Elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a fear many aging Americans face. Many residents are frail, vulnerable and incapacitated, and depend upon the employees and staff to meet their most basic needs.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often understaffed or use inadequately trained personnel. As a result, residents are ignored, fall and suffer broken bones, head injuries, bed sores or maladies. Residents not properly supervised can wander from the facility and be injured or killed. If your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, our experienced elder abuse attorneys at Shultz & Rollins in Yuma, AZ can help.
Arizona law states that an incapacitated or vulnerable adult whose life or health has been endangered or injured by neglect, abuse or exploitation may file a lawsuit against any person or corporation that has been employed or assumed the duty to provide care for an incapacitated or vulnerable adult. If liable, they can be ordered to pay "actual and consequential damages, as well as punitive damages, costs of suit and reasonable attorney fees” to those persons injured by these types of conduct.
If you or your loved one has been neglected, abused, or injured while in the care of a nursing home or other healthcare facility, contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at Shultz & Rollins in Tucson and Yuma today to set up a free and confidential consultation and receive a preliminary case evaluation.
In his September 2008 report "Trends in Nursing Home Deficiencies and Complaints," Daniel R. Levinson, the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health & Human Services stated:
"In each of the past 3 years, over 91 percent of nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies and a greater percentage of for-profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies than not-for-profit and government nursing homes. During those same years, the most common deficiency categories cited were quality of care, resident assessment, and quality of life. Additionally, 17 percent of nursing homes surveyed in 2007 were cited for actual harm or immediate jeopardy deficiencies, and 3.6 percent were cited for substandard quality-of-care deficiencies."
In 1965, with the adoption of the Medicare and Medicaid legislation, the federal government set out federal nursing home regulations. Many of these regulations are promulgated by the Health Care Financing Administration and are administered by the states. Congress also classified the facilities as Skilled Nursing Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities, each with standards. Any facility which accepts Medicare or Medicaid funds must abide by the minimum standards for the care of residents.
In 1980 and again in 1987, the nursing home regulations were updated under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts of 1980 and 1987. In spite of these regulations, as noted by the Inspector General, substandard care of residents has become a growing problem.
Elderly residents are being abused, physically, emotionally and financially while under the care of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Abuse or neglect may also be occurring in their own home by hospice employees or assistance nurses. The abuse may be as a result of neglect, or it may be the result of an intentional act.
You and your family have legal rights that not only protect you, but others as well. In the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, Congress set out the rights of residents in these facilities. Arizona has also adopted protections for its citizens.
Neglect is defined as the failure to provide services essential to a person’s health and safety, such as food, personal hygiene, patient supervision and medical care. Whether the failure is due to carelessness or an intentional act generally determines whether it constitutes neglect or abuse. An experienced elder abuse lawyer in Tucson and Yuma can review the evidence and help you determine if it is considered abuse or neglect.
Signs of neglect or abuse may be physical or emotional. Suspicious, sudden or unexplained changes in physical or emotional conditions may be an indication of neglect or abuse. Any of the following should be investigated carefully:
Cases against the government usually require the timely filing of two separate documents. As in most cases, any case against the government must be filed within a specified period of time (called the statute of limitations), otherwise the ability to sue may be lost forever.
However, these cases generally also require a second filing that gives the appropriate government agency notice of the claim within a specified period of time. If you believe you have a claim against a government agency, we encourage you to contact a nursing home abuse attorney in Yuma, AZ immediately to discuss these deadlines so you do not lose your rights by failing to file timely.
Facilities, as well as their employees, can be held liable for negligent or abusive care which causes injury to or the death of a resident. An experienced Yuma or Tucson senior abuse attorney can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries.
If it is determined that neglect and/or abuse has occurred, and it has resulted in injuries or death, your family may be entitled to damages. A seriously injured plaintiff may be entitled to recover:
If nursing home neglect or abuse results in death, the survivors may be entitled to attorney’s fees, punitive damages, monetary damages for lost financial support and funeral expenses, and emotional distress damages for loss of love, society and companionship.
Numerous health problems and/or deaths have occurred because of neglect and abuse. If you suspect that you or your family member has suffered from neglect or abuse while a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility, prompt intervention can prevent further injuries.
If you suspect negligence or abuse, you should immediately alert the facility administrator of the issue. If the problem continues, you are advised to seek government and legal assistance. Contact the Arizona Attorney General’s office, Arizona Department of Health Services and Adult Protective Services to report nursing home or assisted living facility neglect or abuse. You should also contact an experienced Yuma or Tucson elder abuse lawyer who can help you understand and enforce your rights.