Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse Lawyers in West Virginia
The world’s elderly population is growing dramatically. In fact, while the number of people on the planet today who are 65 years of age or older is projected to be somewhere around 617 million, by 2050, that number is expected to skyrocket to 1.6 billion, according to the National Institutes of Health. This means that more and more people will likely require some form of long-term care, including nursing home care, in the future.
Nursing homes are designed to provide elderly persons who can no longer care for themselves with the support that they need on a day-to-day basis, ranging from help with bathing and self-care to assistance taking medications and more. While we often trust nursing homes to care for our loved ones, nursing homes don’t always provide the high standards of care that we expect. In fact, sometimes nursing homes are not only neglectful, but downright abusive to the residents they serve.
If you are the loved one of a nursing home resident/patient who has suffered harm as a result of abuse or negligence, you may have a civil action. However, the time limit to file a nursing home case in West Virginia is now one year from the date of the injury. There are other legal requirements that need to be met prior to filing a civil suit, including a notice of claim with, under many circumstances, a certificate from an expert saying that your case has merit. The one year time limit goes by very quickly. Call The Masters Law Firm today for more information.
A Nursing Home’s Duty of Care to a Patient
A nursing home, like all other medical facilities, owes a duty of care to the patients that it serves. This is the duty to care for all residents with the same level of care that other nursing home professionals (nurses, doctors, and staff members) of similar background and training would demonstrate in a similar situation. Additionally, the nursing home also has a duty to ensure that it is a reasonably safe place free from hazards that could be a danger to its residents, such as spills that could lead to slip and falls, unclean areas or medical equipment that could contribute to an infection, etc.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Despite the duty that nursing homes and nursing home staff members owe their patients, nursing home abuse and neglect is far too common. Types of abuse that may occur within a nursing home include:
Physical abuse. Physical abuse is exactly what it sounds like – hitting, kicking, biting, burning, or otherwise causing physical harm to a patient. This may be done to punish the resident, or bully or intimidate them.
Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse refers to any unwanted sexual contact between a nursing home staff member and a resident. Sexual abuse is not only cause for a civil action, it may also necessitate criminal charges against the perpetrator.
Financial exploitation. Unfortunately, nursing home staff members may try to take advantage of an elderly person’s condition by exploiting them financially. The staff member may convince the elderly person to make large cash withdrawals, change the beneficiary name on a bank account, open a new line of credit, add the staff member into their will, etc.
Neglect is not usually an intentional form of abuse, but it may be. Neglect occurs when a nursing home resident fails to receive the care they need, such as assistance using the restroom, eating, or grooming. Neglect can lead to many complications, ranging from bedsores to malnutrition and more.
Note that nursing home abuse and negligence are not always the same things. Examples of abuse are described above. Negligence can occur without abuse, but occurs when a nursing home breaches the standard of care owed to a resident. For example, making a medication error, failing to arrange for emergency care when needed, or failing to repair a hazardous condition on the property are negligent acts that can lead to a resident being harmed.
Signs of Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse
As the loved one of someone who is within a nursing home, you check in on them and do your best to see that they are receiving the level of care they deserve. If you notice any of the following signs, you should act quickly to report your concerns to nursing home management:
Unwashed clothes, hair, and other signs of a lack of grooming;
Severe deterioration in condition that cannot be explained otherwise;
Signs of physical abuse, such as bone fractures or bruises;
Changes in your loved one’s energy or personality, such as the onset of depression or withdrawal;
Any major financial changes.
You should also keep an eye out for any signs of negligence and neglect within the nursing home itself, such as a poor staff-to-patient ratio, unsafe conditions, dirty areas, poor resident health, etc.
Bringing Forth a Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse Case
If you believe that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, and if your loved one has suffered harm as a direct result, a cause of action for a civil claim exists. By filing a civil suit, your loved one can recover monetary damages as a form of compensation for the wrong suffered.
Winning a nursing home abuse claim is not easy. Our lawyers recommend that you start documenting your case as soon as possible, writing down as many details that you can about the suspected abuse and neglect. You should also report your suspicions to the nursing home manager and document this report. You can report abuse to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Health Facility Licensure & Certification. Then, you should contact an attorney who can start investigating and building your case.
Call The Masters Law Firm Today for the Help You Need
Learning that an elderly person is suffering because someone else is neglecting them or actively abusing them can be heartbreaking. Our West Virginia nursing home negligence and abuse lawyers want to hold the responsible parties liable for harm and help you and your family seek justice. To learn more about your rights and how we can serve you, please call us today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106, visit our law office in person, or use the form on our website to send us a confidential message.