What is Elder Abuse?Last updated on: February 3, 2023
Often, we place our elderly loved ones in nursing homes because they need extra care or supervision; it is seldom an easy decision to make. When we do, we trust that the nursing homes are staffed with caretakers who are trained in caring properly for the elderly; they know what kinds of activities should be supervised and how to best care for our loved ones. But sometimes, caretakers might not be properly trained, or may even abuse residents; sadly, elder abuse in nursing homes can result in serious injuries to your loved one, or even death.
If you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. One of our experienced elder abuse lawyers can help you build a case, investigate the facility, and seek the compensation you deserve.
Elder abuse faqs
When you place your loved one in a nursing home, you may rightly be concerned about the care they are getting. While you hope they receive excellent care and supervision, they might not be. Because we know that every year hundreds of thousands of older people are abused in nursing homes, it is important to recognize signs of elder abuse so that your loved one will not suffer at the hands of their caretakers.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse refers to any conduct by a caregiver that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an elderly person. In the United States, every state has a law specifying what conduct constitutes elder abuse. If you suspect abuse is occurring in your nursing home, speak with an injury lawyer in your state as soon as possible to determine whether something can be done to stop your loved one from remaining a victim of elder abuse.
A variety of behaviors can be considered elder abuse. Generally, examples of abuse include:
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Financial Exploitation
Physical abuse refers to conduct that inflicts physical pain or injury on a resident. This can include conduct such as kicking, hitting, or shoving a resident. Physical abuse often results in injuries such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, or concussions.
Emotional abuse occurs when a caretaker inflicts mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person. This is done through verbal attacks such as name-calling, insulting, humiliating, or threatening. Emotional abuse often results in the victim developing anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
Sexual abuse may occur when a caretaker initiates sexual contact with the resident without their consent. Signs that sexual abuse occurred include pelvic pain, cuts or bruises, or symptoms of STDs.
Neglect occurs in nursing homes when caretakers fail, for a prolonged period of time, to address a resident’s health; this may include failing to provide a resident with food, shelter, or healthcare. Neglect can result in serious injuries to a resident, or even death. A common injury from neglect is bedsores; bedsores can occur when a person is lying in the same spot for an extended period of time and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Residents of nursing homes are often at risk of financial exploitation. Financial exploitation occurs when a caretaker illegally takes, misuses, or conceals a resident’s funds, property, or assets. Caretakers or attendants in the long-term care facility might steal a resident’s credit card or valuable property, find ways to change the resident’s will, or even prevent a resident from accessing their own money.
How Do I Know If My Loved One is Being Abused in Their Nursing Home?
While you may not see the abuse firsthand, there are signs that you can look out for that might indicate your loved one is a victim of elder abuse. Some of these warning signs include:
- Bruises or cuts
- Broken bones
- Recent depression or withdrawal from normal activities
- Poor hygiene or unusual weight loss
- Sudden change in financial situation
- Frequent arguing with a caretaker
While these may not always be signs of elderly abuse, if you notice your loved one is experiencing any of these signs, you should speak with them and their caretaker immediately. If the managers or caretakers are uncooperative or dismissive, or resist making changes to improve the conditions, you may need to rely upon someone who has handled such situations before to advocate for you and your loved one.
Should I Document the Abuse?
When speaking with your loved one about their potential elderly abuse, you should document their story. While it may be difficult to get clear answers from them—especially if they have memory lapses or dementia—this information must be diligently sought, for it may be helpful to a personal injury attorney should you choose to file a lawsuit. Some information to document includes:
- When the abuse occurred and whether it was ongoing
- How long the abuse lasted
- Who the abuser was
- Any injuries suffered
- Any medical attention sought
You should also document any other details that seem important. Photographs, video clips, witness testimony…any information that could substantiate your claim will be useful to elder abuse lawyers if you choose to file a lawsuit. If you are uncomfortable with documenting this information on your own, it may be a good idea to bring your loved one to speak with an attorney who is trained in how to to get a better understanding of what happened.
To Whom Should I Report the Abuse?
If your loved one was the victim of elderly abuse in their nursing home, report the abuse to their residence; you can do this by visiting the nursing home’s webpage to discover what the appropriate method is and who the proper authority is in the home for reporting complaints. Often, it is someone on the administrative staff of the nursing home. The nursing home may even have a formal system for filing complaints of abuse.
If you are unsure of how to navigate reporting the abuse to the nursing home, contact an elder abuse lawyer to help you. An elder abuse lawyer at Zinda Law Group can help you tell your loved one’s story, helping you to the best of our ability prevent future abusive contact in the home.
Can I Sue the Nursing Home?
Depending on the severity and circumstances surrounding your loved one’s abuse, you may be able to sue the nursing home; for example, if they hired staff who were unqualified to care for elderly residents, the nursing home owners may be held liable for any ensuing neglect or abuse. Furthermore, while each state has its own elder abuse laws, generally you can sue a nursing home anywhere for negligence. Negligence occurs when someone fails to act with the level of care that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have acted with; to prove negligence, you must show:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- That plaintiff suffered an injury.
- That plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s breach.
Personal injury lawyers are familiar with the negligence laws in their state. You should contact an attorney in the state where the nursing home is to help you determine whether you can sue the home for negligence.
In some states, the state or county prosecutor may also be able to bring a criminal case against the nursing home for abusing your loved one. Speak with a personal injury attorney to determine whether this is possible in your state, and if so, what procedures must be followed. Lastly, call Zinda Law Group and explain your case; let us see how we can help.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Receive?
A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you seek maximum compensation. In civil negligence cases, you may seek compensatory damages to compensate you for injuries. There are two types of compensatory damages: monetary and nonmonetary.
Monetary damages are those that can be calculated; these include expenses for past or future medical expenses, lost wages, and other amounts that are easily calculable. Nonmonetary damages are those that cannot be calculated. These include damages awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional injuries that do not have calculable monetary values.
You may also be able to seek punitive damages for nursing home injuries. Punitive damages are those that are intended to punish the defendant; these are only awarded if the defendant’s behavior is particularly abusive. Nursing home injury lawyers are familiar with the personal injury laws of their state and will know whether your state allows punitive damage awards.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit. This differs by state but can be as little as one year; this means that you only have one year from the time of the injury to file a lawsuit. This is very little time to seek justice, but nursing home injury lawyers may be able to help you file a claim within the statute of limitations in your state, if you contact them as quickly as you can after you discover the abuse and are eligible to bring a claim.
call zinda law group and schedule a case evaluation today
At Zinda Law Group, we understand that elder abuse in nursing homes can cause serious injuries. These injuries can be upsetting not only to the victim, but also to their family who placed them in the nursing home with expectations that they were doing what is best for their loved one.
It is true that filing a lawsuit can be expensive, but Zinda Law Group believes that no resident of a nursing home should have to pay large fees for excellent legal representation. That is why we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee, which means you will not have to pay anything unless we receive a favorable verdict, judgment, or settlement in your case.
If you or a loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312. We are happy to schedule a 100% free case evaluation with one of our best elder abuse lawyer for a time that is most convenient for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.