Nursing home abuse and neglect is a difficult issue to face. Elder abuse and neglect exist in many forms, many of which may not be evidenced by clear, physical signs. Many victims are frail and vulnerable and are often unable to protect themselves or seek needed help as a result. Elder abuse and neglect can be difficult to prove once suspicion arises. A sad truth is that a number of nursing home abuse and neglect cases go unreported and unpunished. It is estimated that roughly 1,800 deaths occur each year due to elder abuse and neglect. To discuss what legal options may be available to hold the negligent or abusive parties responsible, consult with our injury lawyers. A West Virginia nursing home abuse lawyer from our team can help you recover the damages your loved one suffered.

Residents’ Rights in West Virginia Nursing Homes

All individuals living in nursing home facilities are protected by federal and state law and are entitled to:

  • Care
  • Respect and dignity maintenance
  • Nutritious food
  • Clean water
  • Comfortable accommodations
  • Personalized healthcare services that meet their needs
  • Manage their own finances
  • Enjoy privacy
  • Retain their personal belongings
  • Have a say in their schedules
  • Live in spaces similar to their homes.

Residents are also entitled to periodic welfare assessments to determine whether any changes should be made to their care. Any significant negative changes to their physical, emotional, and mental health warrant further investigation and care to meet their new needs. Residents have the right to know what changes are being made and why. Those who do not receive proper care and assistance are within their legal rights to file civil claims. Family members often file claims on their loved one’s behalf due to physical and mental impairments that may otherwise inhibit the victim from pursing their own claim.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Elder neglect, or nursing home negligence, most commonly occurs when a resident does not receive proper medical, physical, or emotional attention. As a result, neglect can pose serious risk of harm to victims. In certain cases, neglect may escalate to physical or emotional abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when physical force is used to cause harm against a resident. This can include hitting, scratching, shoving, biting, and inappropriate use of restraints. Physical elder abuse typically has the most obvious warning signs. For this reason, it may be more plausible to prove physical abuse than other, less obvious forms of elder abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional elder abuse occurs when a caregiver or other individual causes emotional distress within a resident. Emotional abuse may result from ridicule and humiliation, intimidation, terrorizing, or ignoring an elder. Demeaning behavior, scapegoating, and blaming are also considered forms of emotional elder abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual elder abuse takes place when non-consensual sexual contact is made with a resident. In many cases, physical and emotional abuse may also play a role. Elders who are sexually abused may be tricked, coerced, manipulated, or forced into unwanted sexual contact.

Financial Abuse

Stealing money or personal property are common forms of elder financial abuse. Additionally, financial abuse can occur when a caregiver or other individual tricks or pressures a resident to divulge valuable information, such as bank account and credit card numbers, or when a victim is coerced to modify a deed, will, or trust.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse

Nursing home residents who become victims of abuse often display symptoms indicating a drastic change in care, such as:

  • Disinterest in previously favored activities
  • Sadness or depression
  • Bedsores
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Malnourishment
  • Poor hygiene
  • Soiled garments
  • Fearfulness around certain staff members
  • Nervousness or agitation
  • Lowered self-esteem or self-worth

A resident’s room may provide clues as well, including overflowing trash cans, piles of dirty clothes, unchanged bed sheets, unsanitary bathroom conditions, and obvious dirt and grime on furniture. Visitors might notice other signs of elder abuse, including financial documents with forged signatures.

Family members must report all signs of abuse or neglect to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, in addition to contacting an attorney. Doing so increases awareness of nursing home abuse, and the offending institution will be investigated and possibly shut down. Negligent staff members may be terminated and likely barred from working with vulnerable individuals in the future.

Reports and legal filings with a local attorney should occur after family members remove their loved one from the nursing home where the abuse took place. It could take time for the victim to recover, depending on the extent and longevity of the abuse, but immediate removal prevents him or her from continually living in fear.

Recoverable Damages in Nursing Home Neglect Cases

Common damages sought by skilled attorneys in elder abuse cases include medical care and physical therapy related to physical and sexual abuse, as well as counseling for emotional and mental abuse. If the victim passes away because of his or her injuries, the family could also pursue funeral and burial expenses with a lawyer’s help. Other damages include a resident’s pain and suffering, emotional anguish, reduced quality of life, and mental distress.

Reach out to a West Virginia Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today

It is normal to feel shocked and angry about the abuse that a loved one has dealt with in a senior care facility. Our law firm understands your feelings and wants to help you however we can. Contact a West Virginia nursing home abuse lawyer now to review your case in detail and determine what the best next steps are.

During a difficult time like this, it is our duty and privilege to represent you and your family. Call Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, for more details.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law