Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Seeking Compensation for Elderly Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities
A jury awarded a 92-year-old woman $200 million dollars in 2012 after she suffered fatal injuries in a nursing home during a fall down a flight of stairs while she was strapped into a wheelchair. The staff at the facility failed to discover the woman’s body until nearly an hour after her fatal fall. This heartbreaking story of nursing home abuse is like many others that occur every day in the U.S.
Watching those you love grow older and experience age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can cause significant stress and anxiety. Despite the best of precautions by families, incidents of abuse and neglect in nursing homes adversely impact as many as 30 percent of all nursing home facilities according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, the Shiner Law Group has a long history of helping the nursing home residents who have suffered mistreatment in skilled nursing facilities.
Boca Raton Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers
Nursing home injury cases might take one of many forms, including but not limited to neglect, physical abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. Nursing home cases can be difficult to litigate because patients in residential facilities for the elderly are often reluctant to report what is happening. While neglect can be so obvious that it is impossible not to notice, mistreatment can be difficult to detect or prove in many cases. When there are obvious physical signs of neglect or abuse, such as bedsores, bruises, and broken bones, it can be much easier to establish that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse than when there are few outward physical signs.
At the Shiner Law Group, our Palm Beach County nursing home abuse attorneys are dedicated to protecting vulnerable seniors and holding those responsible for abuse and neglect accountable for the physical and mental harm they inflict. Our law firm brings 15 years of experience, which has been filled with awards and accolades that include:
- Recognized by U.S. News and World Report among “Best Law Firms”
- Designation as “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers
- Dozens of Five Star Review on Google, AVVO, Facebook, and other websites
- Recognition as perfect “Superb 10.0” rating by AVVO
- Awarded Martindale-Hubbell Highest “Preeminent AV” rating
Our Boca Raton nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers and support staff are dedicated to protecting vulnerable seniors while seeking the maximum recovery for the harm they have suffered. The many accolades our law firm has received confirms our reputation for exemplary legal services, effective client communication, and tenacious pursuit of the best results among judges, insurance defense attorneys, peers, and our former clients. Our lawyers are committed to aggressively holding nursing home ownership and management accountable for failing to provide the quality of care and safe environment they promise in their contract. Shiner Law Group has recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients. Our nursing home neglect law firm gathers and analyzes the facts, works with nursing home and health care experts, engages in effective negotiation, provides persuasive advocacy, and offers up-to-the-minute knowledge of changes in the law.
Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Highlight Risk to Elderly Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities
The complexity of proving nursing home abuse is compounded by the fact that nursing home personnel will often claim that the deterioration of a loved one is simply a product of aging or pre-existing health conditions. Studies indicate that between one and two million elderly Americans have been the victims of abuse and neglect, but only 1 in 14 of these cases ever become known to public authorities. A closer look at the statistics regarding nursing home abuse from the NCEA reveals a troubling picture:
- One study found that close to half of all nursing home residents suffer some form of abuse.
- More than eighty percent of nursing home staff report witnessing some form of abuse during the prior year.
- Forty percent of nursing home staffers admit to having committed an act of abuse.
- Almost seventy percent of those in nursing homes suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of cognitive disorder making it hard to understand or report abuse.
Most cases of nursing home neglect or abuse are the product of inadequate training, insufficient staffing, or other cost containment measures. Sometimes elder care facilities that look clean and well managed to outsiders hide widespread abuse and neglect that the facility management knows is occurring. The staff in such facilities are often underpaid, undertrained, and overworked. This type of work environment can promote fatigue and indifference to the care and needs of residents.
Common Types of Mistreatment of Residents in Skilled Nursing Facilities
Abuse in nursing homes often occurs because nursing home facilities offer a low pay scale and fail to run background checks revealing violent or sexual offenses. Elder abuse abuse in a residential setting, can take many forms, but some common examples include:
- Physical Abuse: This form of nursing home abuse involves the use of violence or physical force against residents that causes pain, harm, personal injury, or impairment. Physical abuse often involves assault, battery, burns, hitting, punching, kicking, pinching, biting, shoving, threats to use weapons, scalding shower water, or unjustified physical restraint. Sometimes acts of physical abuse in a nursing home are single isolated events, but some victims suffer an ongoing pattern of abuse.
- Inappropriate Use of Drugs: This form of abuse can either involve giving inappropriate drugs to sedate the abuse victim or failing to give necessary prescribed medication. Nursing home staff members sometimes use sedatives and other drugs as a form of unjustified chemical restraint to keep residents in a semi-catatonic state. In other cases, patients will not be given medications that they have been prescribed as a form or “punishment” or financial abuse by staff members that pilfer the medication.
- Sexual Abuse: This form of abuse can be either emotional or physical. Elder sexual abuse involves unwanted sexual conduct against elderly nursing home residents. The abuse might involve manipulation, coercion, or trickery to consummate undesired sexual conduct. This abuse includes acts with an older adult who is unable to communicate disapproval or non-consent. While sexual abuse (any form of physical or emotional abuse) can be inflicted by a staff member, failure to supervise residents also might result in sexual assaults committed by other residents. Examples of specific acts of sexual abuse of nursing home residents include sexual coercion, inappropriate touching, forced viewing of pornography, rape, sodomy, sexually-explicit photography, nonconsensual groping, and other unwelcome sexual acts.
- Financial Abuse: This type of abuse can range from misuse of one’s banking or credit card information to charging for health care services or medications that are not provided. Nursing homes have access to the financial information of residents, which might allow access to assets, savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, and other property. Unscrupulous staff members might even use information to commit identity theft and leverage the patient’s credit.
- Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse is the primary form of abuse suffered by a nursing home resident. This form of mistreatment also might be used to intimidate residents into silence about other forms of abuse or neglect. Emotional abuse can include isolation, demeaning comments, insults, threats, and other derogatory comments or actions.
Palm Beach County Nursing Home Lawyers Highlight Common Forms of Neglect
Although acts of abuse might constitute the most egregious form of maltreatment of nursing home patients, serious neglect can be just as life threatening. When an elderly loved one moves into a nursing home, the facility has an obligation to provide a reasonably safe environment, which includes special accommodations for resident prone to falls, wandering, or other unsafe behavior. Neglect in a nursing home can take various forms including:
Basic Needs Neglect: This form of neglect goes to the core functions the facility is supposed to provide for residents. Neglect in this sense involves failure to provide hydration, nutrition, or a safe and clean living environment.
Medical Neglect: Because the vast majority of nursing home residents are elderly, they often have cognitive or physical medical conditions. The facility will have doctors that provide care. The facility has a legal duty to provide medical care, prevention, and medication for cognitive disorders, bed sores, mobility problems, infections, diabetes, cuts, and other health-related issues.
Social Neglect: This form of neglect often involves the abandonment of a nursing home resident. This abandonment can involve repeatedly leaving the resident alone or ignoring the resident.
Personal Hygiene Neglect: Patients in nursing homes typically are completely dependent on nursing home staff for their personal hygiene needs. These needs range from washing clothing and bedsheets to providing access and assistance to residents, so they can take showers, brush their teeth, bathe, and engage in other hygienic practices.
Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Provide Warning Signs of Neglect and Abuse
When elderly patients in nursing homes are being ignored or mistreated, they might be limited in their ability to alert loved ones by age-related cognitive limitations or fears of retribution by staff members. Nursing home residents often are subject to inappropriate actions or substandard care because conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease impair nursing home residents’ ability to alert family members of their predicament. In other cases, a staff member who is secretly abusing a nursing home resident might threaten physical retribution if the improper conduct is disclosed. Because the staff member is able to carry out such threats, residents suffering significant abuse or neglect might not feel safe disclosing what is occurring.
Family members often can detect inappropriate conduct or neglect by paying attention to certain types of signs, such as:
- Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Unusual changes in behavior
- Lack of personal hygiene (e.g. soiled clothes, body odor)
- Unexplained bruises, scratches, abrasions, cuts, or broken bones
- Fall-related injuries
- Elderly resident acting withdrawn
If you see these types of signs of potential abuse or neglect, you might want to take your loved one somewhere private to inquire further. Loved ones who feel intimidated or insecure about disclosing a pattern of abuse or neglect might be less hesitant to talk about the situation in a safe environment.
Bedsores: A Preventable and Deadly Problem
Bedsores (also referred to as decubitus ulcers, pressure sores, and pressure ulcers) result from unrelieved pressure to the skin. These sores can cause serious medical problems that include infections and potentially fatal injuries. Nursing home residents are especially susceptible to bedsores because they often remain sedentary for long periods in a wheelchair or bed. These sores typically occur where the skin is thin, and the bone is close to the surface of the body, such as the ankles, hips, heels, elbows, and back. Almost one in ten nursing home residents of nursing homes develop bedsores according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nursing homes are supposed to move and adjust the bodies of sedentary patients to prevent bedsores from developing.
Prompt medical attention and treatment of bedsores can prevent infection and life-threatening complications. Bedsores usually develop and advance in nursing home settings because of inattention and improper medical treatment. Although many patients already have bedsore when entering a nursing home, the facility has a legal duty to provide proper medical attention so that bedsores do not get worse and cause complications. Our nursing home medical malpractice lawyers pursue personal injury and wrongful death claims associated with untreated bedsores in nursing home environments.
Why Victims Mistreated in Nursing Homes Work with the Shiner Law Group
Nursing home litigation involves complex legal and factual issues that make it important that an experienced attorney represent the interest of an abused or neglected nursing home resident. Because the nursing home industry has been hit with a slew of massive verdicts in recent years, the ownership of skilled nursing facilities and their insurers anticipate litigation. This awareness means that nursing home facilities might have established practices to mitigate the risk of liability like overstaffing during state inspections or falsifying records to hide regulatory and safety violations. Our Boca Raton personal injury attorneys have experience with nursing home industry practices, as well as the tactics used by skilled nursing facilities to avoid liability. We have provided some examples of the ways that we help adjust the balance of justice for nursing home abuse and neglect victims.
Conducting an Investigation: Nursing home residents might have cognitive deficits that compromise their ability to function as a reliable witness regarding their abuse. Our Boca Raton nursing home injury attorneys use the discovery process to obtain nursing home records, inspection reports, documents related to prior regulatory violations, staff personnel files, documents related to safety practices and procedures, and other evidence. The nursing home could be liable for abuse inflicted by another resident if the staff or management’s negligent practices or lack of supervision facilitated the improper conduct. We also conduct an interview with staff, families of residents, and other patients as part of our investigation. We leave no stone unturned when building a case for seniors who have suffered from mistreatment in a long-term residential care facility.
Evaluate Potential Settlements: The value of a lawsuit based on neglect or abuse by members of nursing home staff or management can be difficult to determine. Insurance companies negotiating directly with residents and their families take advantage of the inexperience of unrepresented parties. Our law firm has handled a cross-section of nursing home claims, so we draw on our 15 years of experience handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases when evaluating potential lawsuits. We also monitor nursing home verdicts and settlements in Florida and across the U.S. so that we can make an informed determination of the value of the claim.
Provide Knowledge of Nursing Home Regulations & Standard Industry Practices: When nursing homes cut corners by ignoring or circumventing nursing home regulations and industry safety standards, these deviations from acceptable safety procedures often endanger elderly residents. Our lawyers draw on our knowledge of regulations and industry practices when assessing the conduct of the staff and administration at a nursing home. Frequently, these violations will constitute the basis for imposing liability.
Access to a Network of Experts: Our Palm Beach County nursing home abuse lawyers work with experts in a variety of disciplines to build a compelling case for injured nursing home patients. Since a nursing home often must provide medical care and treatment to seniors in their facility, we have medical malpractice experts to establish the appropriate standard of care and to identify deviations from these acceptable practices. Medical experts also can identify improper practices like failing to properly treat a pressure ulcer (bed sore) before it becomes seriously infected and a major health risk. We also use nursing home industry experts who can identify substandard care and improper procedures. For example, a nursing home industry expert might testify about the role of constructing and implementing a plan for a resident prone to falling or wandering.
Deal with Insurance Company Traps: The nursing home will have liability insurance coverage. Insurance companies might use sharp practices to compromise the abuse or neglect claim of a resident. Whether the attorneys for the nursing home’s insurance carrier wants to conduct an interview or to have a resident sign documents, these are acts that should never be performed without legal advice and representation. Insurance companies do not make money by treating claimants fairly. Their objective is to minimize their client’s liability to avoid paying large verdicts and settlements. Our law firm has the experience with the tactics used by liability insurance carriers that only comes from prevailing against nursing homes in prior cases. We use this knowledge to pursue the fullest recovery for our clients.
Take on Nursing Home Chains: If a nursing home facility fails to screen its staff or utilizes too small a staff given the number of residents, there is a high probability that the resulting neglect or abuse will not be limited to a single resident. Our law firm explores the possibility of systemic problems involving multiple patients across an entire chain of nursing homes. When nursing homes face liability involving many residents that have been mistreated or neglected, plaintiffs have significant bargaining power when negotiating settlements because of the risk of a massive verdict against the facility. Our law firm has the knowledge, expertise, and experience to represent entire groups of residents against multiple nursing home facilities in the same chain.
You Don’t Pay Unless We Win Your Case!
If you or someone you love has died because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help. The Shiner Law Group represents fatality victims in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, and throughout the surrounding counties.