If you or your loved one has suffered through nursing home abuse, you deserve justice and recovery for the atrocious conduct of those who hurt you. Contact a Lexington nursing home abuse lawyer from Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP today.
Nursing home abuse and elderly abuse, in general, are more common than most people realize. Unfortunately, it often takes a personal experience to become aware of and educated about the consequences of these horrendous acts.
Every year 10 million seniors experience abuse and 3.2 million of those cases take place in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. In fact, 1 in 6 nursing home residents are victims of abuse each year and the vast majority of cases (3 out of 4) are perpetrated by caregivers.
Thankfully, there is legal recourse when it comes to nursing home abuse, whether that means holding nursing home staff criminally accountable, compensating the victims for medical costs associated with the abuse, compensating victims for emotional and other damages, or forcing nursing homes to correct or raise their standards of care.
The Lexington attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP are ready to fight for you. Give us a call right now at (859) 550-2900, fill out a contact form, or chat with us live to schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate and experienced nursing home abuse lawyers. We will do everything we possibly can to right this wrong.
Why Do I Need to Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?
Hiring an experienced Lexington personal injury attorney will help ensure your case goes as smoothly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. A nursing home abuse attorney will have extensive knowledge of the law surrounding elder abuse and nursing home regulations and will be able to independently investigate the situation and gather the evidence needed to support your claim.
When making a legal claim against a nursing home, it’s important to have someone advocating on your behalf. Most nursing homes are for-profit businesses that are highly motivated to avoid paying you any compensation, and their insurance companies are certainly working to protect their bottom line. A nursing home representative, their insurance agent, or their lawyer may contact you and ask you misleading or confusing questions designed to elicit answers that diminish your claim. Your lawyer will handle all communication with the nursing home and their representative while you focus on helping your loved one recover.
You should always consult an attorney before signing any legal documents. The nursing home’s insurance company or lawyers may offer you a settlement in order to quickly close out your case. Many plaintiffs in nursing home cases have accepted lowball settlements out of fear that they will not receive a better offer. Your attorney will have a good idea of how much compensation you can reasonably expect in your situation and will be able to advise on when to accept a settlement and when to keep negotiating.
Why Should I Choose Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP?
At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, we understand the devastating impact that nursing home abuse has on an individual and their family. Nursing homes that neglect or abuse their residents need to be held accountable, and victims deserve compensation to help them recover from the abuse. We understand that compensation cannot heal all wounds but recognize that compensation can help ease financial burdens that cause increased stress and anxiety.
Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP has been advocating for injured victims for over 125 years. We are recognized as one of the leading plaintiff’s firms in the country and have been named among the “Best Lawyers in American,” ranked in the “Leading Firms and Lawyers in America,” and are the only law firm in the state of Kentucky named in the National Law Journal’s “50 Most Elite Plaintiffs Firms in America.” We have obtained dozens of multimillion-dollar settlements for our clients, and one settlement worth over two billion dollars.
Every case is unique, but we believe that our strong track record is a reliable indicator of our determination to obtain favorable results for our clients.
We understand that many worry that hiring legal representation will be too expensive. At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, you don’t have to worry. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that you only pay for our services if you win your case, at which point we take a percentage of the overall settlement or verdict. If we don’t win, then you don’t owe us any money. This allows you to hire our firm at no financial risk to you.
We also offer a 100% free initial consultation in which you can tell us about your situation, ask questions, and we’ll get to work on your case.
Spotting Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, many cases of nursing home neglect and abuse go unreported. As individuals begin to age and become more feeble, they are often unable to stand up for themselves – either when dealing with verbal or physical abuse. Perpetrators of these types of crimes understand this and take advantage of these individuals who are in a weakened state.
It is extremely important that family members, friends, nursing home workers and supervisors, and other loved ones pay extra attention to these older Americans. Signs of nursing home abuse or neglect should be thoroughly investigated.
Because nursing home abuse takes so many different forms — both overt and subtle — it can be difficult to spot signs of the abuse, even for family members, friends or children who see their loved ones frequently. Only 1 in 14 cases are ever reported, which means incidents of nursing home abuse are actually being underestimated, despite the already outrageous figures.
If you believe your loved one may be dealing with nursing home abuse, then pay extra attention to the following signs that may indicate this to be true:
- Signs of physical abuse – This can include a number of clear physical signs including
- Unexplained broken bones, dislocations or sprains
- Bruising or scars on the body
- Rope marks
- Broken eyeglasses
- Lack of proper hygiene – Look for signs of basic hygiene such as skincare, cleanliness and whether or not the person is looking after their clothing and physical appearance. These are things that staff should be paying attention to. If something seems amiss, then it may indicate staff neglect or abuse.
- Behavior and social interactions have changed – Has your loved one lost their enthusiasm or does their personality just seem “not quite right?” This may sometimes be due to aging and adjusting to a new environment, however, when nursing home abuse occurs, it often causes the victims to withdraw and keep to themselves, whether out of shame or fear of retaliation from the perpetrators.
- Lack of financial awareness – $2.9 billion is lost every year due to financial elder abuse, which can include stolen bank information or even abuse by family members with power of attorney over the victim’s checks or income. Does your loved one seem uncertain or worried about where their money is going? Do they lack enough money to get by even though their income should be more than enough? Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of nursing home abuse and also includes “cutting corners” by nursing homes that are desperate to turn a profit (69.8% of nursing homes are for-profit businesses).
- Mental illness or substance abuse – Emotions such as fear and mistrust are not uncommon but their overall quality of life should not suffer. Nursing home residents should feel that they are able to live safely and peacefully. If they don’t, then their emotions may be a warning sign of nursing home abuse. Substance abuse can include prescription medications as well as illegal narcotics and may be a sign that the resident is trying to cope with abuse or perceived abuse. Even if abuse is not occurring, it is important for the resident to feel like they can safely ask questions and get answers on processes, routines, etc. and that they have someone they can trust to ask and answer these questions.
- Emotional or psychological abuse – When visiting a loved one at a nursing home, you may witness residents being belittled, unnecessarily controlled, or threatened by their caregiver. These can be outright signs of abuse and should be noted.
- Alzheimer’s mistreatment – Due to their loss of cognitive function and the ability to clearly communicate, Alzheimer’s patients are more susceptible to abuse in a nursing home. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can investigate your suspicions and help protect your loved one.
You or your loved one do not have to suffer nursing home abuse. The Lexington attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP will not allow the perpetrators of these crimes to go unpunished. Stop nursing home abuse now by giving us a call at (859) 550-2900 or filling out a contact form.
Common Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
When most individuals think of abuse, they often envision physical abuse. While physical abuse is often a form of nursing home abuse, the residents in these environments may be dealing with a wide variety of abuse including:
- Physical and sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Humiliating or threatening residents
- Social isolation
- Psychological abuse
- Listening to resident phone calls
- Using private information to intimidate residents
- Not allowing patients to meet with others in privacy
- Financial abuse/exploitation
- Stealing residents’ checks or bank account information
- Coercing residents into handing over financial rights
- Ignoring the content/directions in a resident’s will
- Providing below standard service
- Slow response to emergencies or urgent situations
- Failure to prevent falls
- Resident to resident abuse
Steps to Take If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you begin to suspect that nursing home abuse may be taking place, you should act quickly. We’ve listed some of the steps you should take if you are concerned about nursing home abuse:
- If there is clear abuse or you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911. Many victims of physical nursing home abuse need to be taken to the hospital or at least seen by a doctor. Calling 911 will also bring the police to the scene, which can help keep you and your loved one safe. Police can also help protect the other nursing home residents who may also be experiencing abuse. Police will make a report of what they find at the nursing home, which can be helpful later in your legal case.
- Try to stay calm. When your loved one is in a nursing home, and you worry they might be experiencing abuse, it is understandable to become angry, scared, and upset. However, it’s important to avoid confronting or engaging with the nursing home, especially any staff you suspect might be abusive. Let your lawyer handle any communication with the nursing home.
- Speak with your loved one about your concerns. You should be able to speak to them privately, and if the nursing home management prevents this, then you should report them and contact an attorney immediately. However, be aware that your loved one may be reluctant or unwilling to tell you about the abuse. They may be feeling fearful, ashamed, or simply not want to worry you.
- Take photos of anything you see that could be evidence of abuse. Obvious signs of abuse that you could document might include unsanitary living conditions or wounds on your loved one. You can also start a journal in which you document your concerns, including anything your loved one mentions to you. Mark down the date and time of your entries.
- Report the suspected abuse. Like all states, Kentucky has a form of protective services for adults. You can report the suspected abuse to Kentucky’s Adult Protection Branch of the Department of Health and Family Services by calling (800) 752-6200.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you understand your legal rights in this situation and how you can keep your loved one safe and access compensation to help you and your loved one recover from the abuse. Not only can filing an injury claim or lawsuit help you access compensation, it is important to help stop the nursing home from continuing to abuse residents. Reporting abuse does not always result in action against a nursing home, and nursing homes facing allegations of abuse often continue to operate as normal. Legal action that affects profit margins might be the most effective way to stop nursing home abuse.
Nursing Home Residents Have Rights
If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, there are laws to protect you and legal recourse to claim justice and compensation, as well as to correct the situation so that no one else has to suffer at the hands of the perpetrator.
Laws will vary from state to state but nursing home abuse victims have basic rights common to everyone, as well as special rights, such as in cases of financial exploitation.
In Kentucky, nursing home residents are entitled to a written copy of their rights under state law and the right to file a complaint directly with the state. These rights include:
- Basic rights
- Adequate food, clothing, and shelter.
- Emotional peace and a feeling of safety.
- Open communication with staff and family members.
- Privacy rights
- Meet privately with inspectors from the Kentucky Office of Inspector General or the Cabinet for Health Services.
- Privacy during medical treatment, visits, or personal/family communications.
- Right to privacy in bathrooms, multi-bed rooms, etc.
- Privacy when it comes to documents and records.
- Transfer and discharge rights
- When a nursing home closes, a resident can no longer afford to pay, and similar situations, the resident has a right to an orderly process of transfer or discharge.
- The right to self-determination
- The right to speak and be heard by the staff.
- The right to dress and conduct themselves freely as they would outside the nursing home.
- Financial rights
- Control over personal funds.
- Open accounting where nursing home expenses are regularly explained and accounted for.
- The right to turn funds over to the administrator of the resident’s estate.
- Rights against restraint and abuse
- This includes rights against excessive use of physical force as well as more subtle forms of restraint and abuse such as overmedication.
- Rights for special need residents
- Residents in need of mental health evaluation and treatment, occupational therapy, speech therapy or some other special need have rights to these services.
When these rights are violated, you or your loved one may need to seek legal intervention.
Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse Victims
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has gone to great lengths to match federal action on resident rights and apply the federal nursing home resident bill of rights to the needs of Kentucky residents.
In 2018, 43% of Kentucky’s 284 nursing homes were rated as “below average” or “much below average” by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, affecting roughly 12,500 nursing home residents. Compensation for nursing home abuse victims is not only a private matter, but it is also important for victims to come forward, be heard and ensure that their horrific experience is never repeated again in our state.
Your Lexington nursing home abuse lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP will help to secure damages that can include:
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Financial restitution where the perpetrators must pay money to the victim
- Repayment of stolen or damaged property
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Relocation or transportation expenses
- Therapy/rehabilitation services
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
- Repayment of legal fees
Whether you or your loved one has suffered physical, psychological, or financial harm, the Lexington nursing home abuse attorneys will help you to obtain full recovery for the damages you have suffered.
Call us right now at (859) 550-2900 to start on the path to recovery.
How Our Lexington Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Can Help
Whatever form nursing home abuse takes — physical, emotional, financial, psychological and otherwise — victims have options for legal action.
Elder law is more important than ever as the population ages and families depend on nursing homes to care for their loved ones.
The nursing home abuse lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP can help you and your loved ones understand Kentucky laws around nursing home abuse, gather information on perpetrators and damages, bring a lawsuit, and ultimately, ensure justice and compensation from the nursing home and its staff.
We are able to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home if:
- They failed to keep the premises safe.
- They negligently hired abusive personnel.
- They failed to properly train or supervise their employees.
- They failed to provide a clean and safe environment.
- They failed to provide adequate (and urgent) medical attention.
- They breached their duty of care.
Nursing home abuse is very serious. Do not wait to seek legal assistance. Contact us as soon as you suspect your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect.
Nursing Home Abuse and COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on nursing homes around the country. As of December 2020, over two-thirds of Kentucky’s nearly 2,400 COVID-19 deaths have been in nursing homes. However, there is increasing evidence that COVID-19 may have also increased nursing home abuse in facilities around the country. While hard statistics on elder abuse during COVID-19 don’t yet exist for the U.S., Canada has reported a tenfold increase in elder abuse during the pandemic. COVID-19 has been a breeding ground for many of the conditions that can lead to elder abuse, particularly understaffing and isolation.
Kentucky nursing homes struggled with chronic understaffing before the pandemic hit, but COVID-19 has overburdened homes already struggling with staffing shortages. In November, the A.P. reported that in 20 states with surging cases, nearly 1 in 4 nursing homes reported staff shortages, largely because staff members had tested positive or called in sick. Staff members who are at work have often become overburdened with caring for COVID-19 patients in the home.
Staffing shortages can mean that routine care goes unattended. One woman in New York reported that her mother, whose care she had been satisfied with before the pandemic, died at her care facility from dehydration, “because the staff was so consumed with caring for COVID-19 patients that no one made sure she was drinking.”
In November 2020, a nursing home expert reported that according to data collected from the 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S., for every two COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities, there was another who was not COVID-19 positive and who died prematurely of other causes. While it is uncertain how many of these deaths could be attributed to abuse and neglect, these deaths are believed to be 15% above the normal rate of nursing home fatalities.
Additionally, when comparing mortality rates at homes with high rates of COVID-19 versus homes with no reported COVID-19, researchers found that higher COVID-19 rates corresponded to a greater number of deaths with other causes. For example, in homes that had an infection rate of 3 in 10 residents, the fatality rate from other causes was double what it would normally be.
While understaffing can lead to neglect, the social isolation forced by the pandemic can make it difficult for long-term care residents to tell loved ones about abuse or neglect and can make it more difficult for families to notice signs of abuse or neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, social isolation is one of the greatest risk factors for elder abuse.
While COVID-19 has certainly put a disproportionate strain on nursing homes, your loved one still has a right to adequate care. Don’t let nursing homes use COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid your questions or concerns. If you are concerned that COVID-19 may have led to nursing home staff neglecting your loved one, you should report your concerns and hire a lawyer immediately. If you believe your loved one is in imminent danger, call 911.
Contact a Lexington Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Give us a call right now at (859) 550-2900 or fill out a contact form to talk with one of our compassionate and skilled nursing home abuse lawyers.