Elder Abuse Personal Injury Lawyer in Las Vegas, NV
Many families in Las Vegas place their trust in nursing homes to care for their loved ones. When that faith is broken and a family member falls victim to nursing home abuse or neglect, you need strong, no-nonsense legal help on your side. For that kind of support, turn to THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys.
Nursing home abuse takes many forms, and it’s not always easy to detect. Many residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease cannot communicate their suffering. Others may be too afraid to report that they’re being mistreated. A nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer can be their voice and demand compensation for their injuries and losses.
If you or someone you love is a victim of nursing home abuse, seeking justice now could end up saving another person’s life. Don’t wait — call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
According to The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are seven different types of nursing home abuse and neglect. These include:
- Physical abuse: Any physical force that results (or could result) in pain, impairment, or bodily injury is considered physical abuse. Examples include hitting, pushing, shaking, shoving, slapping, pinching, or kicking. The use of restraints, improper use of medication, and any type of physical punishment is also considered physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse: Any type of unwanted sexual contact such as touching, intercourse, assault, and battery is considered sexual abuse. Many nursing home residents do not have the capacity to provide consent, so any sexual contact may be considered sexual abuse.
- Emotional abuse: Also known as psychological abuse, this can include intimidating, humiliating, insulting, threatening, or harassing nursing home residents. Emotional abuse can also involve giving residents the silent treatment, treating them like a child, and preventing them from participating in social activities that they enjoy.
- Financial abuse: Stealing and inappropriate use of a resident’s property, money, or assets is financial abuse. Staff members may forge a resident’s signature, deceive a resident into signing financial documents, or cash his or her checks without permission.
- Neglect: Nursing home abuse is intentional. Neglect refers to carelessness that results in a resident becoming injured. Nursing homes that do not ensure that all residents are provided proper hygiene and have access to medicine, food, shelter, and clothing may be held liable for neglect.
- Abandonment: Leaving a resident alone or unsupervised is abandonment and a serious departure from the standard of care expected at nursing homes.
- Self-neglect: Residents may refuse to care for themselves. But even when this is the case, nursing homes are responsible for ensuring residents receive proper care.
How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse is widely believed to be an underreported crime. Look for these warning signs if you suspect that someone is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect:
- Poor personal hygiene: Nurses, doctors, and staff are responsible for helping residents maintain proper hygiene. This includes assistance with bathing, toileting, dressing, and managing health conditions to prevent hygiene-related medical problems. Staff members should also help residents dress in clean clothes and provide fresh bedding.
- Sanitary living conditions: Nursing home administrators and staff should always ensure all areas of their facilities are clean and sanitary. Federal law also requires them to maintain an infection control program. When bathrooms, kitchens, and common living areas are dirty, dangerous health infections can spread rapidly.
- Malnutrition/dehydration: Signs of malnutrition and dehydration include chapped and dry lips and skin, sunken eyes and cheeks, and sudden weight loss. Malnutrition and dehydration can occur due to neglect. These conditions can also be abuse-related, as in cases where staff members intentionally deprive a resident of food and drink as a form of punishment.
- Mobility issues: Many people are moved to nursing homes when their mobility becomes impaired. Facilities are responsible for providing opportunities for elders to move around safely. When residents are left in beds or wheelchairs for long periods of time, their mobility issues can worsen. Circulation problems, loss of muscle tone, bedsores, and balance issues are all possible signs that residents are not active enough.
- Unexplained injuries: Falls are a leading cause of injury among the elderly. Nursing homes have a duty to provide assistive equipment, monitoring, and support to help residents avoid unnecessary falls. Broken hips, head injuries, bruising, skin redness, or scrapes that go unexplained could be a sign of abuse or neglect.
- Psychological injuries: Residents who suddenly become angry, fearful, withdrawn, or experience a cognitive decline may be victims of nursing home abuse.
- Wandering: Older people with dementia and other cognitive impairments may not have the judgment to make safe decisions.
These residents should be kept on a secured wing with locked doors that prevent them from making an easy exit. If your family member was found wandering or was injured due to wandering, it could be a sign of nursing home neglect.
Don’t be afraid to say something if you have concerns about the way a nursing home is operating. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse at a Las Vegas Nursing Home
It’s important to stay calm if you suspect that a family member is being abused in a nursing home. It’s equally important to act quickly to protect your loved one. If you believe the resident is in imminent danger, call the police or 911. If there is no immediate or obvious risk, take these steps:
- Talk to your loved one: Always believe your family member if he or she reports being mistreated. Disorientation and confusion are common among older people, but this is not the time to discount their claims. Ask what happened and who was responsible for it. If you see red flags of abuse or neglect, such as bruises or pressure sores, ask your loved one if he or she is being hurt. Keep in mind that they may not be able or willing to tell you.
- Talk to management: Ask to meet with the nursing home management to report your concerns. If administrators cannot or will not provide a valid explanation, then you consider taking further legal action.
- Take notes: If you file a nursing home abuse claim in the future, you will need evidence. Start collecting it by taking pictures, writing down the names and job positions of anyone you have spoken to, and speaking with other residents that can corroborate your claims.
- Report the abuse: Nursing homes are responsible for providing proper care and complying with state and federal laws. When they fail to do this, it is important to report the abuse to stop it from happening and to prevent it from happening to anyone else. You can report nursing home abuse and neglect to the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Aging and Disability Services Division of the Department of Health & Human Services, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, or the Nevada Attorney General.
- Speak to a Las Vegas nursing home abuse attorney: Your loved one may be entitled to claim compensation to help with the cost of injuries, including the emotional trauma they have experienced. A compassionate lawyer will fight for the full amount that the victim deserves for his or her suffering.
How to Prove Nursing Home Negligence
To be successful in your nursing home abuse and neglect claim, you will have to prove that the nursing home was at fault for the injuries and related losses. This is called proving negligence.
First, you (or your attorney, if you choose to hire one) will have to establish that the nursing home had a duty to keep your loved one safe. This can be one of the easier points to prove. If you had a contract and business agreement for your family member to reside at the facility, it had a duty to protect that resident from harm.
Next, you must show how the facility or its staff breached that duty. Evidence will be critical here to prove that the abuse or neglect happened. This can come from medical records, witness statements, photographs, video surveillance (if any), or other documents.
Third, you must establish how the breach caused the victim’s injuries. Again, evidence will need to show that a certain action (or failure to act) directly resulted in harm. Let’s say that your family member developed infected bedsores. If you can establish that staff did not regularly move or bathe the resident, or failed to report the sores to medical staff, they could be held liable.
Finally, you will need to show that you suffered damages related to the injuries. A skilled lawyer will be able to place a dollar value on the case based on the victim’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life.
Because the burden of proof is on you to convince an insurance company, judge, or jury that an elder care facility was negligent, it’s highly recommended that you contact a nursing home abuse lawyer before taking legal action.
When to Contact an Elder Abuse Lawyer
Contact an attorney as soon as you suspect that a family member is being mistreated at a nursing home. A lawyer can listen to your concerns and explain of all of your legal options.
If your attorney believes your claim has merit, he or she can help build a strong claim for compensation by:
- Gathering evidence
- Determining who should be held liable
- Filing the claim in a timely and accurate way
- Alerting the appropriate authorities about the abuse
- Negotiating a settlement with the nursing home and their insurance companies
- Representing you at trial, if necessary
How Can THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys Help Me?
Every nursing home resident has rights under federal and Nevada laws. The nursing home abuse lawyers in Las Vegas at THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys can help you enforce them.
We know that acting fast is essential to protect your loved one’s welfare, as well as any future legal claim. That’s why our law firm is available 24/7 to respond to your needs. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.