The decision to place your loved one in the care of a nursing home facility is never easy, but is often a move made out of care and love. No matter how much we might want to keep a parent or grandparent at home, the average person does not have the requisite medical knowledge or experience to care for an aging family member. Sadly, the trust that we place in nursing facilities is sometimes misplaced. If your loved one was harmed by their nursing home or you suspect nursing home abuse, contact Thomas Law Offices today to speak with a Lexington nursing home abuse lawyer.
We know that there is only a limited amount of time to take action against an assisted living facility that caused harm to its elderly residents. Not only does Kentucky state law impose a one-year statute of limitations on such claims, but the lifespan of nursing home abuse victims is often shortened by what they have suffered.
You have the power to help your loved one and put a stop to nursing home abuse, and Thomas Law Offices is here to guide you through this process. When you contact our Lexington, KY office, we’ll schedule you for a free case evaluation. During this meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a nursing home abuse attorney. We’ll discuss what legal action is at your disposal, and how you can help your loved one recover compensation for their related medical expenses and other financial, physical, and emotional damages.
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Elder Abuse in Kentucky Nursing Homes
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services collects data on elder abuse in our state. The following data was collected on adults aged 60 and older by CFHS from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020:
- Adult protective services received 23,766 calls about suspected nursing home abuse, a 54% increase from the same period the year before.
- Adult protective services determined that 9.46% of calls met the criteria for an investigation.
- 2,032 calls that met criteria involved neglect by a caretaker.
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in Lexington, KY
State law mandates the reporting of nursing home neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation. Despite this, abuse in nursing home facilities often goes undetected and unreported. Never shy away from reporting abuse. If you suspect elder abuse is occurring in a nursing facility, you may make a report by:
- Calling CHFS at 1-877-597-2331
- Filling out an online form at CHFS’s website
- Calling the Office of the Inspector General at 1-877-228-7384
If you suspect abuse, take decisive action to report the nursing facility to the proper authorities. Do not worry if you only have a suspicion—it is up to Adult Protective Services to determine whether reports are substantiated or not. After reporting your suspicions, we also recommend scheduling a free consultation with a Lexington nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your options for legal recourse.
The Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Nursing home neglect and abuse are often used interchangeably. However, these are two distinct forms of mistreatment that can occur in nursing homes, and it is important to differentiate between the two when pursuing a civil claim.
Nursing Home Neglect
Neglect occurs when a nursing home resident does not receive the proper care they require. This is often the result of nursing home staff intentionally failing to provide necessities. This may include:
- Providing inadequate food, nutrition, or hydration
- Failing to help with personal hygiene
- Leaving residents with mobility issues alone in their rooms for long periods of time
- Failing to call for a doctor or provide necessary medical attention
- Not providing clean clothing or bedding
Negligent facilities can cause serious, lasting harm through their inaction. If your loved one suffered physical or emotional distress because their nursing home failed to care for them, they may have the right to seek compensation. Our personal injury attorneys can help start the legal process on your nursing home abuse claim today.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse occurs when nursing home workers cause deliberate harm or injury to a resident or do anything to purposely compromise their physical, emotional, or financial well-being. Our law firm has the legal resources necessary to build a strong nursing home abuse case for any form of abuse.
Physical mistreatment of nursing home residents falls under the category of physical abuse. This type of abuse can cause severe injuries and exacerbate existing health conditions. Under no circumstances should any of the following behaviors occur in a nursing home setting:
- Using unnecessary physical force
- Restraining or tying a patient to a bed or chair
- Hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, or scratching
- Force feeding
- Rough handling
While emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse) might not leave behind any apparent physical signs, the mental toll it takes on residents can be severe. A victim who is suffering emotional abuse is less likely to care for themselves, and may become withdrawn and isolated. Emotional abuse may take the form of:
- Swearing, cursing, or using foul language directed toward a resident
- Intimidating or ridiculing
- Ignoring or isolating
- Controlling whom a resident sees or speaks with
For the average person in Lexington, KY, it takes decades of hard work and dedication to save and prepare for retirement. Unfortunately, those who experience cognitive decline in their later years are at a heightened risk for financial exploitation and abuse. This is one of the fastest growing forms of abuse against the elderly, and may constitute:
- Unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts
- Securing bank account information through unscrupulous means
- Tricking or intimidating a resident into changing their will
- Taking items of value without permission
In nursing home settings, women and residents with dementia are the two most vulnerable populations to sexual abuse. However, Thomas Law Offices would like to stress that anyone may be the victim of a sexual assault. If a loved one communicates that they have been harmed by a caregiver, believe them regardless of their age, gender, or mental status. Examples of sexual abuse that may take place in an assisted living facility are:
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Forced viewing of sexual acts
- Coerced sexual acts
- Unwanted touching of breasts or genitals
The Overmedication of Nursing Home Residents
A study entitled “Under-Enforced and Over-Prescribed: The Antipsychotic Drug Epidemic Ravaging America’s Nursing Homes” determined that the use of antipsychotics to chemically restrain nursing home residents is shockingly high. Below are some key findings from the study:
- Only 2% of nursing home residents have a condition that qualifies them for antipsychotic medications.
- On a given week, 20% of all nursing facility residents are given antipsychotic drugs.
- Misuse of antipsychotics by nursing homes increased 200% between 2015 and 2017.
Staff members often choose to improperly administer antipsychotic drugs in an effort to make residents more compliant and easier to deal with. When under the effects of these drugs, a resident is much more likely to sleep for longer and require less interaction and attention from the nurses and doctors.
A chemically-restrained resident is at a higher risk for neglect as well as physical violence, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and sexual exploitation. If you believe a nursing home is overmedicating your loved one or using antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain them, contact Thomas Law Offices right away. A nursing home abuse attorney from our law firm will meet with you in a one-on-one meeting to discuss any confidential or sensitive information about your case.
Identifying Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
You may be the person best equipped to identify signs of nursing home abuse in your loved one. Remaining a constant presence in their life will help you notice any worrying changes, including some of the following signs that they might be suffering harm at the hands of their caregivers.
Physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse may all leave obvious signs of harm. As nursing home abuse lawyers, we advise watching for physical signs of abuse:
- Bruises and cuts
- Broken bones
- Unexplained injuries
- Bruising or bleeding in the groin or on the genitals
Do not allow a nursing home to convince you that your loved one’s signs of abuse are simply an effect of their condition. While it is possible for residents to experience physical deterioration related to aging or a serious health condition, the above signs should never be ignored. Reach out to a Lexington nursing home abuse attorney if you believe that your loved one’s condition is the result of elder abuse.
Psychological and Emotional Signs
Physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse can cause a victim to display signs of significant psychological harm. Do not hesitate to take action if you notice any of the following signs of psychological distress in your loved one:
- Sudden change in behavior
- Refusal or reluctance to talk
- Feelings of shame or guilt
- Reluctance to take part in favored activities
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
- Fear of certain staff members
If you require legal assistance to help your parent or grandparent file a nursing home abuse case, Thomas Law Offices is here for you.
Your loved one might be the victim of financial abuse if they:
- Struggle to pay their bills despite having sufficient savings or retirement income
- Begin asking to borrow money for no discernable reason
- Make large, unexplained withdrawals from their accounts
- Say they lent money to others but have no plans to collect payment
A single person’s financial exploitation of your loved one can erase a lifetime of savings and hard work in a relatively short period of time. If you notice any unusual behavior with a parent or grandparent’s finances, don’t be afraid to speak up on their behalf. Your advocacy may be what preserves their financial stability.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
There is no one single cause of elder abuse in residential settings. However, our years of experience representing victims of Lexington nursing home abuse have given us a unique insight into this matter. Below are some of the most common contributing factors to nursing home abuse in the Bluegrass State. If you do not see what you suspect is the cause of your loved one’s abuse listed below, do not hesitate to contact our law firm for a free consultation.
Research shows that approximately 90% of nursing homes are understaffed. Workers at understaffed nursing homes have higher workloads, and are more likely to engage in abusive practices to ensure that residents remain compliant. Neglect is also a significant issue at understaffed nursing homes, with the average resident receiving fewer than four hours of care per day.
Inadequate Training or Underqualified Staff
Nursing homes should provide regular, ongoing training to all staff members. All staff should be certified in lifesaving skills, including CPR, first aid, and abdominal thrusts. Any failure to hire properly trained staff or to provide training on resident safety and best practices could result in harmful abuse or neglect.
A bad paycheck is never an excuse to treat a nursing home resident poorly. And yet, some nursing home staff allow their low wages to influence how they interact with residents. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney from Thomas Law Offices can prove when a worker’s low wages were a factor in an abuse case.
Most causes of nursing home abuse are directly linked to greed. Owners and operators who want to prioritize profits often do so over the health and safety of those in their care. For some, owning or running a nursing home is just one method to boost their bank accounts. Hiring sufficient numbers of qualified staff, purchasing care items, making repairs, and providing necessary medical treatment often fall to the wayside as owners focus on their own earnings.
Nursing Home Residents Have Rights
Both state and federal law afford protections to residents of nursing homes in Lexington, KY.
Enacted in 1987, the federal Nursing Home Reform Law provides vital protections to nursing home residents and outlines quality of life expectations, services and activities that are to be provided, and specific rights to which residents are entitled. Those rights are as follows:
- The right to be fully informed
- The right to participate in their own care
- The right to make independent choices
- The right to privacy and confidentiality
- The right to dignity, respect, and freedom
- The right to security of possessions
- The right to complain
- The right to visits
- The right to remain in a nursing home facility unless a transfer or discharge is necessary
Specific rights regarding the process of a transfer or discharge are also outlined by the Nursing Home Reform Law. The Kentucky Department of CHFS and the Nursing Home Ombudsmen Agency of the Bluegrass also detail the rights that nursing home residents in the state of Kentucky are entitled to.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer From Thomas Law Offices Can Help
Your loved one deserved better than to be abused in the one place they were supposed to be cared for. If you are ready to help them pursue civil action for the harm they suffered, Thomas Law Offices is here to serve as a guide for your claim.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers have dedicated their professional careers to advocating for those who have been harmed by others, and our deep respect for the attorney-client relationship makes us uniquely positioned to help resolve even the most complex legal issues.
We Investigate Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Thomas Law Offices has the resources needed to fully investigate your Lexington nursing home abuse claim. From coordinating with medical experts to determine the extent of your loved one’s injuries to reviewing past violations committed by the nursing home, we will provide unrivaled legal guidance and advocacy throughout this process.
When an act of abuse causes the wrongful death of a nursing home resident, we conduct a thorough investigation into the incident to determine all potential liable parties.
We Deal With the Insurance Company
When you file an elder abuse claim against a nursing home, it will be the nursing home’s liability insurer who pays out the settlement rather than the home itself. Big insurance companies are known for being especially difficult to deal with, and these profit-minded companies will often do everything in their power to limit your settlement or deny liability altogether.
We don’t let that happen. The attorneys at Thomas Law Offices are well-versed in all of the tricks and tactics used by the insurance companies, and we are happy to take over all communications with insurers on behalf of our clients. From answering questions and filling out common forms to submitting legal documents and negotiating a full and fair settlement, we make it easy for nursing home abuse victims to focus on their recovery.
We Value Your Claim
A nursing home abuse claim will not undo the harm your loved one suffered. However, the compensation secured through this type of civil claim will be essential to their recovery and future well-being. To be certain that they receive maximum compensation for what they’ve been through, we will consider a broad range of potential damages.
The typical nursing home abuse case seeks compensation for both economic (financial) and non-economic (non-financial) damages. These damages address a wide range of losses, including:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Moving costs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded not to compensate the victim for their losses, but to punish the at-fault party and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. These types of damages are only awarded in addition to compensatory damages and never on their own. Your attorney will advise you if it is appropriate to seek punitive damages on behalf of your family member.
We Work on a Contingency Fee Basis
The cost of filing a lawsuit should never be a barrier to holding an abusive nursing home responsible for the harm it caused. However, we know that court costs and the cost of hiring a lawyer can feel like an impossible hurdle to overcome.
At Thomas Law Offices, financial need is never an impediment to legal action. For most cases, we are able to work on a contingency fee basis, which allows us to provide our services without any type of upfront payment. In fact, we don’t get paid unless we win your case.
We Offer a Free Consultation
You shouldn’t have to commit to working with a law firm before you even get the chance to speak with one of their lawyers. That’s why Thomas Law Offices is pleased to offer a free consultation to injury and abuse victims in Lexington, Fayette County, and elsewhere in Kentucky. We believe that this free, no-obligation meeting is an excellent way for potential clients to get a feel for our law office and the way we do things.
We want you to feel confident that we are the best choice for your case. When you fill out our convenient online form, the contact form sends information to our office so that we can schedule your complimentary meeting.
Let a Lexington Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Advocate for You
Nursing homes should be safe environments in which our aging loved ones can receive the care they need. Abuse or neglect in any form robs them of their right to enjoy their final years in peace.
If you’re ready to take the next step, contact us at Thomas Law Offices for a free case evaluation. We’ll match you with a Lexington nursing home abuse lawyer who will answer any and all questions you may have about your case.