It can be heartbreaking to suspect that your family member is the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect at the nursing home where you placed him. Unfortunately, he may not even realize that he is being abused or neglected and may not have the ability to take action to assert his legal rights. Often adult family members must do this for the elderly nursing home resident. If you are taking this important step to protect your loved one, you want to know what to expect if you hire a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to help you. These are some of the steps your attorney should take after your initial consultation.
Investigate Your Loved One’s Claim
In many cases, the nursing home and its insurance company will deny that their staff did anything wrong. This means that you would need to prove the nursing home’s liability in order to obtain the compensation your family member deserves. An experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney will investigate your claim and gather evidence to start building your loved one’s case. This could include doing the following:
Interview witnesses. Your attorney should interview your family member who is the victim of the abuse or neglect if he can communicate with your lawyer. He may also want to interview family members or friends who witnessed the illegal treatment or who observed changes in your loved one’s physical or psychological condition.
Interview former employees. Former employees can provide a wealth of information, not only about how your loved one was treated, but also about the nursing home practices or treatment of residents in general.
Review records. Your attorney should request a copy of survey reports and inspection reports that may provide evidence of violations of federal or state regulations regarding the care of residents—powerful evidence of abuse and neglect. He may also examine reports of nurses or physicians to determine if they deviated from the standard of care applicable to your loved one’s medical condition. He may also find valuable information on the nursing homes procedural manuals regarding the care of the nursing home residents.
Medical records and other records. Depending on the type of abuse and neglect going on, your attorney could obtain your family member’s medical records to prove the nursing home staff made medical errors, failed to treat his medical conditions, or did not provide sufficient hydration or nutrition. If other types of abuse are suspected, the attorney may need to request other documents, such as financial records if staff is suspected of stealing from your loved one.
Research the law. Nursing homes are governed by many state and federal laws that are designed to protect residents from abuse and neglect and ensure they receive quality care. Your attorney will need to research laws that could be applicable to your case to help prove that the nursing home violated those laws—powerful evidence of its liability.
Negotiate With the Nursing Home
Once your attorney completes his initial investigation, he may assist you in filing an administrative complaint against the nursing home. He will also most likely send the nursing home a demand letter outlining the abuse or neglect your loved one is experiencing, demand that it stop these harmful practices, and ask for a settlement amount that compensates your loved one for his injuries. He may enter into negotiations with the nursing home and its insurance company. Whether he will be able to settle the claim at this point will depend on a number of factors. These include how strong your family member’s case is, the evidence your attorney uncovers, and the insurance adjuster’s willingness to be reasonable in settling the claim.
File a Lawsuit
If settlement negotiations are not productive or the statute of limitations—the time period to sue—will expire soon, your attorney should file a lawsuit against the nursing home and liable staff members. During the litigation process, he will continue to collect evidence to build the case against the nursing home and staff, prepare for trial, and attempt to settle the case when he believes negotiations would be more fruitful.
If you suspect a family member is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, I urge you to take legal actions to protect his rights. Call our firm today at 877-401-6689 to schedule a free consultation to learn how David Brauns can help you obtain justice for your loved one.