New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
The worst part of growing up is watching your parents grow old. It is heartbreaking to see the people you once thought hung the moon struggle to take care of themselves, but it is a reality that must be faced. Five percent of Americans over the age of 65 end up living in a nursing home or other assisted living facility because they are no longer able to care for themselves. While everyone wants to believe that the nursing home their parents are in is the best possible, the truth is nursing home abuse and neglect is far too common. If your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact the personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice to schedule a consultation today.
What constitutes nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse can take many different forms. It can be physical, emotional, financial, or sexual. All of these imply that some sort of bad actor is causing harm, but it is important to note that one of the most common forms of physical and emotional abuse is neglect. If a facility is failing to provide care, it is doing just as much harm as someone who provides improper care or inflicts intentional harm.
How common is nursing home abuse in New Jersey?
There is very little accurate data about nursing home abuse. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Five Star Rating system doesn’t even include information on abuse, and very few cases make the news. However, recent reports from New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman suggest that thousands of elderly adults living in long-term care facilities are abused each year.
Like most other forms of abuse, it is assumed that for all the cases that are brought to the attention of authorities, many many more go unreported.
It can be difficult to detect abuse because it rarely happens while someone who is more likely to speak up is in the room. A lot of seniors will keep quiet because they are ashamed of what has happened to them or fear retribution if they speak out. Others cannot speak up because they have trouble communicating or are unable to recall what happened.
It is therefore critically important that the family members and friends of people living in long-term care facilities be on the lookout for signs of abuse, which include:
- A change in behavior or erratic behavior
- Unexplained mood swings
- Changing sleep patterns
- A desire to withdraw from society and avoid visits with family and friends
- Unexplained bruises or wounds
- Bed sores
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Fear or dislike certain staff members
- Staff members who are evasive
- Staff who seem overworked and unable to handle the needs of residents
If you notice any of these things, it is time to take action.
What options are available if I suspect my loved one is being abused at a nursing home?
Figuring out what to do if you suspect your loved one is being abused can be difficult.
Each facility is supposed to have someone on staff who is trained to investigate suspected abuse and take action to put a stop to it. But can you really trust someone at the same organization that you suspect is causing your loved one harm to do a thorough investigation or crack down on their coworkers?
Suspected abuse can also be reported to New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, who is responsible for securing, preserving, and promoting the health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey’s elderly population. This person is tasked with doing thorough investigations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, legislative and regulatory advocacy, policy work; and education and outreach. While the ombudsman is a good resource, his or her investigations can take a long time, and do not provide ongoing updates to the families of victims.
Legal action is often a better way to get answers and hold abusers accountable. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you get to the bottom of things and figure out what is going on quickly so that appropriate action can be taken. This important step sends a message that you are serious and will not be easily placated with empty promises. As an added benefit, your attorney can also provide you with updates as the case progresses, so you aren’t stuck waiting forever for additional information about what might have happened to your loved one.
What Compensation Is Available?
Stopping abuse and preventing it from happening to others is the main objective in most nursing home abuse cases, but monetary compensation is often available as well. If your loved one suffered an injury, be it physical, emotional, monetary, or sexual, the nursing home may be required to compensate them for:
- Medical, hospital and rehabilitative costs
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Permanent disability
- Monetary losses like stolen funds, lost wages, or loss of future earnings
If the abuse was particularly awful — involving, for example, malicious or illegal activity or resulting in permanent disfigurement or death — Nagel Rice will also fight vigorously to win punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded both as a means of punishing the defendant for egregious behavior and as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to engage in similar reckless misconduct.
Contact Our Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Today
In our 30+ year history, Nagel Rice has won over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for victims and their families. Our cases have been featured on 60 Minutes, Court TV, Dan Abrams Reports, and every major network, which draws attention to bad actors and gives hope to the countless victims who are too afraid or otherwise unable to fight. But there is still more to do. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, we are ready to help. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.