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Saturday, March 2, 2024

What You Need to Know Before Suing a Nursing Home for Neglect

Nursing homes are trusted spaces where our loved ones can receive care in their older years. These places are expected to be safe, loving, and professional environments. However, sometimes unfortunate events can take place. There have been times when families have noticed signs of neglect in these facilities.

As shared by the most recent findings from Nursing Home Abuse Justice, 5 million elder abuse cases are reported in the US every year. Nursing home abuse has become an epidemic in the United States.

But before jumping to conclusions and seeking legal action, it’s crucial to understand the basics of the situation. This article sheds light on what you should know if you ever find yourself thinking of taking a nursing home to court over neglect.

1. Understanding the Basis

Neglect in the context of nursing homes refers to when the care facility fails to provide the standard care that would keep its residents safe and healthy. This might mean not giving them their medicines on time, not feeding them properly, or not attending to their hygiene needs. Neglect can also extend to emotional and psychological harm. For example, if a staff member constantly yells at or belittles a resident, that can be considered neglect.

Now, some questions that probably come to mind are: can you sue a nursing home for neglect? How and on what basis?

Not every minor mistake or oversight can be considered neglect. For a case to be seen as neglect legally, there must be evidence that the nursing home’s actions, or lack thereof, led to harm or potential harm to the resident. For instance, if a resident didn’t receive dinner one night but had a big lunch and breakfast, it might be an oversight but not necessarily neglect. On the other hand, if missing meals becomes a pattern and leads to health issues like malnutrition, then it becomes a stronger case for neglect.

2. Recognizing Signs of Neglect

Spotting neglect is the next critical step. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s essential to keep an eye out for potential warning signs.

Physical signs are often the most noticeable. Look for things like bedsores, which can show that the person isn’t being moved or turned enough. Unexplained bruises or injuries can also be red flags. They might suggest possible rough handling or falls that weren’t reported. If your loved one constantly feels thirsty or their skin looks dry, it could point to dehydration.

Besides the physical, behavioral changes can also indicate neglect. Is your loved one suddenly more withdrawn or less interested in activities they used to love? Do they seem scared or anxious around certain staff members? These could be signs that something is not right.

The environment can also give clues. If the nursing home consistently smells bad or looks dirty, it might suggest that the facility isn’t being cleaned as it should be. A constantly understaffed home, with residents waiting a long time for assistance, can also hint at potential neglect.

3. Documenting Evidence

If you suspect neglect, start gathering evidence. This evidence will serve in your favor if you decide to take legal action later.

Make a record of what you see. Write down dates, times, and details of any incidents that worry you. For instance, if you visit your loved one and notice a new bruise on their arm, jot it down and ask the staff about it. Their response can also be part of your notes.

Taking photos can be useful, too. If there’s a physical sign of neglect, like a bedsore, take a clear photo with the date. Also, if you can, gather medical records. They can provide valuable information about the health status of your loved one and any changes.

Finally, talk to others. Other families or residents might have noticed similar problems. Their observations can help you see if there’s a pattern of neglect in the home.

4. Legal Requirements and Statute of Limitations

When you think something wrong has happened, you might want to act fast. But it’s important to know that there are rules about when you can start a lawsuit. This time rule is called the statute of limitations.

In simple words, the statute of limitations is like a countdown. It tells you how long you have after something happens to file a lawsuit. This time can vary depending on where you live. Some places might give you one year, while others might give you three years or more.

It’s essential to be aware of this time limit. If you wait too long and the time runs out, you might not be able to sue the nursing home anymore, even if you have strong evidence.

That’s why it’s advised to speak with a lawyer as soon as you think something might be wrong. They can guide you about these time rules and other important things you need to know.

5. Consulting with an Expert Attorney

Speaking of lawyers, it’s important to find one who knows a lot about nursing home cases. Not all lawyers work on the same kind of issues. Some might be experts in car accidents, while others know more about problems in nursing homes.

When you look for a lawyer, ask them if they have experience with nursing home neglect cases since these cases can be tricky. An experienced lawyer will know what evidence to look for, what questions to ask, and how to help you best.

During your first meeting with a lawyer, they might ask you a lot of questions. They’ll want to know about what happened, what evidence you have, and other details. It’s important to be honest and give them all the information you can. It’ll help them understand your situation better and decide how to help you.

Remember, choosing the right lawyer can make a big difference. They will be your guide through the whole process, so it’s essential to pick someone you trust and feel comfortable with.

6. Possible Outcomes and Compensation

Once you start the legal process, you might wonder what can happen next. There are a few possible outcomes when you sue a nursing home for neglect.

Sometimes, the nursing home might offer to settle, which means they’ll give you a certain amount of money, and in return, you agree not to take the case to court. It can be a quick way to resolve things, but it’s essential to ensure the offer is fair. Your lawyer can help you decide.

If you don’t settle, the case might go to court. Here, both sides will present their evidence, and a judge or jury will decide the outcome. If they decide in your favor, they’ll determine how much money the nursing home should give you.

This money, called compensation, can cover different things. It might pay for medical bills or other expenses. It can also be for the pain and suffering your loved one went through. In some cases, if the neglect was heinous, the nursing home might have to pay extra money as a sort of punishment, which is called punitive damages.

Conclusion

Taking care of our loved ones is a top priority. When we trust a nursing home to do that, and things go wrong, it’s natural to want to do something about it. But it’s essential to understand the process and act thoughtfully. By knowing the signs of neglect, gathering the right evidence, understanding legal rules, and getting the right help, you can work towards making things right for your loved one. Whatever action you choose to take, ensure it’s in their best interest.


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HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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