Thanks to the miracles of modern science, residents of North Carolina are living longer than ever before. As a result, business is booming for nursing home operators as an increasing number of families are forced to make the very difficult choice to put their loved ones in an assisted living facility. These healthcare providers are entrusted with the responsibility of treating every patient with the utmost respect and dignity they deserve. Too often, the high standards of care we expect are not met.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, approximately 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 have experienced some form of abuse from their caregivers, and more than half of all certified nursing assistant’s (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted to verbally abusing elderly residents. If you or a loved one believe you have been the victim of abuse, do not hesitate to contact the NC personal injury lawyers at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP.
What is Elder Abuse?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “elder abuse” as “any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust.” When a nursing home takes on the responsibility of caring for an elderly person, there is a trust relationship that is created between the institution, the patient, and the patient’s family. The nursing home owes the patient and his or her family a duty of care. If the duty of care is breached, either intentionally or through negligence, the nursing home can be held liable for any damages suffered.
Types of Elder Abuse
The following is a list of things that constitute elder abuse in NC. This abuse can be carried out by family members and spouses, as well as by nursing home staff. If you believe your loved one has suffered from any of these types of abuse, call our Raleigh elder abuse attorneys today.
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Passive neglect
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Willful deprivation
When Can I Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence?
A nursing home may be held liable for damages if it can be proven that the nursing home or one or more of its employees acted negligently. The damages awarded may include medical bills, disability, and pain and suffering. The following is a list of things that may serve as grounds for a nursing home negligence lawsuit in North Carolina.
Elderly residents need to receive the correct medication(s) at the correct intervals, or they can suffer adverse symptoms. If the nursing home resident is injured by the incorrect administration of prescription drugs, the facility can be held accountable.
Negligent Hiring / Inadequate Training
Nursing homes can be held accountable if they hire personnel without conducting proper background checks. The facility is obligated to employ staff that are academically qualified, and that have no prior record of abuse. Nursing home personnel should also be provided with the training to handle difficult or disabled residents, so that they may be able to provide care without causing injury to the patient.
When a nursing home is understaffed, the standard of care that residents receive can suffer. Not only can the residents be neglected due to the low staff-to-resident ratio, but the nursing home staff can suffer from decreased morale from their overwhelming workload. If understaffing causes injury or death to a resident, the facility can be held liable.
Failure to Maintain Adequate Sanitation and Safety Standards
If a resident suffers an injury due to the inadequate sanitary conditions of his or her room or common areas, the nursing home can be held liable for damages.
If a resident is injured by a third party within the nursing home, such as another resident or a guest, the nursing home can be held responsible. It is the duty of the nursing home to provide a safe environment. If the nursing home is found to have not provided adequate security to prevent such an occurrence, they can be held liable.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
As many as 5 million elders are abused every year in the United States according to some estimates. A recent government study estimated that only 1 in 14 abuse cases are reported to the proper authorities. Residents are often reluctant to report abuse for fear of retaliation or embarrassment, so they rely on the watchful eye of loved ones to advocate for them. The warning signs of elder abuse aren’t always easy to detect.
Signs of physical abuse include bruises, broken bones, cuts, or burns. Signs of neglect may include poor hygiene, bedsores, and weight loss. Emotional abuse can be much harder to recognize, but signs may include withdrawal, depression, or a sudden change in mood. Financial abuse can be the hardest to detect, because more often than not, the resident isn’t even aware it is happening. Keeping a close eye on financial statements is the best way to detect financial abuse.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in NC
If you suspect that someone you love may have endured abuse at a nursing home, it is imperative that you contact the appropriate authorities. If there is imminent danger, call 911 or your local police department. If there is no significant and immediate danger, you can report elder abuse to your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency.
You should also consider removing your loved one from the care facility and contacting the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP to discuss your legal options.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
An experienced nursing home negligence attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process of filing a lawsuit.
Contact A Raleigh Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP will work to hold responsible party(s) accountable, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve for you or your loved one’s suffering. Proving liability can be complicated, so do not hesitate to contact our law office today. Our lawyers can help in the process of obtaining the proper evidence to aid in your nursing home abuse lawsuit.
If you suspect elder abuse or nursing home negligence, speak to one of our attorneys today by calling (919) 615-2473 or completing the online contact form below.
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