Nursing Home Negligence/Physical Abuse in New Jersey and New York
If you’ve had to place a disabled or elderly family member in a New Jersey or New York assisted living facility or nursing home, the thought of them becoming the victim of physical abuse or neglect can be terrifying. Sadly, elder abuse is a common occurrence in these kinds of care facilities throughout the country.
At Metro Law, our nursing home abuse lawyers have decades of experience litigating wrongful death and personal injury claims on behalf of clients whose family members were injured by nursing home neglect or abuse in New Jersey and New York.
How Can a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help?
Families rely on nursing homes to properly care for their aging loved ones. The decision to put a family member in a care facility is often need-based and driven by the desire for the person to receive a higher standard of attention and care than the family is able to provide at home. Nursing home residents frequently need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, and moving around.
Unfortunately, care facilities do not always provide an acceptable or reasonable degree of care. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes are commonplace in New York and New Jersey. One of the main reasons for this is because the facilities and the management are often negligent in training, hiring, and supervising their staff. When abuse does take place, it is important to determine exactly who is responsible.
When you work with the New Jersey and New York personal injury lawyers in at Metro Law we will:
- Organize a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the neglect or abuse.
- Discover if the caretakers and/or nursing home have been the subject of formal complaints or reprimands.
- Work with specialists to examine your family member’s injuries and calculate the probable value of your case.
- Help you make hard decisions, such as whether you should take a settlement offer.
- Aggressively try your case before a jury.
Signs of Physical Abuse
For families with relatives in care facilities, vigilance is essential. You might be able to recognize serious nursing home neglect and abuse when you visit your family member, but it is just as important to be able to identify early signs of mistreatment.
What Types of Physical Abuse Do Nursing Home Residents Suffer?
Physical abuse of the elderly falls into one of three types of mistreatment. These are:
- Active physical abuse: This form of physical abuse is deliberate, and the offender intends for it to cause the victim harm or pain. Active physical abuse includes slapping, pushing, pinching, burning, punching, shoving, and shaking the victim.
- Misuse of restraints: Even though it is against federal regulations to use restraints for any reason that is not medical, nursing homes and eldercare facilities often use them for their personal convenience or as a form of discipline. Residents can sustain very serious injuries when attempting to get out of the restraints. Victims may also experience the loss of body mass, muscle tone, and other issues caused by being immobilized for an extended period of time.
- Physical neglect: Physical neglect is its own kind of physical abuse. Some examples of physical neglect include failing to provide adequate liquids and food, lack of proper clothing, and failing to uphold clean and sanitary conditions for the residents to live in with regards to their physical hygiene and the facility itself.
How Do I Identify Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Nursing home abuse and neglect take many different forms. It can be emotional, physical, financial, or sexual. Some indications of abuse are readily apparent, while others will require close and careful observation.
If you observe any of the signs listed below, it could indicate that your family member is being neglected or abused in their care facility:
- Drastic changes in behavior: Behavioral changes are not unusual with age, particularly among those who suffer from a form of dementia and other medical conditions that influence mood and cognition. However, if you begin to see a significant change in your relative’s emotional or mental state after moving them into a care home, this could indicate abuse.If your family member seems distracted, agitated, aggressive, or worried, it could be a sign that they are being mistreated by the nursing home’s staff. Social withdrawal, both from other residents and visiting loved ones, can also be proof that something is wrong.
- Malnourishment or dehydration: As they age, seniors may lose the ability to feed themselves or make their own meals. Nursing home caregivers are responsible for ensuring that residents are provided proper nutrition through a balanced diet. Sadly, staff members sometimes withhold meals due to a resident being uncooperative, which is a form of abuse. In cases of neglect, a patient’s meals may be overlooked or not provide adequate nutrition.
If your family member is losing a lot of weight for no obvious reason, this might be an indication of abuse or neglect. This applies to dehydration as well.
- Bedsores: When a person is confined to a bed for extended periods of time, they are at risk of developing pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. To stop bedsores from developing, residents are supposed to be regularly turned and repositioned so pressure doesn’t remain constant on any one part of the body.Bedsores are a very common and easy-to-spot sign of nursing home abuse. If your family member is bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or has mobility issues, watch out for red, blistered, or irritated skin, especially in places like the lower back and legs.
- Visible injuries: Visible signs of physical abuse can include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Dislocated joints
- Cuts and bruises on the ankles and wrists, possible clues that your family member has been restrained
If you witness any of these injuries, immediately demand an explanation from the facility. If you are not satisfied with their answer, you need to strongly consider moving your relative into another facility and speaking with a nursing home abuse attorney.
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Signs of restraint and physical injuries can also be caused by nursing home exploitation and sexual abuse. Another potential sign that your family member might be experiencing sexual abuse or assault is a newly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease.
- Substandard facility conditions: When you visit your family member, make sure you take note of the comfort and cleanliness of the care home. Pay attention to things such as the temperature being too cold or too hot for the current weather, or obvious safety and health hazards that pose a danger to the residents.Be mindful of your loved one’s appearance and personal hygiene. If they are ungroomed and unwashed, if their bed linens are dirty, or if their room is untidy or unhygienic, these could all be proof of abuse or neglect.
- Financial irregularities: Senior citizens are at an increased risk of financial abuse and exploitation. In nursing homes and other care facilities, indications of financial abuse can include:
- Unknown withdrawals from savings and checking accounts
- Unexplained overdrafts
- Questionable purchases
- Missing valuables and money from your relative’s room
Fraud and Identity theft can also happen in cases of nursing home financial abuse. If you or your family member starts getting notices from collection agencies for debts you knew nothing about, this is a huge red flag that their personal information has been stolen.
- Wandering away from the facility: Adequate supervision is critical to the well-being and safety of residents with dementia. Whether due to inadequate safety measures at the facility or general staff neglect, elderly care home residents often manage to wander away from the facility grounds. Seniors who stray from their nursing homes can be seriously injured or even die.
- Inadequate medical care: One of the most important functions of nursing home staff is to make sure the residents receive the care and attention they need. Depending on the facility, this can mean anything from providing expert therapy and nursing to administering medications.If your family member’s health deteriorates after they move into a nursing home, this might be a sign of neglect or abuse. The same applies if you notice your loved one has an excess of medication or is running out of their medications ahead of time.
- You are told you aren’t allowed to visit: Nursing home patients have the right to turn away visitors, including members of their own families. However, if the facility tries to prevent you from visiting your relative or staff members refuse to leave the room while you visit, it is important to know that these are red flags.
Is the Nursing Home or Care Facility Liable for Abuse?
If a facility resident experiences abuse or injury, the assisted care facility or nursing home could be liable. Reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your potential claim, especially if the injury or harm happened as a result of:
- Failure to provide water, food, and other basic necessities
- Failure to provide medical care or medication
- Failure to provide sufficient security
- Negligence in retention and hiring of staff including failing to verify qualifications and conduct background checks
- Negligence in training staff members and caregivers
- Negligence in the proper upkeep of equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, and other instruments
- Failure to supervise staff members
- Deliberate abuse of a resident by a member of staff
- Unnecessary physical restraint of a resident
If a nursing home or assisted care facility fails to adequately care for you or your family member, it can be liable for medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in New York and New Jersey
The Division of Nursing Homes, the New York State Department of Health, and ICF/IID Surveillance are the agencies that investigate complaints and allegations of nursing home resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and other incidents that occur in New York and New Jersey nursing homes. If you think a loved one is being abused or neglected, reporting it is the first and most important step. There are several different ways you can report physical abuse in nursing homes:
- Fill out the online Nursing Home Complaint Form (preferred method)
- Print out a PDF version of the Nursing Home Complaint Form, fill it out, and return it by email, fax, or mail
- Call the Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at 1-888-201-4563
You shouldn’t feel like you might be overreacting when you notify someone of suspected nursing home abuse. Most victims who experience abuse are not able to do so themselves. It’s possible that if you don’t report it, no one will, and many others will be abused.
When someone files a complaint, it will be investigated and one of three outcomes will be enacted:
- A resident rights violation
- A sustained abuse, mistreatment, or neglect violation
- An unsustained abuse, mistreatment, or neglect violation
If abuse, mistreatment, or neglect are successfully proven, the victim is entitled to file a civil claim for damages. The resulting lawsuit could be brought against the person or persons involved in the incident, along with the operator or manager of the nursing home.
New York and New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you have a family member who was injured due to abuse that took place while they resided in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you may be entitled to take legal action against the home and the individuals involved and hold them legally responsible.
The first step you should take is to start working with a New York or New Jersey nursing home abuse attorney who has the resources to thoroughly investigate the facility and definitively determine what happened and who is liable. Any evidence you collected will give your lawyer a good place to begin constructing your case.
An experienced nursing home abuse attorney will also know the most effective ways to prove the elements of negligence. Once these are successfully established, you will be eligible to recover financial compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and other damages as well.
The attorneys at Metro Law have years of experience litigating cases that involve physical abuse, medical malpractice, mistreatment, medication errors, sexual abuse, elder abuse in assisted living facilities, long-term care centers, and nursing homes. We are ready to put our extensive experience to work for your family. Contact the New York and New Jersey nursing home negligence lawyers at 973-344-6587 today to schedule your free consultation with Metro Law.