Moving your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one into a nursing home can be emotionally challenging. You need to know that you can trust the assisted living facility to provide proper care. Sadly, nursing homes do not always live up to our expectations or their legal responsibilities. According to research conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), approximately one in ten nursing home residents suffers injuries due to abuse or neglect.
At Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, our Yakima nursing home injury attorneys are committed to holding negligent nursing homes accountable. If your loved one was injured or mistreated at a nursing home in Eastern Washington, our legal team is here to help. Please contact us today to get a comprehensive case evaluation.
Signs of Abuse
It isn’t always obvious whether a loved one is being abused or neglected. In fact, many residents are unable to communicate or might be so afraid of the staff that they keep silent. Unfortunately, it is often up to family members to investigate and try to piece two and two together.
There are some common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect you should be aware of, such as:
- Unexplained bruises or cuts
- A series of illnesses that are not properly explained
- Sudden weight loss
- Poor hygiene (e.g., your loved one isn’t bathed)
- Dirty facilities, including an unkept room
- Dramatic personality change, for example, a resident who was gregarious and outgoing suddenly becoming silent
- Sexually transmitted diseases
If you notice any of these, then you should investigate further. You should also occasionally visit your loved one at odd times. If you always visit on Saturday morning, then show up unannounced on a Wednesday afternoon or evening. Sometimes, nursing homes make sure they are properly staffed when they know that relatives are sure to stop in. You might be able to catch them off guard and see the real state of the facility.
Nursing Home Residents Have Legal Rights
All nursing home residents have important legal rights under both state law and federal law. More notably, the residents of assisted living centers in Yakima are protected under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act and the Chapter 70.129 RCW of Washington state law. Among other things, these rights give nursing home residents:
- Legal protection from abuse and exploitation;
- Access to full information about living conditions and health care decisions;
- The ability to file complaints against a nursing home without facing retaliation; and
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect
Washington law also gives all people a right not to be injured intentionally or negligently, and this right extends to people in nursing homes. Because many residents are fragile, they rely on their loved ones to stand up for them and speak when they can no longer do so.
Types of Abuse
Pinching, punching, stabbing, cutting, and slapping are only some of the more obvious ways that nursing homes can abuse residents. Many nursing homes are understaffed, and those nurses on duty are often pressed beyond their limits. Although it is understandable that staff might be frustrated, it is never okay to physically attack a resident.
Other times, abuse is subtler. For example, a nursing home might intentionally give your loved one antipsychotic drugs to make them more passive. Even if your loved one does not need the drug, staff give it to him or her anyway as a method of “chemical restraint.” This type of restraint is unfortunately widespread, and supportive family members need to stay on top of what drugs are prescribed to their loved ones. If you see a drug prescribed for no reason, then question the doctor or staff about why it is being given.
Furthermore, loved ones can suffer serious injuries if neglected and left unattended. Neglect is not the same as abuse. Abuse is intentional, whereas neglect is unintentional. However, our loved ones can suffer serious injuries through neglect just as easily as from abuse, so neglect is a serious problem you must watch out for.
What to Do If Your Loved One Was Injured, Abused, or Neglected
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused at a Washington assisted living facility, or if you believe that they are being neglected, you need to take immediate action.
First and foremost, you need to get your vulnerable loved one into a safe environment. The misconduct of the nursing home or its staff members should be reported. In the most serious cases, you may even need to call 911 to get your loved one emergency medical attention.
You should also file a formal complaint with the nursing home so that they are on notice of the abuse or neglect allegations. This can protect other residents and strengthen your legal case.
When the situation has stabilized, you need to call an experienced Yakima nursing home neglect lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to review your case, explain your options to you, and help your family take action to get justice. This justice might require that you file a lawsuit against the nursing home and individual staff members in court. It might also lead to settlement negotiations so you can avoid the expense and stress of a court case.
Victims Deserve Compensation
If you or your loved one suffered an injury at a nursing home, it is imperative that you seek legal guidance. At Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, our Yakima nursing home injury attorneys can help you hold the responsible facility liable so that you and your family can get justice. Financial compensation may be available for any of the following:
- Costs to relocate to another facility;
- Out-of-pocket medical bills;
- Physical therapy and rehabilitative treatment;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and
- Wrongful death damages.
Contact Our Yakima Nursing Home Injury Attorneys Today
At Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, our Washington nursing home injury lawyers have extensive experience handling negligence and abuse claims. Your vulnerable loved one deserves protection. We can help you hold the negligent assisted living facility liable. To set up an immediate, fully private review of your case, please contact our Yakima, WA office today.