Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence
Nursing home abuse and neglect are concerns for families across the United States. Hawaii is no exception. Several nursing homes in The Aloha State have been flagged for providing substandard care to residents in recent years. Safety violations ranged from inadequate supervision to pest infestations that left cockroaches crawling on residents.
No one should experience the horror of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, an attorney from Recovery Law Center can help you take legal action and pursue maximum compensation. Call or contact us today for a free and confidential case review.
Who Can Sue for Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home residents can sue facilities themselves if they are legally and mentally capable. Family members such as spouses, parents, or adult children can also sue on behalf of nursing home residents if they possess power of attorney.
Regardless of who files the lawsuit, it’s essential to keep in mind that strict time limits apply to legal cases. Every personal injury lawsuit in Hawaii, including nursing home abuse or neglect claims, must be filed within two years of the original injury or incident. If you wait too long to file, you could lose your right to compensation.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home abuse takes many forms, including:
- Physical abuse occurs when someone intentionally or negligently inflicts harm or bodily injury on a nursing home resident. Common examples include striking, shaking, shoving, pinching, or restraining patients unnecessarily.
- Psychological abuse involves inflicting emotional distress or anguish on a resident. Verbal assault, insults, threats, humiliation, intimidation, harassment, and social isolation are types of psychological abuse.
- Financial abuse involves illegally taking or misappropriating a patient’s money, property, or assets. Examples include defrauding patients into signing financial agreements and stealing money, jewelry, or other valuables.
- Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact with a resident. This is true whether the contact occurs through force, coercion, or exploitation of status.
- Neglect happens when a facility or its employees fail to meet a patient’s physical, psychological, or social needs. Victims of neglect may suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, and health problems stemming from a lack of attention to their basic needs.
Good Reasons to Sue a Nursing Home
If you suspect any facility of abuse or neglect, discuss your options to sue with a knowledgeable attorney immediately. Look for these warning signs:
- Unexplained bruises or lacerations
- Untreated or open wounds
- Strangulation, burn, bite, or restraint marks
- Fall indicators, such as broken glasses
- Unexplained changes in behavior
- Unusual lack of self-care or self-esteem
- General agitation or emotional distress
- A decline in communication or responsiveness
- Self-soothing behaviors that are out of the ordinary, such as rocking or sucking
- Withdrawal from daily activities
- New diagnoses of sexually-transmitted diseases or infections
- Abrupt or unexplained changes in bank account balances
- Bills for services never rendered
- Unexplained withdrawals or missing valuables
- Abrupt changes to wills, estate plans, or powers of attorney
- Dehydration, malnutrition, or lack of proper medication
- Substandard personal hygiene
- Unsanitary or inappropriate clothing, linens, or quarters
How Do I File a Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit?
If you know or suspect you have grounds for a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit in Hawaii, take the following steps to establish a strong foundation for your case:
- Speak to your loved one – Before you do anything else, ask your loved one about your concerns privately. Many abuse victims fear speaking up, so trust your gut if anything feels off.
- Request corrective measures – If a nursing home is run well, the administration will want to do everything possible to provide safe, comfortable accommodations. Before resorting to legal action, speak to administrators to see whether they will listen to your concerns and recommend reasonable solutions.
- Be observant and take notes – Quality facilities with nothing to hide won’t mind polite visitors showing up unexpectedly or asking questions. Don’t hesitate to respectfully call out unfamiliar practices or document procedures that seem unsafe.
- Call the police, if necessary – If you believe your loved one is in imminent danger or being subjected to abuse, don’t wait to take action. Call 911 promptly and, if necessary, remove your loved one from the facility.
- File a report with Adult Protective Services – If the nursing home administrators are unwilling to address your concerns, you may want to file a report with Hawaii’s Adult Protective Services (APS) agency.
- Contact a nursing home abuse attorney – An experienced lawyer can help you hold negligent nursing home facilities and administrators accountable for their actions.
Proving a Nursing Home Negligence Case
Proving nursing home abuse or neglect can be challenging, especially when it’s just one person’s word against another’s. A skilled lawyer will collect detailed evidence to support your claim. Potential evidence in a nursing home abuse case may include:
- Personal notes and observations regarding suspected abuse or neglect
- Nursing home or medical records from Medicare or Medicaid
- Photographs of visible injuries and unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
- Records of previous APS complaints filed against the nursing home
- Statements from witnesses, such as other residents, visitors, or employees
- Records of past facility inspections, including citations and licensing issues