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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Anyone making the serious, difficult decision to entrust their elderly loved one’s health, welfare, and care to a nursing home or long-term care facility should rightfully expect that facility and its employees perform at the highest level of care, service, and professionalism. Unfortunately, far too often the reality falls well short of the ideal. Poor management, lack of funding, understaffing, and lack of proper training and supervision results in nursing home abuse and neglect towards far too many Californians. Because the elderly population in California is projected to nearly double by 2030, it is, unfortunately, very likely the number of abuse and neglect cases will continue to rise. When these tragic situations occur, it is important to understand the personal injury and wrongful death causes you or your loved one may assert to hold perpetrators liable and receive compensation for the damage inflicted.

Types of Abuse and Neglect

Abuse and neglect in California nursing homes has many causes, but the result is the same – you or your loved one suffers. There are many forms of abuse and neglect, but according to state law the following all meet the definition:

  • Sexual abuse;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Financial abuse;
  • Abandonment;
  • Isolation; and
  • Abduction.

Abuse and neglect may present one form at a time, but more often several forms are occurring simultaneously. Abuse may commonly surface in a cyclical pattern – first, abuse or neglect is perpetrated against the victim, followed by psychological abuse levied to keep the victim silent allowing a perpetrator to continue their harmful behavior. Due to issues such as underfunding, understaffing, and insufficient training, not all abuse and neglect is intentionally inflicted. However, all too often the abuse or neglect is used to achieve a purpose such as the coercing a victim to alter their will or obtaining control over the victim’s finances.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse and Neglect

Some signs of abuse and neglect are noticeable – however, not all signals are as obvious as the sudden appearance of a black eye. The surreptitious nature of most abuse and neglect means that not all victims will bear apparent physical marks; behavioral and emotional changes may also reflect the presence of abuse, even when all else appears normal. Common signs of abuse and neglect are:

  • Sudden behavior changes such as depression, anger, fear, or anxiety;
  • Isolation or withdrawing from others (either on their own or with the perpetrator acting as a gatekeeper to keep the victim isolated from loved ones);
  • Malnutrition or dehydration not associated with a diagnosed disease;
  • A sudden decline in personal hygiene;
  • Lack of adequate food, water, or basic amenities such as electricity;
  • Physical marks such as bruises, cuts, welts, burns, scratches, or bedsores;
  • Telling implausible stories to explain the occurrence of an injury; and/or
  • Signs of fear when the perpetrator is present or reluctance to be left alone with the perpetrator.

The treacherous nature of abuse and neglect in nursing homes requires you to remain vigilant and observant when visiting your loved one. Signs of physical, behavioral, and cognitive changes over time may indicate the presence of a serious problem, and your concerns should be voiced so they can be and investigated immediately. It is important to trust your instincts to help prevent any further abuse or neglect that may be occurring.

California Laws Against Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Neglect

California has taken steps to address the problem of neglect and abuse in nursing homes. The state passed several laws forbidding abuse and criminalizing the behavior. There currently are both civil and criminal statutes and programs penalizing California elder abuse and neglect, including:

  • The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act;
  • The Adult Protective Services program; and
  • The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

Victims of nursing home abuse or neglect and their loved ones may also be able to bring personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against the responsible nursing home for damages their victims suffer. Personal injury and wrongful death claims are based on the principle that a duty of care was owed the victim and the responsible party negligently breached that duty, resulting in harm to you or your loved one. Successful claims may result in compensatory damages, and, if fraud, oppression, or malice is shown, punitive damages.

Speak with an Attorney Experienced with Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Claims

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of abuse or neglect in a California nursing home, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney with extensive knowledge of nursing home abuse and neglect claims as soon as possible. The award-winning attorneys at Walton Law, APC have years of experience handling personal injury lawsuits and advocating for our clients to receive the best possible outcome throughout San Diego, Temecula, and Orange County. We have recovered millions in compensation and pride ourselves in providing personalized, attentive representation to each of our clients. The initial consultation is free and there is no fee unless we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys review your case and give you the guidance you need to get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (866) 338-7079 or Contact Us online to schedule your free consultation.

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