When do I need to hire a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
Few topics are more difficult for a family member than nursing home abuse and neglect. When a loved one makes a transition from their home to a nursing home, retirement community, or long-term care center, we want to know that they will be treated with the love respect they deserve. Unfortunately, the fancy brochures featuring cozy apartments, arts & crafts, community events, and dining facilities fail to mention is that nursing home abuse and neglect is a real problem affecting nursing home residents and their loved ones. This is not to say that the state of South Carolina is without upstanding nursing homes and caring nursing home employees. It is important to ensure, though, that nursing home residents and their loved ones understand the rights of residents and the responsibilities of nursing homes. When those rights are abused, or when nursing homes fail to meet state-mandated responsibilities, there exists legal recourse. If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact a dedicated South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer immediately.
Under South Carolina law, nursing home residents have a right to independent personal decision-making within the nursing home facility. This means that employees cannot force residents to partake in activities or do things that they do not with to do.
As unfortunate as it may seem, South Carolina nursing home staff often mistreat residents, by abusing and neglecting them in a variety of different ways. Some different types of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Look for Signs of Abuse:Dehydration or malnutrition;
- Bed sores or frozen joints;
- Poor hygiene;
- Abrupt behavioral changes;
- Signs of physical injuries such as bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, or fractures;
- Venereal disease or genital infections, vaginal or anal bleeding;
- Nursing home resident is not allowed to be alone with visitors or visits are delayed;
- Large sums of money suddenly withdrawn from resident’s bank accounts;
- Wills and/or financial documents are abruptly changed; or
- Nursing home resident’s possessions are missing.
If you suspect that your loved one has experienced any or all of these types of elder abuse and neglect by a S.C. nursing home provider, it is imperative that you speak with a South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer immediately to find out how you can be compensated.
Most South Carolina nursing home and South Carolina assisted living residents never bring to justice those who have abused or neglected them. This is true for both elders who are abused by family members and elders who live in nursing or assisted living homes. A recent study published in the National Center for Biotechnical Information found that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to the authorities. Ninety percent of elder abusers are family members of the elder, due to the higher percentage of people 60 years and older living with family, as opposed to assisted living and nursing homes. If you have been abused by a family member, or you have been abused or neglected by staff of a nursing home facility or assisted living home, contact an experienced lawyer immediately.
You can protect your loved ones from further abuse and neglect by learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect. Because older people, especially those who are very old or have dementia or other disabilities, are afraid of retaliation and are generally fearful of the abuser, you cannot expect them to speak up to you or to others about abuse and neglect they are facing. It is up to you to bring the abuse to a stop. If you suspect abuse but are not sure, contact a lawyer and the proper authorities at once. It is never wrong to be careful in these situations, as abuse and neglect have serious implications with the quality of life and life expectancy of older people.
Signs of physical abuse are as follows:
- Injuries that are unexplained or denied by the older person;
- Bruising, cuts, broken bones, sprains, burns, scrapes, pressure marks from grabbing, and other injuries (especially when they are on both sides of the body); and
- The older person flinches, cowers, or attempts to hide in the presence of certain staff.
Signs of neglect:
- Unattended medical needs and wrong prescriptions;
- Bedsores and/or unclean bedding;
- Dirty clothes and disheveled appearance; and
- Drastic or unusual weight loss.
Signs of financial abuse:
- Unexplained bank account withdrawals;
- Bounced checks;
- Unusual and unexpected new “best friends,” especially when there is a large age difference;
- Secretism; and
- Unusual changes in a will or estate.
Signs of emotional abuse from being yelled at, taunted, teased, belittled, and being treated like a child often coincide with signs of neglect and physical abuse. Many types of sexual abuse, such as any unwanted touching, groping, kissing, and nonconsensual sex also create behavioral issues and physical telltales that are similar to the signs of emotional and physical abuse.
What to Do If Your Loved One Has Been the Victim of South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Contact the Facility about Nursing Home Abuse
This is the fastest way to resolve the situation, assuming administrators make a good faith effort to work with you, as they are required to do by law.
However, if there is rampant abuse at the nursing home, you are more likely to encounter administrators who are difficult to work with. They may get defensive and seem uninterested in helping you to determine what happened and how to hold the abuser(s) accountable.
File a Complaint with the SC Long-Term Care Ombudsman
If you cannot get anywhere by contacting the nursing home, file a complaint with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Contact the representative assigned to your area of the state.
One of the office’s many goals is to intervene to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults.
Contact the Department of Health and Environmental Control about Nursing Home Abuse
You can also contact South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) by completing a complaint form online or calling, emailing, mailing or faxing the DHEC, which will forward your complaint to the Office on Aging.
Call the Department of Social Services about Nursing Home Abuse
Under the Omnibus Adult Protection Act, the Adult Protective Services division of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services is tasked with ensuring that elderly adults are safe.
That is why you can contact this division to report claims of nursing home abuse or neglect. Find contact information by clicking on the county where the nursing home facility is located.
Gather Evidence of South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse
Before or after you submit your complaint, begin collecting evidence documenting the abuse your loved one suffered.
Create a written record of events, including:
- Dates, times and locations of instances of abuse or neglect
- How the abuse has affected your loved one
- Perpetrators of the abuse
- Witnesses and their accounts of what happened and conditions at the facility
- Concerns you have expressed to nursing home staff
You should also take pictures of key evidence, including the location where the abuse occurred and your loved one’s injuries.
Contact Our South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have many years of combined experience with nursing home abuse claims. We can help you in every step of the process, from contacting the facility to investigating the complaint and filing a lawsuit, if necessary
In terms of specific violations of the rights of South Carolina’s nursing home residents, neglect, prescription medication errors, unsanitary facility conditions, physical abuse, and sexual abuse are typical. With regard to the responsibilities of nursing homes, facilities must meet stringent state standards specifying the requisite experience level of staff members and professional quality of health care. Know the rights of your loved one, and when you suspect those rights have been violated, contact a dedicated South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer today to discuss any civil and criminal legal actions available to you.
The Strom Law Firm – one of South Carolina’s most prominent in the area of personal injury – provides precisely the highly effective and experienced lawyers needed to handle nursing home abuse or neglect related personal injury claims. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to learn how we can serve you in this time of need. The Strom Law Firm has offices in Columbia but handles cases state wide and is dedicated to serving the community with its highly effective and experienced team of lawyers. Call us at 803-252-4800