Was Your Loved One Neglected in a Nursing Home?
It is difficult to imagine how anyone could harm an elderly adult, especially in a nursing home or elder care facility that is dedicated to caring for those who can’t care for themselves. Despite this, the sad truth is that elder abuse is a common problem across the U.S. Even in professionally-run nursing homes, where families are promised that their loved ones will receive quality medical care, cases of abuse are reported every year.
If you have evidence of abuse and wish to take action against the parties who have harmed your elderly relative, the Abel Law Firm is here to help. Our experienced Oklahoma City nursing home malpractice attorneys can help you fight back on behalf of your loved one. To learn more about the rights of nursing home patients and their families, call us at (405) 239-7046.
If you suspect that a loved one is being mistreated by nursing home staff, you should seek help right away. An investigation can bring you peace of mind – while reminding medical staff that someone is looking after your relative. You can contact the Statewide Abuse Hotline to report suspected abuse to the Oklahoma Adult Protect Services by calling (405) 259-1946. The Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyers at Abel Law Firm are always available to help connect you with protective services, law enforcement, and other professionals that can help, so call us right away for assistance.
Why Choose Abel Law Firm?
Nursing home abuse is prevalent and can have horrible and sometimes permanent effects on your loved ones. To avoid paying large settlements and losing their reputations, nursing homes often employ aggressive attorneys to represent and defend them in legal proceedings involving nursing home abuse.
It can be intimidating to enter into a legal battle with a team of legal experts, but you don’t have to do it alone. You need your own team that will represent your case and ensure the best possible outcome. You need an attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable in the field.
To win compensation for your loved one, you will need to prove abuse, which can be hard to do, especially when the victim is mentally impaired or too afraid to move forward with a case. You will need an attorney that has handled similar cases and knows what steps to take to make sure you prove the extent of the injuries and the amount of compensation necessary to hold the nursing home responsible.
Our attorneys have over 130 years of combined experience handling personal injury cases across Oklahoma. Good reputations are difficult to maintain, but our reputation for success is long-standing and trustworthy. We are dedicated to helping every single client that walks through our door. We understand that your family is going through a difficult time and needs the help and compassion of trusted legal professionals. We are here to provide all of the help you need, and we will guide you through your legal process every step of the way.
We understand that monetary compensation will not make up for the trauma that you and your loved one have been through, but it will help relieve some of the financial stress, and it will help get the victim the medical help and care they need and deserve.
Follow These Steps If You Suspect Your Loved One Suffered Abuse
If you notice any signs that abuse may have occurred, you should immediately remove your family member from the nursing home and have them transferred elsewhere. Whether to a hospital, another facility, or your home, it’s crucial that they are no longer in danger. Contact an Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyer to determine your legal options and assist you with your case.
It’s also vital that you avoid speaking with the nursing home owner or any staff members about your suspicions. You don’t want them to know about your intent to seek legal action against them. If you tell them the reason for moving your loved one out of the facility, that could give them adequate time to retain a lawyer and work on a solid defense against abuse allegations. Abel Law Firm can contact them when it’s time to file the insurance claim or lawsuit.
Ask for copies of your loved one’s medical records and other documents from their time at the nursing home. You should also request copies of records from the treatment of their injuries. These records are critical in proving there was an injury requiring consistent medical care to heal.
Be sure to take pictures of visible injuries and any personal property damaged during the abusive occurrences. You can also take photos of your relative’s living conditions and any damage or unsanitary areas indicating neglect. Common examples are:
- Stained bedding
- Dirty bedroom
- Property damage, such as cracked sidewalks and missing handrails
- Hazardous items left in hallways
You might also want to keep detailed notes associated with the abuse. As soon as your suspicions begin, track the warning signs you notice and any unusual or unexplained injuries, including how often they occur. Write down the names of nurses or other staff members your loved one seems to fear or feel uncomfortable being around. Take note of medical treatment, food and water intake, and mood changes. Anxiety, sudden behavior changes, and withdrawal from social activities can all indicate abuse.
Investigating Claims of Abuse at a Nursing Home
At Abel Law Firm, we have decades of experience investigating claims of nursing home abuse. The first thing we will need to do when you hire us is to determine who was at fault for the injuries your family member sustained. A nurse, maintenance worker, or even another resident could have abused them. Additionally, the nursing home could be held liable if they were aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it or negligently hired an unqualified or inexperienced employee.
We will obtain crucial evidence to prove abuse occurred and the circumstances surrounding the incident or incidents. Examples of evidence we might collect are:
- Medical records from hospitals and treating doctors
- Medical bills, prescriptions, imaging reports, and other documentation associated with the treatment of the injury
- Police/incident reports
- Records from the nursing home
- Security footage of the abuse
- Photos of the injury and conditions at the facility
- Employee records, qualifications, and criminal history or incidents involving abuse
- Nursing facility maintenance and repair reports
- Claims of abuse by other patients
- Statements from eyewitnesses
We will diligently work on your case to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Our Oklahoma City nursing home abuse attorneys understand the devastation of discovering that someone you love was forced to endure such a heinous act. We will make it our mission to hold the facility and negligent employees liable for their misconduct and pursue the maximum compensation necessary to cover your losses.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled To in Oklahoma City
Financial, emotional, and physical losses are expected following abuse. Older adults are especially vulnerable to significant injuries and ongoing pain and trauma. Some nursing home residents can’t defend themselves because of a permanent disability or issues with mobility. Others have Alzheimer’s or another cognitive illness preventing them from understanding or even remembering what happened.
The costs associated with abuse are something you and your family should not be responsible for paying. You should receive adequate compensation to cover all past and future losses, including:
- Mental anguish
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Wrongful death
If your loved one died from the abuse or their fatal injuries, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit for compensation for the losses suffered. Oklahoma law defines wrongful death as the omission or wrongful act of one party resulting in the death of another.
You can only file a lawsuit if you are the personal representative of your family member’s estate. The personal representative must represent the deceased and their heirs or beneficiaries. Typically, a close relative is appointed to handle the estate. However, if there isn’t one, the court could name one.
The available losses meant to compensate for the losses you and your loved one suffered are:
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if they continued to live
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced before dying
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
You must follow a strict timeframe if you want to sue the nursing facility or one of its employees for the abuse your loved one endured. If your loved one passed away as a result of the abuse, the time period is the same. The statute of limitations in Oklahoma is two years. That means you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date your family member was abused or died, or you could lose your right to compensation in this case.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, because the elderly population in a nursing home is especially vulnerable, they are susceptible to being victims of different types of abuse, including:
This type of abuse involves using physical force that may cause bodily harm, physical pain, or other impairment. This can include pushing, shoving, kicking, beating, or using unnecessary physical restraints. Some signs and symptoms of physical abuse include unexplained broken bones, bruising, or sudden personality or behavior changes.
The elderly population is also vulnerable because of weakening or worsening health. This can leave them susceptible to sexual abuse from nursing home employees. Having a non-consensual sexual encounter with an elder or sexual contact with an elder who cannot consent is sexual abuse and has horrible effects on victims. Some signs or symptoms include unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruises, or bleeding from the victim’s sexual organs.
This kind of abuse is harder to spot, but it can have horrible effects on a victim. Emotional abuse is when someone causes pain or distress by insulting, verbally assaulting, humiliating, threatening, or otherwise harassing or intimidating the victim. Emotional abuse can include keeping the victim socially isolated and keeping them from doing something they normally enjoy, like activities with friends or family. Signs or symptoms include sudden changes in behavior or fear.
Neglect of an elder is when a nursing home employee does not provide the victim with the care necessary to live a comfortable life. This can include not providing enough food, water, or proper medication. By not providing the necessities of life like hygiene or personal safety, nursing home employees or others can be neglecting elders by not providing the care they are paid to and are obligated to provide. Symptoms of neglect include bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, or unclean living situations.
This kind of abuse involves illegally or improperly handling a victim’s financial assets. Forging a signature to take money or property from a person in a nursing home is illegal and a form of abuse.
If you suspect your loved one is suffering from any of these forms of abuse, you can take action against the nursing home to bring them to justice.
Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs
While abuse can be obvious to outside observers, it can also be subtle and hard to detect. This is especially true in nursing homes, where patients’ relatives may not see them on a daily or even a weekly basis. You may want to discuss your options with our Oklahoma City nursing home negligence lawyers if you have noticed “red flags” such as:
- Staff members who are unwilling to answer questions or let you tour certain areas
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries on your loved one
- Deterioration in health not explained by pre-existing conditions
- Signs of trauma (regressive behavior, sudden aggression, social withdrawal)
- Unnecessary restraints or overmedication
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Loss of mobility
- Psychological injuries, such as depression or anxiety
- Tooth loss
- Cognitive impairment
- Hearing or vision loss
- Consistent medical treatment for similar injuries
You must advocate for your loved one in their time of need. They might not be able to speak for themselves or have the means to pursue a legal case. If any form of abuse or neglect has occurred, your family deserves adequate compensation to get your relative the care he or she needs. We can help you fight for justice on behalf of your family. Contact Abel Law Firm immediately if you notice any warning signs above and want to learn about the available options for holding the nursing home accountable for the harm they caused.
We Don’t Expect Upfront Payment of Our Fees
We know the economic challenges of paying the necessary medical bills for your loved one’s treatment and daily living expenses. Adding another cost could cause undue stress while you’re figuring out how to afford legal representation. You might be tempted to handle the case alone to save money, but that could end up costing you down the road, leading to less compensation than you deserve or a denied insurance claim.
At Abel Law Firm, we believe Oklahoma City residents deserve the opportunity to seek legal action against individuals and institutions for their negligent and despicable misconduct. We will take your case on contingency, meaning you won’t be expected to pay upfront fees or costs. We don’t collect our legal fees unless we win your case and recover financial compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit. If we lose your case, you won’t owe us anything.
Frequently Asked Questions
Abel Law Firm knows you have questions about state laws and legal procedures for pursuing a legal case against a nursing home. Abuse is a traumatic experience for the victim and their family. It often leads to physical injuries, emotional pain, and economic hardships. You should feel prepared when you decide to file your claim or lawsuit. Below we have answered some of the most common questions asked about nursing home abuse.
How is elder abuse defined?
When nursing homes (or family members, spouses, or adult children) take over our loved ones’ care, sometimes these centers may not treat our elders with the respect and proper care they deserve. Elder abuse covers a wide area of abuse, but it can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the elder. It can also include confinement, which is where an elder is restrained or isolated other than for medical reasons. It can also include passive neglect (failure to provide food, clothing, or other necessities) and willful deprivation (denying other care, medical devices, or physical assistance unless the elder has expressed a desire to go without it). Financial exploitation, or the misusing or withholding of an older adult’s resources, is another common abuse issue. Any of these forms of elder abuse can lead to permanent physical and mental damage to your loved ones.
Can abusers face any criminal penalties?
Most states have penalties for anyone who victimizes or abuses older adults. In Oklahoma, it is a criminal activity to abuse elders. It is best to check with an attorney to learn what an abuser’s punishment could be in Oklahoma. More and more law enforcement officers and prosecutors are being trained on elder abuse and how to utilize criminal and civil laws so that abusers can be brought to justice. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) compiles elder justice laws, statistics, and other state resources on their website.
Is elder abuse common in the United States?
The National Council on Aging reports that about one in ten Americans at or over the age of 60 have faced abuse in some form. This puts the estimate at as high as 5 million elderly people who face abuse each year. Another NCOA study estimates that only one in fourteen cases of elder abuse are even reported to authorities. Since elders are vulnerable to abuse not only by the nursing homes but also by family members, elder abuse occurs almost more often than not in any caretaker/elder relationship. The NCOA further states that in nearly 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is typically a family member. The abuser can be of any gender, and two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Are some people more vulnerable to elder abuse than others?
Some medical issues can make an older adult more vulnerable to abuse, including social isolation and mental impairment. For instance, this list could include dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that some recent studies show nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect. The NCOA further reports that interpersonal violence occurs at somewhat higher rates among adults with disabilities, which is rather unsettling.
How can someone report elder abuse?
It is recommended to call 911 if an older adult is in immediate danger. If anyone suspects that an older adult is being mistreated, they should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, a long-term care ombudsman, or the police. For further information on various scenarios and ways to get help in elder abuse situations, contact the NCEA. Or you can go to the Eldercare Locator website, which the U.S. Administration on Aging created to connect the public to services for older adults. You can reach them at 1-800-677-1116.
Abel Law Firm will fight by your side for the justice your loved one deserves. We will work hard to hold the nursing home liable for its actions and ensure your family member’s safety and future. They shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions. They should feel safe and cared for in the facility and not have to worry about anyone attacking them or denying the daily assistance they require.
Our legal team is available 24/7 to address your concerns, answer your questions, and update you on the status of your case. Until the end, we will stay by your side to offer emotional support, legal guidance, and dependable representation. You and your relative will not have to go through this experience alone.
Oklahoma City nursing home abuse attorney Ed Abel and his team at Abel Law Firm are dedicated to protecting senior citizens’ rights. If someone you love was the victim of abuse in their nursing home, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. To discuss your grounds for legal action, contact us at (405) 239-7046.