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NYC Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

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The most recent U.S. census recorded the largest percentage of the country’s population over the age of 65. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 13 percent of Americans are over the age of 65, which accounts for more than 40 million people. New York state has experienced the same type of increase in its elder population as the Baby Boomers enter into their Golden Years.

As the population of New York and the rest of the nation ages, a growing number of people end up in assisted living facilities, including nursing homes. Approximately 4 million Americans reside in a nursing home at any given point in time, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Consequently, more men and women are at risk of becoming victims of nursing home abuse in the Empire State and across the country.

As an aside, it is important to note that nursing homes provide living facilities to people who are not elderly. These include individuals afflicted with different types of disabilities that are not capable of independent living for one reason or another.

Definition of Nursing Home Mistreatment

Nursing home mistreatment comes in two general forms: neglect and abuse. More often than not, these types of mistreatment are both referred to as “nursing home abuse.”

Nursing home abuse occurs when actions or omissions create a situation or environment that is harmful to the welfare and wellbeing of a resident of a nursing home. This includes a broad spectrum of harm from actual physical abuse of a nursing home resident to neglect of that individual’s needs.

Nursing Home Abuse Personal Injury Lawsuit

A primary avenue through which a New York nursing home abuse attorney can be of assistance is in representing a victim of mistreatment in a skilled care treatment facility. The reality is that the laws and court procedures associated with a nursing home abuse lawsuit are very complex. A victim of nursing home abuse or neglect best protects his or her rights and interests by retaining the services of a New York personal injury lawyer with specific experience in practicing in this area of the law.

As an aside, in most cases, the victim of nursing home abuse is not in a position to reach out an retain legal counsel on their own initiative. By definition, they tend to have a limited ability to access a variety of different services and resources in the community, including necessary legal assistance. As a consequence, it typically falls upon a family member or even a friend or other loved one to assist a resident of a nursing care facility with appropriate legal representation in order to appropriately pursue a legal claim, and a possible lawsuit, arising out of a course of mistreatment.

Typically, the first line of assistance provided by a nursing home abuse attorney in the case of a mistreatment contention is investigating the situation and marshalling evidence together. This can include collecting documents (including medical records of the victim). Another major component of the investigatory phase is taking statements from witnesses with information about the matter or the facility more generally. (Ultimately, an attorney may take statements under oath as part of collecting evidence in regard to a mistreatment claim, a process called depositions.)

Engaging the assistance of an attorney in the pursuit of a nursing home abuse personal injury case also enhances a person’s prospects of maximizing the amount of compensation received as a result of the legal action. A person who has been mistreated, either because of abuse or neglect, in a nursing care facility, potentially is entitled to compensation for different types of damages, loses and injuries.

Compensation arising out of mistreatment in a nursing home may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses as well as compensation for any personal damages that might have been sustained. Another type of compensation that may be available in a nursing home abuse lawsuit are what legally are known as punitive damages.

Punitive damages are an additional amount of compensation awarded in a lawsuit judgment in a nursing home abuse case when the mistreatment is particularly egregious or horrific. In fact, in many or these types of cases, what a nursing home resident has had to endure proves to be particularly egregious, rendering a request for punitive damages appropriate.

Before a lawsuit is filed, a personal injury attorney can also be helpful in attempting to negotiate an appropriate settlement with an insurance company that may provide coverage to a nursing home. A person victimized by a nursing care facility must understand that an insurance company has as its objective minimizing the amount of money paid in claims. Therefore, having an attorney represent an injured person in a claim against a nursing home’s insurance company enhances that individual’s odds of obtaining appropriate compensation.

Nursing Home Abuse Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Another major area in which a New York nursing home abuse lawyer is helpful is in a case involving mistreatment of a care center resident that results in death. Legally, this is known as a wrongful death case. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by certain family members of an individual who died as the result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home.

Wrongful death cases arising from the mistreatment of a nursing car e center resident are particularly challenging legal matters. These cases can become particularly complicated when the victim is an elderly person. One of the underlying elements of a wrongful death case is that family members lose a person who would otherwise have been a part of their lives into the future.

As is the case in a lawsuit involving an injured or abused nursing home resident, punitive damages are also a possibility in wrongful death cases arising out of care center mistreatment.

Complaint with State Regulatory Agency

In addition to pursuing a civil action against a nursing home in the aftermath or mistreatment in the form of abuse or neglect, an attorney can also be of assistance in filing a complaint with an appropriate state regulatory agency. On some level, a civil lawsuit goes “hand in hand” with a complaint with the government regulatory agency that oversees in nursing care facilities. (In some instances, more than one governmental agency be involved in the reporting process.)

In many instances, if a regulatory agency makes a finding that a particular nursing care facility has violated the law or regulations governing its operations, that determination may be beneficial in a civil lawsuit brought against the center. In the final analysis, a skilled, experienced nursing home abuse lawyer is best able to facilitate this type of resolution in a manner that is most beneficial to a victim of mistreatment.

Complaint with Law Enforcement

In many cases, nursing home mistreatment arises to the level of being a violation of criminal law. Unfortunately, these cases are not always readily investigated by law enforcement officials because of the nature of these types of facilities. Criminal abuse or neglect in a nursing home simply may never come to light before a law enforcement agency.

Another area in which a nursing home abuse attorney can provide valuable assistance is making law enforcement aware of a case of mistreatment arising in a nursing care facility. Oftentimes, a lawyer will assist in not only dealing with the civil lawsuit element of a nursing home abuse matter, and the associated complaint to an appropriate regulatory agency, but will assist in preparing a complaint to be submitted to law enforcement if criminal conduct appears to have been part of the course of mistreatment. By making law enforcement aware of a case of mistreatment, other patients might be spared neglect and abuse in the future.

Initial Consultation with a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

A victim of nursing home abuse, or the family of an individual mistreated in a care facility, can learn more about how an attorney can be of assistance by scheduling what is known as an initial consultation. New York personal injury attorneys, including those that represent people in cases of nursing home mistreatment, typically meet with potential clients to discuss a specific nursing home abuse matter.

Through an initial consultation, an attorney has the opportunity to obtain a general overview of the facts and circumstances of a particular care center mistreatment matter. An attorney will be able to share with a potential client some general ideas about how a nursing home abuse claim is made or lawsuit is pursued.

As a general rule, a nursing home abuse – personal injury attorney in New York usually charges no fee for an initial consultation. In fact, more often than not, a New York attorney representing a client in a nursing home abuse matter charges no fee unless and until that lawyer obtains a settlement or wins a judgment on behalf of his or her client.

With so many elderly people in nursing homes combined with the lack of nursing care available, abuse within nursing homes is more common than anyone would like to face. According to the CDC, as of 2014, there were only 15,600 nursing homes with the number of residents exceeding 1.4 million. They also report that for every case of elder abuse there are 23 cases that are not reported or that remain hidden from the authorities.

While it’s understandable that staff in a nursing home is overwhelmed, underpaid and underappreciated, it’s no excuse for the abuse of the elderly under their care. The nursing home is responsible for hiring qualified nursing staff that cares deeply about providing the best care for the patients in the facility. When they are not providing adequate care, they should be held accountable. As an advocate for your loved one, you should be vigilant in ensuring that you’re keeping an eye out for abuse and neglect as well as demanding compensation if abuse is detected.

Types of Abuse and Neglect

Violent Crimes
When an elderly person in a nursing facility has been hurt in a violent way, you should be contacting the authorities immediately. You should never worry that you’re wrongly accusing someone of abuse if you believe there’s reason to be suspicious. The authorities will investigate claims of abuse. A violent crime could be assault, battery or crimes such as sexual abuse.

Violent crimes could include serious abuse that results in fractures, bruises or other harm. It also includes abuse in the form of administering medications that will keep a patient docile.

Warning Signs of Violent Crimes:

  • Broken bones
  • Bruises
  • Behavioral changes
  • Hospitalization
  • Changes in personality

Neglect
Nursing home abuse isn’t reported or noticed because it can be incredibly subtle abuse that comes from neglect. The elder might end up with bedsores from not being moved or changed. The loved one could be malnourished, or their hygiene might be compromised. All of these are neglect. Your loved one should be able to expect attention and care while in the nursing facility. When their needs are ignored, that is considered neglect.

Warning Signs of Neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Weight loss
  • Constant sickness
  • Illness not reported to family
  • Malnourishment
  • Dehydration

Falls and Fractures
The elderly person could fall and fracture their bones quite easily. It might be abuse or neglect if care wasn’t taken to ensure that the patient was safe. For example, if your loved one fell after another resident spilled something that wasn’t cleaned promptly, that could be grounds for a lawsuit. The injury stemmed from the neglect of the staff to take care of the facility. The elderly should be able to expect a safe environment.

Warning Signs:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Falls or fractures that are not reported

Lack of Medical Care
When the elderly are left in the care of a nursing facility, it’s often because family can’t provide the constant medical care they require. That care might be for bedridden patients, those who need insulin because of diabetes or medications for infections and sickness. The nursing staff should be taking care of all the patient’s needs within the facility.

Warning Signs that Loved One isn’t Receiving Medical Care:

  • Frequent sickness
  • Not receiving medicine or insulin
  • Changes in illness

Facility Cleanliness
Along with the care of the patient, the care of the facility can lead to problems. Bedrooms and bathrooms should be clean and sanitary. They should be cleaned regularly to ensure they are meeting guidelines for cleanliness.

Verbal Abuse
Your loved one might be abused without anyone putting a hand on him or her. Verbal abuse can be just as devastating as other abuse. It could include berating the elderly person, making them fearful or threatening to harm them. It might even involve ignoring an elderly person when they make a request, or making them fearful enough that they don’t want to make any requests at all.

Warning Signs:

  • Patient reluctant to talk in front of staff
  • Change in personality
  • Sudden fear of a staff member or making requests of staff

Financial Exploitation
Some nursing home residents have had their identities or money stolen. They can become targets of scams from nursing home staff too. Anytime the elderly rely on another for their care, they have a chance to be abused or exploited. A nursing facility that doesn’t screen its staff or perform background checks should be held responsible in case of abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly in their care.

Another common type of abuse is when a facility charges the elderly person for services that were never performed. When the elderly person isn’t receiving services or is receiving ones that are unnecessary, so they are charged, that’s abuse too.

Wrongful Death
Pain and injury due to abuse or neglect can lead to an elderly person’s death. They are more susceptible to sickness and serious injury than others. Death can occur from neglect, abuse or misdiagnosis of medical conditions too.

What You Should Do When Abuse is Suspected
While you should definitely call the authorities if you suspect abuse, if abuse has been confirmed that leaves your loved one impacted from the abuse or neglect. In turn, this has a serious impact on your family as well. In some cases, the facility might be shut down or the offending staff member might be relieved of duties. All of these scenarios do not negate the fact that your loved one has been victimized.

An attorney who handles nursing home abuse and neglect can get your family the compensation they need to move your loved one to a better facility, find them private care or bring them home with a private duty nurse where you can better watch their care on a daily basis.

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