How Can You Detect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
In many cases, you won’t be able to know for sure if your loved one has been abused or neglected until after there has been a thorough investigation into the case.
Neglect and abuse of the elderly happens every day and can be physical, emotional or simple negligence.
North Carolina’s Aging Population
In 2014, there were nearly 23,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable older adults received by North Carolina’s 100 county departments of social services, according to the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.
North Carolina’s is undergoing a big change as the state’s 2.4 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 enter retirement. By the year 2025, 90 of North Carolina’s 100 counties will have more people ages 60 and older than young people ages 0 to 17, according to the N.C. State Data Center estimate.
Wake County is projected to experience a 156 percent increase in its population of seniors in the next two decades.
A North Carolinian who is 70-74 year has an average life expectancy of 15 additional years, according to the N.C. Center for Health Statistics. Many older people will need long-term care when they can no longer live independently. Older adults have a right to live with dignity and safety
However, the National Center on Elder Abuse says that certain signs may indicate that abuse or neglect is occurring and prompt you to take action. These signs include:
- Physical abuse marked by bruises, cuts and burns
- Emotional abuse reflected in sudden depression or withdrawal from usual activities
- Sexual abuse indicated by bruising around the breasts or genital area
- Financial abuse marked by unexplained bounced checks or unpaid bills
- Neglect that can be seen in uncleanliness, bed sores or injuries that are not addressed.
It may break your heart to see your loved one mistreated in a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, you should know that you can take steps that will stop the abuse or neglect. You can also seek to hold the wrongdoers financially responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?
Many parties can be held accountable for the neglect or abuse of a loved one in a nursing home. These parties include:
- Staff members who have intentionally harmed your loved one or neglected to provide a reasonable level of care
- Supervisors who should properly train and manage staff members who are charged with caring for your loved one
- The owners and operators of the facility.
In many cases, an individual nursing home is part of a large chain of facilities that are owned and operated by a major corporation. You will need assistance from a law firm that has the skill, experience and the resources to take on a large corporate entity.
What Can You Recover in a Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect Lawsuit?
If your loved one is unable to bring a lawsuit against those responsible for harming him or her in a nursing home, you may be able to pursue a claim as your loved one’s legal representative. The amount you may seek in such a claim will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of misconduct that is alleged and the extent of injuries your loved one has suffered. A personal injury lawsuit in a nursing home abuse / neglect case typically will seek to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress.
If your loved one died as the result of the nursing home’s misconduct, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim that asserts additional damages. Ultimately, punitive damages – designed to punish and deter wrongful conduct – may be sought as well. In fact, punitive damages may be especially appropriate in a nursing home abuse / neglect case. If awarded in a settlement or verdict, these damages can send a strong message and help to protect nursing home residents in the future from suffering harm.
Talk with a North Carolina Lawyer about Your Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect Case
The lawyers of Hardison & Cochran believe that nursing home abuse and neglect victims need someone to be a voice for them and stand up for their rights. We are here to lend passionate legal assistance to those who take action to protect their loved ones. We serve victims and families throughout North Carolina. Contact us today and get started on seeking the relief you and your loved one deserve.