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Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers Maryland

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers MarylandIt is an unfortunate fact that many nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not hire or retain sufficient numbers of qualified nurses and aides to care for the frail and elderly residents in their care. All too often, staffing deficiencies are the result of efforts by providers to increase profits by cutting payroll costs. As a result, lawyers in Maryland share that nursing home abuse and neglect may occur. Insufficient or inadequately trained nursing staff can result in a wide array of adverse resident outcomes, including malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, contractures, bruises, and falls, and other accidents.

Nursing home and assisted living facility cases are vastly different than the ordinary negligence or medical malpractice lawsuit. They require not only a deep understanding of how these entities operate, but also of the complex federal and state regulations that govern their activities. Our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers have over 25 years of experience, both defending and prosecuting long-term care providers. We have achieved great success in taking nursing home and assisted living cases to trial or arbitration. We are especially proud of our track record in getting suits settled early in the litigation process and without undue burden or expense to our clients.

If you have any concerns that your loved one may be experiencing nursing home abuse and neglect in their nursing home or assisted living facility, please do not hesitate. Contact Brown Kiely LLP for a free consultation.

FAQS

How can I determine if a nursing home has a history of understaffing or other problems?

You can check a nursing home’s past performance by looking up their score in the Medicare program’s “Five Star” rating system, which is accessible by searching for “Nursing Home Compare” on the Medicare.gov website. This website also has summaries of recent surveys of the facility. Nursing home surveys are administered regularly under federal and state nursing home regulations. The latest nursing home survey reports are also required by law to be made available for inspection at the nursing home. Checking past performance is a way to prevent you from choosing a facility with reports of nursing home abuse and neglect.

How can I preserve my right to sue the nursing home if it does something wrong?

You should be careful to review all of the paperwork that you or your loved one filled out upon admission to the facility. This paperwork often will include an agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the facility for nursing home abuse and neglect and to waive the right to sue in court. It is advisable to consult with an attorney before signing this essential legal document. If a signed arbitration agreement is on file and you are contemplating legal action against the facility, you should consult with an attorney to determine your available rights and options.

What are the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse?

You should look for:

– Signs of disorientation and decline in your loved one following admission to a nursing home. It’s not uncommon for facilities to overmedicate residents with pain or anxiety to make them easier to manage. Nursing home abuse and neglect can lead to rapid deterioration in the resident’s overall mental and physical functioning ability.

– Bruises, skin tears, and lacerations. These may be the result of physical altercations with other residents due to lack of supervision, or due to rough handling by care staff, especially when one aide is trying to perform a task meant for two or more aides. These injuries also may be evidence of falls that are taking place in the facility due to insufficient supervision or the failure to adopt preventive measures.

– Weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration are all signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. This may occur when care staff are not making the necessary effort to assist the resident with dining, or is not responding to requests for water or snacks.

– Incontinent behaviors. Residents may become increasingly incontinent if they do not receive the timely assistance necessary to go to the toilet. Delays may occur on the part of the care staff in responding to call lights. In some facilities, the staff may place residents in adult diapers to avoid having to assist them in the bathroom.

– Other signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include the development of pressure ulcers. These may result when the resident is left in one position in his or her bed or chair for long periods, or when pressure-relieving measures such as pillows, cushions, and air mattresses are not in place. The risk of developing pressure ulcers increases when incontinent residents are in a wet or soiled condition for long periods.

Who can I talk to at the nursing home about potential problems?

You can speak with staff at all levels, from the aides who provide routine care to the nurses who oversee them, to the facility’s Director of Nursing and Administrator or Executive Director. If you suspect nursing home abuse and neglect, it’s crucial to take action as soon as possible. It is not at all uncommon for one aide, when asked, to confide to a resident’s family member his or her concerns about the actions or attitudes of another aide.

When should I talk to an attorney?

As soon as you begin to have concerns about the care that your loved one is receiving in a nursing home, it makes sense to discuss those concerns with an attorney. A nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer can advise you as to whether you or your loved one might have a lawsuit against the facility. Your lawyer may also refer you to the state ombudsman and other officials who can investigate its practices and act to prevent harm to other residents.

What if it looks like I have a case?

You will want to explore with your attorney what your goals are in pursuing litigation. In many cases, the claimant’s primary interest is in obtaining a fair measure of compensation for his or her loss while at the same time bringing closure to a painful episode. In cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect, every effort should be made to evaluate the situation early on. Your lawyer can help you to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations before dedicating substantial time, energy, and expense to the litigation process. In cases where the provider is not prepared to make a fair settlement offer, the claimant must be confident that his or her attorney has the capability and commitment to take the matter to trial or arbitration, and the ability to achieve the best possible outcome in the process.

What will it cost me?

A nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer shares that you will not pay anything toward the prosecution of your case unless there is a recovery in it. In the event you receive payment as a result of a settlement, trial verdict, or arbitration award, then expenses incurred in the course of litigation, such as expert witness fees, deposition transcript costs, and the like, will be paid from the payment amount. Your payment obligation will never exceed the amount of your recovery, so you do not have any risk of incurring out-of-pocket expenses.

The Nursing Home Reform Act and Elder Abuse

According to the research, residents in long-term care facilities are more likely to experience nursing home abuse and neglect than elderly who receive care in their homes. Unfortunately, it may not be an option to care for your aging loved one at home, making a long-term care facility a necessity. Over 2 million elderly currently live in long-term care facilities, and that number is rapidly rising due to the aging of the Baby Boomers.

Any elder abuse, regardless of where it happens, is unacceptable and should be punished to the fullest extent. For help you can rely on, contact Brown Kiely LLP today.

Elder Abuse Claims

Elder abuse can be a complicated matter. It often involves medical privacy issues, patient competency, and who’s authorized to act on the elder’s behalf. Generally speaking, there are two different types of claims when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect: medical malpractice and negligence.

The current statute of limitations varies from state to state. Depending on where you reside, you may have anywhere from one to five years to file a claim. It’s essential to file claims as quickly as you can, so you can get started on the process of holding the nursing home responsible.

Under a successful claim, you can receive compensation for your loved one’s pain, suffering, and distress. Additionally, you can receive funds to cover medical care expenses, lost wages, or other out-of-pocket costs. If the actions of the nursing home were considered criminal or reckless, your family member might also be able to recover punitive damages. If your loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse and neglect, punitive damages intended to be disciplinary towards the nursing home as a result of its actions.

The Nursing Home Reform Act

Established in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act set legal standards for nursing homes and outlined rights that every patient is entitled to. According to the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes or long-term care facilities “must provide services and activities to attain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychological well-being of each resident under a written plan of care.”

Residents should never experience nursing home abuse and neglect. Additionally, patients of facilities are legally entitled these fundamental rights:

  • The right to any services necessary to meet their mental, physical, or social needs
  • The right to privacy 
  • The right to be involved in their care plan, including making decisions or receiving advance notice of changes
  • The right to be involved in social groups
  • The right to live without being physically or chemically restrained
  • The right to communicate freely
  • The right to be treated respectfully, and with dignity
  • The right to live without abuse, neglect, or harm
  • The right to file a complaint without fear of punishment
  • The right to make decisions on their own

If you or someone you love has had these rights violated, or experienced nursing home abuse and neglect, contact the experienced lawyers at Brown Kiely LLP as soon as possible. 

FAQS

How can I determine if a nursing home has a history of understaffing or other problems?

You can check a nursing home’s past performance by looking up its score in the Medicare program’s “Five Star” rating system, which can be accessed by searching for “Nursing Home Compare” on the Medicare.gov website.  This website also has summaries of recent surveys of the facility.  Nursing home surveys are conducted on a regular basis in accordance with federal and state nursing home regulations.  The most recent nursing home survey reports are also required by law to be made available for inspection at the nursing home.

How can I preserve my right to sue the nursing home if it does something wrong?

You should be careful to review all of the paperwork that you or your loved one filled out upon admission to the facility. This paperwork often will include an agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the facility and to waive the right to sue in court. It is advisable to consult with an attorney before signing this important legal document. If a signed arbitration agreement is on file and you are contemplating a legal action against the facility, you should consult with an attorney to determine your available rights and options.

What signs of neglect should I look for?

You should look for:

– Signs of disorientation and decline in your loved one following admission to a nursing home. At times, facilities will overmedicate residents with pain or antianxiety medications in order to make them easier to manage. This can lead to a rapid deterioration in the resident’s overall mental and physical functioning ability.

– Bruises, skin tears, and lacerations. These may be the result of physical altercations with other residents due to lack of supervision, or due to rough handling by care staff, especially when one aide is trying to perform a task meant for two or more aides. These injuries also may be evidence of falls that are taking place in the facility due to insufficient supervision or the failure to adopt preventive measures.

– Weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration. This may result when the care staff is not making the necessary effort to assist the resident with dining, or is not responding to requests for water or snacks.

– Incontinent behaviors. Residents may become increasingly incontinent if they do not receive the timely assistance necessary to go to the toilet. In many cases, this occurs because of delays on the part of the care staff in responding to call lights. In some facilities, the staff may simply place residents in adult diapers in order to avoid having to assist them to the bathroom.

– Development of pressure ulcers. These may result when the resident is left in one position in his or her bed or chair for long periods of time, or when pressure-relieving measures such as pillows, cushions, and air mattresses are not in place. The risk of developing pressure ulcers greatly increases when incontinent residents are left in a wet or soiled condition for long periods of time.

Who can I talk to at the nursing home about potential problems?

You should talk to persons at all levels, from the aides who provide routine care to the nurses who oversee them, to the facility’s Director of Nursing and Administrator or Executive Director. It is not at all uncommon for one aide, when asked, to confide to a resident’s family member his or her concerns about the actions or attitudes of another aide.

When should I talk to an attorney?

As soon as you begin to have concerns about the care that your loved one is receiving in a nursing home, it makes sense to discuss those concerns with an attorney. The attorney not only can advise you as to whether you or your loved one might have a lawsuit against the facility, but can also refer you to state ombudsmen and other officials who can investigate its practices and act to prevent harm to other residents.

What if it looks like I have a case?

You will want to explore with your attorney what your goals are in pursuing litigation. In many cases, the claimant’s primary interest is in obtaining a fair measure of compensation for his or her loss while at the same time bringing closure to a difficult episode. In those cases, every effort should be made to evaluate the case early on and to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations before dedicating substantial time, effort and expense to the litigation process. In cases where the provider is not prepared to make a fair settlement offer, the claimant must be confident that his or her attorney has the capability and commitment to take the matter to trial or arbitration, and the ability to achieve the best possible outcome in the process.

What will it cost me?

You will not pay anything toward the prosecution of your case unless there is a recovery in it. In the event you receive payment as a result of a settlement, trial verdict, or arbitration award, then expenses incurred in the course of litigation, such as expert witness fees, deposition transcript costs, and the like will be paid from the payment amount. Your payment obligation will never exceed the amount of your recovery, so you do not have any risk of incurring out-of-pocket expenses.

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