Phoenix Nursing Home Abuse Victim Lawyers
Do you suspect that a loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, hospital, or private care facility? If so, the state of Arizona allows you to pursue both criminal and civil legal action against the liable parties. To find out more, contact The Husband and Wife Law Team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. You and your family may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered. For a free case evaluation, call us today at (602) 267-1280.
Nursing home abuse can happen at even the nicest Phoenix nursing homes. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, between 7.6% and 10% of study participants experienced abuse. To make matters worse, the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case of elder abuse reported, there are 24 unknown cases!
As elder abuse attorneys, we've put together some information about the types of abuse that occur in nursing homes, adult day cares, and similar facilities. Here are warning signs to watch out for:
- Emotional abuse: Warning signs include changes in personality or behavior, withdrawal, depression, nervousness, or frequent arguments or tension between the patient and the caregiver.
- Physical abuse: Warning signs include unexplained cuts, sprains, fractures, bruises, or any signs of being restrained or confined (for instance, rope marks on the wrists), or the patient being kept in an over-medicated or under-medicated state.
- Sexual abuse: Warning signs include unexplained genital infections or venereal disease; torn or bloody underclothing; and vaginal or anal bleeding.
- Financial abuse: Warning signs include sudden large withdrawals from the elderly person's bank accounts; changes in regular banking habits; abrupt changes in financial documents (such as a will); and unexplained disappearance of personal possessions.
- Neglect: Warning signs include drastic weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores; staff delaying or refusing to allow visitors to see the patient; and staff not allowing the elderly person to be alone with visitors.
Arizona offers a wide variety of long-term care facilities that accept elderly residents and, unfortunately, abuse and neglect can occur at all of them. Some facilities will have more resources and funding, meaning they can provide better care, fully screen and train staff, and respond to violations swiftly. However, even the most high-class nursing home can allow abuse.
Elderly abuse can occur at:
- Nursing Homes
- Independent Living Communities
- Assisted Living Facilities
- Residential Care Homes
- Adult Rehabilitation Facilities
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities
- Adult Day Cares
- Alzheimer Facilities
In addition to these facilities, private caregivers that come to you or your loved one’s home can also commit abuse. It is important to fully review every option when it comes to providing for an elderly loved one. You will want to check online reviews, tour facilities, speak with other residents, and talk to your friends and family about the best options available for your loved one.
Not all abuse or neglect is obvious, and you may need to pay close attention to your loved one and how they feel around certain staff members to identify if there is an issue. It is entirely possible that your loved one’s fall was purely accidental and not a result of the nursing home neglecting them. However, there are common signs of abuse and neglect you will want to be aware of, including:
- Sudden, unexplained scrapes and bruises
- Fear of certain staff members
- Mood swings
- Poor hygiene
- Sudden, unexplained infections
- Strange financial transactions
- Staff members that refuse to leave the room when you visit
In order to spot abuse, you may wish to perform unannounced visits to the facility, speak to other residents or their family members, and check for any federal or state violations through AZ-Care Check, an online database managed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. If you notice any signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation at your loved one’s care facility, immediate action must be taken to hold the abusers responsible. Don't hesitate to contact the authorities, file a complaint, and start gathering evidence of wrongdoing. Those responsible should be held accountable.
One of the major complications of identifying nursing home abuse and neglect is memory-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. These medical conditions make it extremely difficult for residents to speak out about their treatment at a facility. They may not be able to explain why they were injured or the reasoning behind certain financial transactions. Their mental states can also vary, and certain conditions will overlap with the signs of abuse we listed above, making it harder for you to identify if abuse or neglect has occurred.
In addition, staff members have to more careful in how they treat residents, as they can become confused, suffer mood swings, and even fight back against staff that may be trying to help them. Sadly, staff members can overstep their duties and put your loved one in danger of suffering a serious injury, such as by forcefully restraining them or over-prescribing them anti-psychotics (which is a federal offense). They may also end up neglecting a resident by allowing them to wander around a facility or outside the facility, which can be extremely dangerous.
There is still no excuse for mishandling a resident, even if their medical condition makes it more difficult. Staff should be properly trained in how to handle residents with dementia and provide the best possible care. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you will want to pay extra attention to their treatment and care.
If you or a loved one has been abused, neglected, or otherwise mistreated while in a nursing home, you may be able to file a claim and hold the nursing home responsible for any injuries they have suffered. In addition to being able to hold them accountable through safety violations, you may be able to recover compensation that covers the costs of your loved one’s injuries and their pain and suffering.
When filing a claim, whether your case is settled in negotiations or goes to court, you will need to prove that the abuse or neglect actually occurred and that the nursing home was required to prevent it. This involves demonstrating three different criteria to prove damages in a nursing home abuse case. Once you bring the case to Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we’ll not only help with those criteria, but we’ll also help you get the compensation you deserve.
In order to prove nursing home abuse or neglect, our legal team will establish that:
- The facility owed a duty of care to the patient, based on the contract that was signed.
- The facility breached that duty of care by not providing the care that was promised in the contract.
- The facility’s breach of duty of care caused injury or suffering to the patient.
Each of these instances of abuse we outlined above can constitute a violation of the duty of care. Nursing homes in Arizona are required to provide the best possible treatment and care for their residents and, when they fail to do so and injure a resident, victims and their families can file claims against them.
When filing a personal injury claim against a nursing home, you will need to outline who specifically caused your loved one’s injuries or illness through neglect or abuse. There are several individuals who can be held liable, most of which come under the administration of the long-term care facility.
The individuals you can hold liable in a nursing home abuse claim include:
Staff Members: Because nursing home staff have the most contact with residents, they must have a tight handle on their treatment and care. If they actively commit abuse against a resident or neglect to provide for them, they can be held liable for punitive damages. In addition, because they are effectively an extension of the nursing home, the home itself can be subject to a claim for allowing the abuse to occur.
Administrators: Sometimes nursing home neglect comes as a result of a lack of administrative guidance or enforcement of nursing home standards of care. Neglect often occurs as a result of an administrator refusing to review a resident’s care and treatment, such as their dietary needs, medical conditions, and the sanitation quality of a facility. In addition, financial abuse can occur if an administrator overcharges a resident or their family for treatment and care.
Other Residents: It is completely possible for your family member to be injured by an angry, violent, or dangerous resident. Nursing homes should run background checks on all residents to ensure they are allowing dangerous individuals on the premises who may assault other residents.
Visitors: It is not uncommon for other visitors to a nursing home to commit abuse against your loved one. They may befriend your loved one to commit financial fraud or some other form of abuse.
Any individual who abuses your loved one deserves to be held accountable for their actions. This can include causing physical injuries to them, neglecting their needs, and manipulating them. In some instances, this abuse can be fatal.
"Wrongful death" is a legal term used to describe a situation in which a person dies as a result of the misconduct of another person or organization. And it’s not uncommon for wrongful death lawsuits to be filed in cases involving nursing home abuse or neglect. Any situation in which a death was preventable, and caused by another person, can be included in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death in a nursing home most often comes as a result of abuse. In these cases, the resident or patient cannot tell anyone about the abuse and so, sadly, it continues on until a wrongful death occurs. While families often turn to the nurse in charge of the loved one, nursing home abuse can also come at the hands of a doctor, therapist, aide, administrator, or even maintenance workers.
At Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we know the range of emotions one feels after a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse. We know that confusion, shock, anger, and disbelief are all very common, and that’s why we pride ourselves on the compassionate and professional advice and representation we provide. We know the actions to take that can hold someone accountable for the injury or death of a loved one in a nursing home.
If you or someone you loved has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact The Husband and Wife Law Team. Our Phoenix personal injury attorneys can launch an in-depth investigation into the facility and hold any staff member or administrator accountable for harming your loved one. Nothing is more important than protecting your loved one and making sure the person who injured them provides proper compensation. Call us at (602) 267-1280 to get the legal attention you need.
Recent Nursing Home Abuse Case Verdict:
- Elder Self-Neglect: Who Is Liable?
- Arizona Is Home to 17 of the Country’s Worst Nursing Homes
- Abuse Remains a Danger in Arizona Nursing Homes
- Be Careful in Choosing a Phoenix Nursing Home
- Elder Abuse - National Institute on Aging
- Elder Abuse - MedlinePlus
- National Center on Elder Abuse
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer