Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Austin, Texas
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Seniors are often the most vulnerable members of our society, and nursing home abuse or neglect may cause serious trauma and suffering, not only for the victim, but for the victim’s family members as well. Placing a loved one in a nursing home, and in the care of another, is one of the most serious and difficult decisions that family members must make.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, call the experienced Austin nursing home abuse lawyers at Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are unable to reach a favorable outcome in your case, you will not owe us anything.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF NURSING HOME ABUSE
Unfortunately, it may often be very difficult to spot when your loved one is suffering from abuse in a nursing home. The signs of abuse often go unseen, even by the people who most love the senior. Unusual changes in the person’s behavior may be mistaken as effects of aging rather than something more sinister. For example, one of the most common symptoms of nursing home abuse is withdrawal by the elderly person, such as by not wanting to talk to or see their loved ones. While the staff may explain this withdrawal as a sign of dementia or a side effect of medication, it is important that family members look for other symptoms of nursing home abuse or injury.
Other possible symptoms of abuse to look out for include:
- Unwillingness to communicate
- Frequent or unexplained falls
- Fractures or broken bones
- Bedsores or skin lesions
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Head injuries
- Frequent infections or illnesses
- Visitors being prevented from visiting alone with the senior
COMMON NURSING HOME ABUSE CLAIMS
1. Physical Abuse
Common physical abuse claims in nursing homes include overmedication, force-feeding, or overuse of physical or chemical restraints. Physical abuse may also include pushing, forcefully grabbing, hitting, slapping, or using an object to injure the resident. In extreme cases, or without proper medical attention, physical abuse may even result in the senior’s death.
One of the most common nursing home abuse claims involves the failure of staff to properly care for the senior. Some common examples of neglect include a failure to provide proper medical attention, a failure to ensure proper personal hygiene, a failure to provide proper clothing or nutrition, or a failure to ensure living conditions are sanitary and safe.
3. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse may be harder to detect than physical abuse or neglect, given the lack of tangible signs such as bruises or marks. However, emotional and mental abuse may be occurring through humiliation or verbal degradation. Some examples of emotional or mental abuse may include threats, insults, derogatory remarks or name-calling, or forced isolation. Emotional manipulation may occur when an employee of the nursing home lies to the senior to benefit themselves, such as by manipulating the resident into overlooking or remaining silent about nursing home abuse. This may include threats that the resident will be isolated, kept from visitors, forced on medication, or not fed, bathed, or groomed. Emotional abuse may cause the senior to be too afraid to ask for simple things like a glass of water or a snack because the senior fears being punished, perhaps physically or by neglect. Warning signs of emotional abuse may include mood swings, withdrawal, involuntary isolation, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, unexplained confusion, or even unusual behaviors such as biting, rocking, or sucking.
4. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse of nursing home residents may occur when the senior’s guardian or financial caretaker takes advantage of their position to steal or misspend the elder’s funds or property. Other forms of financial abuse include forging signatures on checks or other documents, cashing checks without the senior’s consent, misusing funds or property for their own benefit, paying bills late, misusing a power of attorney for their personal benefit, or tricking or coercing the senior into signing a contract, will, or other legal document that is not in their best interest.
5. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse may not only physically harm a senior, but it may also cause emotional and psychological damage. Sexual assault may happen in a nursing home when the resident is tricked or forced into sexual contact against their will. Sexual abuse may also occur if the resident is too sick or weak to give consent. The senior may be sexually abused by another resident, a staff member, a visitor, a family member, or a stranger.
NURSING HOME REGULATIONS IN TEXAS
Texas law provides strong safeguards to protect seniors in nursing homes. The two primary laws governing nursing homes in Texas are the Investigations and Protective Services for Elderly and Disabled Persons Act and the Adult Protective Services Act. These two laws require staff to file reports of any abuse or neglect they may have witnessed or if they have reasonable cause to believe that a resident may have been a victim of abuse or neglect. Adult Protective Services is empowered to intervene when necessary if an elderly person has been abused or neglected in a Texas nursing home.
WHO CAN I SUE?
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, there may be multiple parties liable, including:
1. Nursing Home
If a senior has been the victim of nursing home abuse, your Austin nursing home negligence lawyer may be able to help you pursue compensation from the nursing home. Assisted living facilities generally owe a high duty of care to their residents, based on their contractual obligation to provide a broad range of services, including food, shelter, medical care, and proper hygiene. Given that nursing home staff members provide medications, prepare food, assist with therapy, provide hygiene services, and help with other physical activities, a resident may suffer injuries or abuse in a variety of settings and situations. A nursing home may be liable for several reasons, including:
- Negligent hiring or training of staff
- Failure to protect from safety or health hazards
- Failure to properly monitor staff
- Intentional abuse or neglect by staff members
- Failure to provide daily necessities such as food or water
- Failure to provide appropriate medical care
- Usage of unreasonable, unnecessary, or dangerous physical or chemical restraints
2. Nursing Home Staff
Nursing home staff are in a unique position to abuse a senior. In many cases, the abuse may be caused by the staff members directly responsible for the senior’s personal care and hygiene, support, and medical care. These staff members may also be responsible for the neglect of the senior by failing to report or properly treat possible illness, infections, or accidents, or by failing to provide proper hygiene, nutrition, or other services.
3. Third Parties
If the senior’s injury or abuse was caused by a third party, such as a visitor or other resident, the nursing home may still be liable for failing to provide adequate security or protection for the resident. However, the third party may be held liable as well.
MAKING A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION
1. Gather Documentation
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you should immediately begin gathering all relevant documentation. This documentation includes the contract signed with the nursing home when your loved one first moved in, as well as relevant medical records or any letters or statements that may help explain how the abuse occurred.
After consulting an Austin nursing home abuse lawyer, your attorney may begin to investigate the abuse or neglect suffered by your loved one and gather as much evidence as possible to prove the extent of the senior’s injuries and how those injuries were caused. Your attorney may also gather evidence proving the nursing home’s liability as well as any involved staff members or third parties. This investigation may include gathering statements from any witnesses, nursing home staff, or residents; examining police reports; and taking photographs of any injuries, marks, or living conditions.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
After filing a personal injury lawsuit and gathering evidence through the discovery process, your lawyer may then attempt to negotiate a settlement with the nursing home’s counsel or any other parties or insurers without having to go to trial. Your lawyer may make an initial settlement offer supported by evidence showing the extent of the abuse or neglect suffered by the senior and any resulting injuries, as well as any evidence proving that the other party was responsible for that abuse or neglect. The insurer will typically reject this initial offer and respond with its own counteroffer. The other party’s attorney may also argue the abuse or neglect was exaggerated or was the senior’s own fault. The negotiation will generally continue until a settlement agreement is reached.
Learn More: How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
If your attorney is unable to reach a settlement with the nursing home or other parties, your case may go to trial. At trial, your lawyer may present evidence and seek compensation for your loved one’s nursing home abuse.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
To file a lawsuit in Texas, your claim must be within the legal time frame, called the statute of limitations, within which you are allowed to file a suit. In Texas, the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is two years from the date the abuse or negligence was discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered. If you do not file a lawsuit for the nursing home injury before the statute of limitations ends, your claim will be barred.
GET HELP FROM A NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY TODAY
Most people expect their loved ones to receive the level of care which is promised in a nursing home. However, it may come as quite a shock to find out that a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect instead. At Zinda Law Group, our Austin nursing home abuse attorneys may be able to assist you with your claim. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to as a victim.
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