California deems anyone over the age of 65 an elder, and elder abuse can be prosecuted in both criminal and civil lawsuits. When these adults are unable to fully care for themselves, a relative or nursing home usually assumes responsibility for them. Unfortunately, there are occasions where caretakers take advantage of their vulnerability by abusing them physically, financially, sexually, or emotionally. In other cases, the caretaker outright abandons them.
Since elderly neglect often goes unreported, the National Council on Aging estimates that approximately 5 million cases of elder abuse or neglect occur each year.
You are paying a nursing home to devote the proper care and time to your loved one, so when they fail in that obligation, you have every right to contact legal counsel from Okhovat Law Firm. Contacting an elder abuse attorney in Sherman Oaks will help determine whether the nursing home was engaging in wrongful acts, and what course of action is best to hold the negligent party accountable.
Types of Elder Abuse
There are six types of elder abuse recognized by the CDC, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
Signs of Elder Abuse
If you suspect that the older person may be neglected or abused by their caretaker when you’re not around, it is important to gather whatever intel you can during your next visit. If your loved one is able to coherently hold a conversation, you should ask them questions about the condition of treatment when their caretaker is not in the room. If they are unable to speak, you can look for physical signs on their body and in their room.
- Physical abuse – Inflicting physical pain on an older adult may be a way to exert power or express frustration through beating, slapping, or pushing. Look for personal injuries like bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, cuts, or burns when visiting the elder. These may be minor injuries or injuries that were severe enough for medical attention.
- Emotional abuse – An older adult that is suffering emotional or mental abuse may withdraw from normal activities and relationships. Pay attention to sudden and unexplained changes in alertness and mood swings, as well as unusual bouts of depression.Try to pay close attention to the conversational dynamic between the elder and their caretaker – do they bicker? Does the caretaker seem condescending?
- Financial abuse – Someone may be stealing or mismanaging the elder’s life savings. Look for sudden changes to their accounts, especially transactions that don’t make sense based on the elder’s lifestyle and living situation.
- Neglect – An elder with bedsores, poor hygiene, and/or unusual weight loss may not be receiving necessities like food, water, baths, and exercise.
You should also investigate the environment the elder is living in for physical signs as well as emotional signs of abuse. If their room is dirty, unkempt, or poorly maintained (dead plants, closed blinds, etc.), then it’s possible the same amount of effort is being put towards their care.
Additionally, pay attention to the social environment. If the caretaker is expressing a lack of empathy or attitude towards their job, then it is possible that they may be abusing their patients. If you are receiving conflicting stories of incidents from the caretaker and the patient, then that should also be a red flag. Social isolation and not being given the opportunity to speak to you alone should also be looked at as warning signs of elder abuse.
If you see any of these signs, it may be time to call a lawyer that is well-versed in handling cases regarding nursing home neglect.
In order for nursing home abuse to happen, a combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors occur. It’s important to keep an eye out for these when visiting the nursing home or conducting the job interview.
Elder abuse is more likely to happen when an environment permits it as acceptable behavior. Chronic staffing problems such as high turnover rates, staff burnout, and toxic work environments contribute to negative and unsympathetic attitudes towards residents.
It can also happen when a family is entrusted with the care of an older relative. If the family member does not feel support from the rest of the family, they may shirk their responsibilities. Whether an employee or family caretaker, look at their past experiences. Signs of childhood abuse or substance abuse can lead to abusive behavior.
When suing a nursing home for negligence in Sherman Oaks, determining who’s liable will be crucial for your case. Negligent hiring, understaffing, and inadequate training fall on the nursing facility, and they can carry vicarious liability for the actions of their employees. If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, it’s important to contact Adult Protective Services right away. Once the situation is safe for the immediate future, you can think about how you can hold the abuser responsible for their actions. Okhovat Law is an aggressive law firm, and our trustworthy Sherman Oaks personal injury lawyer will fight for justice in your case.
When Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence?
Neglectful behavior can cause preventable accidents, and it can also be intentionally done. In-home caretakers and nursing homes can leave seniors unattended or fail in their duty of protecting them from safety hazards. The CDC reports that the average nursing home resident falls around twice a year, which can cause broken bones or brain trauma.
The staff also have a duty to keep patients clean when they are too frail to keep themselves and their surroundings clean.
If the care your loved one received was sub-standard, then your Sherman Oaks attorney has cause to file a malpractice suit.
FAQs About Nursing Home Abuse
How Do I Get Medical Records From the Nursing Home?
Nursing homes may give a lot of pushback when it comes to releasing medical records, especially when they know they’re about to be sued. They may try to say that medical privacy laws like HIPAA prevent them from doing so, but the same law that governs medical records also says that they must release them to a resident or their legal representative upon request.
Who Is Entitled to the Damages in a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
If your loved one is still alive, then the settlement is paid out to them. If this is a situation where your loved one lost their life as a result of abuse or negligence, then you can file a wrongful death claim in which the settlement is given to the family members.
Will My Nursing Home Lawsuit Go to Trial?
Most personal injury lawyers try to settle out of court. This is because court takes longer and incurs additional fees, lowering the amount of your settlement.