The unthinkable has happened. Your loved one has been hurt by the nursing home staff who were supposed to protect her and provide her with care.
Your loved one may be elderly and she may be sick. Even without any kind of nursing home abuse or neglect, her life expectancy may have been short. However, that does not mean that her right to recovery is limited. Her life has as much value as anyone else’s and she deserved to live free of the effects of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Since 1969, our team of experienced attorneys has been representing personal injury victims. We want to help your loved one get the recovery that she deserves, and we want to hold Illinois nursing homes that commit abuse or neglect accountable for their actions so that future residents may be safe.
If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect then we invite you to learn more about what you can do, and about what we can do together, to protect her. Please download a free copy of our book, Guide for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims, and please browse the information on this page.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
It is the actions, or inactions, of nursing home staff that result in nursing home neglect and abuse injuries. Some of the common causes of nursing home abuse include:
- Understaffing of nursing homes. When the facility fails to provide a reasonable number of staff members to meet the needs of nursing home residents, then some residents may be neglected.
- Lack of adequate staff training. Nursing home staff have to be able to respond to many different types of situations some of which may be emergencies. If they lack reasonable training then they may be negligent in meeting the needs of residents.
- Deliberate acts of abuse. Nursing home residents are often vulnerable because of their ages and medical conditions and some staff members may intentionally inflict physical harm on residents.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Some specific examples of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Malnutrition or dehydration. Taking care of a nursing home resident involves more than simply providing a tray of food at meal time. Food must comply with any dietary restrictions. Nursing home residents who can eat independently should be monitored to make sure that they are eating and drinking enough. Additionally, residents who cannot eat independently should be fed in alternative ways.
- Medication errors. The right doses of the right medications should be provided to each resident at the right times and in a way that the patient can safely ingest.
- Use of physical or chemical restraints. Restraints should never be used for the convenience of staff members.
- Falls. Residents who try to get up without assistance, who slip on cluttered or wet floors, or who otherwise fall may have been neglected. Fall risk assessments should be conducted and prevention plans should be developed when appropriate.
- Wandering and elopement. Nursing home staff should always know where residents are located. A nursing home resident who leaves the property without assistance could be seriously injured.
- Failure to maintain clean and safe facilities. This may result in a fall risk or infection risk for nursing home residents.
- Violation of government standards. Nursing homes are regulated by the government to help keep residents safe. If government standards are violated then that could be evidence of negligence.
- Other forms of negligence. A nursing home resident is at risk any time a staff member fails to provide reasonable care.
Any of these types of nursing home neglect or abuse can result in physical and emotional harm to a resident.
Injuries Suffered From Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Regardless of the specific cause of nursing home neglect or abuse, serious injuries can result. Those injuries include:
- Infections. Serious infections can result from negligence or abuse, and they can be difficult to treat.
- Fractures. Bone fractures or breaks are not only painful, but they also limit a person’s mobility which can lead to further health problems.
- Bedsores. Bedsores are open wounds that can be painful and that may become infected.
- Suffocation. A resident who chokes on food or who cannot move independently in bed and gets stuck under a pillow, in the bed linens, or in the bed rail may be deprived of oxygen.
- Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a deliberate type of nursing home abuse that may result in significant physical and emotional injuries.
- Death. Any of the injuries described above, as well as many others, can result in a fatality.
If your loved one has suffered anyone of these injuries, then she needs prompt medical attention and you need to find out more about pursuing a fair and just recovery.
Damages You Can Recover for Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Injuries
Before you can decide whether or not to pursue a recovery, you need to know what your loved one or your loved one’s estate may be able to recover in a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit. Damages for the injuries suffered may include, all past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. This includes all healthcare-related expenses related to the abuse or neglect, beginning at the time of the abuse or neglect and continuing until the injury has been cured or the resident dies.
- Out-of-pocket costs. This may include, but is not limited, to funeral costs if the resident dies from abuse or neglect, moving costs if the resident is moved to another facility, and the cost of additional aides or nurses, if necessary.
- Pain and suffering. Emotional suffering and physical pain may be the most significant impacts of your loved one’s injuries and they should be compensated in a settlement or court case.
These damages will not be automatically awarded to your loved one or her estate. Instead, a settlement or court verdict will need to be pursued.
How a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Case Works in Illinois
A nursing home abuse or neglect case technically begins when a complaint is filed in an Illinois court. However, before you begin a case, it is important to know…
- Who can bring a lawsuit. The resident who was hurt, the resident’s legal guardian, or the administrator of the resident’s estate has standing to bring a nursing home neglect or abuse lawsuit in Illinois.
- How long you have to file a case. In most cases, the Illinois Statute of Limitation provides you with two years to file a case. Some exceptions do apply, however.
- How to collect evidence. Evidence may include medical records, surveillance video, witness testimony, photographs, and other things that could help prove what happened in a court of law.
- How to use expert witnesses. Expert witnesses may be important in some Illinois nursing home cases. Experts could help establish the standard of care in reasonable nursing homes, the extent of your loved one’s injuries, and other important facts.
- How settlements work. Settlements may be negotiated with insurance companies. Once a settlement is accepted, it is binding and no additional recovery is likely to be made in the future.
Additionally, it is important to know when to hire a lawyer to help you with your case and some other tips for protecting your fair recovery, including knowing:
- What to do if you suspect abuse. The first two things that you should do are to get your loved one medical care and to make sure that your loved one is in a safe living environment.
- What NOT to do if you suspect abuse. It is important that you don’t confront staff, jeopardize important evidence, take matters into your own hands, or otherwise make things more difficult for your loved one.
- How to report nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse should be reported to your loved one’s doctor, the state of Illinois, a nursing home abuse attorney, and the nursing home administrators.
Could Your Loved One Be a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?
You may be concerned that you would miss important signs of potential abuse and be unable to help your loved one. While the burden of protecting your loved one is on the nursing home and not on you, it is important to:
- Recognize the risk factors for potential abuse. All residents may be at risk but residents who are moving into nursing homes, who have dementia, who are confused, or who are unable to communicate may be at greater risk of abuse or neglect.
- Watch for signs and symptoms of abuse. This includes behavioral, physical, and emotional changes in your loved one.
And it is important to advocate for the rights of nursing home residents. Our experienced Iowa nursing home attorneys will help you do just that. Our lawyers are committed to protecting the elderly and infirmed from the horrors of nursing home abuse and negligence.
If your loved one has been hurt then we encourage you to contact us directly for a free and confidential consultation. We can be reached at any time via our website or by phone at 800-800-5678.