When we have an elderly family member who is unable to live by themselves and we cannot give them the care they need, placing them in a nursing home is sometimes the only viable option. Choosing to place a loved one in a Missouri nursing home or long term care facility isn’t a simple decision. One thing that can make that decision easier is the reassurance that they will be properly taken care of and remain safe.
Unfortunately, that reassurance isn’t guaranteed. Long term care facility nurses and employees have a legal responsibility to keep residents healthy and safe from harm, but this duty is sometimes pushed aside due to facility understaffing or budgetary concerns. Both factors can lead to negligence or elder abuse when staff members are not properly trained, supervised, or given the time to properly care for every resident.
When a nursing home fails their duty to keep our loved one safe or evidence points in the direction of abuse or neglect, we have a right to relocate our loved one to a safer environment as well as file a personal injury lawsuit against the guilty individual or facility. A successful nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit can help a family recover—both financially and emotionally—from a tragedy that shouldn’t have occurred as well as help keep other residents safe.
To learn more about filing a lawsuit in the state of Missouri, you’ll need to contact a Columbia, MO nursing home abuse lawyer if you’re in the Columbia area. Nursing home claims are incredibly complex, but with the right type of legal aid, you and your family can gain peace of mind. First, let’s go over some facts about nursing home abuse and neglect and how it commonly occurs.
Defining Nursing Home Abuse and Its Various Forms
Elder abuse and elder neglect are two different acts which both place a nursing home resident at the peril of its staff members. Both are often intertwined and exhibit many of the same symptoms.
There are also multiple types of abuse. Here’s a broad overview of the most common types of nursing home abuse and some of the symptoms which are often exhibited:
Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse seen in nursing homes across the U.S. and in Missouri. It occurs when employees mistreat or mishandle residents by hitting/kicking them, bodily forcing them to do things, or improperly restraining them. Most symptoms tend to take the form of bruises, broken limbs, lacerations, or restraint marks.
Emotional and/or Mental Abuse
Not every type of abuse is physical. Emotional or mental abuse generally takes the form of verbal or non-verbal actions that cause a resident to feel afraid, anxious, or uncharacteristically depressed or withdrawn. Staff members may insult residents, humiliate them, berate them, or excessively ignore them. Common symptoms include a withdrawn nature or visible signs of fear or anxiety—especially around particular staff members.
Nursing home neglect occurs when a resident does not receive the care they require. This may take the form of a staff member who fails to provide medical/hygiene care or when a facility doesn’t offer the correct nutritional requirements to keep a resident healthy. Failing to properly supervise a resident and protect them from wandering and harming themselves (often referred to as elopement) also counts.
Symptoms of neglect may include anything from poor hygiene to bed sores, infections, restraint marks, malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, bruising or other evidence from falls, or over-sedation/medication. Unclean, unsanitary, or otherwise poor conditions in a nursing home may also point to neglect.
Sexual abuse occurs when a resident is forced to take part in unconsented sexual acts or forced photography. Symptoms may take the form of physical bruises or other signs of sexual assault.
In a situation where a nursing home resident still has control over his or her finances, financial abuse may occur if a staff member steals money from the resident or attempts to perform bank/credit card fraud.
There’s a very fine line between elder neglect and abuse. Many acts may result in criminal charges. When a nursing home abuse or neglect claim is filed against an individual or institution, that claim is separate from any criminal charges that may already be in place. Lawsuits are civil claims that give citizens and their families a way to recover compensation for their suffering.
The Basics of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Law
According to statistics, there are over 40 million people in the United States above the age of 65. Many will need some form of assisted living whether it comes in the form of a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other type of long term care institution.
Under U.S. law, all nursing home residents have legal rights. These rights are part of a new resident’s contract and are offered upon admittance. In the state of Missouri, long term care facility residents have the following rights:
- To be free from mental and physical abuse;
- To be informed of their medical condition;
- To select their own physician;
- To participate in planning their care;
- To refuse treatment;
- To voice grievances;
- To be treated with respect and dignity; and
- To have treatments provided in privacy.
If these rights are ever violated, this is also grounds for a lawsuit.
Get Help from a Missouri Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If at any time you feel your elderly loved one’s rights have been violated in a nursing home or witness any of the above symptoms, you should immediately call Missouri’s elder abuse hotline. You will receive assistance with relocating your loved one to a safe environment.
After that, it’s in your best interest to consider contacting a Columbia, MO nursing home abuse lawyer. Hiring a lawyer ensures that no one else is harmed or suffers at the hands of the same staff member(s) who abused or neglected your loved one. Lawsuits are powerful, impactful messages that even the wealthiest of corporations can’t ignore.
At the Thomas Law Offices, we will do whatever we can to help your family through a difficult time. Working together, we can obtain justice on behalf of your loved one and keep future generations safe. Give our law office a call to learn more.