Proving Fault in Nursing Home Neglect Cases
Nursing home injuries are often the result of neglect by one or more caregivers in the facility. If your loved one received an injury in a nursing home, contacting a lawyer is a great first step to stopping the abuse and holding the caregiver responsible for their negligence. The lawyer will work with you to gather evidence that proves the abuser is at fault.
Elements of an Elder Neglect Case
To prove fault, your lawyer will need to demonstrate that your elder neglect case contains these important elements: duty of care, breach of duty, and causation.
1. Duty of Care
Care-givers and nursing homes sign a contract to the Duty of Care Principle. Your lawyer will help prove that. Duty of Care is a recognized legal obligation that all healthcare providers have to provide patients with a reasonable standard of care, which includes avoiding behaviors, like neglect, that would put an elder in harm’s way.
2. Breach of Duty
Your lawyer will need to prove that the nursing home violated the Duty of Care principle. They will gather sufficient evidentiary support. This includes, witness statements, incident reports, and photographs that shows proof that the facility was indeed negligent toward the person under their care and supervision.
Additionally, to proving that the nursing home breached their Duty of Care obligation, your elder abuse attorney will also need to prove that their actions (or lack thereof) resulted in serious harm to the elderly individual. This task can oftentimes be challenging because many seniors underreport nursing home neglect due to personal embarrassment or a fear of retaliation from the abuser. This is why it’s important to encourage elderly loved ones to detail their experience so that the lawyer can find a connection to their injury. If their story differs significantly from the caregiver’s, it may be necessary to involve law enforcement or the local long-term care ombudsman agency to investigate the claim.
Types of Elder Neglect
The evidence gathering stage of your case may reveal various types of elder neglect, including:
- Broken bones and bruises: If the senior is left to fend for themselves, they may try to do things that are normally difficult for them to carry out on their own. This can result in slips and falls that cause broken bones, bruises, and lacerations.
- Bed sores: Elders with limited mobility may be left in bed all day. Without regular movement, they can develop bed sores, which can lead to serious infections if left untreated.
- Poor personal hygiene: When neglected, the victim may always appear dirty and disheveled. Their oral hygiene will decline rapidly, and their bedding may be soiled frequently.
- Malnourishment: The individual may be dehydrated and experience rapid, unexplained weight loss. Their special diet plan may be ignored.
- Poor medication management: The elder may not receive all of their medications on the prescribed schedule. They may not be able to recall what types of medications they take or when they should take them. Poor medication management can lead to worsening health issues for the senior.
- Isolation: Isolation is a form of elder neglect that can cause some severe psychological changes for the victim. Seniors distant from other nursing home residents may battle depression, be withdrawn, or act out in anger against family members and caregivers.
Proving Damages in Your Case
To win your case, your lawyer will have to show that damages have occurred as a result of the nursing home’s negligence. The court will use this evidence to measure how much compensation the elder can receive. Incident reports are the standard way to determine what damages the victim in a nursing home neglect case can receive. However, staff members are unlikely to admit fault in an incident report. For that reason, your lawyer may consult with an unbiased medical specialist to get their professional opinion on the matter at hand.
Your lawyer may be able to prove damages with:
- Photographs of injuries
- An elder’s journal
- Written statements from witnesses
- Medical records
With this evidence, your lawyer will work to prove that specific injuries were a result of the nursing home’s negligence. If found at fault, the nursing home may to pay the elder damages that are dependent on the particular circumstances of their case. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we will work hard to maximize your compensation.
How Can I Report Nursing Home Neglect?
If you suspect that nursing home neglect has occurred, there are a variety of ways that you can report it to authorities. First, you should report incidents to the facility administrator. This will help you start a paper trail so if you have to proceed to more extreme measures. However, if you report issues to the administrator and feel like they didn’t resolve the issue then your next step should be to file a report to Adult Protective Services. This agency will refer you to your county’s long-term care ombudsman and, if necessary, bring in law enforcement to investigate the neglect in question.
At this point, it is a good idea to contact an elder abuse attorney. The attorney will inform you of your rights and advise the steps to take so that you can maximize your recovery. These steps might include:
- Gathering incident reports to show a pattern of neglect
- Taking photos of any obvious injuries
- Obtaining a professional evaluation of the elder’s current medical condition
- Asking family members and witnesses to provide their testimony of the neglect
Bakersfield Elder Neglect Lawyer
Consult a lawyer if your family member has received neglect by a nursing home or other long-term care facility. An elder abuse lawyer can help you hold the nursing home accountable for their actions. To get started, contact the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We work with elderly victims in Bakersfield and the surrounding area, and we’re ready to help you with your case.