Nashville Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
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Elder abuse is a growing problem across the United States. Nursing home residents are at particularly high risk of falling victim to elder abuse. In 2019, there were 87,046 residents of Davidson County over the age of 65. A great many of these senior citizens live in nursing homes in Nashville and the surrounding areas.
Keeping your loved one safe in a Nashville nursing home is a matter of knowing the signs of abuse, how to report suspected abuse, and how to take action when abuse occurs.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can happen in many different ways. Some signs of abuse are impossible to miss, while others may be invisible or difficult to recognize.
Physical abuse is the easiest form to identify because it usually leaves visual signs. Common indicators of physical abuse include:
- Fractures or sprains
- Poor hygiene
- Unexplained bruising
Some forms of care are also considered abuse, like force-feeding a resident. Sexual abuse may also be accompanied by physical signs, like STDs or bloodied bedding or undergarments.
Nursing home residents are at risk of other types of abuse as well, including mental, emotional, and financial abuse.
Who’s most at risk of nursing home abuse?
When a nursing home resident is unconscious, immobile, or has limited mobility, abuse can be more common because these individuals require a higher level of care.
When health conditions result in cognitive impairment, the risk of abuse is much higher because the victim is less likely to speak up and report it or they may be unaware it’s happening altogether. Abuse is a major concern for residents suffering from:
An additional risk factor is distance from family and friends. When you can regularly visit a loved one in a nursing home, it’s easier to identify when something’s wrong. Residents who receive few visitors are at higher risk of falling victim to abuse. Regardless of whether you’re able to visit your loved one often, the responsibility for abuse and neglect falls on the nursing home or long-term residential care facility tasked with caring for them. There’s never an excuse for the mistreatment of a resident or patient.
Dangers of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse comes with many dangers, and consequences can be both emotional and physical.
It’s common for abuse to result in physical injuries. The immune system and healing abilities are often weakened in the elderly. Injuries like bedsores put a victim at high risk of infection and sepsis.
Abuse is also frequently associated with malnutrition and dehydration. These are serious conditions that can lead to other severe health complications. Malnutrition and dehydration and the health issues stemming from the same can be life-threatening.
All forms of abuse can be accompanied by severe negative emotional effects. In addition to physical injury, abuse may result in:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Personality changes
In severe cases, nursing home abuse can lead to death.
Tennessee Standard of Care
The State of Tennessee maintains a legal standard of care dictating how individuals in nursing homes and other medical treatment settings should be cared for. Under the relevant state statute, what’s known as the “locality rule” requires that the standard of care when applied in a medical malpractice action must be based on “the community in which the defendant practices or in a similar community.” When a nursing home staff member or health care professional breaches or violates the standard of care, they may be held liable for resulting resident or patient injuries.
A nursing home abuse case can violate Tennessee’s standard of care in a few different ways described below.
Medical malpractice is the failure to provide appropriate medical treatment to a patient. It can be the result of a negligent act, omission, or decision. Medical malpractice happens due to neglect, inexperience, lack of knowledge, or poor judgment calls.
Negligence is a four-part legal concept. In a nursing home abuse case, negligence is shown by proving:
- The nursing home had a duty to provide proper care to a resident
- That duty was violated or breached
- The patient suffered injuries or other damages due to that violation
- The injuries or damages can be demonstrated in court
Once these points are proven, the nursing home can be liable for compensating the injured person.
Neglect is the act of withholding items necessary to a person’s health and wellbeing. Failure to provide a nursing home resident with adequate food, water, hygiene, and appropriate medical care are all examples of neglect.
Abuse is defined in Tennessee as the intentional infliction of injury, confinement, punishment, or intimidation for the purpose of inflicting pain or mental anguish. Nursing home abuse victims may experience abuse at the hands of staff members or other residents.
Selecting the Right Nursing Home for Your Loved One
Exercising care and diligence when choosing a nursing home is the best way to ensure you choose a quality facility to help minimize the risk of harm to your loved one.
Examine a nursing home’s certifications and online reviews. Ask questions about the care policies they have in place. Staff members should be well-informed of policies and able to communicate them clearly.
Visit the facility and look for signs of cleanliness. Speak with other residents as allowed and assess the level of health, happiness, and community involvement at a facility.
Putting time into research and investigation is the best way to ensure you’re choosing the right nursing home for your loved one.
Ultimately, if abuse or neglect occurs, it’s not your fault or the fault of your loved one.
How can I help my loved one if abuse is suspected?
In emergencies, you should call the police.
In a non-emergency, Nashville nursing home abuse can be reported to Tennessee Adult Protective Services. A report can also be filed with the Tennessee Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which deals specifically with assisting seniors living in nursing homes and assisted care facilities.
For help with reporting, medical care, and financial concerns, families can use the Eldercare Locator. This public service can connect you with resources in the Nashville area.
Once abuse has been reported, you should contact a Nashville nursing home abuse attorney to begin taking legal action against the nursing home.
What if my loved one died as a result of nursing home abuse?
If your loved one died due to nursing home abuse, you can file a wrongful death action. This can be undertaken by close family members, like a spouse, parents (in some cases), or children (if there’s no surviving spouse). A personal representative for the deceased person’s estate can also sue.
Damages you can receive from a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Medical bills and related expenses
- The deceased person’s pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- The survivors’ mental anguish
Tennessee uses a “hybrid” model, combining wrongful death and survival claims. Wrongful death claims cover the survivor’s losses, while survival claims compensate for the deceased person’s losses on behalf of their estate.
Wrongful death claims can yield large settlement amounts. However, you only have one year from the date of your loved one’s death to pursue legal action against the responsible organization. So, you need to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as you can to receive fair compensation for your significant loss.
Should I hire the nursing home abuse attorneys at NST Law?
The nursing home abuse attorneys at NST Law possess the specialized knowledge needed to build a strong case for maximum compensation. Choosing a nursing home means placing your trust in a facility to provide your or your loved one with safety, security, and dignity in the final years of life.
When this trust is betrayed, you need attorneys who will fiercely advocate for your rights, and work to gain compensation for your resulting damages.
NST Law has been fighting for clients’ rights for 32 years and has recovered over $1.5 billion in compensation money. We recovered $300,000.00 after a 76-year-old woman developed a large bedsore from being left in one position for prolonged periods while admitted at a nursing home. She died as a result of the severity of her bedsore.
If you or your loved one suffered harm due to nursing home abuse, contact NST Law today to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced Nashville nursing home abuse attorneys will advise you on how to begin seeking compensation.
Nursing home abuse is a hard topic and devastating occurrence with harrowing consequences. If you are experiencing nursing home abuse or trying to protect your loved one from the same, you likely have many questions. We strive to be transparent and offer valuable answers to your difficult questions. Reach out to us if you have questions you need answered.
Compensation can range widely in a nursing home abuse case. Your attorney will need to establish a target compensation amount based on the extent of injuries, accompanying medical bills and costs, and other damages like pain and suffering.
NST Law has achieved significant settlement amounts for clients in nursing home abuse cases.
Every nursing home abuse case will be different. When a case is complicated or goes to court, it can take much longer than a case that’s able to be settled through negotiation. A nursing home abuse case might range from a few months to a year or longer. For this reason, it’s important to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer as early as possible to get compensated as quickly as the circumstances of your case allows.
NST Law works with clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay if we win your case. Payment is made as a percentage of the overall compensation amount, and is only due once you receive compensation.