Back view of old man sitting on wheelchair in hospital hallway

Nursing homes are required to maintain a legal care standard for residents. Unfortunately, too many facilities in Texas fail to maintain that standard, and residents suffer. Nursing home abuse involves physical mistreatment of a resident, while neglect occurs when their physical and medical needs are not met.

When you discover a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, your first reaction is generally horror. Perhaps you realize a large bedsore has developed, due to lack of staff performing the regular turning required of immobile residents. Maybe your loved one is fearful, afraid of certain staff members, or has unexplained bruising or other injuries.

Take notes, take photos, and take action. Keep in mind that your reporting may not only help your loved one, but other residents in the facility.

A Richardson nursing home abuse lawyer at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP can help your loved one find justice by holding the nursing home accountable for its negligence.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Nursing home abuse and neglect are not synonymous. Abuse refers to intentional physical, emotional, or sexual acts on the part of the abuser. An aide hitting a resident is physical abuse. Emotional abuse may involve humiliating or intimidating a resident, or constantly shouting at them. Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact.

Neglect involves a lack of proper care. That ranges from failure to feed, clean, or medicate a person to not informing a nurse or doctor that the patient exhibited signs of illness. Neglect stems from not fulfilling necessary caretaking actions.

While any resident can become an abuse or neglect victim, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at greatest risk. They may not have the ability to tell relatives or friends if they are being harmed.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Nursing home abuse or neglect comprises many components.

Common signs of abuse or neglect include:

  • Assault
  • Bedsores
  • Burns
  • Dehydration
  • Failure to provide medication
  • Fractures
  • Malnutrition
  • Overmedication
  • Restraints
  • Sexual abuse
  • Unhygienic conditions
  • Wandering

Exploitation is another form of abuse. It involves using the resident’s finances without consent, such as unauthorized charges made on credit cards, or stealing money or valuables from the resident. Identity theft or dubious “loans” constitute exploitation. It also includes attempts to financially exploit a resident by having them sign documents, such as wills, leaving assets to the exploiter.

Causes of Abuse in Nursing Homes

The primary cause of nursing home abuse or neglect results from lack of staffing. When too few people are tasked with caregiving, employees often become overwhelmed. Burnout means constant staff turnover.

Because finding employees is difficult, nursing homes in Richardson TX may cut corners by hiring unqualified staff. Failure to perform background checks can mean applicants fired from previous nursing home jobs due to abusive behavior find themselves again responsible for vulnerable people. Those in the midst of battling substance abuse or mental health issues are hired to care for residents.

Poor training is another factor. Without proper training, staff can easily make mistakes that can prove injurious or life-threatening. For instance, inadequate training pertaining to medication can leave residents under or over-medicated, with serious consequences ensuing.

Nursing home abuse is sometimes patient on patient, rather than an employee hurting a resident. Staff should prevent such incidents with proper supervision, but a chronic shortage of employees and high turnover in the industry means that abuse by other residents often goes unchecked.

What to Do When Abuse Is Suspected

If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call the police at once. You must report suspected abuse to the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities (DAD). After an investigation, authorities issue a report. If abuse is found, seek a personal injury attorney specializing in elder law and nursing home abuse.

Potential Legal Remedies

When nursing home abuse occurs, the victim’s family wants to ensure that the abusers are held responsible for their actions. These are the people you trusted with your loved one’s health and welfare, and they failed miserably. A Richardson nursing home abuse lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit against the nursing home facility on behalf of the victim. Such facilities have failed to maintain that legal care standard.

Nothing will make an abuse victim whole after the pain and suffering they have undergone, but financial compensation can improve their situation and that of their family. Such a settlement holds the nursing home facility accountable. It may prevent this from happening to another innocent party.

Nursing Home Abuse Damages

Compensation, or damages, for nursing home abuse in Texas may include:

  • Economic damages, such as medical expenses and rehabilitation costs
  • Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages if the situation is particularly egregious and goes beyond mere negligence.

Texas caps medical malpractice awards at $250,000. Medical malpractice is often a component of nursing home abuse and neglect.

The sad news is that many nursing home residents die from the abuse and neglect they endured. In these cases, their estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home.

Contact a Richardson Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Knowing that your loved one suffered abuse at a nursing home can fill you with sorrow, anger, and even guilt. A Richardson nursing home abuse attorney at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP will evaluate your claim and advise you on the next steps to take.

Keep in mind the statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years from the date that the incident was reported.  These investigations take time and are often complicated, so seek legal help from a Richardson personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call us or submit our online contact form and schedule a free consultation today.