As the elders we love age, we have to make difficult decisions about how to make sure they get the care they need. Nursing homes may provide a solution to families who cannot afford a private nurse or don’t have the resources to take care of their aging loved ones at home. When we choose to put our loved ones in a nursing home, we expect nurses and caregivers to treat them with dignity and provide exceptional care.
Although many facilities and caregivers provide excellent care, too often they fail; sometimes this means neglecting residents and other times this means outright abuse. If you suspect or know your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, you need to stop the abuse as soon as possible. Immediately file a report with The Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services Healthcare Facility Regulation at 1-800-878-6442.
Nursing home abuse has physical, emotional, and financial consequences for victims and their families. Georgia law permits victims of nursing home abuse, or a representative on their behalf, to sue for damages. Contact our empathetic team of skilled Atlanta nursing home abuse attorneys at Brauns Law at (404) 418-8244 to discuss the specifics of your case and learn how we can assist you.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse in Georgia
Nursing home abuse is an umbrella term which encompasses a wide range of activities which harm nursing home residents. Like most states, Georgia law recognizes abuse, neglect, and exploitation of nursing home residents and seniors who live in assisted living facilities.
Nursing home residents might experience physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. Physical abuse includes the use of physical force to coerce or harm a resident, often causing physical injury. Emotional abuse, which also includes verbal abuse, includes attacking a resident’s identity, dignity, and self-esteem. Sexual abuse includes sexual contact of any kind with or towards residents without knowledge or consent. Examples of abuse include:
- Hitting, slapping, and pushing a resident
- Overuse or improper use of restraints
- Intentionally withholding food, water, and medication
- Intimidation and verbal insults
- Isolating a resident
- Threats of violence
Georgia law considers the failure of a nursing home caregiver providing for a resident’s needs as neglect. This includes failure to give residents food, water, and medical care to the level it harms or threatens to harm a resident. Leaving residents alone without supervision for long periods of time is also neglect. Residents who cannot provide for themselves can suffer harm or injury when they don’t have proper supervision.
The exploitation of nursing home residents often refers to financial abuse. Caregivers can financially exploit and abuse residents in multiple ways causing economic harm to them and their families. Some examples include:
- Improper use of resident assets
- Opening accounts in a resident’s name
- Stealing valuable property and cash
- Using possessions and property of the resident without consent
Signs Your Loved One Is Being Abused at a Nursing Home
Your loved one might be able to tell you about abuse. In some cases, residents cannot communicate, in other cases nursing home abuse victims might not report abuse because they are scared of retaliation from their abuser. When you spend time with loved ones in a nursing home, you need to remain tuned into signs which might indicate abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation:
- Physical signs of nursing home abuse are easiest to detect. Keep an eye out for bedsores, bruises cuts, wounds, and welts. If you ask your loved one about physical marks, he or she might have odd stories about them which don’t make sense. This can mean abuse. If the elder you love is being malnourished you might notice abnormal paleness, excessive weight loss, and sunken cheeks or eyes. Poor hygiene also signifies abuse or neglect, especially if your loved one has soiled clothing, excessive body odor, and constant bad breath.
- Behavioral signs of nursing home abuse are not as obvious, and other issues might cause them. You should be especially concerned when behavior strays from the usual behavior of your loved one. Some behavioral signs include depression, anxiety, confusion, disorientation, withdrawal from typical activities, fear of speaking to you in front of caregivers, and talk of suicide or dying.
- Signs of financial abuse can be obvious when you know where to look. Financial exploitation can include missing cash, checks, and other valuable property. If you handle your loved ones financial affairs, you might find unexplained credit card or debit card charges, unauthorized changes of address on financial accounts, newly opened accounts, and changes of your loved one’s credit rating.
Recovering Damages in a Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
If you sue a nursing home for damages after a loved one was abused, you might be able to recover compensation for the following damages if a Georgia court rules in your favor:
- Medical costs associated with the abuse including ambulance service, hospitalization, rehabilitation, prescription medication, and diagnostic tests
- Cost of assistive devices needed after abuse including wheelchairs, canes, and walkers
- Cost of counseling for mental trauma caused by abuse
- Future medical costs if the abuse resulted in a permanent disability
- Expenses related to moving your loved one to a different facility
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Punitive damages for gross negligence and intentional harm
Atlanta Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
People rely upon nursing homes and other extended living facilities in and around Atlanta to provide their loved ones with the care and treatment that they need in their old age. Individuals who reside in nursing homes have special needs when it comes to medication, mobility, and medical treatment. Many also suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other conditions that affect their memories and ability to function.
Sadly, these individuals are the most likely to be the victims of abuse and neglect while residing in a nursing facility. Even worse, in some cases, these individuals may not even be aware that they are being abused or neglected by a nursing home staff member, patient, or another individual at the nursing home, simply because of their condition.
If you believe that your loved one may be the victim of abuse or neglect at a nursing home, time is of the essence. The knowledgeable team of experienced Atlanta nursing home negligence lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will investigate and, if necessary, can file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services on your loved one’s behalf.
If your loved one suffered an injury or illness that you believe was caused by a nursing home or a nursing home employee’s negligence, our legal team could also file a claim or lawsuit on your loved one’s behalf, seeking monetary compensation and damages.
How does nursing home abuse and neglect occur?
Abuse and neglect in a nursing home setting occur when nursing facilities are not properly regulated and controlled. When that is the case, staff members can easily neglect residents and fail to perform their duties correctly and properly. Moreover, nursing home abuse and neglect can take on several different forms.
In some cases, a nursing home staff member may be downright abusive, such as physically, sexually, or verbally abusing the patient. Physical and sexual abuse of a nursing home patient often involves unwanted touching, harassment, or sexual penetration, while verbal abuse typically consists of shouting at patients or otherwise threatening, insulting, or harassing them verbally.
First and foremost, nursing homes are responsible for ensuring that their residents receive the medications they need. Nurses and other staff members have a duty to give their patients the correct medications in the correct dosages. They must also make sure that patients receive their medications at the correct time of day.
Mixing up residents’ medications or giving them the wrong dosages may cause patients to become seriously ill and can even have fatal consequences, in some circumstances. In any case, the nursing home may be held responsible for this negligence.
Nursing homes are also neglectful towards patients when they fail to provide patients with the proper care and treatment they deserve. For example, the nursing home may fail to regularly bathe the patient, fail to provide a patient with their meals, or fail to provide the patient with their medication at the proper times of day (or may mix up patients’ medications). All of these types of carelessness can result in serious consequences to the nursing home resident, including suffering an injury or illness, for which the nursing home is ultimately responsible.
Nursing homes are also responsible for responding to a patient’s medical complaints and symptoms. When nursing home staff members fail to take patients’ vital signs regularly or fail to respond to complaints of chest pains, they may suffer from a heart attack, stroke, or some other serious medical condition that may cause further problems or even death.
Nursing homes must also see to it that their staff members adequately supervise residents at all times. They must ensure that the nursing home is secure so that a resident cannot leave the facility on their own. Staff members must be sure to monitor residents’ movements and do everything possible to prevent residents from harming themselves and others. When nursing homes do not adequately supervise their patients, and a patient becomes injured, then the nursing home may be deemed liable for negligence.
Finally, nursing homes are also negligent when they fail to properly maintain their premises. Nursing homes must be especially careful that patient rooms, common areas (including hallways throughout the facility), and bathrooms are kept clean and free from spills and other debris.
Failing to keep the facilities clean can lead to the spread of germs and cause residents to become ill. Failing to keep the floors clean and free from debris can cause residents to fall and suffer serious injuries, including a bone fracture or some other serious injury, such as a spinal cord injury or a traumatic head injury.
If your loved one was injured while residing at a nursing home, and you believe that abuse or neglect may have played a part, the knowledgeable Atlanta nursing home negligence lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you. Our legal team can investigate the circumstances of the alleged abuse or neglect and can take legal action on your behalf, if necessary.
How long do I have to take legal action in an Atlanta nursing home negligence case?
Like all other states in the country, the state of Georgia has a statute of limitations that applies to nursing home negligence. A victim of nursing home negligence or the victim’s lawyer has a period of only two years from the date of the injury’s discovery (the injury resulting from the alleged negligence) to file a lawsuit against the facility.
Under almost all circumstances, if the nursing home resident or the resident’s attorney fails to take legal action within that two-year time frame, the nursing home resident will no longer be eligible to make a claim or file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation and damages for the injury/illness sustained.
Therefore, if you believe that your loved one was the victim of nursing home negligence or abuse, get legal counsel on board in your case as soon as possible. The knowledgeable team of Atlanta nursing home negligence attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will ensure that any lawsuit in your case is filed on time, streamlining the litigation process and ensuring that your claim for monetary compensation and damages goes forward smoothly.
Who are the potential defendants in an Atlanta nursing home negligence case?
Staff members who work at an Atlanta nursing home or assisted living facility are responsible for acting reasonably under the circumstances and adequately caring for their patients at all times. When they fail to provide their patients with the care they need, they can become a defendant in a nursing home negligence claim.
In addition to the nursing home itself, the following individuals may be possible defendants in a claim for nursing home negligence:
- Nursing assistants
- Nursing home administrators
- Physical therapists
- Staff members
If your loved one has suffered an injury or illness that resulted from an act of negligence committed by a nursing home employee, your lawyer can assist you with bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit for damages against all potentially responsible parties. We can then pursue monetary compensation in the form of damages on your loved one’s behalf.
What are some telltale signs and symptoms of Atlanta nursing home abuse and neglect?
Look out for many signs and symptoms if you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Some of the most common telltale signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Mood swings – Especially in cases when a staff member or another resident physically or sexually abuses a nursing home resident, the patient may exhibit severe mood swings. If the resident never experienced these mood swings in the past, it may be a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.
- Sudden lack of social interaction – When a loved one who was formerly upbeat suddenly takes a nosedive out of life and loses interest in activities that used to be enjoyable for them, this could be a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect that you need to investigate.
- Marks and bruises on the resident’s body – When a nursing home resident has lacerations, cuts, bruises, sores, or other injuries on their body, this could signal that the resident suffers from physical abuse or neglect while in the nursing facility.
- Bedsores – Bedsores, which are also commonly known as pressure ulcers, are often signs of uncleanliness at a nursing facility. They could be a sign that the patient was not properly bathed or regularly turned. These pressure ulcers are especially common among nursing home patients permanently confined to a bed or wheelchair and who must sit in one place for long periods of time.
- Unpleasant smells – Unpleasant smells surrounding the patient, in the patient’s room, or the patient’s bathroom, could be a sign that the nursing home is not regularly maintained properly or cleaned.
- More frequent illness – When a nursing home resident suddenly starts to become ill more frequently than they ever did before, this may be a sign of uncleanliness at the nursing home. When the staff does not clean nursing home bedrooms, restrooms, and common areas regularly, germs can spread more frequently, causing nursing home residents to become sick more often.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms when visiting your loved one in a nursing home, neglect or abuse could be taking place. The experienced Atlanta nursing home negligence lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with investigating what is going on and, if necessary, filing a complaint with the state or with the courts.
How can I take legal action against an Atlanta nursing home? What damages can my loved one recover?
The litigation process against a negligent nursing home or a negligent nursing home employee begins by filing a legal complaint in the Georgia state court system. To prevail in a nursing home negligence case, the nursing home patient (or, more likely, the patient’s lawyer) must demonstrate that the nursing home or an employee of the nursing home acted unreasonably under the circumstances (such as by failing to uphold the duty of care to the patient), resulting in the nursing home resident suffering an injury or illness.
If the nursing home patient can satisfy the legal burden of proof, the patient may be entitled to recover damages. These damages are recoverable by way of a settlement, or in some cases, a jury verdict or arbitration award.
In nursing home negligence cases, the injured patient can pursue and recover monetary compensation for:
- Medical treatment bills, including the costs of medical procedures, doctor visits, and physical therapy
- Out-of-pocket expenses, including medical costs
- Anticipated costs of future medical treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Inability to use one or more body parts due to injuries sustained
- Loss of enjoyment of life connected with the injury or illness
- Permanent disability
If the nursing home resident passed away due to the injury or illness that resulted from the nursing home’s negligence, the resident’s loved ones could bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one.
The experienced Atlanta nursing home negligence lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you pursue monetary compensation for your loved one by way of an Atlanta nursing home negligence settlement, jury verdict, or arbitration award. We will work to help your loved one recover fair and reasonable compensation for everything that they endured.
How do you prove an Atlanta nursing home abuse claim?
Proving a claim requires presenting evidence of the abuse or neglect, and demonstrating that the conduct caused your loved one’s injuries.
Some evidence in these claims can include:
- Witness statements
- Investigative reports or violations of nursing home regulations
- Employment records
- Surveillance video
- Medical records
- Physical evidence, such as stained clothing or bedding
A skilled Atlanta nursing home attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will know how to gather evidence to support your loved one’s claim.
Help Your Aging Loved One, Contact Brauns Law Today
Your elder family member deserves above standard care and respect when they reside in a nursing care facility. If the caregivers you trust have abused, neglected, or taken advantage of your aging loved one, you need to hold them accountable. When you take legal action on behalf of your loved one, you also help prevent subpar and abusive caregivers from causing harm to other residents.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, contact one of our skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Brauns Law online or at (404) 418-8244 to discuss the circumstances surrounding the abuse. We offer free consultations and handle cases on contingency, collecting attorney fees from any settlement or verdict in your favor.