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What to Do if Your Loved One Was Hurt in a Nursing Home

— November 16, 2021

Different states may have different laws regarding nursing homes and standards of care. These laws may have a significant impact on your case.

As our parents, grandparents, or other loved ones get older, taking care of them can become a full-time job. Elderly loved ones sometimes have medical needs or disabilities that require help from professionals. In such cases, people sometimes choose to entrust their loved one’s care to a nursing home. While the staff in a nursing home should be trained to help elderly patients and residents, abuse and injuries have been known to occur.

If your loved one was hurt in a nursing home, the first thing you should do is get them immediate medical attention. Older adults are a very vulnerable group of people and sometimes have a harder time recovering from injuries. Your next step should be to hire a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to help you investigate the nursing home for abuse or neglect. Because nursing home patients are so vulnerable, they are easy targets for abuse by nursing home staff members.

Upon discovering injuries, people often feel betrayed by the people they trusted their loved one to, but they also feel guilty for placing their loved in a nursing home to begin with. The law is also very complicated as both you and your elderly loved one may have different legal claims.

Getting Medical Attention for a Loved One Injured in a Nursing Home

It can sometimes be difficult to know precisely when a loved one was injured in a nursing home. We do not always have time to visit with our elderly loved ones every day, and injuries could have happened while we were away. In any case, once you know your loved one is injured, you should get them immediate medical attention.

It is important to get medical attention as soon as possible because you might not know the extent and severity of your loved one’s injuries. It is also possible that there could have been prior injuries you are unaware of that a doctor should tend to. Getting medical attention also helps create a record of your loved one’s injuries that can be used as evidence in a lawsuit.

In a hospital or doctor’s office, physicians and nurses must make extensive notes and documentation regarding any diagnoses the treatment they provide. If needed, a doctor could testify about their notes and provide their expert opinion on how they believe your loved one was injured. They may also be able to identify signs of old injuries that might have also occurred in the nursing home.

Spot the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse After a Loved One is Hurt

After discovering your loved one has been injured, you should examine the nursing home for signs of abuse. Not every injury is the result of abusive nursing home staff or conditions. Sometimes, an accident is simply an accident. However, it is important to understand the signs of abuse so you can spot them in the event your loved one is hurt.

Elderly woman covering her face; image by Cristian Newman, via
Image by Cristian Newman, via

Nursing homes are responsible for virtually every aspect of your loved one’s care. Your loved one may be entirely dependent on the nursing home staff for many or most of their daily living needs. This means signs of abuse can vary greatly. Abuse may be behind the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss or malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Health complications from mismanagement of medication
  • Bruising
  • Broken bones
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Bedsores
  • Dirty living conditions

Even if your loved one’s injuries are due to honest accidents, the nursing home may be responsible for mishandling the situation in a way that causes additional harm. For example, if your loved one is hurt in a slip and fall incident, but the nursing home fails to get them any medical attention for fear of legal consequences, the nursing home may be responsible for any resulting medical complications.

Taking Legal Action Against an Abusive Nursing Home After Injuries to Your Loved One

Taking legal action may require different procedures depending on your state. However, nursing homes are often subject to both state and federal safety standards. If these basic standards are not met, nursing homes may face legal consequences. One of the first steps you may take after deciding to pursue legal action is to investigate the basic standards of care in your state and determine if there are any violations.

The damages you and your loved one can claim will also depend on what type of injuries they suffered and any long-term complications. Medical expenses related to treatment for injuries should always be included in damages calculations. This includes the immediate treatment after discovering the injury as well as any ongoing treatment, like physical therapy or medication refills.

Your loved one also likely experienced serious pain and suffering, both physical and psychological. Elderly nursing home patients are very physically vulnerable, and they may experience a great degree of pain from their injuries. Most nursing home patients cannot leave on their own, essentially trapping them with their abusers. Serious psychological trauma is not uncommon and deserves compensation.

Speak with an Attorney About Your Loved One’s Injuries in a Nursing Home

Talking to an attorney about your case can give you a good idea of the kind of claims you may assert in a lawsuit. Different states may have different laws regarding nursing homes and standards of care. These laws may have a significant impact on your case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you figure out the kind of claim you want to make and begin collecting evidence to hold the nursing home responsible.

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