There may be various reasons you and your family decided to trust a nursing home facility with the care of your loved one. Sometimes the family is incapable of taking care of certain medical issues, sometimes your loved one is not willing to move to a different city or state, and sometimes your loved one would prefer to live in a facility with amenities they desire. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes treat patients with care beyond reproach, which is why it might be necessary to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer: 6 Reasons You Need Someone With Expertise
1. Locating Expert Witnesses for Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect don’t always look the same in all cases. There are a wide variety of troubling signs you should be aware of so you can report your suspicions as soon as possible. Some signs of abuse and neglect in nursing homes include:
- Unclean environment
- Weight loss
- Illness requiring hospitalization
- Extreme anxiety
- Avoidance and isolation
- Bruises and cuts
- Bed ulcers
- Broken bones
- Heavy sedation
- Verbal abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
Of course, sometimes the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect aren’t always obvious to the untrained eye. If you don’t visit the nursing home yourself regularly, you might have missed several signs that are easily overlooked or explained.
However, if you are suspicious that your loved one is suffering in a nursing home, then a nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to hire the right expert to examine the conditions of the nursing home and assess the situation. The evidence gathered by the expert will be part of the witness testimony used to build your case.
2. Requesting Independent Medical Examinations
In the case of nursing home abuse and neglect that has resulted in physical abuse, repeated hospitalization, and drastic changes in the health of your loved one, it might mean that you need to request an independent medical examination or an IME.
Although nursing homes are staffed with healthcare providers, usually nurses and a resident doctor, they still may not be truthful in the assessment of your loved one’s health, which could be detrimental. Nurses and doctors might not even have regular interaction with the residents in some cases. An IME will be able to determine the actual state of your loved one’s current health and may be able to pinpoint the causes of certain health issues, such as bed sores or ulcers and malnutrition.
Why IMEs Matter in Legal Cases
IMEs are important components in legal cases because they are an unbiased snapshot of the current health of the parties involved in the suit. An IME is often used to confirm diagnoses or counter false diagnostic reports used by the defense to undercut your case. IMEs are commonly used in all types of personal injury lawsuits as part of establishing and building your case. An IME might be the first step in gathering case evidence.
3. Reviewing Documents to Build a Case
There are many documents that are involved in building a case: sometimes hundreds or thousands. For this reason, and because many of the documents used nuanced language, you will likely need a nursing home abuse lawyer to review all of the documents pertaining to your case. For nursing home abuse allegations, there are three common types of documents that are reviewed, including:
Medical records refer to the medical records of your loved one before and after admittance to the nursing home. The documents prior to admittance will be evidence of the health of your loved one before entering the medical care of the nursing home facility, while the medical records after admittance will be evidence of any decline in health that can be attributed to malpractice or neglect within the facility. Depending on your case, the medical records may also include all medical records from the facility.
The staffing records of the nursing home facility refer to the profiles of all staff members there, including doctors, nurses, and cleaning staff. Each nursing home facility must keep records of who they hire and who they fire. Some of these staffing records may indicate that the nursing home was lax in allowing people with certain criminal backgrounds or backgrounds of abuse and neglect to work with elderly patients, which could be grounds for a lawsuit.
The employment records refer to the documents associated with each staff member’s time at the nursing home facility. This may include which shifts they worked, which patients they took care of, and any disciplinary actions taken against the employee if any. It may be prudent to look at employment records to understand if there is a pattern of abuse, neglect, or patient death under the care of a specific employee, which can also be used as evidence in your suit.
4. Understanding Who Is Liable
A nursing home abuse lawyer will understand who is liable in your case. Liability refers to the person who is responsible or the person who will be held responsible for any awards of the lawsuit. For this type of personal injury suit, there are two different liable cases.
Why the Nursing Home Owner Might Be Responsible
The owner of the nursing home may be responsible for any abuse and neglect because they made the hiring decisions that contributed to the poor care at their facility. The owner may also be guilty of cutting corners to save money, such as paying for less electricity, fewer cleaning supplies, or less food.
Why Independent Contractors Might Be Responsible
An independent contractor at a nursing facility is someone who has been hired from outside of the facility – in other words, someone who is not technically an employee of the nursing home. Independent contractors can be consulting doctors or health care aides who are hired for nursing respite care.
5. Working Within Timing Limitations
There are statutes of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including suits against nursing home facilities. In Missouri, you have 2 years from the day of the accident or incident where abuse or neglect occurred to file for a lawsuit.
Why Acting Fast Is Best
Filing for a lawsuit sooner rather than later is best because some nursing home facilities will destroy evidence or documents, and even fire witnesses to the abuse or neglect. The faster you start the process of building your case, the less time the nursing home facility has time to destroy possible evidence.
6. Determining Whether a Lawsuit Is Appropriate
A personal injury lawyer will be able to determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit by looking at your case and any evidence you have collected. While elderly abuse in nursing homes is common, it is not always the case that the decline of your loved one’s health is due to abuse or neglect. For example, you might not have grounds to sue if your loved one was in palliative or hospice care at the time of admittance.
Hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer is a smart choice if you suspect there is any abuse or neglect occurring in the facility where your loved one stays. If you are suspicious of possible signs of abuse or neglect, it’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to begin collecting possible evidence and determining whether you have a case. Contact Potts Law Firm in Westwood, KS or Springfield, MO to learn more.