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More than 40 million people aged 65 and older live in the United States and by 2030, senior citizens are expected to make up more than 20 percent of the country's population.
This means that more and more people will be placed in nursing homes. While many nursing homes treat their residents with dignity, nursing home abuse remains a significant problem impacting the elderly people living in these facilities:
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse
- A study by Cornell University found that only one out of every 25 abuse cases are reported
- The same study found that more than 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to abusing or neglecting patients
At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, we find this unacceptable. Your elderly loved ones deserve respect. If they are abused or neglected, they deserve justice. Here is a quick guide to recognizing nursing home abuse and pursuing a case against it.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse broadly falls into four categories:
- Physical abuse: look for unexplained injuries like bruises and broken bones
- Emotional abuse: signs include fearful behavior, anxiety, unexplained mood and personality changes, and withdrawal from social life
- Sexual abuse: signs include diagnosis of unexplained sexually transmitted diseases and bruising near the genital region
- Financial abuse: look for unexplained financial transactions, missing property, and changes in your relative’s financial situation
What Are The Differences Between Abuse And Neglect?
Neglect differs from abuse in that it can be unintentional. Often, neglect is a symptom of other problems at the nursing home, such as understaffing and poor staff training. But that doesn't make it acceptable, or any less damaging to your loved one.
Signs of neglect include:
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Unsanitary conditions
How Do I File A Lawsuit Against A Nursing Home For Abuse Or Neglect?
If you suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected at their nursing home, your first step is hiring a lawyer. The attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter will investigate your claim and any relevant medical records. If there's a case, we'll file the lawsuit on your loved one’s behalf.
Next comes a process called discovery. We will request documents and depose witnesses, and the attorneys representing the nursing home will do the same. After discovery, the lawsuit can enter mediation, which is a process where our lawyers try to negotiate a settlement with the nursing home. If the settlement offers from the nursing home are unacceptable, we'll go to trial.
How Is The Case Proven At Trial?
As the party that is bringing the lawsuit, we have the burden of proving the claims against the nursing home. Typically, we'll be required to prove that:
- The nursing home had a duty of care to your loved one
- The nursing home breached its duty by doing something it shouldn't have done, or by not doing something it should have done
- Your loved one suffered harm as a result
What Kind Of Damages Can My Loved One Receive?
Your loved one can be awarded two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are designed to recompense your loved one for abuse and neglect. They include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills
The court may also award punitive damages on top of compensatory damages to punish the nursing home and hopefully prevent the abuse from happening to someone else.
How Are Damages Proven?
The strategy used to prove damages depends on the type of injury your loved one suffered. Physical abuse caused by nursing home staff is typically easier to prove, because physical injuries leave a trail of medical records as they're treated.
Mental and emotional injuries are more difficult to prove, and the evidence required to do so varies with every case. That makes it critical to document everything as completely as possible. Items that will be helpful in documenting emotional abuse include:
- Diaries kept by your loved one
- Notes of conversations with nursing home staff
- Notes of observations of changes in your loved one's physical or emotional state
Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter Can Help
We have extensive expertise handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases, and we have helped many nursing home abuse victims in the Orlando area receive lucrative verdicts and settlements.
Your elderly loved ones are vulnerable, and by placing them in a nursing home you're entrusting that facility with your loved one's wellbeing. If the nursing home violates that trust, we are dedicated to holding them accountable for their negligent actions.In addition to providing your loved one with the help and support they need, we hope these efforts will also serve as a deterrent to future abuse so that other elderly individuals can avoid this tragic experience.
If you think your loved one is suffering abuse or neglect at their nursing home, call our Orlando lawyers at (855) 889-4741 to schedule a free consultation today.We serve clients in Orlando and the surrounding areas of Florida.