Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing homes should give you peace of mind when it comes to caring for your elderly loved one. They are designed to provide high-quality long-term care to those who can no longer take care of themselves. Sadly, not all nursing home residents enjoy the safety and peace that they deserve in nursing homes in Los Angeles. Nursing home neglect and abuse endanger the lives of thousands of residents who suffer under unacceptable conditions and criminal behaviors by staff members.
If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact a compassionate Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyer at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP at (213) 626-0571. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can hold nursing homes accountable for their wrongful acts and the grave injustices suffered by residents. We can assist you with the legal processes necessary to achieve justice and financial compensation.
Why Trust Rose, Klein & Marias With Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
- We have years of experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including nursing home abuse and neglect claims. We’ve been helping individuals and families since 1936.
- We are dedicated and compassionate injury attorneys who put our clients first. We will personalize our legal services to suit your unique needs and case goals.
- Our Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorneys work hard to achieve the results that our clients need to get their lives back on track and move forward. We’ve recovered more than $5 billion for our clients.
- We offer free initial consultations and accept clients on a contingency fee basis. This means we only charge attorney’s fees if we win.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse refers to staff members or administrators at a long-term care or living facility intentionally inflicting physical, mental, emotional or financial harm against its elderly residents. Nursing home neglect is when a nursing home fails to meet the basic needs of its residents, such as failing to offer nutritious food and adequate medical care. Nursing home abuse and neglect are dangerous acts that can result in serious resident injuries, illnesses, infections, mental declines, and deaths.
How Can a Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help?
If a nursing home resident in Los Angeles is experiencing abuse or neglect, he or she has legal rights. The victim could be eligible for financial compensation through the civil justice system for related losses. Filing a personal injury claim for nursing home abuse can hold one or more parties responsible for their actions and accountable for the injuries and losses suffered by the victim. If the victim passes away because of nursing home abuse, his or her surviving family members may be eligible for compensation for wrongful death.
You and your family don’t have to go through the legal process alone. Hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer can allow you to focus on healing and moving forward while an experienced professional handles legal matters for you. A Los Angeles injury attorney experienced in nursing home abuse claims can help you by providing the following services:
- Review your case for free to determine whether it has merit.
- Conduct a full investigation into the nursing home.
- Uncover evidence of neglect or abuse to use in the courts.
- Hire experts to testify during your case, such as medical experts.
- Aggressively negotiate a fair settlement with an insurance company.
- Take your case to trial for maximum compensation, if necessary.
- Guide your family through confusing legal proceedings.
- Give you the proper care and support that you need during this difficult time.
The right attorney by your side throughout the claims process can make a major difference to the outcome of your case as well as your legal experience. Your lawyer can prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of you and fight for optimal case results on your behalf. Meanwhile, your family can concentrate on recovering and rebuilding.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
There are multiple forms of nursing home abuse. All have the potential to cause great harm to victims. Although many people imagine physical abuse, this is only one type. Other forms may not show any outward physical signs but can harm a resident’s mental and emotional health. The four main types of nursing home abuse are:
- Physical. Physical abuse means to punch, kick, slap, push or otherwise intentionally physically harm a nursing home resident.
- Mental/emotional. Inflicting psychological distress on a resident through verbal abuse, emotional abuse, beratement, isolation, restraints, humiliation and other means.
- Sexual. Sexual contact with a nursing home resident against his or her will (sexual assault).
- Financial. The financial exploitation of a nursing home resident, such as scams, fraud or deceit to rob the victim of money or assets.
- Abandonment. A caregiver leaving a resident in his or her care unattended or leaving the resident alone for an extended period of time.
- Abduction. Removing any elder or dependent adult who cannot give consent from the State of California or restraining the individual from returning to California.
- Neglect. Failing to provide adequate care to a nursing home resident, such as by withholding proper medical care, nutrition, social stimulation and assistance.
There is also elderly abandonment, abduction, and neglect. These are all dangerous crimes that can compromise a resident’s health, safety and well-being. Nursing home abuse can cause serious physical injuries, multiple trips to the emergency room, malnourishment, changes to the victim’s mental state, guilt or shame, psychological trauma, and an overall decline in the victim’s health status. In the most serious cases, nursing home abuse in Los Angeles can result in the premature death of the victim.
Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights
Residents of California nursing homes have certain rights under state and federal law. These rights protect them from being mistreated or taken advantage of by caregivers, including staff at nursing homes and long-term living facilities. At a minimum, these rights include:
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- The right to make your own schedule and participate in activities of your choosing.
- The right to be free from discrimination and harassment.
- The right to be free from abuse and neglect.
- The right to be free from unnecessary physical or chemical restraints.
- The right to file complaints with the staff of the nursing home.
- The right to receive proper and timely medical care.
- The right to be fully informed about your medical condition and treatment plan.
- The right to choose your own doctor and participate in health care decisions.
- The right to manage your own money or have someone you trust do so for you.
- The right to keep and use your personal property.
- The right to receive private visits or communications.
- The right to spend time with visitors that you wish to see.
If a nursing home infringes upon any of the many rights that residents have under federal law, it could face penalties and may even be shut down for major infractions. If you believe that a nursing home has violated a resident’s rights, contact an attorney.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
As Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyers, we’ve seen several reasons why a nursing home staff member or another party might abuse or neglect a resident. Some incidents of abuse occur for no reason at all. In many cases, however, nursing home abuse stems from an imbalance of power between the victim and the abuser. A staff member might take advantage of a position of trust over the resident to abuse or exploit them.
In other cases, nursing home abuse and neglect come from issues within the nursing home, such as understaffing, poor staff training, dangerous or poorly maintained premises, lack of funding, and mismanagement. These issues often come from a desire by nursing home administrators to make a profit instead of providing a safe and productive space for elderly residents. Overworked and stressed nursing home employees are more likely to abuse and neglect residents.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is dramatically underreported in America. Statistics show that only about 1 in 14 cases of nursing home abuse are reported to the authorities. Underreporting may be due to the inability of victims to communicate, confusion due to dementia, fear of retaliation from the abuser and fear of not being believed. It is often up to a victim’s family members and loved ones to notice the warning signs of nursing home abuse and speak up. Common warning signs include:
- Frequent physical injuries or trips to the ER
- Broken bones and dislocations
- Burns or bite marks
- Strap marks
- Neglected sanitation or personal grooming
- Infections or bedsores
- Signs of dehydration or malnutrition
- Elopement (wandering)
- Fear of a certain staff member
- Depression or anxiety
- Mental health declines
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unusual bank account withdrawals or large gifts
If you know someone in a nursing home, take the time to visit often and ask about the conditions. If you notice any potential signs of abuse or neglect, report them immediately and consider speaking with a nursing home abuse attorney in Los Angeles, CA. Listen to your loved one and believe him or her if there are any allegations of mistreatment or abuse at the facility. Their future could be in your hands.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Nursing Home Abuse?
Yes, bedsores can be a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. A bedsore, also known as a pressure ulcer, forms due to prolonged contact between the skin and a surface, such as a bed or wheelchair. Over time, pressure in one area can cut off the flow of blood, starving and damaging the tissues there. Eventually, this can lead to necrosis, or tissue death, that creates a painful ulcer or open sore.
There are multiple stages of bedsores. In the early stages, it can be remedied by relieving pressure and restoring blood flow to the area. If not caught and treated in a timely manner, a bedsore can continue to worsen until the wound reaches the deep muscle tissues or bone. At this point, the bedsore could be fatal. Open bedsores put a resident at risk of serious infections, including sepsis. Severe bedsores may require surgery to treat.
Bedsores are generally preventable. Nursing home staff members should identify at-risk residents, such as residents with mobility limitations. Then, they should keep a schedule where they move, readjust or exercise at-risk residents to maintain a steady flow of blood and prevent pressure ulcers from forming. Nursing homes should also have special equipment to prevent bedsores, such as non-friction bedsheets and pressure-relieving mattresses.
How Do You Report Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Act quickly to prevent further harm or injury to your loved one if there are signs or claims of nursing home abuse. Taking prompt action could save a life. Take the following steps to report this crime in Los Angeles County:
- Call 911. If you are experiencing a medical emergency or believe that your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately to request assistance from local police and paramedics.
- Notify the nursing home. Take your loved one to a safe place and report your suspicions to management or administrators at the nursing home. Write down the name of the person who took your report.
- Contact local help agencies. Report your issue to LA County’s Adult Protective Services at (877) 477-3646. The Elder Abuse Hotline is available 24/7 to connect you to trained professionals who can help your family report elder abuse and obtain assistance.
- Submit an online report. In a nonemergency situation, submit a report online through the Adult Protective Services website. The APS will investigate the allegations and take steps to protect your loved one and other seniors at the nursing home.
Once you have reported nursing home abuse to the proper authorities and ensured the protection of your family member, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Los Angeles. An attorney can help your family fight for justice through all available legal outlets, including bringing a civil lawsuit against the nursing home. Filing a lawsuit can hold an abuser accountable and shed light on serious safety issues in your community.
Civil vs. Criminal Case for Nursing Home Abuse
Under California law, nursing home abuse is considered a crime. The individual who abused or neglected the victim could face multiple criminal charges depending on the nature of the offense. This could include charges for assault, battery, sexual assault, rape or exploitation. If convicted of the crime of nursing home abuse, a defendant could face penalties such as jail time, fines, community service and mandatory victim restitution.
The goal of a criminal case is to punish the defendant for breaking a law. Holding an abuser accountable for his or her actions by filing criminal charges can shed light on nursing homes in Los Angeles that fail to protect their residents from abusive and violent employees. The victim or his or her family can also pursue a civil claim for additional justice beyond what the criminal courts can provide.
It is possible to bring both criminal and civil charges against the same individual for nursing home abuse. However, it is often better to hold the nursing home vicariously liable for the actions and misconduct of its employees. This could lead to greater financial compensation awarded to a victim, as a nursing home will have more insurance coverage than an individual worker. It can also provide greater justice by holding the nursing home responsible for the failure to protect your loved one.
One of the key differences between a criminal case and a civil case for nursing home abuse is the burden of proof. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime(s) being accused beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the burden of proof is lower. It requires a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means proof that the defendant is more likely to be responsible for the victim’s injuries than not responsible. There are also different statutes of limitations and legal processes that a lawyer can help you navigate.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse in California?
If you wish to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim on behalf of your elderly loved one, it is important to act quickly. There is a time limit known as a statute of limitations on your ability to pursue a civil lawsuit. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In California, the deadline on a nursing home abuse case is two years from the last incident of abuse or neglect.
Statutes of limitations exist to encourage claimants to take prompt legal action, while important evidence and key witnesses are still available. It keeps things just for both the filing party and the defendant. If you miss your statute of limitations, you will lose the right to pursue financial compensation. This is why it is critical to contact a nursing home abuse attorney in LA as soon as possible.
How Do You Prove Nursing Home Abuse?
In the civil justice system, it is the filing party’s (plaintiff’s) responsibility to prove the claim that is being made. The plaintiff must meet the burden of proof, or the amount of evidence necessary to establish the claim as more likely to be true than not true. This burden of proof is known as a preponderance of the evidence. Although this is easier to meet than the burden of proof in a criminal case (proof beyond a reasonable doubt), it can still be difficult without assistance from a personal injury lawyer.
As a plaintiff in a nursing home abuse case in California, you may be able to prove your claim with evidence such as:
- A copy of the incident report or police report
- Prior complaints or claims against the nursing home
- Signed statements from eyewitnesses
- Statements from nursing home staff
- Photographs of injuries
- Surveillance footage from the nursing home
- Testimony from a qualified expert
- The victim’s medical records
- Proof of losses, such as bills and receipts
The evidence brought forward by the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney must establish all four elements of negligence, in most cases. Negligence refers to the failure to act with reasonable care. The four elements of negligence are duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. There must be evidence that the defendant 1) has a responsibility to act with reasonable care, 2) violated this duty through an act of wrongdoing, 3) caused the victim to be injured, and 4) the victim suffered compensable losses. An experienced Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyer can help you meet this burden of proof.
How to Access Nursing Home Medical Records
Nursing home medical records can provide important evidence during an abuse or neglect claim in Los Angeles. They can show the number of emergency room visits, how often the resident receives medical attention, and a prescription or health care regime, for example. The nursing home resident has the right to access his or her own medical records. Upon request, nursing homes are legally required to produce these records within two business days.
In addition, a legal representative of the resident has the right to access nursing home medical records. This may include a parent, guardian, power of attorney, conservator or beneficiary. Make your request in writing to the nursing home for documentation purposes. If the nursing home ignores your request or does not respond within two days, contact an attorney for assistance.
Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse Victims
If your attorney successfully proves that the nursing home or one of its staff members abused, neglected or otherwise injured you or a loved one, your family could receive financial compensation for various losses. Although no amount of money will make up for a crime such as nursing home abuse, a financial recovery can deliver justice and reduce your family’s financial stress during a difficult time.
In California, the civil justice system allows for the recovery of several past and future economic and noneconomic damages:
- Medical bills and health care expenses
- Any necessary ongoing care
- Any lost wages or inheritance
- Property losses
- Physical pain and suffering experienced by the victim
- Emotional harm or psychological damage
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages
- Punitive damages
The full list of losses that your family can claim on a nursing home abuse lawsuit will depend on the unique circumstances. An LA nursing home abuse lawyer can help you create a comprehensive list of your current and latent losses, as well as pursue maximum financial compensation from one or more defendants on your behalf. Obtaining a just financial recovery can help your family move forward after this type of injustice.
How to Choose a Nursing Home in Los Angeles
Preventing nursing home abuse is always preferred to trying to remedy a situation where abuse has already occurred. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, the wrong nursing home is chosen for your elderly loved one. A nursing home may have all the signs of a good choice on paper, but then harbor abusive workers. However, you can reduce the risk of nursing home abuse by choosing the nursing home carefully.
First, investigate your choices in Los Angeles using tools such as nursing home performance ratings and reviews. Search for a nursing home with a good ratio of residents to workers and one where residents do not often visit emergency rooms. Then, visit your top choices in person. Do not announce your visit; show up unexpectedly. This can give you a realistic idea of the cleanliness and organization of the nursing home, the safety of the premises, and how residents are treated.
Should You Sign an Arbitration Agreement?
An arbitration agreement is a legal document that can protect a nursing home from facing lawsuits for personal injuries and wrongful deaths. It may contain language that prevents an individual from going before a judge or jury for injuries that take place within the facility. Note that California law makes it illegal for a nursing home to require the signing of an arbitration agreement to admit any resident or allow a resident to stay in the facility.
If a nursing home in Los Angeles presents you with an arbitration agreement to sign upon the admission of a new resident, take the paperwork to an attorney. Signing could mean abandoning your constitutional right for your case to be heard in front of a judge or jury of your peers. It may require arbitration, instead, which can be more expensive and less fair to the victim than a court trial. An attorney can help you decide how to proceed with or without an arbitration agreement involved in your case.
Free Consultation With a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Los Angeles, CA
No resident should ever have to face abuse or mistreatment at a nursing home. If you or a loved one is a victim of this type of crime, don’t hesitate to contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP to request a free consultation in Los Angeles, CA. We are passionate about helping our clients with even the most complicated personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers can go up against nursing homes, long-term living facilities, hospices, and other defendants in LA in pursuit of justice and accountability for nursing home neglect and abuse. We can also assist with cases involving a nursing home’s failure to properly address the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about your specific nursing home abuse case, call our local law office at (213) 626-0571. We offer free, no-obligation case consultations.