Special Considerations in Proving Damages in Nursing Home Abuse
Some signs of nursing home neglect may include: unexplained bruises or other relatively minor injuries, depression, withdrawal, weight loss, poor hygiene and general lack of cleanliness in the facility. More important, in cases of neglect or abuse, nursing home staff and administrators are often evasive when questioned. If you need to know the truth, an experienced attorney can help. Contact us.
If a resident has been injured in the care of a nursing home facility or at the hands of a nursing home employee, action must be taken. There are special legal considerations involved when proving injuries of a loved one. Some damages may be mental suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment in life, shortened life expectancy or malicious and reckless conduct by the nursing home staff. The injured individual may bring a claim for injuries suffered or if they are unable to bring a claim, a loved one may bring a claim for damages on their behalf. If you are a nursing home resident who has been harmed in the nursing home setting, or if you care about such an individual, you are invited to contact an experienced elder law attorney at Burke Harvey, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama about the legal rights of nursing home patients.
Mental or Physical Suffering
Mental or physical suffering are common forms of abuse suffered by residents of a nursing home facility. Mental abuse is often shows itself in the form of fear. A patient is suffering mental abuse if they are afraid of the consequences while waiting for help. They may be afraid that their injury will worsen as they wait for someone to assist them or afraid that by the time someone comes to their aid the injury will have worsened. A patient may also have had fear at the time the injury occurred and experienced anxiety for their own well-being. After an injury occurs, an individual may fear the consequences of that injury. This may include surgery, further injuries or future injuries that may occur from the person or persons who may have harmed them. Mental suffering may also lead to loss of enjoyment of life. The physical results of an injury may have caused disfigurement or a shortened life expectancy. Although, many residents of a care facility have physical or health problems, their lives should not be halted due to inadequate care and/or abuse. Loss of enjoyment in life may show mental or physical abuse and lead to appropriate damages for that abuse.
To show punitive damages, there must have been malicious or reckless conduct by the nursing home facility or staff. This conduct may be demonstrated by showing that the nursing home knew of the problems in the facility and did nothing to correct them. Some examples of this wanton conduct include the understaffing of employees, inadequate criminal background checks for staff members and employees not caring for known patient health issues properly. When staff members do not care for patients properly, injuries occur that may be shown to prove punitive damages. Injuries caused by negligent or intentional omissions of care generally fall into six categories: restraint injuries, decubitus ulcers (bedsores), severe dehydration/malnutrition, exposure to the elements (wandering around the facility, elopement/leaving the grounds) and physical abuse or assault (hitting, pushing, force-feeding, unsanitary environment, using unnecessary physical restraints).
Many injured nursing home residents are elderly, have health issues and have shorter life expectancies. Punitive damages may be more common in a nursing home injury case then in other types of personal injury cases. Awards against nursing homes that are punitive damages are usually for mental anguish, pain and suffering experienced by the injured person, medical expenses and the loss of affection and companionship by the surviving spouse or children.
Damages Recoverable by Survivors, Heirs or Dependents
In an action against a nursing home where the resident has died, the resident’s survivor(s) may bring an action and recover damages. Some damages may be loss of consortium or affection, loss of parental advice and guidance, mental anguish of the survivor and funeral expenses. Due to the growing number of elderly persons in the United States, there has been an increase in lawsuits and damages against nursing homes by loved ones or survivors of injured residents. This increase has caused an increase in liability premiums and has been making it difficult for care facilities to correct the problems. The main problems in nursing home injury cases are due to lack of staff, lack of trained staff and inadequate/poorly maintained equipment in care facilities. As the nursing home abuse epidemic continues, the number of awards for punitive damages will continue to rise. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the fault of a nursing home or its employees, contact an attorney at Burke Harvey, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama experienced in pursuing legal compensation in these cases.
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