillingness to talk, especially around staff
Signs of Financial Exploitation
Financial abuse and exploitation is difficult to identify just by looking at your loved one and evaluating their behaviors. They could be agitated, angry, or withdrawn around staff, but not always, especially if they don’t feel they’ve been taken advantage of. Some signs that you can look for include:
- Unexplained credit card purchases or bank withdrawals
- Signatures that appear forged
- Forged checks or checks that bounce
- Fraudulent billing and transactions
- Missing personal items such as jewelry, cash, or other items of value
- Assets or personal property going missing or being used by others
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Similar to the signs and symptoms, the injuries your loved one might sustain from nursing home abuse can vary depending on the circumstances. These injuries can stem from single incidents, or they can occur from continuous abuse. These are also injuries that can occur even if your loved one isn’t being abused.
It is possible for elderly adults to hurt themselves by accident. Still, it’s important to keep an eye out for these injuries so they can be treated as soon as possible and because they could signal that your loved one is being abused.
Bedsores, otherwise known as pressure ulcers, can occur when a patient has limited mobility and spends the majority of their time in bed or a chair. When a patient lies or sits in the same position for long periods, it can damage the skin and cause sores to appear that can easily become infected if they are not properly cleaned and treated.
When a patient suffers from bedsores, it could be by accident, but it is more likely the result of neglect. Even if the neglect is unintentional due to poor training or staffing shortages, it is still considered a form of abuse.
Broken Bones and Hip Fractures
Elderly individuals are more fragile and thus can more easily sustain breaks and fractures. Slips and falls, for example, are highly common amongst older adults who have balance or mobility issues. So a break or a hip fracture can occur by accident. However, these types of injuries are also common amongst patients who are physically abused.
Head and Brain Trauma
Again, elderly patients do sometimes fall and hurt themselves by accident, which can lead to facial and head injuries, and even brain trauma. But it is also very common for patients to suffer from head and brain trauma, such as concussions when they are shoved, beaten, and kicked.
Infections can develop for many reasons. There could be an underlying health issue, or the patient could simply develop an infection from bedsores or an illness. However, infections are also prevalent in patients who are neglected and abused. Poor hygiene and an overall poor health condition from abuse can cause someone to more easily develop an infection. A general worsening of health and frequent infections may be a sign that your loved one is being abused.
Compensation from a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
After filing a nursing home abuse claim in Louisiana, the amount of compensation you can receive can vary greatly. No set amount is offered for these kinds of cases. When the abuse is reported and the claim is filed, the individual case will be evaluated, and an amount will be determined based on numerous factors.
Insurance companies (or courts, if the case goes to trial) will consider what are known as damages to determine how much the victim is owed. In a nursing home abuse case, damages can include:
- Medical expenses for injuries
- Personal property, assets, or money that was stolen or damaged
- Pain and suffering from the emotional and physical abuse
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages to punish those for their malicious intent or gross negligence
As the damages suffered can vary from one case to the next, there is no way to initially determine how much your nursing home abuse claim will be worth. However, at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, we will do everything within our power to support your case and ensure you are awarded the full amount that you and your loved one deserve. In most cases, those who work with an attorney are likely to get more money because they have a professional advocating for their rights and fighting against the insurers who often seek to offer low settlement amounts.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect your loved one is being abused:
- Report the issue immediately.
- Document the situation by taking pictures of the signs of abuse and writing down anything you can think of that signaled to you that something was wrong.
- Collect witness statements from the staff or other patients and their families (i.e., ask around if anyone else has seen, heard, or experienced abuse themselves).
- Videotape interactions between your loved one and the staff if possible.
- Contact the authorities if you feel it is necessary or in an emergency situation.
- Ensure your loved one receives immediate medical attention if necessary and keep track of all medical documents and doctor evaluations.
- Get in touch with an attorney.
An Experienced Louisiana Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help
Nursing home abuse claims can be complicated and overwhelming to deal with. Care facilities and nursing homes often have professional legal teams of their own to protect them. This is why it’s so important for the victims and their loved ones to work with an attorney to ensure they have adequate representation to win their case.
Our team of nursing home abuse attorneys has years of experience handling these types of cases and knows what it takes to hold nursing home facilities accountable. For help with a Louisiana nursing home abuse claim, contact the lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, for a free consultation.