Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Our parents and grandparents devoted their lives to raising us and caring for us, and there comes a time when it becomes our responsibility to care for them. When our elders need a level of care beyond what we can provide due to their disability, illness, infirmity or aging, we turn to nursing homes to provide the level of attention and professional care our loved ones need. Sadly, elders in nursing homes are one of society’s most vulnerable populations, susceptible to neglect and abuse at the very hands of the people entrusted with their care.
There is simply no excuse for nursing home abuse, and those who perpetrate it or allow it to happen under their roof need to be held accountable to the people they have harmed. The personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Shiver Hamilton Campbell take a special interest in nursing home abuse cases. Our Atlanta nursing home negligence lawyers routinely take on cases involving the most catastrophic or fatal injuries, and we regularly take cases into court to achieve significant jury verdicts for our most deserving clients. We fight to see that negligent nursing homes are held accountable and that injured residents and their families receive the full measure of compensation owed to them, including punitive damage awards in appropriate cases.
If your loved one has suffered neglect or abuse in an Atlanta area nursing home, call Shiver Hamilton Campbell for immediate assistance.
Quality of Nursing Homes in Metro Atlanta
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conduct evaluations of nursing homes across the country according to a five-star rating system that looks at facility health inspections, staffing ratios and quality of care. A search of Atlanta nursing homes returns 65 results within a 25-mile radius covering all of metro Atlanta and communities including Alpharetta, Conyers, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, Marietta, Peachtree Corners, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Smyrna and others. Out of these 65 nursing homes, only five currently have a five-star rating. At the other end of the spectrum, 22 metro Atlanta nursing homes only get one star. Fifteen facilities only have two stars.
When choosing a nursing home for your loved one, the Medicare website can help steer you toward a better facility, but there’s no guarantee the facility will still rate well at the next inspection. Nursing homes have a notoriously high staff turnover, and management and ownership frequently change hands as well. The quality of care at any given facility can rapidly decline, and isolated incidents of abuse can happen even in the best facilities.
Georgia Laws on Nursing Home Abuse
Sections 30-5-1 through 30-5-11 of the Georgia Code make up the Georgia Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act. The stated purpose of this law is “to provide protective services for abused, neglected, or exploited disabled adults and elder persons.” Abuse under the law is defined as the “willful infliction of physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation of essential services to a disabled adult or elder person.” Similarly, neglect is defined as “the absence or omission of essential services to the degree that it harms or threatens with harm the physical or emotional health of a disabled adult or elder person.”
Disabled adults are defined in the law as adults who are mentally or physically incapacitated or who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Elder persons include adults aged 65 or older. Nursing home workers are mandatory reporters under the law. Not only are they required by law to report abuse or neglect that goes on at their facility, but they are guilty of a misdemeanor if they fail to do so.
Nursing home residents who are abused or neglected can sue the nursing home for its negligence in creating an environment where such acts occur. Civil lawsuits for money damages can help abused residents get the care they need and compensate them for the damage done, while also penalizing the facilities and holding them accountable for their misconduct. Shiver Hamilton Campbell will take on the burden of bringing a case on behalf of your loved one and will fight to achieve the significant results they need and deserve.
Abuse in a nursing home can be physical, emotional, or financial. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms which may be signs that your loved one has been abused or neglected:
Bedsores – Also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, bedsores should not happen. Even if the resident is immobile and spends long hours in bed or a chair, nursing staff and orderlies are responsible to shift and turn the resident regularly and monitor for signs bedsores could be forming. Bedsores are more than just painful; fatal septic infections can result from untreated bedsores.
Bruises or marks on the wrists, arms, ankles or legs – These marks could be signs the resident was forcefully grabbed or put in restraints. Physical restraints are only allowed when necessary to prevent self-harm or harm to others and may only be permitted under doctor’s orders.
Broken bones – Elderly persons are more susceptible to fractures in a fall, and many have mobility or balance issues that make them prone to a fall. Nursing home administrators may use these facts to explain away broken bones as the result of an accidental fall, hiding the fact that abuse or neglect was to blame.
Unexplained weight loss, confusion, or disorientation – These are all signs that the resident might be dehydrated or malnourished, either because staff has been neglectful or because they are purposely withholding food and drink as discipline or punishment. These symptoms can also be present in age-related medical disorders, so a careful medical evaluation might be needed to determine the cause.
Depression, fear, anxiety – Nursing home residents who have been abused might become isolated and withdrawn or fearful to discuss issues with their family members. If you notice mood or personality changes in your loved one, a psychiatric evaluation might be in order to reveal any abuse or neglect that may be going on.
Large or unexplained withdrawals or money transfers, lost personal items – Nursing home residents are prime targets for financial abuse or exploitation from unscrupulous staff members, visitors, or even other family members. Carefully go over financial statements and look for unusual patterns or isolated instances that might be cause for concern.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
According to The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act, all elders in Georgia who suffer from physical injury, mental suffering, confinement, or other abuse at the hands of nursing home staff can fight for compensation based on their losses. This is made possible with help from a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have a loved one who has suffered while under the care of a nursing home, you can seek justice. An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer could help you bring together the materials you need to successfully secure damages.
Financial abuse is one of the easier nursing home abuse crimes to detect. Nursing home staff and residents’ family members could both take advantage of an elder’s failing memory to misuse their saved money. Relatives of nursing home residents should track their loved one’s purchases to ensure that there are not any abrupt withdrawals or unusual visits to businesses that their loved one does not frequent. Unusual transfers can be signs of abuse.
While emotional abuse can result in an elder’s physical decline, it rarely leaves physical evidence. This abuse could be as intricate as nursing home staff or relatives trying to convince them that the world is out to get them. Alternatively, emotional abuse can include the deliberate isolation and demoralization of a resident. Elders suffering from emotional abuse in a nursing home often withdraw from their loved ones. They can show increased signs of lethargy and a reluctance to engage with their peers. This abuse is difficult to gather evidence for but its detrimental impact on an elder’s health is undeniable.
Physical elder abuse can result in serious injuries and long-term health decline in impacted senior citizens. The most common signs of physical elder abuse that Atlanta nursing facility lawyers deal with include:
- Broken bones;
- Rapidly declining health;
- Dull or lifeless hair;
- Overgrown nails; and
Nursing home residents may be inclined to lie about any abuse they suffer. This can be a result of shame, threats, or their inability to understand what has happened to them. To detect physical abuse, interested parties should assess their loved one’s health on a regular basis. They can also seek out a professional’s opinion to determine the source of unidentified or unexplained injuries.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
Family members who believe a nursing home resident is suffering abuse at the hands of staff have the right to act. Only parties with a direct relation to a patient (specifically a child or spouse) may file a complaint against alleged abusers. Interested parties can work with an Atlanta nursing home abuse attorney to determine their ability to draft a complaint. To create an effective nursing home abuse complaint, the plaintiffs must include:
- The nature of the elder’s abuse;
- Evidence of nursing home abuse;
- The identity of the party they wish to hold liable;
- An estimate of the elder’s damages; and
- Requested compensation related to said damages.
Instances of abuse resulting in personal injury must be submitted to Georgia’s court system within two years of the incident that injured an involved party. The same statute of limitations applies to instances of financial fraud involving an elder.
Help Is Available to Stop Nursing Home Negligence in Atlanta
If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, call the Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Shiver Hamilton Campbell for immediate assistance. Our lawyers will act right away to stop any ongoing abuse and take steps to make sure no further abuse occurs and that your family member is duly compensated for the harm done. Call 404-593-0020 for an immediate response and a free consultation. We take on cases involving the most serious catastrophic injury or wrongful death, and we fight to secure significant compensation for our clients who were hurt because of another’s negligence or wrongful conduct.