Many South Carolinians rely on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to care for their elderly loved ones. But when residents experience nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s heartbreaking to learn that trust was misplaced. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates one in 10 Americans over 60 has experienced some form of abuse. And by 2030, the percentage of people over 65 who need nursing home care will increase 50 percent.
At their best, nursing homes provide compassionate and professional treatment for those who need help caring for themselves. Unfortunately, some nursing homes and assisted living facilities are more concerned with cutting costs and boosting profits than doing what is best for their residents. Many vulnerable residents suffer preventable injuries and intentional harm or exploitation by staff members every year.
The North Charleston injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm have zero tolerance for the mistreatment of our elderly neighbors. Reach out to us immediately if you or someone close to you is a victim of elder abuse in a North Charleston nursing home.
Our team has over 250 years of combined legal experience standing up for injured people. We take a personal interest in every family we represent. Contact us now for a free case review with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.
What is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing home abuse occurs when residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities suffer physical, psychological, or financial harm due to caregivers’ negligent or intentional actions. Neglect happens when caregivers purposely or carelessly fail to provide residents with appropriate levels of care and attention.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms, and these unthinkable acts often go unchecked because residents are unable, unwilling, or afraid to speak out.
Examples of abuse in nursing homes include:
- Physical abuse – Striking, beating, kicking, or causing bodily harm to a resident constitutes physical abuse. In some cases, physical abuse also includes confining or restraining a resident against their will.
- Emotional abuse – Emotional abuse is challenging to detect. Caregivers may inflict psychological harm by intimidating, threatening, isolating, humiliating, or verbally attacking residents.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse commonly affects vulnerable residents incapable of comprehending, consenting, or resisting sexual contact. Examples of sexual abuse include non-consensual touching, penetration, or exposure.
- Financial exploitation – Residents frequently suffer financial exploitation in the form of stolen valuables, miscellaneous charges, and identity theft.
- Neglect or abandonment – Neglect occurs when residents do not receive the appropriate food, hydration, clothing, hygiene, social interaction, or medical care they need. Abandonment happens when caregivers desert residents in need of assistance.
What Does Elder Abuse Look Like?
Nursing home abuse and neglect can be challenging to spot. Data suggests that for every case of elder abuse reported to the authorities, another 24 cases go unreported. Victims may feel too terrified or ashamed to speak up. Another segment of the population may be unable to report the abuse due to physical disabilities, cognitive impairments, or trouble verbalizing their needs.
Look for these potential signs of elderly abuse in nursing homes:
- A resident’s sudden or unusual inability to look after their health or wellness
- The disappearance or sudden lack of external communication from a resident
- Physical signs of injury, such as unexplained bruises, cuts, or fractures
- Visible signs of inappropriate restraints, such as red marks around wrists and hands
- Bedsores, infections, unexplained accidents, and other signs of neglect
- A disheveled, dirty, malnourished, or disoriented appearance
- Unusual anxiety, depression, aggression, fear, agitation, insomnia, or withdrawal
- Difficulty speaking or communicating, especially with caregivers present
- A sudden or unexpected decline in cognitive faculties, self-care, or self-esteem
- Newly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or injuries in intimate areas
- Missing valuables and strange financial transactions or estate planning changes
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
The specific causes of nursing home abuse and neglect differ on a case-by-case basis. However, one common thread in many nursing home abuse cases is a general lack of proper resources and/or management. Predictably, facilities that fail or refuse to focus on quality care are more likely to have high rates of resident abuse and neglect.
Common contributing factors in North Charleston nursing home abuse cases include:
- Understaffing – Nursing home staff members should collaborate to provide quality care for residents. But understaffing is a problem for many U.S. facilities. When nursing homes are understaffed, employees lack the support they need to fulfill their responsibilities, and burnout can further contribute to abuse and neglect.
- Lack of training – Even a fully-staffed nursing home can be an unsafe environment when workers lack the training, education, or experience to do their jobs. Improper staff training impacts residents’ quality of life and may be considered nursing home neglect.
- Underpaid staff – One of the most common ways nursing homes cut costs is to pay staff members as little as possible. When employees are paid the bare minimum to provide essential services to vulnerable adults, they can feel undervalued and unmotivated, which often leads to lower standards of care.
- Poor management – Most nursing homes are privately-owned facilities that are only as trustworthy as their leadership. If nursing home administrators or nurse supervisors do not set high standards or hold staff members accountable, it can foster an environment where abuse and neglect can happen.
- Rogue actors – In some cases, nursing home abuse and neglect occur even in well-managed and fully-staffed facilities with trained personnel. All it takes is one person who decides to engage in unthinkable behavior for their own motivations. A rogue actor may commit abuse, neglect, or exploitation due to personal issues like stress, financial troubles, or mental illness.
An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can investigate your case and take steps to protect your loved one if you believe they are victims of abuse.
What to Do if a Relative at a Nursing Home Has Unexplained Injuries
When visiting your loved one, you may have noticed unexplained injuries or behavioral changes, such as increased agitation in the presence of a nursing home staff member. These may indicate nursing home abuse or neglect, even if your relative cannot verbalize precisely what happened. Another warning sign may be if a nursing home staff member does not want to leave you alone with your loved one.
You should address any initial concerns with the nursing supervisor or home administrator. If you speak to an administrator in person, you should follow up with a letter, putting your concerns in writing. Keep a copy of the letter.
The nursing home administrator should be responsive to your concerns because the nursing home has a legal duty to provide for your loved one’s care and well-being. If you are dissatisfied with the response and believe your loved one is in immediate jeopardy, call the police. You should also contact an attorney at Joye Law Firm to seek guidance and discuss your legal options.
We will review the specific details of your loved one’s treatment and evaluate whether you have a valid claim for neglect or abuse. If a nursing home resident has been harmed physically, emotionally, or through financial exploitation, they may be entitled to compensation for their suffering. Family members could also recover compensation to make up for the expense of treating a loved one’s injuries. We work to stop harmful or negligent behavior and hold those responsible accountable.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help
The trusted nursing home abuse lawyers working with Joye Law Firm can help you seek justice by:
- Explaining your rights and the laws that apply to your case
- Conducting an independent investigation into the nursing home to uncover valuable evidence, interview witnesses, and identify liable parties
- Communicating with facility administrators and other parties on your behalf
- Managing essential case documents
- Meeting all filing deadlines
- Negotiating aggressively to maximize your compensation in a settlement or nursing home abuse lawsuit
The steps you take to hold a negligent nursing home accountable cannot undo the harm your relative suffered, but it could prevent the same abuse from happening to others and provide a measure of closure and financial support moving forward.
When is a Nursing Home Liable for Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and their staff members have a legal and ethical duty to provide residents with appropriate standards of care. A nursing home or its employees may be liable for elder abuse or neglect if:
- Administrators fail to properly screen, monitor, or train staff members.
- Administrators fail to ensure adequate staffing levels or security.
- Staff members fail to provide necessities like food, water, or medication.
- Healthcare workers fail to address bedsores, infections, or other health issues.
- Employees fail to protect residents from falls or other safety hazards.
- Staff members intentionally abuse, exploit, restrain, or neglect residents.
Understanding who may be held liable in your case requires an in-depth investigation by a knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer.
Types of Compensation Available in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
With a successful nursing home abuse or neglect case, you may be entitled to compensation for personal and financial losses like:
- Hospital bills and any other medical expenses related to the abuse or neglect
- Incidental expenses, such as the cost of traveling to medical appointments
- Lost wages from any time family members missed at work to care for residents
- The costs of repairing or replacing stolen valuables or money, if theft occurred
- Subjective costs, such as pain, suffering, and lost quality or enjoyment of life
Get in Touch with Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys in North Charleston
The North Charleston injury lawyers of Joye Law Firm have been protecting the rights of South Carolinians for more than 50 years. We work aggressively to recover fair compensation for deserving clients who have been injured by the negligent and wrongful acts of others. Call or contact us today to learn how a nursing home abuse attorney can help.