Discovering that your elderly loved one is being mistreated is undeniably heartbreaking. Filing a nursing home abuse claim can help you seek justice for your loved one, but there are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid as you prepare your case.
Mistakes To Avoid When Making A Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Ignoring Verbal Abuse
Nursing home staff members have stressful jobs with a lot of responsibility. Recognizing this, you may be tempted to brush off unkind words as a sign that a nurse's aide is overworked or simply having a bad day. However, verbal abuse is often accompanied by physical abuse, medication theft, financial exploitation, and other forms of mistreatment. It is a warning sign that indicates the need for a deeper look into the care your loved one is receiving.
Believing Flimsy Excuses for Injuries
Often, nursing home abuse goes on for quite some time before it is discovered. This is generally because residents are ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid of retaliation if they admit to being victims of abuse. If your loved one insists that injuries are accidental but has a vague and unconvincing explanation, trust your gut instincts.
Forgetting to Take Pictures of Injuries
When your loved one is suffering, taking pictures is probably the last thing on your mind. However, photos of injuries can prove valuable as evidence in a nursing home abuse claim. Take pictures of injuries as they heal, including close-up and full body shots. You should also photograph the area where the injuries occurred from multiple angles. For example, if your loved one has pressure sores from not being repositioned frequently in bed, you should take photos of the bed and bedroom, as well as the actual sores.
Keeping Poor Records
If you suspect your loved one is receiving improper care, detailed records are essential. Write down the day and time you visited the facility, what specific behaviors you witnessed, and who was caring for your loved one at the time. If you were not allowed to visit your loved one during visiting hours without a reasonable explanation, this is of particular concern. Restricted family visits can be an attempt to hide abuse, conceal understaffing, or punish a resident who has been vocal about her mistreatment.
Assuming Dementia Limits the Ability to Recover Damages
Although elderly people with dementia may have trouble accurately explaining what has happened to them, they have the same legal rights as other nursing home residents. Medical records and witness testimony can be used to build a case when the victim does not have the cognitive ability to testify about the abuse.
Assuming Residents Can't Be Abusive
Although most forms of nursing home abuse involve acts committed by a caretaker, resident-on-resident nursing home abuse is a safety risk that shouldn't be ignored. Aggression and anger are often dementia symptoms, so pushing, shoving, yelling, kicking, and spitting are common forms of resident-on-resident abuse. Abusive behavior is most common when two residents share a single room, but abuse can also occur in common areas without any provocation. Since a nursing home's duty is to provide a safe environment for all residents, failing to curb abusive behavior by other residents is unacceptable under any circumstances.
Confronting an Abuser Directly
You should never confront a suspected abuser directly. This may lead to retaliation against your loved one or provide the individual with the opportunity to destroy evidence that could be used to build your case. The only people in the nursing home you should discuss abuse allegations with are the facility administrators.
Forgoing Legal Representation
Nursing home abuse cases are quite complex, which means that retaining an experienced attorney is the best way to protect the rights of your loved one. Your attorney can document damages and establish liability, which leaves you free to spend as much time as possible with your loved one.
The dedicated legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to protecting the rights of elderly Louisiana residents who are victims of nursing home abuse. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.