Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Protecting the Vulnerable in Alabama
Making the decision to place a beloved family member into residential care is a heartbreaking one, and each of us do our best to ensure that the home we choose meets the needs of our loved ones fully.
Our elderly relatives are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and keeping them safe is everyone’s responsibility. Sadly, some of those who take responsibility for the most vulnerable abuse this power, and this results in injuries, pain, and suffering to residents.
If you suspect abuse is taking place in a nursing home, you have a legal duty to report it. The APS Act 1976 places legal obligations onto all those responsible for caring for the vulnerable, including law enforcement professionals and authorities, caregivers, agencies, individuals, and the Alabama Department of Human Resources. These figures have a legal duty to investigate any suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, as well as arranging services, petitions, and reports to court.
What Are the Types of Abuse?
Abuse comes in many forms, and these can include:
- Physical: any hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, abuse of medication, inappropriate restraint, or inadequate monitoring of prescriptions can count as physical abuse
- Psychological: this can include a lack of human contact, emotional abuse, threats to harm or leave the individual, threats to withdraw care, or preventing the resident access to anyone who could help or advise them
- Sexual: sexual abuse refers to any unwanted sex acts
- Financial or material: financial abuse can include theft, any fraud involving their financial details, coercion to hand over financial details, or threats or coercion over wills or financial transactions
- Neglect: failing to meet the basic needs of the resident, such as food, water, hygiene, warmth, or comfort
- Discrimination: including racism, sexism, homophobia, exploiting a disability, or any other form of discrimination
Many of these types of abuse can be subtle and difficult to spot. They can, however, leave life-long physical and mental scars on the abuse victim.
What Are the Signs of Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can manifest itself in a number of ways, including:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, dislocations, sprains or broken bones
- Any scars, burns, or welts
- Frequent injuries which are poorly explained
- Failing to take the right medications properly
- Signs that the victim has been physically restrained, such as rope marks
- Broken eyeglasses and excuses as to why theyhas not been repaired
- Refusal of the caregiver or suspected abuser to allow you to be alone with the resident
- Poor general hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual behavior, such as sucking a thumb, rocking, mumbling, or helplessness
- Unexplained fear
- Unexplained changes in finance or material well being
- Witnessing any controlling, belittling, or threatening behavior
- Questionable legal or financial documents, or the absence of certain documents
- Unexplained STDs or infections
- Stained or bloody underwear
- Wearing clothing which is unsuitable for the weather
- Soiled and/or dirty bedclothes, clothing, or conditions
What Do I Do If I Suspect Abuse?
If you suspect that a relative is being abused or mistreated, there are certain steps to take. The first stage is to report the abuse to the nursing home administration; make sure that you speak directly to the management and request records and documentation. Note their answers and proposed next steps.
Once this report has been made, you need to notify the relevant government agencies, like the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. These agencies will investigate the concern on your behalf and have the authority and connections to take action. In addition, you should also contact the local police if a crime has been committed, or if you fear that your loved one is in serious, imminent danger.
Once the investigation is complete, you may be able to pursue a case for personal injury on behalf of your loved one. In order to succeed, you will need to prove that the caregiver was negligent or that their actions directly contributed to the injury suffered by the victim. In some unfortunate instances, you may also have a case for a wrongful death. This will allow for damages to be claimed, and these can be used for expenses such as healthcare, pain, and suffering.
How Can We Help?
Here at Pharr & Associates Injury Attorneys, we have the skills and experience to help you tackle these crucial cases. We will work with you to advocate for your loved one and endeavour to ensure that you both get the justice you deserve. Get in touch today by calling (256) 487-6080 and let us help.