Nursing Home Abuse: A Closer Look

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

Many kinds of abuse take place at area nursing homes. Yet these different kinds of abuse usually have a common cause. Money, and specifically understaffing, is often the root of these issues. As many as 90 percent of Fayette County long-term care facilities are dangerously understaffed. Understaffing has a number of effects.

Morale is often poor at understaffed facilities. The constant turnover causes many workers to have one eye on their jobs and one eye on their resumes. Furthermore, as staffing levels drop, many workers must do the jobs of several people. On a related note, employers sometimes press under-qualified employees into roles they are not competent to fill.

In other words, stress levels are high at understaffed nursing homes. Job stress often leads to physical abuse. If a nursing home resident is the target of this abuse, a Lexington personal injury attorney could obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation typically includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Kinds of Abuse

Stress-related abuse takes many forms. Most of them occur at area nursing homes, at one time or another.

  • Staff-on-Resident Physical Abuse: Many frustrated workers push residents onto their beds or restrain them too tightly. SInce most residents are physically frail, it doesn’t take much force to cause a serious injury.
  • Emotional Abuse: When people get angry, they often say things they do not mean. These individuals usually do not mean to hurt people, but their words are still harmful. On a related note, especially if there are not enough workers to supervise them, many residents are left alone in their rooms for hours on end.
  • Sexual Abuse: These survivors know that sexual abuse can take many forms. All of them are equally harmful. Common symptoms include severe depression, flashbacks, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Resident-on-Resident Physical Abuse: This form of physical abuse is one of the fastest-growing kinds of abuse in Kentucky nursing homes. SOmetimes, there are not enough workers to break up petty disagreements before they become violent. Other times, there are no workers in the halls to ensure that residents do not accidentally wander into someone else’s room. Once again, a seemingly minor fight could cause a serious injury.

Stress over things like money is never an excuse for abuse in a home. It’s also never an excuse for abuse in a place like a nursing home.

Liability Theories

Assault, whether it is verbal or nonverbal, is an intentional tort. In most cases, people are morally responsible for their own behavior in these situations. Legal responsibility is often a different matter.

Negligent hiring often means hiring an incompetent person. Frequently, nursing home administrators who are desperate to fill open positions hire under-qualified employees. For example, they might hire a patient care technician to fill a job that a licensed vocational nurse should do. The quality of care suffers, and workers get frustrated.

Negligent hiring could also mean hiring a worker without asking the right questions. Glossing over RFL (Reason For Leaving) responses is a good example. Many applicants make false or misleading statements in this area. And, many former employers are almost as evasive, because they do not want to get sued. Particularly if the employee worked at another nursing home, the new administrator needs to hear both sides of the RFL story.

Another common theory in assault cases is negligent supervision. As the name implies, employers have a duty to watch their employees and discipline them appropriately if the need arises. If there is a breakdown in either area, and that breakdown leads to injury, the nursing home could be financially responsible for damages.

Resolving Nursing Home Assault Claims

Kentucky’s assault laws are quite broad. Any verbal or nonverbal act which causes injury is usually an assault, unless the event was an accident (e.g. a worker bumps into a resident in a crowded or narrow hallway). Third party liability is another matter. The laws are more specific. Perhaps more significantly, nursing homes often fight these claims tooth and nail.

An out-of-state conglomerate often owns the nursing home where the injury occurred. The residency factor makes these claims more complex. Thus, your Lexington personal injury attorney should be very experienced in this area. Additionally, these conglomerates usually have a small army of lawyers, investigators, and other professionals. So, your attorney must also have substantial resources.

All that being said, most nursing home assault claims settle out of court. Frequently, these cases settle during mediation. An attorney just needs to put together a strong enough case to make it this far. During mediation, each party has a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. So, mediation is usually successful.

Nursing home assault victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance. #goodelawyers