Nursing home abuse lawsuits are an unfortunate necessity. Although recent legislation has targeted nursing home improvements at the state and national level, many nursing homes fall short of federal requirements for safe and sanitary living conditions under the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). While state authorities conduct inspections to ensure nursing homes meet these requirements, the wheels of compliance turn slowly. In the meantime, families of nursing home residents should not tolerate any abuse or neglect by nursing home staff.
The elderly depend on nursing homes to provide compassionate and thoughtful care. They should feel at ease in their surroundings and their families should be confident that all their health needs are being adequately met. If your loved one has suffered from any type of abuse or neglect at a nursing home, you may have grounds to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Nursing home abuse lawsuits can earn plaintiffs settlements that cover medical costs, lost wages, and, in the worst cases, funeral expenses.
Nursing Home Resident Rights and Protections
Nursing home residents should know their rights. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) establishes the following rights for nursing home residents:
Communication: Nursing homes are required to inform residents of their rights and provide them in writing in a language they understand.
Discrimination: Nursing homes are not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion.
Freedom from Abuse and Neglect: Nursing homes are required to investigate and report any suspected violations of elder abuse laws and any questionable injuries within five working days to the appropriate authorities.
Freedom from Restraints: Nursing homes are not allowed to use physical or chemical restraints of any kind.
The Right to Make Complaints: Nursing home residents should feel free to complain to staff or other authorities without fear of retaliation. The nursing home should address any concerns promptly.
Medical Care: Nursing home residents should be given information about their health status, as well as any prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Residents should also be able to participate in decisions that affect their care and create advance directives, including a health care proxy, a power of attorney, and a living will.
Notifications: Elderly patients have the right to have legal representatives or family members notified of their condition and treatment needs.
Information on Fees: Nursing home residents should be aware in advance of any fees the nursing home will charge. The long-term care facility should also tell residents how to get a refund if they paid for a service that is covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
Money Management: Elderly residents can manage their own money or designate someone to manage their money for them. Nursing home staff should not interfere with financial affairs. Nursing homes must allow residents to access their funds and financial records.
Visitors: Elderly people are allowed to spend time with visitors.
Want to Know More? You can read the complete guide to nursing home patient rights on the CMS website.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse:
Any signs of neglect or physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse should be promptly reported and investigated.
Look out for the following signs of elder abuse and neglect:
- Missing or broken hearing aids, eyeglasses, or any other everyday devices.
- Sudden loss of interest in activities
- New depression or hostility
- Fear of nursing home staff
- Injuries that do not get reported
- Injuries in various stages of healing
- Changes in patient condition that are not reported to family members
- Insanitary conditions, e.g. dirty clothes and bed sheets
- Burns or bruises
- Bed sores (or “pressure ulcers”)
- Signs of overmedication or under medication
- Missing funds or newfound anxiety about finances
- Poor hygiene
- Malnutrition or dehydration
Nursing Home Neglect Settlement Cases
Covid-19 led to a major increase in nursing home neglect lawsuits as well as wrongful death lawsuits.
- In February 2023, the New York Attorney General settled a case with the Saratoga Center for Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care for $7.1 million. This followed allegations that the nursing home failed to provide medication to its residents and did not supply hot water and clean linens. Further, residents had suffered from falls and bedsores as a result of neglect.
- Massachusetts settled with five nursing homes following allegations of elder neglect. The nursing homes agreed to return a total of $250,000 to the state.
- In 2019, a California nursing home agreed to pay $2.3 million following allegations that the facility submitted false claims to Medicare while providing substandard nursing home care to residents. This substandard care allegedly led to overmedicating patients with psychotropic drugs, circumstances that allowed for excessive falls, and resident-on-resident altercations.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
It typically takes anywhere from 18 months to three years to settle a nursing home lawsuit. That said, every case is different, and you should speak with a nursing home abuse attorney to get a better idea of how long your case could take.
What do Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Do?
Nursing home abuse lawyers work to investigate nursing home abuse cases to win settlements for their clients. They can help their clients make the most of the discovery process during a civil trial and may have a better idea of how much their clients should ask for in a settlement. If you are thinking of pursuing a nursing home abuse lawsuit, speak to an attorney who specializes in this area of law as soon as possible.