Nursing Home Lawyers
Fighting for Victims of Neglect and Abuse
One of the most daunting tasks a caregiver can face is ensuring that a loved one who is unable to care for themselves receives excellent care in a secure living environment. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may sometimes occur despite our best efforts to choose a facility and stay on top of the situation.
Both state and federal laws include safety and care standards for nursing homes. If you notice any signs of neglect or abuse Keefe Law Firm can assist you in filing a claim or lawsuit.
What are Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing home abuse and neglect occur when a care facility causes injury to a resident because of improper care. Neglect of the elderly is often labeled a “silent crime” because victims cannot complain or choose not to out of shame or fear. Furthermore, every care facility is required to immediately inform the resident’s guardian of any significant change in physical or mental health, and any nursing home accidents. However, the staff of a negligent facility may not always do so.
Due to these issues, it is often necessary for family and friends to ensure that residents receive proper care. This includes staying alert for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, such as:
- Unexplained bruising
- Fractures, dislocations or sprains
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Injuries caused by medication errors
- Sudden weight change
- Unsanitary conditions or poor hygiene
- Unnecessary restraint
- Verbal, mental or emotional abuse
- Exploitation (illegal theft, misuse or concealment of funds or assets)
Any of these signs may indicate elder abuse and neglect. Often, understaffing may cause or contribute to a substandard level of care in nursing homes. A shortage of medical professionals, whether due to lack of funds, negligent hiring practices or any other reason, can mean that the staff simply cannot properly care for the number of residents in the facility. Additionally, the nurses they have may be overworked. This is especially true when nursing home owners hire too few employees in order to save money.
Regardless of the cause, you should act quickly if you suspect elder abuse or neglect at your loved one’s care facility. If possible, move your loved one into a different nursing home immediately. Then, report the negligent facility to the New Jersey Office of the Ombudsman and call a nursing home abuse lawyer.
What Federal and State Laws Apply to Nursing Home Abuse Cases?
Nursing homes in New Jersey are subject to the federal Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). Enacted in 1987, this law includes strict safety regulations and standards for facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It also guarantees the rights of nursing home residents, including the right to freedom from neglect and abuse. According to the NHRA, nursing homes must maintain the highest possible standard of care. This includes ensuring the best mental and psychological wellbeing of all residents.
Additionally, the NHRA requires that adult care facilities complete a comprehensive individual assessment of each resident within two weeks of admission. The nursing home often asks family members or guardians to then participate in creating a care plan. However, it is often up to the family and friends of the resident to ensure that this plan is followed.
Unlike some other states, New Jersey also has state laws that specifically govern elder care, such as the Nursing Home Responsibilities and Rights of Residents Act. The safety and care standards in this New Jersey Act, which includes a Bill of Rights, are similar to those specified in the NHRA. Perhaps most importantly, New Jersey officials created the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly (OOIE). The OOIE exclusively investigates and addresses reports of nursing home neglect and elder abuse.
Additionally, the state laws explicitly allow private actions by or on behalf of nursing home neglect victims. This means that you and your nursing home abuse attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit for your loved one against the negligent care facility. You may seek compensation for medical and care expenses as well as attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.
Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes: The Warning Signs
In March of this year the federal government fined New Jersey’s Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation $600,000 after a virus outbreak in the facility caused the deaths of 11 children. Nursing home neglect is more prevalent than many Americans think, and with 1.6 million Americans in 18,000 nursing homes, both are of grave concern to anyone who has a loved one in a long term care facility.
Need Help Defending You Loved One’s Rights? Call a NJ Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, contact a New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyer right away. At Keefe Law Firm, we can give you advice about your situation and tell you how to file a complaint, free of charge. If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit for your loved one, we can investigate the negligent care facility and handle all the paperwork.