The day that you realize your parent or grandparent needs more care than you can provide is never easy. Even worse is learning that their nursing home has harmed them. We know that you don’t take suspicions of physical, financial, sexual, or mental abuse lightly, and neither do we. A Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer is ready to speak with you at no cost.
If your family member was subjected to abuse, neglect, or any other form of preventable harm while living in an assisted living facility, Thomas Law Offices is here to help. We are passionate about serving residents of the Chicagoland area and beyond.
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Nursing Home Abuse Statistics in Illinois
In 2018, there were 52.4 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States. By 2040, authorities expect that figure to hit 80 million.
With an estimated 21% of our nationwide population predicted to be made up of elderly adults in just a few short decades, we must first understand the current state of nursing home abuse and neglect if we want to be able to protect our most vulnerable friends and family in the future.
Let’s look at both Illinois and nationwide elder abuse statistics:
- 10% (or one in 10) of older adults living in community care facilities have experienced some form of abuse
- Experts estimate that psychological abuse is the most common form of abuse
- Women tend to face higher rates of elder abuse than men
- Illinois’ Adult Protective Services (APS) received “20,567 reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation” between July 2020 and June 2021
- 8 million older adults called Illinois home in 2018—22% of our state’s population and higher than the current national average
Most Report Forms of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
In descending order, the following 8 types of abuse and neglect were the most reported to APS:
- Financial exploitation
- Emotional abuse
- Passive neglect
- Physical abuse
- Willful deprivation
- Sexual abuse
Victims are often subjected to more than one type of abuse at a time. For example, APS notes that those who face financial exploitation are also at a simultaneous higher risk for emotional abuse.
Put an End To Nursing Home Abuse With Thomas Law Offices
Thomas Law Offices is a multi-state law firm with access to nationwide resources and a focus on helping at the local level. Our Chicago clients are important to us, and what they’re going through matters.
We are proud to have helped countless individuals and families seek justice for abuse and neglect that has occurred in Illinois nursing homes.
Below, you’ll find just a few examples of the successes our nursing home abuse attorneys have had:
- Wrongful death nursing home neglect and abuse verdict – $5 million
- Nursing home negligence verdict for wrongful discharge – $2.2 million
- Nursing home neglect and abuse (pressure wound) – Confidential settlement
If your loved one suffered mental harm, developed life-threatening injuries, or died because of the abusive and neglectful actions of a nursing home facility, you may have the right to pursue legal action on their behalf.
The legal team at Thomas Law Offices will provide you with unrivaled support and guidance. Contact us today, and we’ll start your journey with a completely free consultation.
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in Chicago
Don’t wait to make a report if you suspect nursing home abuse is occurring at your loved one’s care facility. You can report suspected nursing home abuse or neglect by:
- Reporting your concerns directly to nursing home staff members
- Calling the Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Hotline at 1-800-252-4343 or at 1-800-547-0466 for teletypewriter (TTY)
- Calling the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services at 312-744-4016
- Calling the Illinois Department on Aging Help Line at 1-866-800-1409
- Filing a complaint online at the Illinois Department of Public Health website
You don’t need to have concrete evidence of abuse to file a complaint. However, when you make the complaint, do your best to provide as much information as possible on your elderly family member, the assisted living facility, and the reasons for your suspicions.
Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Entrusting a nursing facility with the care of your loved one is not easy. But you’ve done your research, reviewed Medicare’s nursing home find and compare tool, toured facilities, and finally settled on the place you believe is best equipped to provide care and medical treatment.
Your job doesn’t end there, though.
Nursing home abuse victims generally have limited options for getting the help they need. Family members often serve as the first line of defense in these situations. If you can identify and recognize some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, you can be ready to step in when your loved one needs help the most.
- Bedsores (pressure ulcers)
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Dirty, stained, or threadbare bed linens
- Dirty clothes, or clothing that is inappropriate for the weather or temperature
- Constant or repeated infections
- Broken bones or fractures
- Head injuries (including traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs)
- Elopement (leaving the nursing facility without permission, supervision, or knowledge of the staff)
- Dirty or cluttered living spaces or surroundings
- Torn or stained undergarments
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained injuries
- Missing or mismanaged medication
- Worsening physical or emotional state
- Depression or anxiety
- Rapid loss of mobility
- Poor personal hygiene
- Bedwetting or incontinence
- Refusal to participate in preferred activities or hobbies
- Missing items of value
- New authorized users on bank accounts
- Missing funds
If you notice any of the above signs of emotional, financial, sexual, or physical harm in your loved one, make a report right away.
Keep in mind that you know your loved one better than anyone else. Even if you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, don’t be afraid to report suspected nursing home abuse—it could save their life.
The Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are two different things.
Nursing home abuse cases handle allegations of direct harm that occurred at the hands of staff or, in some cases, other residents. This harm may involve physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse.
Nursing home neglect cases involve holding medical professionals responsible for their inaction or lack of care. Failing to provide timely medical care or allowing a resident’s condition to worsen without intervention falls under the umbrella of neglect.
It is entirely possible for Illinois nursing homes to be subject residents to both nursing home abuse and neglect.
If you suspect that your loved one is being purposely harmed while their basic needs are also left unmet, get in touch today. We’ll help you take immediate action to ensure the safety of your family member.
The Different Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
The typical nursing home resident may be at risk for:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional/mental abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
Just a few examples of the ways that these forms of abuse can show up include:
- Hitting, kicking, or punching
- Physical or chemical restraint
- Verbally berating a patient
- Calling residents names or swearing at them
- Making unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts
- Stealing items of value
- Unwanted touching of breasts or genitals
You don’t need to have proof that your loved one is being harmed. You can make a report or to speak with a lawyer even if you’re not sure what’s going on. If you’re ready to launch an investigation into the safety and well-being of a family member, a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer from Thomas Law Offices has the experience, background, and practical knowledge needed to help.
The Different Types of Neglect in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are chronically understaffed. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) report that as many as 94% of nursing homes have staffing shortages.
This means that there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nursing assistants, administrators, housekeepers, dieticians, or other staff members to keep these facilities running smoothly. When there aren’t enough workers, nursing home patients and their needs can (and do) fall through the cracks.
Neglect can manifest as:
- Medication errors
- Failing to tell a doctor about an illness or injury
- Leaving a resident alone or unattended for long periods of time
- Ignoring a patient’s complaints
- Failing to provide regular baths or other personal hygiene services (like teeth cleaning or hair brushing)
- Failing to provide clean clothes and bedding
This is far from a complete list of all the ways that neglect can occur in a nursing home setting. If you believe that your loved one’s medical, physical, or emotional needs are being ignored or neglected, don’t wait—speak with a Chicago nursing home lawyer about what actions you can take today.
What To Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Is Being Abused in Their Nursing Home
There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of your parent, grandparent, or other family member. If you suspect abuse is happening in their nursing home, we encourage you to take action now.
After you’ve made a report to one of the agencies we listed above, we encourage you to take the next step of meeting with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Even if you don’t intend to take legal action, we strongly believe that each and every family in Chicago has the right to know what their options are. Without this knowledge, you can’t make a fully informed decision about how to move forward.
Should I File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
Should I file a nursing home abuse lawsuit? There is no easy answer to this question.
Nursing home abuse cases are complex, and we do not take the handling of them lightly. Your loved one’s health, safety, well-being, financial stability, and dignity are all on the line—and you want to make the right choice.
Without first meeting and discussing the details of what happened, we cannot say with any certainty whether you and your family members should move forward with a nursing home abuse or wrongful death lawsuit.
What we can say, however, is that you should have access to information before you decide what to do. We invite you to schedule a completely free consultation with the legal team at Thomas Law Offices. Our personal injury lawyers will walk you through your rights under the law.
How Does Thomas Law Offices Help Chicago Families?
Thomas Law Offices is a top-rated law firm serving the Chicago area. We have earned a reputation as being an uncompromising legal advocate for our clients.
Because at our law office, clients always come first.
You can expect your nursing home abuse lawyer to:
- Conduct an in-depth and comprehensive investigation of the claim, determining what abuse took place and who was responsible.
- Identify, collect, preserve, and analyze evidence that is needed to support the claim.
- Correctly value the worth of your loved one’s losses, including their medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more.
- Guide you through the process of filing a nursing home abuse claim, providing uncompromising support throughout the entire process.
We take our role as attorneys seriously. As we investigate and collect evidence to prove nursing home abuse claims, we do so with as much compassion, sensitivity, and dedication as is needed.
State and Federal Regulations Protecting Nursing Home Residents
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are regulated at both the federal and state level. This means that nursing home patients are protected by multiple layers of laws and regulatory actions.
In a perfect world, these laws would be enough to protect residents from physical and verbal abuse, financial exploitation, and sexual harm. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. Which is why we instead rely on showing how these rules were violated when building nursing home abuse claims.
Federal Laws Applicable to Nursing Homes
- 483 of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations addresses requirements for long-term care facilities in the United States. This is an extensive piece of legislature that addresses everything from:
- 483.5 – sprinkler systems
- 483.10 – resident rights
- 483.12 – right to live a life free “from abuse, neglect, and exploitation”
Under this law, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, and all staff have a responsibility to “prohibit and prevent abuse.”
Illinois State Laws Applicable to Nursing Homes
Illinois nursing homes are regulated at the state level by 210 ILCS 45, also known as the Nursing Home Care Act.
- 2-101 clearly states that “no resident shall be deprived of any rights, benefits, or privileges guaranteed by State or federal law…solely on account of his or her status as a resident of a facility.”
So what does this mean? Your loved one doesn’t suddenly lose any rights just because they are a resident of a nursing home.
Rights of Chicago Nursing Home Residents
The rights of nursing home residents in the Chicagoland area are enshrined in both federal and state law. This means that your family member has the right to:
- Not be abused, neglected, or exploited
- Make their own choices
- Participate in their own medical care
- Be treated with dignity and respect
- Have equal access to quality care
- A clean, comfortable, safe, homelike environment
- Be free from chemical and physical restraints
- Participate in creating a person-centered care plan
- Be informed of changes to care plans
- Choose their own doctor
- Request, discontinue, or refuse medical treatment
- Access complete information about their medical condition
- Choose activities and personal schedules
- Privacy and confidentiality of their personal and medical records
- View medical records within 24 hours of a request
- Move out of the facility
- Private visits with friends and family members
- Ask a visitor to leave
- Receive mail in a timely and prompt manner
- Share a room with their spouse
- Manage their own finances
- Access and review their financial records at any time
- Keep and wear their own clothing
- Keep and use their own property
- Apply for Medicare or Medicaid services to pay for care
This is an incomplete list of all rights a nursing home patient has. A complete list has been provided by the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Nursing Home Abuse Frequently Asked Questions
Does nursing home abuse always end in visible injuries? Can we handle a sexual abuse case outside of court? Are nursing home employees personally liable for abuse and neglect?
We know that you have dozens of questions, and you might be feeling like there’s nowhere to turn for answers. During this difficult period of your life, the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers of Thomas Law Offices are here for you.
How Long Do I Have To Sue a Chicago Nursing Home?
Whether you’re considering suing for abuse or filing a nursing home negligence lawsuit, you only have a limited amount of time to do so. The statute of limitations (meaning the legal time limit) to file this type of lawsuit is only two years.
If a family member suffered abuse, don’t wait to meet with a law firm. The sooner you learn about your rights, the sooner you’ll be able to make a decision about how to hold the nursing home responsible.
Are Residents Safe in Nursing Homes?
On Medicare’s Find and Compare website, of the 220 nursing homes located in and within 25 miles of Chicago, only 30 are rated as five stars—the highest score a facility can earn. On the other end, 80 earned only one star.
And unfortunately, a nursing home resident can be subjected to emotional, sexual, financial, or physical abuse in any facility, whether it’s rated as five stars or just one. Elder abuse does not discriminate. Your loved one isn’t immune to mistreatment just because Medicare rated their nursing home highly.
How Much Do Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Charge?
Securing the services of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney shouldn’t come down to your financial resources. That’s why the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Thomas Law Offices believe so strongly in providing representation on a contingency fee basis.
This means that we don’t require any upfront payment from the clients that we work with. Instead, we operate on a “no win, no fee” basis. You only pay our legal fees as a small percentage of your overall award if we win your case for you.
As a law firm, this approach allows us to help people from all financial backgrounds and walks of life.
Legal Options if a Loved One Suffered Nursing Home Abuse
No one should ever be forced to endure mistreatment at the hands of those who have been entrusted with their care.
You have legal options if your loved one was abused, neglected, exploited, or otherwise harmed by the staff or facility that you trusted to care for them. Once you’ve reported the abuse to the facility and appropriate authorities, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer.
During your no-cost meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about your legal rights in this situation, and whether filing an elder abuse lawsuit on behalf of your loved one might be appropriate.
Compensation for Victims Who Have Been Hurt by Nursing Homes
If you decide to move forward with a legal claim, the goal of your actions will be twofold:
- To hold the at-fault party (or parties) liable for the harm they caused, and
- To recover compensation on behalf of your loved one.
We can categorize compensation secured through a nursing home abuse lawsuit as:
Compensatory damages make up for all the ways that abusers harmed a victim. This may include economic and noneconomic damages for:
- Medical bills
- Cost of moving to another facility
- Pain and suffering
- Development of new disability
- Worsening of existing medical condition
- Mental anguish
- Finances lost to exploitation
Much rarer are punitive damages, which judges only ever award when there is “clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was with evil motive or with a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and with a conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others.”
Meet With a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Free
Every nursing home resident in the state of Illinois deserves to live their final years with dignity, respect, and a sense of safety. Abuse, neglect, and exploitation in any form rob them of this right.
Whether your loved one was injured by medication errors or endured months of abuse, we’re here to help.
To speak with a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer at no cost to you or your family, fill out our online intake form or call our office. We’ll schedule you for a meeting at a time and date that works best for you.