Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
Addressing the needs of an aging parent or relative can be a complicated and heartbreaking task. However, if someone is not able to have their loved one live with them, one choice many opt for is finding a comfortable nursing home. Many nursing homes are welcoming, safe spaces where your family members will be cared for by trained and compassionate staff.
However, cases of nursing home abuse or neglect sadly happen far too often. These could happen due to factors, like insufficient nursing home staff or a nursing home accident. In fact, according to a report put out by ProPublica, of the 198 nursing homes in Washington state, 75 of them currently have “serious deficiencies” which are defined as potentially causing “immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety.”
If you're concerned about potential elder abuse or neglect and would like to speak with an attorney, call us at the Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC in Kennewick, Washington. We have offices in Kennewick and Yakima and serve clients all over the state of Washington, including Richland and Pasco.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect (sometimes called nursing home abuse or elder abuse) is a sad and startling problem that could affect as many as one out of every 10 people over the age of 60. Essentially, nursing home neglect is when any resident of a care facility—like an assisted living home or nursing home—suffers due to the neglect or abuse of the facility’s staff.
This is a broad definition, one that can encompass many different actions such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Some examples of what this may look like in a nursing home are:
not changing residents' clothing or bedding regularly;
not treating injuries or illnesses promptly;
not moving a resident frequently to avoid mobility issues or bed sores;
not allowing friends or family members to visit a resident;
not providing food and water regularly;
illegally accessing a resident’s financial accounts;
not referring residents to a doctor or nurse when needed;
physical or sexual abuse;
threatening a resident in any way;
Signs of Abuse
Because we usually don’t see or interact with our loved ones on a daily basis when they’re living in a nursing home, it can often be hard to pinpoint certain signs of abuse right away. However, there are some more common signs to look out for:
Unexplained bruises or injuries.
Your loved one exhibits fear of one or more staff members.
Your loved one is hesitant to talk openly about their life in the facility.
Your loved one has contracted an unexplained sexually transmitted disease.
You notice a significant drop in weight.
The facility or your family member’s room isn’t clean.
You notice a significant worsening of medical issues.
Your loved one appears agitated or stressed when you visit.
Even if you have suspicions about abuse or inadequate care, it can be difficult to prove neglect by nursing home staff. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to work with an attorney as soon as possible.
Proving Abuse & Negligence
If there’s an immediate, life-threatening situation, you should call 911 or Adult Protective Services to make a report. However, although you can make a report without first having to show proof, you will eventually need to provide evidence and documentation to hold the responsible parties accountable.
After you’ve reported your concerns, you should then contact a local attorney with experience handling these kinds of cases who can help you gather evidence and establish who should be held liable for the neglect.
In some cases, the person liable will be a staff member alone who’s at fault, while in other cases, it could be the manager or owner of the facility. For example, if you can show there were instances or a history of neglect that staff members tried to address and report to management, but then the supervisor did nothing to address them, the supervisor would be liable.
Once you have established who is liable and have evidence to support your claim, you can then be able to file a lawsuit against them for breaching their duty of care and you can sue for any damages related to this neglect. For instance, you may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and in some cases lost wages or income. In the most serious cases, you may also be able to pursue punitive damages if the court feels they could help prevent abuse like this from happening in the future.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
If you have a loved one who’s currently living in a nursing home and you suspect they’re being abused or neglected, you need to act now to get them the help they need. For legal assistance in the Kennewick, Washington area, reach out to us at the Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC.