Over the last few decades, medicine has advanced significantly, and the life expectancy of Americans has risen. As more and more people live longer lives, children of these older Americans find themselves serving as caregivers to their parents.
Often, the medical demands of the parents overwhelm their adult children. They eventually turn over the care of their parents to licensed professionals at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
When you place a loved one in an assisted living facility, you expect them to be treated with care, compassion and respect. Unfortunately, the number of elderly Americans who are abused or neglected in nursing homes is on the rise.
If you suspect that a nursing home has not provided the care that your loved one needs — or is abusing or neglecting a resident, you can report these issues to government authorities who will investigate. In many cases, a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit may be filed to protect a resident’s rights or to obtain damages for the physical and mental pain of the resident.
For questions regarding nursing home abuse lawsuits or nursing home litigation, contact the nursing home abuse lawyers in Greensboro, North Carolina, at Ward Black Law.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
If you believe that a family member is being abused or neglected at their nursing home or assisted living facility in North Carolina, these steps can protect your loved one and their rights:
- Call 911 if you believe your loved one is in immediate danger of harm.
- If you suspect your loved one may be subjected to abuse or neglect, regularly visit the facility and talk to the staff who provide care to your loved one on a regular basis.
- Make unannounced visits, which can help you get a sense of the real care your loved one is receiving.
- Keep in regular contact with your loved one so that you can be told about any conduct by facility staff that may constitute abuse or neglect.
- Document any evidence of abuse or neglect. Photograph visible injuries to your loved one or unsanitary or unsafe conditions at the facility.
- Report any suspected abuse or neglect to the facility management. Abusive or neglectful behavior may be isolated to individual staffers.
- Report suspected or confirmed abuse or neglect to the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation or by phone at 1-800-624-3004. Reporting to the state agency is especially important if you believe abuse or neglect is being tolerated or encouraged by the facility’s managers.
- Consider moving your loved one to another nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Speak to a nursing home abuse attorney. The attorney can advise you and your family of your legal rights and options. The attorney can also help if you need to move your loved one out of an abusive facility or if you decide to file a claim for compensation related to the abuse and neglect.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Greensboro Can Help You Anywhere in North Carolina
When you or your family have a nursing home abuse or neglect claim, an attorney from Ward Black Law can help you pursue the financial compensation and justice you deserve by:
- Investigating your claims of abuse and neglect and securing evidence to support your claim, including photographic evidence or records from the nursing home facility that indicates negligent or abusive behavior
- Identifying the perpetrators of abuse and neglect and establishing theories of liability, including employer liability against the nursing home or direct liability for negligently hiring or training abusive staff
- Working with medical experts to develop a legal argument that establishes the nursing home’s liability and sets out the extent of your loved one’s damages
- Aggressively negotiating for a settlement that provides your loved one and your family with compensation for your damages and losses
- Taking your claim to court, if it becomes necessary, and preparing your case for trial
Demanding Justice for Your Loved One
Has your loved one been harmed by nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect? You may be entitled to pursue compensation for the damages incurred because of your injuries. Damages available in a nursing home abuse or neglect case can include:
- Costs of medical treatment for injuries or illnesses caused by the abuse or neglect
- Pain and suffering, for the emotional and physical anguish and distress caused by the abuse or neglect, as well as any actual injuries
- Loss of quality of life, including disabilities or physical disfigurement that result from abuse, the inability to participate in activities previously enjoyed, or the shortening of one’s life or quality of life because of injuries or illness
- Other out-of-pocket expenses, such as the costs to move yourself or your loved one to a new nursing home or assisted living facility
If your family has lost a loved one due to nursing home abuse or neglect, your loved one’s estate and your family may be entitled to compensation for the above damages. You may also be entitled to other damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of your loved one’s society, companionship, comfort, guidance and advice to their next-of-kin
NC Time Limitations to File Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Cases
If your family member has been the victim of nursing home or elder abuse or neglect, you have a limited period, known as the statute of limitations, in which to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the injuries and other damages.
Under North Carolina law, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit arising from elder or nursing home neglect or abuse is generally three years from the date of injury. However, if you and your family have had a loved one who passed away due to abuse or neglect, you generally have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you don’t file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, a judge can permanently dismiss your case. That means you will lose all rights to seek compensation in court.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect can include:
- Bone fractures
- Head injuries
- Unclean or unsanitary living conditions
- Wandering/leaving the facility unsupervised
- Pressure ulcers/bed sores
- Rapid and unexplained weight gain or loss
- Injuries requiring emergency medical care and hospitalization
- Heavy medication or sedation
- Frequent and unexplained illnesses, including sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained injuries such as cuts, bruises, or welts in various stages of healing
- Unusual or sudden changes in behavior, including agitation, becoming withdrawn or non-communicative
- Fear of speaking in staff members’ presence, or not wanting to be left alone with staff members
- Medication errors
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Although many people think of nursing home abuse as the intentional infliction of harm, nursing home abuse can take on many different forms:
- Physical abuse and violence – Abuse can involve the intentional infliction of injury or harm on a resident by nursing home staff. Physical abuse includes hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, or throwing residents.
- Emotional, psychological, or verbal abuse – Nursing home staff can inflict emotional and psychological harm on residents through verbal abuse, including berating, belittling, or humiliating residents or threatening them with physical violence or neglect.
- Neglect – Nursing home staff can abuse residents by willfully, recklessly, or negligently neglecting residents’ needs. Neglect can include not providing medicine or food, failing to assist residents with mobility needs, and failing to monitor residents for illness or other medical issues, such as bedsores.
- Sexual abuse – Nursing home staff can also engage in sexual abuse of residents. Sexual abuse includes engaging in sexual activity without a resident’s consent or with a resident who is incapable of granting consent. Staff can also commit sexual abuse by exposing themselves to residents for the staffers’ gratification.
- Financial abuse and exploitation – Nursing home staff may financially exploit residents through the theft of their property, such as cash, jewelry, or other valuables. The staff may also engage in duress and undue influence by convincing a resident to place a staffer in a position of financial authority over a resident or as a beneficiary to the resident’s will.
Talk to a Greensboro Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer Now
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in North Carolina, they deserve financial compensation and justice for the harm suffered. Don’t wait another day to begin holding those persons responsible for your loved one’s abuse.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a nursing home abuse/neglect lawyer at Greensboro’s Ward Black Law. You can talk to us about your rights and options by phone, online, or in person. You will also learn how our firm can help you or your family pursue compensation in your nursing home abuse or neglect claim.