At their best, Philadelphia nursing homes are safe, healthy places that allow the elderly and other populations with special needs to reside where they can receive necessary medical care without their family members in fear of their loved ones. At their worst, nursing homes, assisted living homes and rehab facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can be breeding grounds for abuse, neglect, and medical malpractice. This is primarily caused by the facilities being understaffed as well as not doing proper background checks on new hires (due to the understaffing issue which plagues the nursing home industry nationwide). Nursing home abuse is distressing for victims and their loved ones. When these facilities fail to respect the rights and needs of residents, it can result in preventable, serious injuries–even wrongful deaths.
Fortunately, the personal dedication of a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer at Baratta Law, LLC can help you put an end to the cycle with a focus on justice for victims and families.
The Most Common Types of Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, abuse comes in as many forms as there are people. However, the types of abuse and injuries most often suffered in nursing homes can be broken down into the following five categories:
Whether by facility staffers or another caretaker, bodily violence committed against residents is perhaps the most distressing example of nursing home abuse. Even instances of caregiver aggression like the improper use of restraints can result in serious physical injuries like fractured bones. Physical abuse can cause serious emotional damage to the elderly and other victims.
Psychological and Emotional Abuse
Both verbal and non-verbal actions can cause residents to be fearful for their safety. These demeaning behaviors are humiliating for those who want to age with grace and maintain their independence. They’ve trusted these facilities with paying the proper attention to their emotional needs in addition to providing medical care, and a violation of that trust can leave deep emotional scars.
Unfortunately, nursing homes provide plenty of opportunities for predators to take advantage of the elderly and others who are vulnerable to sexual assaults. Elders, for example, may be more susceptible to being sexually abused by inappropriate behaviors during bathing and other activities of daily living that caregivers supervise.
Financial Abuse and Exploitation
Another common way staff members take advantage of residents’ cognitive states is by exploiting their financial assets for their benefit. They do this by gaining unlawful access to residents’ bank accounts and other finances, frequently by claiming the residents are their own parents or grandparents. Financial exploitation of our elderly population is a growing problem in nursing homes.
When the basic needs of residents are neglected, the injuries that result can be just as severe as those caused by physical abuse. Neglect can include the staff’s failure to help residents maintain hygiene, avoid things like falling and infection, provide adequate nutrition and hydration, and prevent injuries like pressure sores from too much time spent in one position in bed.
Victims of injuries that have resulted from any of these types of nursing home abuse may have the rights to be compensated for their traumatic experience. A Philadelphia attorney with knowledge of personal injury practice areas can handle cases arising from all types of abuse with a level of compassion backed by extensive experience.
How Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen in Philadelphia?
Though claims regarding nursing homes vary widely, some factors commonly contribute to the alarming statistics associated with the growing prevalence of elder abuse in general in the United States. The following are a few of these factors:
- Staffing Issues – When a facility is understaffed or staff members are not properly trained, injuries can result from insufficient care.
- Negligence in Hiring Practices – Failure to perform adequate background checks on a potential employee can directly lead to abuse by negligent or malicious staffers.
- Poor Facility Condition – If the owners or administrators of nursing homes do not prevent and repair dangerous conditions on their property, in addition to providing adequate security, they may also be vulnerable to premises liability claims.
Sadly, some people, proprietors of nursing homes included, are more concerned with the dollars in their pockets than the safety of others. The bottom line may overshadow efforts to make residents comfortable, minimize chances for injuries, and prevent abuse. In these cases, the assistance of a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer can help make sure victims see justice.
Warning Signs of Potential Nursing Home Abuse
Evidence that residents of nursing homes are being mistreated can be subtle. These events can have lifetime or life-threatening impacts on vulnerable residents, though, so it’s important to keep an eye on loved ones who reside in these facilities for signs, symptoms, and complaints pointing to ongoing issues of abuse or neglect.
The following are some things to watch for if your loved one resides in a nursing home, especially if abuse is suspected:
- Unexplained injuries like a bruise, bedsore, laceration, or smaller cuts
- Injuries associated with falling such as broken large bones or damage to the brain or spine
- Symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration like an unexpected change in weight
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Worsening of an existing medical condition
- Unexplained or unauthorized changes made to bank accounts, general finances, or estate planning
- Signs of improper use of physical or chemical restraints such as bruising on the extremities and losses of brain functions like alertness
- Evidence of sexual assaults, including bruises on unexplained areas of the body and sexually transmitted infection
When you suspect a loved one is being abused in a nursing home, the priority is resolving the situation and getting them in a safer location, in addition to making sure the abuse is reported to the appropriate agencies. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal aspects of a claim for damages resulting from nursing home abuse while you focus on restoring your quality of life.
How Lawyers Can Help Achieve Justice for Victims of Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse
Cases involving nursing home abuse often leave victims and families with a myriad of questions and a shortage of information on their legal options. Once you secure the representation of a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer, their years of experience and commitment to service can provide not only the path to a successful outcome but peace of mind along the way.
The lawyers of Baratta Law, LLC institute detailed processes for establishing the liability of nursing facilities for residents’ injuries, including the creation of timelines and displays of the mechanism of injury. In addition, you will always have an open line of communication with our office and your attorney throughout the progression of your case for your own emotional wellbeing.
Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
Allegations of abuse incidents in nursing homes are complex and can involve painful or sensitive subjects. A free, no-obligation consultation with a respected legal professional can help you get your questions answered more comprehensively, but the following are some of the most frequently asked questions our clients have about nursing home abuse claims:
How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse claim in the state of Pennsylvania?
Like claims for other personal injuries such as those suffered in car accidents, complaints about nursing home abuse damages are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. This filing deadline applies whether a claim is for abuse, neglect, wrongful death, premises liability, or medical malpractice.
Timely submission of case documentation to the courts is one of the most crucial considerations for a successful outcome, so it’s important to have representation by a law office with the commitment and resources to keep claims on a winning path from start to finish.
How can an attorney help prove the abuse occurred?
Once a lawyer agrees to handle your case, they will begin to investigate the damages you’ve claimed. This allows your attorney to collect information like hospital and other medical bills, medical records from the nursing home and other healthcare providers, witness statements, and photographs of injuries. These types of documentation support the claims made and help establish who’s responsible.
I can’t afford an attorney right now–can an attorney still help my loved one?
Like other claims for personal injury damages, nursing home abuse cases are taken on a contingency basis. This means that clients pay no fees to our office unless our lawyers recover settlements or verdicts for them. There’s no charge and no obligation associated with your initial consultation, either.
What types of compensation are available to victims and families?
Nursing home abuse claims may result in monetary awards for economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and future treatment costs, in addition to noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Facing an instance of nursing home abuse is never easy for families. There are often high costs involved with relocation and medical treatment for injuries, not to mention the mental anguish of the abuse for victims and their family members.
But you don’t have to face it alone, without the guidance of a respected Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer. The attorneys and staff of Baratta Law, LLC have years of service to victims to back up their reputation, and they’re prepared to help your family through this difficult time, starting with a free consultation. Call our office at 215-914-8132 or fill out the form below to schedule today.