Johns Creek Elder Abuse Lawyer
Nursing Home Neglect Attorney in Johns Creek, GA
When loved ones, usually one or both aging parents, are unable to adequately care for themselves, families often decide that a nursing home or assisted living facility is the safest place for them. We expect the facility to provide our elderly loved ones the necessary medical care, meals, recreation, and other activities in a clean and safe environment. When those we trust to care for our elders exhibit neglectful or negligent behavior, and injury or death results, you need a skilled Johns Creek Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer to be a strong advocate in your corner.
Georgia laws were established to protect our elderly in residential nursing homes under its Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Nursing Care found in O.C.G.A §31-8-126. These include the right to be free from discrimination in how care and other needs are administered, to privacy, freedom of choice, to be free of physical restraints, and to live a dignified life among many other rights. Federal law also guarantees residents a dignified existence. 42 CFR § 483.10.
However, when the facility and/or its staff is negligent and our loved one sustains an injury, we expect the facility to be held accountable. If you are suspicious that your parent was mistreated, our Johns Creek nursing home neglect lawyer can investigate and prosecute your claim.
Nursing homes are regulated by federal and state laws. If the facility does not comply with regulations, it can be fined, lose its certification, and be subject to civil liability. In extreme cases where staff has assaulted residents or robbed them, criminal prosecution may be sought.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect
Nursing home neglect takes several forms. The most common are:
Failure to Provide Basic Needs
Residents are entitled to decent and adequate food, heat and air conditioning, clothing, and an opportunity for leisure or recreational activity.
Residents have a medical or health plan that details their condition, medications, nutritional requirements, and special needs such as a wheelchair, walker, or other assisted living devices. Too often, the staff does not administer medication at the proper time, if at all. If a resident falls and is injured, or is suffering from an illness, staff may not immediately seek medical care or will ignore the injuries or symptoms until they worsen, or the resident succumbs to them.
Residents should not be isolated or be subject to verbal abuse. Staff may see fit to punish residents by preventing them from engaging in activities, withholding food or drink, or by insulting or mocking them.
Physical neglect and abuse
Ill-trained or abusive staff have slapped or struck residents, shook or pinched them, and even engaged in sexual molestation. If a resident presents a problem to them, staff may place restraints on the person and confine them to bed. A common affliction among residents who are bed-ridden is bedsores, also called decubitus ulcers, because the staff has failed to change their position. If not treated, the sores can become infected and lead to serious complications.
Signs of Neglect
As the child or another relative of the resident, you should be aware of signs that your loved one is experiencing neglect. Common signs or symptoms include:
- Bed sores, also known as decubitus ulcers
- Bruises on limbs or genital areas
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Unexplained or nonsensical explanations for wounds, cuts or other injuries
- Unclean rooms and facilities
- Missing medications
- Sudden changes in behavior such as fear of staff
- Not wanting to engage or socialize
- Unreported illnesses or injuries
- Heavy sedation
Injuries and illnesses need to be addressed immediately to prevent further complications This can also create a medical record and expert opinion as to the cause of the resident’s condition.
The Issue of Understaffing
There are few nursing homes that have not been fined for any variety of violations, but understaffing is probably the most commonly cited as the underlying cause of neglect or malpractice. It is reported that nearly 95% of all nursing homes in the US are understaffed according to a study by the National Medical Association.
Finding and retaining competent nursing home staff is difficult in the nursing home industry It is usually a low-paid, high-stress position that does not attract people who are passionate or care deeply about their jobs or the people for whom they care. Also, the owners of the homes are only too willing to cut costs wherever they can, including hiring a sufficient number of staff.
Without an adequate and trained staff, or having employees who are overworked and overwhelmed, residents will not get their medications or the proper dosages. If sick or injured, they may be ignored, or medical care delayed. Rooms will not be cleaned, and food may not be properly cooked or maintained. Overworked staff are prone to fatigue and frustration and forgot about the people they are supposed to be helping. It is not unusual to find residents restrained to prevent them from wandering.
The great majority of cases where residents are found to be suffering physical and emotional injuries caused by neglect can be traced to an understaffed facility.
Accountability and Liability
Residents or their relatives can report suspected violations by calling any of several agencies including Georgia Adult Protective Services, the Georgia Office of Attorney General, or the Georgia Council of Community Ombudsman.
You have the right as the resident’s guardian to make a complaint to the nursing home administrators who have 3 business days to resolve the issue or respond to the resident in writing. If the response is inadequate or the issue unresolved, then contact the community or state ombudsman who is an appointed official designated to investigate such complaints. Should the issue remain unresolved, you may have a hearing before a mutually agreed referee at the nursing home. A decision must be rendered within 72-hours and contain recommendations for remedying the complaint.
You are not required to first exhaust these or any other administrative remedies before filing a private claim against the nursing home. A Johns Creek personal injury attorney is available to file the complaint and to handle your claim in a professional manner.
Any complaint alleging professional malpractice or neglect, including one against a nursing home, requires an affidavit of merit by an expert such as a physician or an administrator who can attest that the home was negligent in some aspect and that the negligence was the legal cause of the resident’s injuries. O.C.G.A. § 9.11.9.
Along with requesting or subpoenaing the nursing home records including those pertaining to any staff who are the subject of the abuse or neglect, an investigator might interview former staff of the home. These individuals can provide valuable information on how your loved one was treated by the staff at the time. Other information can be obtained from them regarding hiring policies and practices, staff training, how other residents were treated, how the facility was cleaned or maintained, or specific instances of neglect or abuse. In many cases, testimony from former staff can be highly persuasive in convincing a nursing home to agree to a reasonable monetary settlement.
Complaints against nursing homes can be difficult to prosecute since many of these facilities will retain highly experienced defense attorneys who will object to producing evidence, refuse to turn over documents, delay the proceedings, or take any other actions to frustrate you so that you either dismiss the complaint or settle for a nominal amount. A Johns Creek nursing home neglect lawyer can stop these tactics and bring your family justice.
Damages in Nursing Home Neglect Cases
You can allege and collect certain damages in nursing home neglect cases:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was malicious, fraudulent, wanton, willful, or oppressive
Get Legal Counsel for Your Claim – Call a Skilled Johns Creek Elder Abuse & Neglect Attorney
A Johns Creek elder abuse lawyer at Tobin Injury Law has the resources and the skills needed in these often complex cases to achieve the results you want and expect. Don’t try to navigate the complicated process alone. Get trusted assistance. Reach out to us at (678) 566-4006, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our convenient online form. There’s nothing more important than getting your loved one into a safe place. After that, let us help you seek justice and compensation for the wrongs they have suffered. Do not delay, contact us as soon as possible.