Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It is difficult to imagine that there are those negligent or criminal enough to prey on the vulnerable elderly population. Sadly, this is exactly the case in thousands of nursing homes around the country. With more than 100,000 residents in certified nursing facilities in the state of California, a significant fraction of our population is at the mercy of nursing home professionals. When these professionals neglect or abuse nursing home residents, the lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp want to help. Our aggressive attorneys are passionate about defending victims of elderly neglect and abuse.
About Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse
Nursing home abuse remains widely under-reported due to victims feeling too frightened, intimidated, or embarrassed to come forward. Many victims are not in lucid states of mind due to conditions or illnesses, and either cannot report their traumas or fear no one will believe them. At Eric Ratinoff Law Corp, we take allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect extremely seriously. We are compassionate in fighting for people who have no voice, and will investigate your claims thoroughly to see if they have merit. Our team has more than 50 years of combined personal injury experience, and we have represented clients in cases involving:
- Nursing home neglect
- Bedsores and unexplained injuries
- Slips and falls
- Nursing home abuse
- Wrongful death
Nursing homes and their employees are responsible not only for residents’ physical well-being, but their mental and psycho social needs as well. Feeding residents improper diets, failing to bathe them or change adult diapers, mentally and physically abusing them, or defrauding them financially are all grounds for personal injury lawsuits. A lawsuit is the best way to seek compensation for damages, shed light on terrible practices at your loved one’s nursing home, and help end nursing home neglect and abuse for good.
Types of Elder Neglect We’ve Encountered
Elder neglect occurs when a caregiver, facility manager, property owner, or staff member fails in his/her duties of care, resulting in harm to the resident. Nursing home negligence can lead to injuries, worsened health, mental and emotional distress, and even wrongful death. The personal injury attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp have fought for and won settlements for nursing home negligence victims and their families in Sacramento, CA. View our case results. Types of nursing home negligence include:
- Emotional or social neglect. Repeatedly ignoring the resident or leaving him/her alone.
- Physical neglect. Failing to adequately take care of dirty laundry, bathing, cleaning, brushing teeth, and other types of hygienic duties.
- Basic needs neglect. Every nursing home resident has basic needs the facility must fulfill, such as appropriate food, water, and a safe and clean environment.
- Medical neglect. Failing to give a resident the professional medical attention he or she needs, such as taking emergency action. Medical neglect also includes failure to reasonably prevent harm to residents. Examples include bedsores, cuts, burns, infections, and diabetes.
Nursing home neglect is takes many forms. There is no exact definition of elder neglect – anything that stems from carelessness or recklessness and leads to resident injury may constitute neglect. If you believe a nursing home facility and/or employee is neglecting your loved one, help is available. Speak to the attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp to discuss your individual case in more detail.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Signs of nursing home neglect include a dirty facility, rude staff members, pressure ulcers or unexplained injuries, sudden weight loss, dehydration/malnutrition, or unusual changes in the behavior, moods, and/or personal hygiene of residents. Environmental hazards such as poor lighting or unsafe furniture can also point to neglect.
When checking up on your elderly loved one, look for signs of malnutrition such as white or colorless lips, sagging and loose skin, or unusual weight loss. Pay attention if your loved one complains about the food – don’t dismiss it as picky eating or lack of appetite from medication. Check for dirty clothes, soiled adult diapers, bedsores, or a room that’s unusually messy. These are signs of neglect, or intentional neglect as a form of abuse.
Bedsores are common telltale signs of elder neglect in a nursing home or other facility. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, occur when areas of the skin are under pressure from lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair too long. Going two to three hours without blood supply can create a bedsore, which can eventually break open and become infected. Bedsores can occur when someone is in a coma, unable to sense pain, or bedridden.
Bedsores can relate to the quality of care the elderly person receives. It is a nursing staff member’s job to turn the person, position him/her correctly, and take good care of skin and nutrition to prevent bedsores. Common areas to check for bedsores are the buttocks area, heels of the feet, back of the head, and backs of the knees. If the nursing staff does not have an adequate reason for the formation of a bed sore, your loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect.
There are four types of nursing home abuse: physical, mental, sexual, and financial. Physical abuse can cause serious injuries and wrongful death on top of mental anguish and emotional distress. The Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging defines physical elder abuse as the “willful infliction” of injury, intimidation, unreasonable confinement, or cruel punishment by a caregiver or another person.
Nursing home employees can physically abuse residents by handling them too roughly, pushing them down, utilizing improper restraining methods, or using physical violence to force or threaten a resident into doing something. Physical abuse can include scratching, slapping, biting, shoving, hitting, or inappropriate use of restraints. Physical abuse has the most obvious warning signs, including:
- Unexplained injuries or trips to the hospital
- Multiple injuries in a short period of time
- Different stories as to how the resident became injured
- Mysterious bruising
- Marks in the shapes of handprints
- Marks in areas that are usually concealed, such as the midsection
- Marks that could have come from improper use of restraints
- Scratches or bite marks
- Burn marks
Physical abuse can also have mental, emotional, and social repercussions on victims. An elderly resident may show changes in behavior, such as suddenly becoming withdrawn, anxious, or depressed. If you see any signs of elderly abuse, such as staff members handling residents inappropriately, call the authorities right away. Then, contact Eric Ratinoff Corp for legal advice. We believe in people over profits, and will always act to defend the rights of abuse victims.
Mental or emotional abuse can be more difficult to spot, as they do not leave a physical mark. Emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Nursing home staff members may be guilty of mental abuse if they leave the resident alone too long, isolate the resident, use inappropriate punishments, humiliate the elderly person, habitually blame the resident, or otherwise terrorize, threaten, or intimidate the resident. Victims of elderly mental/emotional abuse often choose to not speak out against their abusers. Victims often experience feelings of guilt, fear, shame, or humiliation. It is often up to loved ones to notice signs that something is amiss, including:
- Low self esteem
- Avoiding eye contact
- Feelings of hopelessness or depression
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame
- Appearing scared, disturbed, or anxious
- Sudden changes in mood
- Trouble sleeping
- Sudden loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in regular hobbies/social events
- Not wanting to see friends or family members
- Urges to inflict self harm
An elderly person living with emotional abuse may not feel able to make his or her own decisions. If you notice your loved one suddenly refusing to speak openly or explain his/her recent behaviors and choices, you may have a case of elder abuse on your hands. Pay attention to how staff members talk to one another, as this can be a good indication of how they speak to residents when no one else is around. Report any incidents you witness of staff shouting at residents or speaking to them in demeaning ways.
It is possible to bring a claim against a nursing home facility in the absence of physical harm. Emotional distress and mental anguish are very real damages in the California civil court system. Although these damages are intangible, the courts can still assign them value based on the type of abuse and level of psychological trauma the victim experienced. The attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp will work relentlessly to help victims of elder emotional abuse receive fair compensation for mental, emotional, and psychological damages.
One of the most heinous forms of elder abuse, sexual abuse is a sad and disturbing reality for many nursing home residents. Sexual abuse describes any non-consensual sexual contact made with an elderly person. Research into elder abuse is limited, but what we do know is that cases of sexual abuse have occurred involving nursing home staff, assistants, live-in nurses, friends, and even family members.
If you are responsible for the care of your elderly loved one, never leave him or her alone with someone you do not know very well or trust. Even if your loved one does not mention sexual abuse, he or she may exhibit signs such as:
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Unexplained pelvic injury
- New sexually transmitted diseases
- Bruising of the thighs or genitalia
- Bloody, stained, or torn undergarments
- Bleeding or irritation of the anus or genitalia
- Extreme anxiety or agitation
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Post-traumatic stress disorder or panic attacks
- Inappropriate or unusual sexual behavior
- Attempts at suicide
In many cases, sexual abuse goes hand in hand with mental abuse. Someone can trick, threaten, or coerce an elderly person into sexual contact. Elderly sexual abuse is largely understudied due to lack of reporting. Victims may feel shame or guilt, be too scared of their perpetrators, or have illnesses or conditions that prevent them from saying anything. Always be on the lookout for sexual abuse in your elderly loved one, and report any signs to authorities immediately.
Financial abuse, or financial exploitation, is the improper or illegal use of someone else’s funds or assets. Nursing home residents are at risk of financial abuse because they may not be aware of the state of their finances. They are also more vulnerable to bullying and physical/mental abuse to threaten or force them into obliging. Nursing home staff, friends, family, and strangers may financially abuse the elderly by cashing checks without permission, forging the person’s signature, stealing money, deceiving the person into signing documents such as wills, or making improper use of guardianship to steal.
Any person who comes in contact with a nursing home resident may become a financial abuser. In the majority of cases, the guilty party had a close relationship with the elderly victim. This includes friends, family members, and caregivers. In some cases, a nursing home staff member may become friends with a resident just to learn more about his/her finances, and then try to coerce or threaten the person (often using physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse as well) into gifting the money. Signs of financial abuse include:
- Sudden fluctuations in funds or assets
- Abrupt changes to the person’s will or other contracts
- Unexplained monetary gifts or donations to another individual
- Missing personal belongings
- Forged signatures on financial transactions
- Caregivers who try to isolate residents
You can prevent financial abuse by learning the warning signs and keeping a close eye on your loved one’s finances. Communicate with banks to detect and notify you of suspicious account activity, and consider a geriatric care manager to oversee the complete care of your loved one.
Take a Stand Against Nursing Home Abuse
If your elderly loved one exhibits any signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Eric Ratinoff Law Corp for a free consultation. We understand this area of law in Sacramento, CA and know how to act in our clients’ best interests. The defendant in your nursing home case may be an individual caregiver, nursing home employee, or the facility itself. A nursing home facility may be guilty of negligence if one of its employees causes harm due to rules of vicarious liability. The facility may also be guilty of negligent hiring, inadequate training, understaffing, breach of contract, or medication errors. Call (916) 970-9100 to speak to experienced, caring, and assertive lawyers in Sacramento today.