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    nursing home abuse victim

    Unable to care for themselves due to age or illness, many people, together with their families, make the decision to move into a nursing home in order to get the type of care and assistance they need. Sometimes nursing homes fail to provide the attention and level of treatment that they are supposed to, and in some tragic cases, residents can fall victim to physical and psychological abuse while in the nursing home.

    Because nursing home residents are some of society’s most vulnerable individuals, they can be easy targets for abuse and neglect. It is often hard for them to speak up about the mistreatment, either because they are too ill or because they are embarrassed or don’t want to cause trouble. That means it’s very important for their family members and other loved ones to keep close tabs on them, and to serve as advocates when something goes wrong.

    If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect while living in a nursing home, get help from South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers by calling Joye Law Firm. A skilled attorney can protect your loved one and recover the compensation they deserve.

    Our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers have offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, Summerville, and Columbia, but we also represent clients anywhere in South Carolina. We have clients all over the state, including Florence, Laurens County, Orangeburg, Columbia, Horry County (including Conway and North Myrtle Beach), North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Summerville.

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    About Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

    South Carolina is home to nearly 200 nursing homes and thousands of nursing home residents, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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    Federal statistics show that a quarter of all nursing homes nationwide are cited each year for causing a resident’s death or injury.

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    It is very difficult to know the true number of nursing home neglect and abuse cases because many if not most instances go unreported. One thing is clear — the problem is likely to get worse as the number of nursing home residents increases as the American population ages. According to A Place for Mom, there are over 16,000 seniors residing in nursing homes across South Carolina and over 1.3 million nationwide. The national total of residents in nursing homes is expected to reach almost 3 million by 2040, according to data from the NHCA.


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    Abuse and neglect in nursing homes are shockingly common, according to figures from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). In a survey of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44 percent reported that they had been abused and 95 percent reported that they had been neglected or seen other residents be neglected, according to the NCEA.

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    In another study cited by the NCEA, over half of nursing home staff members admitted that they had mistreated residents in the past year. Mistreatment included actions such as physical violence, mental abuse, and neglect. Another survey revealed that 17 percent of certified nursing assistants said they had pushed, grabbed, or shoved a nursing home resident.

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    Nursing Home Residents Have Legal Rights

    Nursing home residents have extensive legal protections available under both state and federal law. In South Carolina, the state’s Adult Protection law helps to support nursing home residents. At the federal level, residents are protected by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The Nursing Home Reform Act grants all nursing home residents several important legal rights, including:

    • Freedom from all forms of abuse and exploitation
    • Freedom from any form of discrimination
    • Full information regarding living arrangements
    • Reasonable participation in decisions regarding medical treatment
    • The ability to voice complaints without fear of retribution
    • The right to privacy
    • The right to make individual lifestyle decisions
    • Flexible visitation time with family members
    • The right to dignity and respect

    Nursing home residents deserve to have these rights fully respected at all times. When a facility fails to uphold the rights of its residents, abuse and neglect are likely to follow.

    Types of Legal Action in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

    If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, there are different legal avenues to pursue accountability:

    • Civil Lawsuits: The most common legal action is a civil lawsuit against the nursing home facility. This involves filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages suffered due to negligence or abuse. A civil lawsuit may seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses.
    • Criminal Charges: In the most egregious cases of nursing home abuse and neglect, criminal charges may be pursued against individual staff members or administrators. This involves reporting the matter to police and prosecutors to determine if criminal laws were violated. Criminal charges can result in fines, probation, or imprisonment.
    • Regulatory Complaints: You can file a complaint about a nursing home with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the state regulatory agency that oversees nursing home licensing and certification. The agency will investigate and can level fines or other penalties against the nursing home if violations are found. You can also contact the Office of the Ombudsman at the South Carolina Department of Administration, which can act as a facilitator in accessing government resources for your loved one.
    • Arbitration/Mediation: Some nursing home admission contracts mandate settling disputes through arbitration or mediation instead of lawsuits. Arbitration uses a private arbitrator instead of a judge. Mediation involves negotiating a settlement with the nursing home’s representatives. Consult an attorney before agreeing to these options.

    An experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney can advise you on the best legal strategies to seek justice based on the specific circumstances of your case. At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina personal injury lawyers will pursue every legal avenue to obtain full and fair compensation for nursing home residents who have suffered abuse or harm.

    We have offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, Summerville, and Columbia, but we also represent clients anywhere in South Carolina. For a free case assessment, contact us today.

    Icon South Carolina Nursing Home Neglect

    In addition to blatant, intentional abuse at the hands of their caregivers, nursing home residents can also be the victims of simple neglect. This is becoming more common as some nursing homes become understaffed or have a high turnover of underpaid and undertrained caregivers.

    Overwhelmed facilities might fail to provide residents with proper hydration and nutrition. This can be a life-threatening problem. Many residents are not able to get food or drink for themselves, or they might not even be aware of their thirst and hunger.

    Personal hygiene neglect is another serious problem. Residents might be left un-bathed in dirty clothes for hours or even days. It is also possible that soiled beds will be left unchanged, and the cleanliness of the actual facility might fall into an unsanitary condition.

    Along with the neglect of a resident’s hygiene and malnutrition, many nursing homes fail to take care of residents’ medical needs. They might fail to administer necessary medicines or treatments, and could neglect to treat cuts or other injuries that might result in infection. One of the most common outcomes of neglect is the development of bedsores or pressure ulcers. If someone is left sitting or lying in the same position for a long time, these sores can become large and deep, allowing infection to penetrate all the way to the bone.

    Nursing Home Abuse Takes Several Forms:

    • Physical Abuse: This is essentially any use of force against a vulnerable person that was not the result of an unintentional accident. South Carolina’s Omnibus Adult Protection Act gives the following examples of physical abuse: “slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching, burning.” Physical abuse can also include the inappropriate use of drugs to “chemically restrain” a patient.
    • Emotional Abuse: Nursing home personnel can inflict emotional abuse on residents by leaving them in a state of emotional distress, anxiety, or fear. They can also ignore a resident or leave the person in isolation. The South Carolina Adult Protection Act defines it as “deliberately subjecting a vulnerable adult to threats or harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior causing fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, confusion, or other forms of emotional distress.”
    • Sexual Abuse: This includes any non-consensual sexual contact between nursing home personnel and a resident. Sexual abuse in a nursing home is particularly troubling because the resident is typically incapacitated to some degree, and the staff member generally has a degree of power, authority, and dominance over them. Sexual abuse does not necessarily have to include touching. It could consist of forcing a resident to view pornography or other people’s sexual acts or forcing the resident to undress for no reason. The nursing home can also be held accountable for failing to prevent or react to resident-on-resident sexual assaults and harassment.
    • Financial Exploitation: Because many nursing home residents are lonely and looking for friends, they can become an easy target for an unscrupulous nursing home staff member who sees the resident as a source of easy money. While residents can be the victims of outright theft, they are more likely to be scammed or tricked into giving away their life savings. They are also frequently victims of identity theft and healthcare fraud, which is where a facility charges for services that are not provided, even though the resident might be in desperate need of them.

    If you suspect that your loved one is being subjected to any type of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility, don’t wait to get help. Contact a South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

    Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

    The best way to prevent your loved one from falling victim to serious neglect or abuse is to keep close tabs on them by visiting often. During your visits, you should keep an eye out for the following warning signs of abuse and neglect:

    • Untreated cuts, wounds, or sores
    • Soiled clothes or bedding
    • Signs of poor hygiene, including the smell of urine or feces
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Fearfulness or withdrawal from normal activities
    • Unexplained changes in alertness
    • Evidence of unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or injuries to the mouth, genitals, anus, or breasts
    • Distress when being changed or bathed, or fear of a certain individual
    • Bruises or abrasions
    • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding
    • Hair loss
    • Untreated bedsores
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control
    • Unusual financial transactions
    • Strange behaviors
    • Staff won’t leave you alone with the resident
    • Staff won’t let you visit the resident

    If your loved one is being neglected or abused in their nursing home, you might notice a difference in their personality and behavior. For example, if your loved one was once gregarious and talkative, they might now appear sullen and withdrawn.

    It’s also possible that when you ask them about the care they’re receiving, they might be standoffish and not want to go into detail. In some cases, nursing home residents are suffering from some form of dementia, making it even more challenging for loved ones to communicate with them.

    Every case is different, and nursing home residents can respond very differently to the mistreatment they’ve experienced. If you are wondering which next steps you should take, consider seeking legal help from experienced nursing home abuse lawyers.

    I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse, What Should I Do?

    If you believe that your vulnerable loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you need to jump into action. Even if you are not entirely sure that abuse or neglect is actually occurring, you need to take the issue seriously. It is important to note that nursing home abuse is notoriously difficult to catch. In many cases, a smoking gun will not be immediately apparent.

    You owe it to your loved one to follow up on any reasonable suspicions that there is some type of mistreatment occurring. An experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney can help you make sure that your loved one is fully protected. In cases where you believe abuse or neglect is still ongoing, you should report the issue to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). This agency has the tools available to help you put a quick stop to any issues. In cases where emergency assistance is necessary, please dial 911.

    There is no better option than 911 in emergency cases. You can never be too careful with nursing home abuse. Once the immediate threat to your loved one has been neutralized, your attorney can help you assess what legal action needs to be taken against the assisted living facility. Negligent nursing homes must be held fully accountable for any damages that they have caused. Ultimately, we put a considerable amount of faith in these facilities to care for our most vulnerable loved ones. They have a duty to provide adequate care. When they fail to live up to that duty, corrective action must be taken.

    What Type of Compensation is Available for Nursing Home Abuse Victims?

    In South Carolina, nursing home abuse victims are entitled to compensation that makes up for the full extent of their losses. You or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for:

    • Costs to relocate
    • Any medical costs related to the abuse
    • Pain and suffering
    • Legal fees
    • Lost income
    • Living expenses
    • Reimbursement for missing or damaged property
    • Therapy
    • Rehabilitation or physical therapy
    • Mental anguish and emotional distress
    • Wrongful death

    Additionally, in a very limited number of nursing home abuse cases, punitive damages may be available. Punitive damages are a form of compensation that is awarded to the victim but is not meant to make up for the victim’s losses. Instead, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the very bad actions of the defendant. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases that involve especially egregious conduct.

    What a Nursing Home Attorney Can Do for You

    Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are especially complex. It is an unfortunate fact, but abuse and neglect tend to be difficult to pinpoint. As a result, it can be challenging to hold facilities liable. The good news is that nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are standing by to help. At Joye Law Firm, we can use our skills and experience to help protect the health and safety, legal rights, and financial interests of your loved one. Specifically, your nursing home abuse lawyer will:

    • Help arrange an immediate intervention to get your loved one out of any dangerous situation.
    • Gather all evidence related to the nursing home abuse case.
    • Consult with medical experts.
    • Issues subpoenas and use other legal tools to get any information needed from the nursing home.
    • Negotiate for a full and fair settlement offer on behalf of you or your loved one.
    • If necessary, aggressively pursue litigation.
    Female nursing home patient with a walker being assisted to stand by a staff member who is out of frame.

    Experience Counts

    The South Carolina attorneys at Joye Law Firm have over 300 years of combined experience helping victims of life-changing injuries. Our lawyers have received an AV rating from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell, and several have been recognized as Super Lawyers. We also work with skilled attorneys from across the state to ensure that every client we take on gets the attention and expertise they deserve.

    While every case is different, and past results are in no way intended to imply that a similar result can be obtained in a particular case, verdicts and settlements previously obtained by a law firm are an indication of the firm’s experience when it comes to serious injury cases. For more details about the results obtained for previous Joye Law Firm clients, please visit our Results page to view past settlements, verdicts, and in-depth case studies.

    Is Nursing Home Abuse Common in South Carolina?

    Unfortunately, nursing home abuse happens across the U.S., and South Carolina is no exception. We’ve worked with clients in many communities across the state investigating cases of nursing home abuse. While the extent of known nursing abuse in South Carolina is shocking, the true scope of the problem is even more serious.

    A lack of oversight and underreporting of abuse and neglect is a major obstacle for those of us fighting to make these facilities safer for residents. A report from the U.S. Senate on this issue highlights just a few of the challenges we face in South Carolina:

    • South Carolina is among the states with the highest nursing home surveyor vacancy rates in the country, at 58%. This is significantly higher than the 29% national average vacancy rate.
    • Staffing shortages have delayed complaint investigations and annual recertification surveys in South Carolina nursing homes. Some complaints have gone unanswered for months.
    • The state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman has expressed concern that understaffing inhibits the ability to ensure safety and accountability in nursing homes.
    • The report warns inadequate oversight caused by understaffing puts nursing home residents’ health and safety at risk. It calls for increased federal and state investments in survey agencies.

    These points are a major concern for people with loved ones in nursing homes. With this lack of adequate oversight, we must do everything we can to protect nursing home residents from suffering abuse and neglect.

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    Contact a South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today

    A South Carolina nursing home abuse and neglect attorney is just a call or click away. Joye Law Firm can help you through the heartbreak that comes with the discovery that a loved one has suffered mistreatment. Respect, compassion, and care are what you can expect from our lawyers and staff. Since 1968 we have helped injured people recover not just the money they are entitled to, but also their lives.

    Let us help you, too. Call Joye Law Firm. You can reach us at (888) 324-3100 or fill out an online form for a free case review.

    We Represent Clients Anywhere in South Carolina

    Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, Summerville, and Columbia, but our nursing home abuse attorneys are ready to take care of your case anywhere in South Carolina.

    This includes but is not limited to:

    • Lowcountry: Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, Bamberg, Orangeburg, and Calhoun counties.
    • Midlands: Barnwell, Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, Saluda, Richland, Kershaw, Fairfield, Newberry, Lancaster, Chester, and York counties.
    • Upstate: Cherokee, Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, Laurens, Abbeville, Greenwood, McCormick, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties.
    • Pee Dee: Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg counties.
    • Grand Strand: Horry and Georgetown counties.

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