When you turn to a licensed nursing home to care for your elderly family member, you expect your loved one to receive a high standard of care. Deciding on a nursing home is never easy, and families do everything they can to find an environment that feels safe. Despite these efforts, however, many residents sadly become the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Approximately two million cases of elder abuse are reported every year in the U.S., and many cases involve adult care homes and nursing facilities. It is estimated that many more elder abuse cases go unreported each year. Nursing home residents may suffer abuse from a caregiver, staff member, or even a fellow resident. The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, or it may take the form of neglect, which is when a resident is harmed by substandard or improper care.
An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help families secure compensation for recovery and help reduce incident rates in North Carolina.
At the DeMayo Law Offices, we’re prepared to handle the unique challenges of an elder abuse case, which includes aiding family members through the litigation process.
Important Information for Family & Friends
There are two distinct types of care facilities protected under state statute: adult care homes (also called assisted living facilities) and nursing facilities.
Friends and family must be vigilant in detecting signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, as many victims may not possess the ability to speak out against their abuser.
Elder abuse, again, can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or may take the form of neglect. Common signs of elder abuse include:
- Sprains or broken bones
- Burns or bruises mysteriously appearing
- Repetitive injuries
- Torn or bloody clothing
- Bruising around the genital area
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Onset of depression or confusion
- Changes in legal documents or bank statements
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Appearance of bedsores
- Skin rashes, messy clothes, or dirty hair
If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately report them to the appropriate parties. Furthermore, North Carolina law requires reporting when ANYONE suspects an older or disabled adult is being abused, neglected or exploited. The reporter’s name is kept confidential and they’re protected from civil and criminal liability if they reported in good faith.
Adults care homes – Contact the victim’s county Department of Social Services for suspected abuse.
Nursing facilities – Contact the Division of Health Services Regulation to file a complaint.
If you or your loved one pursues legal action, records and documentation of losses will be critical to the case. Keep important documents, take pictures, and track any monetary expenses related to the injury or suffering.
How Likely Is it that Nursing Home Abuse Can Occur?
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, it is alarmingly likely that an elderly person could suffer from nursing home abuse. A survey conducted by the World Health Organization in 2017 found that more than 60 percent of nursing home staff said they had abused residents in some way. Last year, the Office of Inspector General released a report showing that one in five emergency room visits from nursing homes were related to abuse in some way.
COVID-19 Nursing Home Negligence on the Rise
As of June 2020, an overwhelming 81 percent of North Carolina COVID-19-related fatalities were of those 65 years and older, emphasizing the need for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to protect the residents living there.
With that protection, though, comes concerns. Nursing homes have implemented strict no-visiting policies in an effort to isolate their patients from the virus, but these policies mean it is harder for families to ensure their elderly loved ones are treated properly. The no-visiting policy could also impact any ongoing elder abuse investigations that were started by adult protective services before the pandemic began.
Nursing homes also face staffing issues during this time, meaning that overworked nurses have less time to devote to caring for each patient and that neglect and negligence could be on the rise.
While care facilities are required to check workers for any signs of the virus, COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are still on the rise. If you believe that your loved one contracted COVID-19 due to the negligence of their nursing home’s staff or that they have suffered from abuse or neglect, contact our nursing home abuse lawyers for a consultation.
Compensation for Nursing Home Negligence
Elder abuse or neglect can result in economic losses as well as noneconomic related suffering.
Compensation for nursing home abuse or neglect can include money for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Wrongful death
When the DeMayo Law Offices take a case, we dedicate our time and resources to:
- Examining the claim and obtaining evidence such as medical records, witness testimony, resident files, photos of the injuries and living conditions
- Speaking with staff to inform them of the situation and ensuring all parties involved cooperate in the investigation
- Pursuing the maximum compensation your loved one deserves
Elder Abuse in North Carolina
According to North Carolina’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, 3,769 complaints were received in 2016 involving adult care homes and nursing facilities.
Unfortunately, elder care staff are often overworked or untrained employees that are ill-prepared to manage patients with diverse medical needs.
North Carolina’s senior population is on the rise. It’s estimated that by 2035, one in five residents will be age 65 or older.
Since nursing home abuse and neglect has increased, a bill of rights has been established to protect the rights of nursing home residents and to ensure regulations are maintained correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Elder Abuse
Our elder abuse lawyers have experience working with many types of abuse cases, and we are frequently asked questions about elder abuse and how to detect it. Learn more about this growing issue in our country and what to do about it in North Carolina.
How many elderly people experience some form of elder abuse?
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), around 10 percent of Americans age 60 and over have been abused in some way–some estimates say about 5 million elders experience abuse each year. Of those cases, only about 1 in 14 are actually reported.
What conditions contribute to elder abuse occurring?
Often, those who experience elder abuse are socially isolated in some way or are mentally impaired. In fact, almost half of patients diagnosed with dementia are abused in some way, according to the NCOA.
Both elderly men and women are abused, but two out of three elder abuse victims are women. If you are worried about your elderly loved one being abused in a nursing home, be sure to document any possible signs of abuse you see, and keep in mind that abuse may be caused by either an employee or another resident.
Who should I report elder abuse to?
If you suspect elder abuse in any situation, contact the North Carolina State Department of Justice immediately to file a complaint or call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency. After that, you should reach out to an elder abuse attorney to review your concerns. A skilled attorney will be able to investigate your suspicions and advice you on steps you should take to keep your loved one safe.
What are the costs of elder abuse?
If the elderly person was financially abused, they could lose some or all of their life savings. Elder financial abuse and fraud end up costing billions of dollars each year, ranging anywhere from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion, based on what is actually reported to the authorities. While that is just the financial cost, the costs of pain and suffering due to nursing home abuse or elder abuse can amount to much more.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Nursing Home Abuse? Call Us For a Free Consultation.
Nursing home abuse is a serious problem that can lead to death in some cases. The Charlotte-based lawyers at the DeMayo Law Offices are dedicated to helping families who find themselves and their loved ones in this difficult situation.
Our experienced nursing home negligence lawyers work on a contingent-fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we win your case.
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