Nursing home abuse and neglect of the elderly is devastating both physically and emotionally to the victim and their family. No person deserves to suffer at the hands of another, especially at the hands of their caregiver. If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect and have questions about your rights, you need the experience of a qualified Riverside elder abuse attorney.
Our Inland Empire Law Offices specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect cases taking place in nursing homes under-qualified and unqualified caregivers. Whether you or your family member as suffered from physical, verbal, or emotional abuse and neglect, we have the expertise to represent you and your family.
Sadly, elder abuse is becoming more and more common in California. Unscrupulous caregivers find it easy to abuse the elderly due to their frail condition and in many cases, impaired cognitive function. Elder abuse is defined as any knowing or negligent act that results in the harm or potential of harm to an elderly person. While some forms of elderly abuse carry criminal penalties, damages may also be recovered by victims of elderly abuse. Reasons for hiring an attorney to handle your elder abuse case include:
A great attorney. Very professional and great in his field. The whole staff were perfect and I was never disappointed. I would definitely recommend. -Elizabeth B.
According to the Department of Justice:
An elder under California law is someone 65 years old or older. A dependent adult is someone between 18 and 64 who has certain mental or physical disabilities, keeping them from being able to do everyday activities or protect themselves.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can manifest itself in many forms and all violate the rights of the individual being cared for. Some of the signs of nursing home abuse are:
Physical abuse can involve any type of assault and battery, including being hit with objects, punched, burned, kicked, bitten, pinched, slapped, pushed, shaken, unreasonably physically restrained, chemically restrained, or forced to take psychotropic drugs for any purpose not consistent with that authorized by a physician, or suffering any other kind of intentional harm.
Warning signs: Unexplained injuries such as open wounds, cuts, bruises, welts, fractures, sprains, marks on wrists or other signs of restraint, being given too much or not enough medication.
Sexual assault and battery, rape, or any type of non-consensual sexual contact between a nursing home staff member and a resident.
Warning Signs: Bleeding from the genital area, torn or bloody clothing or undergarments, bruises, unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or genital infections, withdrawal, anger, depression, or other emotional changes.
Any use of words or actions to threaten or intimidate a resident can be considered emotional abuse. Unfortunately, emotional or psychological abuse is prevalent in nursing homes. It is often inflicted by staff members bullying or harassing residents, teasing, humiliating, prohibiting social activities, forcing a resident to stay in a confined area, or not allowing visitors or time with family.
Warning Signs: Changes in behavior or personality, withdrawal, depression, nervousness, anxiety, or frequently arguing with the staff.
Neglect can be a less obvious form of abuse, which often makes it harder to prove. Nursing home staff may intentionally neglect a resident, or it can happen unintentionally. For example, the staff may be stretched thin and not realize that a resident has suffered a prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water. However, there is no excuse for improper care that brings harm to a resident.
Warning Signs: Bedsores, drastic weight loss or malnutrition, dehydration, deteriorating health, poor hygiene, smelling of urine and/or feces, stained or bloody clothing or bedding, infection, or being prohibited from visitors.
Healthcare abuse and fraud in nursing homes frequently involve unlawful or improper medical billing. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers that fund the care of nursing home residents are vulnerable. Some examples include:
Warning Signs: being under-medicated, incorrect type or administration of medication, duplicate bills for the same appointment, prescriptions, or procedure, inappropriate billing, inaccurate information on an explanation of benefits paperwork, the provider, location or date information is wrong on a bill, deductibles being or co-payments being waved.
Financial abuse or financial exploitation is the improper or illegal use of a resident’s funds, assets, or property. Nursing home patients are often more vulnerable to financial abuse and are often unaware of it. Nursing home employees may cash a resident’s check without permission or authorization, forge a signature, steal or misuse a resident’s money or possessions, deceive or coerce a resident to sign documents such as a contract or will, or improperly use guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney.
Warning Signs: Sudden and significant bank withdrawals, changes in regular banking habits, abrupt changes to a will or estate plan, or personal possessions disappearing without an explanation.
If you become aware of or suspect elder abuse or neglect, it’s always good to reach out through the proper channels and ensure that an elder or dependent adult does not continue to be put in harm’s way. If there is no intervention, abuse and neglect can continue to escalate, so it is best to err on the side of caution.
A Long-term Care (LTC) Ombudsman can act as an advocate for nursing home residents. They listen to and address any concerns or complaints. Residents have the right to decide on the Ombudsman’s level of involvement. They can be counted on to respect residents’ privacy and confidentiality. How an LTC Ombudsman serves residents includes empowering them by telling them about their rights and providing support to them and their families while discussing concerns with staff. Ombudspersons must complete a 36-hour state-supported training to become certified and an additional 12 hours of training each year to remain certified.
The moment you suspect that nursing home abuse is occurring, document any signs and incidents. Take photos of injuries or tangible warning signs, and gather any records you have access to that could indicate abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. You may be convinced that your loved one is not receiving adequate care, but you will need solid evidence of negligence for a successful claim.
When working with a nursing home abuse lawyer, they have the resources to investigate and collect critical evidence that supports your allegations. Depending on the circumstances of your case, an attorney may help you gather the following types of evidence:
While families may naturally want to confront the nursing home staff or management regarding suspicions of abuse or neglect, it could actually derail the investigative process. The resident’s conditions may temporarily improve, or the staff could respond by increasing their efforts to cover up any warning signs. Corrupt administrators may hide or destroy evidence and take control of the process. Before taking action, it is best to get advice from an attorney familiar with the reputations of long-term care facilities in the area.
Nursing homes are required by law to provide residents with a reasonable level of care based on the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, state laws, and industry standards. Any deviation from the appropriate standard of care that harms a resident can make the nursing home liable for any resulting damages. Here are some examples of negligent acts that a nursing home or its staff may be held responsible for:
Family members and friends of nursing home residents must stay alert to any warning signs in order to expedite action when suspicions arise.
If you are considering filing an elder abuse claim in Riverside, it is crucial to know how much time you have to pursue a lawsuit. All civil lawsuits are subject to a “statute of limitations,” limiting the time victims have to recover compensation. Most elder abuse and neglect cases are filed as negligence claims, which under California law, you are entitled to bring a lawsuit within two years of the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered (California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1).
Figuring out when this clock starts can be challenging in nursing home abuse cases since abuse or neglect is typically ongoing rather than a single incident. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help with this matter and determine precisely how long you have. Victims or their families who miss this window are barred from recovering compensation.
Contact our law firm now, there is no charge for your consultation, and we will listen to your case. We will keep you informed of significant developments and provide legal services promptly and professionally. You and your loved ones deserve to have your rights protected by a professional. Hanson & Mouri Riverside personal injury attorneys can work to make your family whole again.
Our law office serves Riverside, Corona, Norco, Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Banning, Beaumont, Moreno Valley, & Calimesa.