St Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
For many families in St. Louis, admitting their disabled and elderly loved ones to nursing homes is the best way to keep them safe and healthy. But while many nursing homes are true havens for the most vulnerable individuals in our community, not all nursing home residents find themselves in ideal situations.
Nursing home abuse is an umbrella term for injustices made against nursing home residents, encompassing things like physical violence and willful neglect. Regardless of the mistreatment a victim experiences, violating a resident’s rights is unacceptable and may be punishable by law.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a St. Louis nursing home? Whether it’s a staff member or another resident, our attorneys will help ensure you obtain justice against at-fault parties.
Contact the nursing home lawyers at Injury Lawyers Team sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a single or repeated act that causes physical, psychological, or financial harm to a resident. It can result from negligence, carelessness, or malicious intent of nursing home workers, visitors, or other residents.
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act that increases or creates a risk of harm to a resident 65 years or older in a relationship with an expectation of trust. Since over 90% of nursing home residents are seniors, elder abuse is the most common form of nursing home abuse.
Your Rights as a Nursing Home Resident
State and federal laws help protect the legal rights of nursing home residents. These laws include:
Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act defines what services nursing homes and other residential care facilities must provide residents and establishes standards for these services. This law aims to protect the legal rights of nursing home patients, including:
- Freedom from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment
- Freedom from physical restraints
- Accommodation of physical, psychological, medical, and social needs
- Participation in resident and family groups
- Be treated with dignity
- Exercise self-determination
- Communicate freely
- Participate in one’s care plan review and be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or status change in the facility
- Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
Missouri has several laws that aim to protect the welfare of individuals residing in long-term care facilities. Title 19, Chapter 30, Sections 81 to 91 of the Missouri Code of State Regulations define the standards for nursing home care, covering areas including but not limited to:
- Sanitation requirements
- Residents’ rights
- Training program for nursing assistants
- Authorized electronic monitoring
Missouri is also one of several states that permit installing electronic monitoring devices in nursing homes under certain situations. The state passed the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act (House Bill 1387) on August 28, 2020, allowing family members to remotely monitor their loved ones in nursing homes.
Types and Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Many families overlook nursing home abuse until it’s too late. To prevent your loved one from suffering abuse or neglect in their nursing facility, you must be able to recognize the types and warning signs.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms and manifest in different signs, including:
Physical assault or abuse involves deliberately using force against a resident, causing injury, pain, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions such as slapping, striking, kicking, burning, and pinching.
Signs of Physical Assault or Abuse
- Broken bones
- Unexplained injuries (e.g., cuts, burns, bruises)
- Restraint or grip marks on wrists or ankles
- Broken eyeglasses
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Mental or Emotional Abuse
Mental or emotional abuse involves verbal and non-verbal acts that cause psychological harm to a nursing home resident. These acts may include verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, gaslighting, and geographical or social isolation.
Signs of Mental or Emotional Abuse
- Unusual changes in behavior or personality
- Depression or anxiety
- Being extremely withdrawn
- Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
- Difficulty sleeping
Sexual assault or abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact with a resident, including those who cannot give valid consent (e.g., a mentally disabled person). It can take many forms, including verbal sexual harassment, unwanted touching, explicit photography, sodomy, coerced nudity, and rape.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Reluctance or refusal to be touched
- Unexplained bruises around the breasts or genitals
- Genital infections
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Refusal to be alone with specific individuals
Financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s personal property, including money and assets. It can take many forms, including manipulating bank accounts, stealing personal belongings, and unauthorized transactions on credit cards.
Signs of Financial Exploitation or Abuse
- Sudden bank account changes
- Unexplained transactions on debit or credit cards
- Missing belongings
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- Inconsistencies in resident’s financial records of the facility
- Sudden changes in financial habits
Neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide food, medication, personal hygiene, clothing, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a resident. Both intentional (active) and unintentional (passive) neglect are considered abuse.
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene
- Bed sores
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Rapid weight loss
- Untreated medical conditions (e.g., recurring urinary tract infections)
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inadequate clothing for the weather
- Lack of medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids)
- Medication errors
Nursing Home Abuse vs. Dementia and Mental Illness
The warning signs of nursing home abuse may mimic dementia in elderly residents or mental illness in younger individuals. For instance, mental and physical abuse may result in sleeping problems, uncharacteristic aggression, and memory loss, which are common signs of early-stage dementia and some mental disorders.
Hence, you may mistake nursing home abuse for something else, hindering proper intervention for your family member. Consult a specialist or a doctor if you are unsure whether your loved one is suffering from abuse or something else entirely.
Effects of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Nursing home abuse victims often suffer significant consequences, such as:
- Serious injuries
- Untreated illnesses
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Loss of personal property
- Monetary losses
- Loss of quality of life
- Reduced family or social ties
- Premature death
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Unfortunately, many victims suffer physical harm from their abusers, resulting in injuries such as:
- Bed sores
- Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones, especially hip fractures
- Bruises and cuts
- Soft tissue injuries (e.g., sprains, strains)
- Spinal cord trauma
Physical injuries are especially dangerous for individuals who are already physically compromised, especially the elderly. Something easily treatable, like a minor infection, can quickly become life-threatening for an elderly person who is already physically vulnerable.
The Most Vulnerable Nursing Home Residents
Although anyone can become a victim of nursing home abuse, some individuals are more vulnerable than others, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients with additional health care needs
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Bedridden patients
- Patients isolated from family members
Causes of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Usually, there is no singular cause of nursing home abuse. It often stems from systematic inadequacies and long-standing issues, such as:
- Underqualified and Improperly Trained Staff: Nursing home staff require proper training, education, and experience to provide quality care for elderly and disabled patients. Staff members with inadequate backgrounds may be more likely to make mistakes, putting residents at risk.
- Understaffing: Many nursing home facilities across the US experience chronic staffing shortages, resulting in secondary issues, including lack of prioritizing essential processes, lack of direct care, and high-stress environments.
- Poor Management: Poor leadership in a nursing home facility often translates to poor patient care. A management team that overburdens employees or fails to hold them accountable may be inadvertently causing abuse or neglect.
- Underreporting: All nursing home employees are required by law to report nursing home abuse cases. Unfortunately, many cases are swept under the rug or simply go unnoticed, leaving issues to remain unaddressed.
How to Report St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse
Report known or suspected abuse of a nursing home resident to the St. Louis Police Department. Call 911 if you think your family member or another resident is in imminent danger.
You can also file a report to:
- Adult Protective Services
- Department of Health and Senior Services
- Attorney General’s Office
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
These governing bodies may revoke or suspend the licenses, certifications, and government funding of nursing homes found guilty of non-compliance with state or federal regulations. Facilities with widespread or egregious abuse cases may face permanent closure.
Additionally, the police may file criminal charges against perpetrators of nursing home abuse. Depending on the severity of the crime, the at-fault individual could face either a felony or misdemeanor. Punishments for abusing or neglecting a nursing home resident, especially a senior, may include fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment.
Medical professionals and other nursing home employees that fail to report abuse or neglect could also face criminal charges, depending on the case’s circumstances.
Filing a St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing homes are legally required to protect residents from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, some facilities are negligent in this duty, resulting in vulnerable residents suffering serious injuries at the hands of others.
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a St. Louis nursing home? If so, you could pursue damages against at-fault parties by filing a personal injury claim.
You must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- This breach resulted in your injuries and other losses
Most nursing home abuse cases involve a single perpetrator. However, circumstances vary greatly, and there may be multiple parties in your case, including:
- Nursing home staff members
- Other nursing home residents
Regardless of who is directly at fault for your injuries, the nursing home administration may be held liable. The administrators may have contributed to your abuse or neglect by:
- Hiring incompetent staff members
- Failing to address known issues, e.g., understaffing
- Not following precautions regarding violent residents
- Failing to monitor visitors
- Hiring employees without conducting proper background checks
Like other abuse cases, proving a nursing home abuse case can be challenging. You need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer that can help you support your claim with substantial evidence, such as:
- Photos of injuries
- Medical records
- Psychological evaluations
- Surveillance or “granny cam” footage
- Incident reports
- Police reports
- Witness accounts
- Victim testimony
- Autopsy reports, in case of a wrongful death claim
- Testimony from nursing home industry experts
By filing a personal injury claim, you could hold the nursing home accountable for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, future anticipated medical care, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your family member becomes disabled from the abuse or neglect. These damages may include loss of quality of life, disability services, and medical equipment.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, etc.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for your loved one’s reduced quality of life, which may manifest in loss of enjoyment in daily activities, reduced independence, and reduced societal ties.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one dies due to abuse or neglect. Damages in a wrongful death case typically include funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, and grief.
- Punitive Damages: Monetary awards on top of compensatory damages, aiming to punish negligent nursing homes for their actions and deter harmful behavior in the future.
Your St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer will estimate the potential value of your damages during your free case review. This estimation will help you avoid accepting a settlement that is less than what you deserve.
After filing a personal injury claim against the defendant, their insurance company may offer you a settlement. Do not accept the payment without consulting a lawyer. Your lawyer will determine if the offer is fair and, if not, negotiate for a better one.
Moreover, remember these things when dealing with insurance companies:
- Do not sign over documents or offer recorded personal statements
- Do not fall for pressure tactics
- Do not give the insurer contact information of others
- Do not say that you don’t have an attorney
Other Legal Options
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. However, you may have to pursue damages in other ways if:
- The insurer refuses to make a fair offer
- The defendant denies liability for abuse or neglect
Your nursing home abuse lawyer can help you file a personal injury case in civil court. During litigation, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both sides and decide a verdict. Our nursing home abuse lawyers will ensure to leave no stone unturned in your case to increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
Alternatively, your lawyer could help you pursue arbitration or mediation, which is often less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial.
In addition, your lawyer could help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit if:
- The abuser committed a negligent act or omission that caused harm to your loved one
- The abuser does not have a caregiver relationship with your loved one
Your St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer will discuss your legal options during your free case evaluation.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Missouri is five years from the date of the underlying incident or its discovery (Section 516.120 of the Revised Missouri Statutes).
Our nursing home abuse lawyers will help you file a case on time to avoid missing the deadline or losing critical evidence.
The Role of Your Attorney
Legal representation is invaluable in a personal injury case. Our lawyers will help you:
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- File a claim on your behalf
- Negotiate with the defendant’s insurer
- Consult with nursing home industry experts
- File a nursing home abuse lawsuit, if necessary
How to Keep Your Loved One Safe in a Nursing Facility
Family members play a significant role in their disabled or elderly loved one’s safety, even when living apart. You can reduce your loved one’s risk of suffering abuse or neglect by following these tips:
- Visit your loved one frequently; establish a rotating yet irregular schedule with your family members so that employees don’t expect your arrival
- Observe how employees treat other residents
- Give your loved one an easy way to contact you and other family members in case of emergencies
- Encourage your loved one to talk about their experiences in the nursing home, both good and bad
- Get to know your loved one’s primary caregivers and roommate (if they have one)
- Install an electronic monitoring device in your loved one’s room (follow legal guidelines)
- Check for violations of the facility (this information is usually available to the public on government websites)
- Watch for less obvious signs of nursing home neglect and abuse
- Seek formal legal advice from a lawyer if you suspect a nursing home employee, visitor, or resident is abusing your loved one
Schedule a Free Consultation with a St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
No one deserves to be abused or neglected, especially individuals who are more vulnerable than most.
Did you or a loved one suffer nursing home neglect or abuse? If so, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your injuries, financial losses, and other damages.
At Injury Lawyers Team, our skilled nursing home abuse lawyers work tirelessly to ensure responsible parties are held accountable for their actions while seeking compensation for victims and their families.
Contact our St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyers today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
There is no financial risk in starting a conversation with our lawyers. We accept all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.
- Missouri Department of Senior Services – Gadgets Use in Nursing Homes
- National Center on Elder Abuse – Forms of Abuse