Long Island Nursing Home Abuse

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Entrusting a loved one’s care to a nursing home or assisted living facility is one of the most difficult choices family members can make. Yet as relatives enter their golden years, they may need more intensive care than their families can provide. Handpicking the right facility is difficult ― and it’s hard to determine which facility will treat your family member with the utmost care and attention – so naturally, it’s devastating when you learn a beloved family member suffered nursing home abuse behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, laws regulating nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not always strong enough to protect New York’s most vulnerable populations. Many facilities are underfunded and understaffed, creating a situation where others can easily mistreat an elderly person. According to a global study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed and highly regarded medical journal, roughly 16 percent of all adults aged 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse, much of which occurs in nursing homes.

lonely senior woman in a wheelchairIf you or a family member has been neglected or abused in a Long Island nursing home, contact Finz & Finz, P.C., right away. We are a third-generation personal injury and medical malpractice law firm with extensive experience litigating Long Island nursing home abuse cases. Anyone injured due to nursing home abuse deserves compensation for their injuries, and we know how to identify and preserve the necessary evidence to help you prevail on your claim. Our team of nursing home abuse lawyers, paralegals and nurses is bolstered by our strong relationships with world-renowned medical experts, who can be retained to testify on your family member’s behalf at trial. We have a strong record of exceptional results for our clients, so contact us today for your free initial consultation.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse occurs every day, but it’s not always easy to detect. Some of the most common nursing home injuries include:

  • Falls — Harmful slips, trips, or falls could be caused by poor supervision or inadequate maintenance at nursing homes. A resident might slip and fall if they’re trying to move around the facility or leave their bed without assistance, which can happen if there aren’t enough nurses or aides to care for residents. Slippery floors, loose carpeting, stray cables, and other hazards can cause falls if facilities aren’t careful about maintenance.
  • Bone fractures — Falls can cause nursing home residents to break bones, and many falls result from negligence. Patients can also suffer broken bones due to physical assaults by staff or other residents or when nursing home employees are too rough while trying to restrain a resident.
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers – Many nursing home residents have a difficult time with mobility, and they often rely on nurses and aides to assist them in and out of bed. If a nursing home leaves a resident in bed for too long, it can cause bedsore or pressure ulcer to form due to prolonged immobility. Initially, bedsores will look like a slight redness of the skin, but if not treated in a timely way, bedsores and pressure ulcers can result in open wounds, infection, and, in the worst-case scenario, death.  
  • Dehydration — Providing for a resident’s most basic needs should be a top priority for all nursing homes. When a patient suffers from dehydration, understaffing is usually to blame. Without enough people to oversee every resident’s needs, there’s a greater likelihood that patients won’t get the water they need to stay healthy.
  • Weight changes — Nursing home residents can lose weight if underfed or as a side effect of abuse. Seniors who have trouble communicating may also begin refusing food as a result of abuse. 
  • Medication errors — At nursing home facilities with reckless or inadequate staff, medication errors can easily occur. These include patients getting the wrong medications, incorrect dosages, and medications not being taken according to their prescribed schedule, among others. Nursing home residents with chronic medical conditions can suffer horribly due to medication errors.
  • Other medical mistakes — Disregarding a patient’s medical record, confusing one patient for another, improper sanitation, and inattention can be a recipe for disaster for nursing home residents when staff members turn a blind eye to sloppy practices.
  • Forced sedation — Patients should generally be allowed to be awake and aware as much as possible to maintain their quality of life. In some facilities, however, staff will heavily medicate residents to keep them docile. This means residents might be largely unaware of what’s happening around them for much of the day.
  • Improper restraints — Laws prohibit nursing home residents from being physically or chemically restrained unless medically necessary. When restraints are applied too tightly or staff is too rough, nursing home residents can suffer from bedsores, bruises, fractures, anxiety, panic, other serious injuries, and even death.
  • Isolation and neglect — Socializing is essential for quality of life, particularly at an older age to keep the mind sharp. Still, poorly run nursing homes may leave residents alone or prevent them from interacting with others for days at a time. This type of elder abuse can have severe physical and psychological consequences for residents.

Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

Common types of abuse in nursing homes include:

  • Neglect — Generally speaking, nursing home neglect is the most common form of nursing home abuse. It occurs when someone’s actions or failure to act deprives a resident of their expected standard of care. Examples of neglect include failing to address a patient’s bathroom and hygiene needs, failing to change their bedding or clothes, failing to make sure residents are well fed and hydrated, failure to properly supervise (which can result in falls and fractures), and not administering prescribed medications on schedule. Other examples of neglect include unsanitary conditions in a facility, untreated injuries, and pressure ulcers or bedsores.
  • Fall injuries — All nursing home residents should be evaluated for their risk of a fall injury, and a plan should be put together to minimize that risk. The facility should also be maintained in such a way that residents are unlikely to slip and fall. A pattern of failing to prevent fall injuries at a nursing home can be considered abuse, and even a single fall can result from nursing home negligence.
  • Physical abuse — When someone uses physical force or restraint against a nursing home resident, that’s physical abuse. There are many documented cases of nursing home residents being physically attacked by staff or other residents. Sometimes this abuse is intentional, such as a slap or a punch, but physical abuse also includes less blatant acts like being too forceful while restraining a resident.
  • Sexual abuse — Rape and any other unwanted sexual touching or forced nudity in a nursing home is sexual abuse. This could also include bathing or undressing a resident in front of other people. Sexual abuse can lead to sexually transmitted infections, mental health issues, and pregnancy for disabled residents of child-bearing age. 
  • Financial abuse — Many older people are vulnerable to financial abuse because they suffer from degenerative neurological conditions, like dementia, that affect judgment and decision-making capabilities. Financial exploitation includes identity theft, stealing or concealing funds from residents, forging signatures for legal documents, coercing residents to sign over their bank accounts, and manipulating residents into giving out large sums of money.
  • Emotional abuse — Any type of psychological or mental harm to a nursing home resident is emotional abuse. Examples include forced isolation, name-calling, unintentionally leaving residents alone for long periods, yelling, and shaming them. 

How Can I File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit in Long Island?

Because some forms of abuse are subtle, families are sometimes unsure whether they have a valid nursing home abuse lawsuit. Nursing home abuse claims can also be challenging to prove when residents cannot or are too afraid to speak for themselves. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can investigate what caused the resident’s injuries and hold the abusers accountable for their actions. 

The first thing a good Long Island nursing home abuse attorney will do is examine and preserve the available evidence related to the resident’s injuries. Examples of potential evidence include: 

  • Medical records — A nursing home resident’s medical records will indicate what treatment they should receive and may show that the care they received from medical professionals and the nursing home was inadequate. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney will also have relationships with medical experts who can also examine a resident’s records and testify about the cause of specific injuries.
  • Photos and video footage — There may be surveillance footage at the facility that shows what happened and whether it amounts to abuse. Photos of a resident’s injuries may also provide evidence of a failure by the nursing home staff. Your attorney should send a letter of representation to the nursing home, putting them on notice to preserve all surveillance footage.
  • Eyewitness accounts — If another resident or nursing home employee saw the alleged abuse, their testimony can help substantiate your case. These eyewitnesses should be interviewed and documented by your attorney. 
  • Nursing home records — The facility may have a history of prior abuse claims, health and safety hazards, and penalties for substandard care, indicating an ongoing pattern of negligence. Records might also show negligent hiring practices, evidence of medical malpractice, or further abuse that occurred at the care facility. 
  • Victim testimony — If the resident can and will speak on their behalf, their account of what happened can be a crucial piece of evidence in nursing home abuse cases.

Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse Victims in Long Island

Nursing home residents frequently suffer substantial physical and emotional harm. When abuse and neglect occur, victims deserve compensation for their losses. Nursing home abuse compensation can include money for: 

  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • The resident’s diminished quality of life
  • Lost incomes or other financial benefits that were improperly given away or stolen
  • The cost of medical treatment related to the abuse

Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse Cases in New York

The statute of limitations for most nursing home abuse cases in New York is three years from the date of the injury. However, injuries may not be discovered in nursing home abuse cases until weeks or months after an incident occurred. In certain limited circumstances, the law allows victims or their families to file a claim within three years from the discovery of the injury. 

In cases against municipal nursing homes, such as those operated by New York City and New York State, a notice of claim must be filed within ninety days of the date of the injury. 

Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney in Long Island for more information on the statute of limitations for your case.

Contact our Long Island Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today

If you or someone you love is a victim of abuse and neglect at a New York nursing home, you need top-tier legal help, and you need it now. Turn to the acclaimed nursing home abuse attorneys Finz & Finz, P.C. for help right away. We’ll take immediate action to protect you and aggressively seek justice and financial compensation for your family. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a highly skilled nursing home abuse lawyer.