Assisted Living Facility Abuse Lawyers
Choose a Skilled New Jersey Attorney to Fight Your Assisted Living Facility Abuse Claim
The decision to move a parent or other loved one into an assisted living facility can be both emotionally and financially draining. It’s something every child dreads upon reaching adulthood themselves.
Yet when that time comes, believing that your loved one is safe and getting the help he or she needs gives you peace of mind — until something happens that makes use suspect neglect or abuse is occurring. Suddenly, feelings of doubt and fear have replaced that sense of relief you once had that your parent is getting the best care. Your loved one just isn’t acting the same, and you’re afraid that the staff of the assisted living facility are the reason.
The facility was supposed to be a new home where your aging parent could live as independently as possible, with a little extra help when needed. Instead, it has become a place where your loved one is mistreated, victimized and denied dignity.
Don’t wait another moment to find out the truth. At Sugarman Law, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to investigate warning signs of assisted living facility abuse. Call 1-866-657-5660 or fill out the confidential online contact form for a free initial consultation and let us help your family.
What is Assisted Living Abuse?
Assisted living facility abuse comes in many shapes and sizes. It may be a single, intentional incident of abuse that has caused your loved one such harm, or it may be a recurring series of negligent mistakes that have done the damage. In either case, the behavior was unacceptable. Your loved one deserves better.
What is Assisted Living Neglect?
While abuse is generally an intentional action, like a physical blow or vocally berating a patient, neglect is a lack of or failure to act. Neglect can be active, or a deliberate decision an assisted living facility worker makes to shirk the duties expected of them. Neglect can also be passive, occurring because the facility is understaffed or because a staff member forgot.
Are Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect Different?
Although abuse and neglect express different ways that mistreatment can happen, their results are very much the same: the victim suffers very real harm. Both abuse and neglect can form the basis of an assisted living facility lawsuit.
How to Handle Assisted Living Abuse
Although families are often on the lookout for red flags at nursing homes, they may not know how to respond when abuse occurs in an assisted living facility. For one thing, residents in an assisted living facility are often healthier than nursing home residents and enjoy more freedoms. Yet they are, by definition, in need of care and assistance. That makes them vulnerable to abuse.
It’s not only the element of surprise that makes abuse at assisted living facilities confusing. Even though abuse in both settings represents glaring and unconscionable misuses of power, the laws that apply in the case of nursing home abuse do not always apply equally to abuse that occurs in an assisted living facility.
Knowing how to respond, how to seek justice and, most importantly, how to stop the abuse often requires the counsel of an assisted living facility abuse lawyer. If you know or believe that a loved one has been abused or neglected while relying upon care in an assisted living facility, take action immediately and contact Sugarman Law to get the justice and financial compensation that you deserve.
Types of Assisted Living Abuse
Assisted living facility residents are often vulnerable to many different types of abuse and neglect.
Abuse in an assisted living facility may be overt and clearly intentional, and can include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse or exploitation
- Sexual abuse
Physical Abuse in Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted facility residents are almost always physically weaker than their caregivers, making it easier for these trusted staff members physically strike or assault them. Make no mistake – it is never okay for staff to become violent toward their patients. Your family may be entitled to compensation for acts of abuse that include:
Physical abuse doesn’t only take the form of a physical blow. It may also be considered abuse if your loved one’s caretakers at the assisted living facility are:
- Withholding food or water
- Forcing a resident to eat or drink
- Improperly using physical or chemical restraints (i.e., drugging) to confine your family member
Emotional Abuse in Assisted Living Facilities
Just as it’s hard for adult children to place their aging parents in an assisted living facility, it’s psychologically very difficult to be the resident who can no longer remain at home. This need to depend on someone else for their care already puts a resident in a vulnerable emotional state.
Some workers at assisted living facilities fail to treat residents with the respect and compassion they deserve. Yelling, harassing, bullying and even ignoring a resident are all forms of emotional abuse. Even subjecting residents to social isolation can also constitute emotional abuse.
If you have witnessed or heard after the fact that staff at the assisted living facility treated your family member in this manner, you may be angry but unsure of what to do. If you’re wondering whether you should come forward or if the situation is serious enough to count as abuse, consider this: vulnerable residents who are bullied, yelled at and harassed can suffer very real long-term adverse consequences.
Financial Abuse or Exploitation in Assisted Living Facilities
Many assisted living facility residents are healthy enough to retain control over their finances even after they are admitted into residence. Unfortunately, that fact acts as a motive for unscrupulous staff members, who may exert undue control over residents and coerce them into allowing their caregivers access to their funds.
In some cases, a staff member may threaten or withhold food and water from a resident until the resident gives the abuser control over some aspect of their finances, such as credit cards or investment accounts. Subtler forms of manipulation can also constitute financial abuse.
Sexual Abuse in Assisted Living Facilities
The thought of a staff member sexually abusing your loved one may be unthinkable, but sexual abuse does occur in assisted living facilities.
Even worse, residents who require care because of mental health or memory issues may not even be fully aware that the abuse is taking place. If you suspect that sexual abuse in any form is occurring, it’s crucial that you immediately seek help so that you can put an end to the abuse.
Types of Assisted Living Neglect
Abuse that occurs within an assisted living facility often results from staff members neglecting a resident. Sadly, this neglect is often not a one-time mistake, but a consistent lack of care over time. Although neglect may seem a less heinous offense than deliberate abuse, it can be deadly if it is allowed to continue.
Neglect in assisted living facilities can take the form of:
- Unsanitary conditions
- Improper administration of medications, which can result in overdose or failure to treat an underlying condition
- Use of defective equipment
- Failure to provide sufficient food or water
- Improper or untimely administering of a doctor’s recommendations by staff members
- Failure to take precautions to prevent falls
- Failure to prevent or stop resident-on-resident abuse
- Failure to report or properly treat injuries or illnesses
- Improper provision of necessary assistance in the activities of daily living (ADLs), such as in using the bathroom, bathing, transferring from one place to another, eating and changing clothing
- Improper monitoring of patients, so that they may wander out of the facility or into dangerous conditions
- Inadequate monitoring of a resident’s condition
- Failure to turn or bathe a patient who is immobile.
No matter how busy workers seem or how understaffed an assisted living facility may be, neglecting residents is not acceptable. Staff members have a duty to properly supervise residents and take all necessary steps to prevent injury and illness—that is, after all, why your loved one is residing in an assisted living facility to begin with.
Why Does Assisted Living Facility Abuse Happen?
There are many possible causes of assisted living facility abuse and neglect. An abuser may be driven by greed to financially exploit residents, while workers with violent tendencies may take out their feelings on vulnerable elders.
Neglect can be intentional – done deliberately because, in the caregiver’s mind, the resident “annoyed” or “inconvenience” them – but it can also result from improper training or understaffing.
Regardless of how or why your loved one was neglected, abuse – even abuse that comes in the form of neglect or omissions – can have serious long-term consequences, both physical and psychological.
When Assisted Living Facility Staff Conceal Neglect From Visitors
One reason it can be so difficult for families to identify neglect in assisted living facilities is that they may attempt to conceal unsafe conditions or unsanitary conditions. By doing so, they are protecting themselves and the facility from the consequences of their misconduct – at your loved one’s expense.
Given the highly public nature of many abuse cases, it’s, unfortunately, no surprise that the workers who commit abuse are willing to take steps to cover it up. If you do find evidence of neglect or abuse, staff members may try to defend their actions.
Until you speak to an assisted living facility abuse lawyer, you might not realize that many of the defenses that staff members will initially point to will never hold up in court. At Sugarman Law, we know that these defenses are invalid, and we will persist in advocating to recover compensation despite claims that:
- The facility was understaffed
- Staff members were not properly instructed
- Staff members were newly hired and ignorant as to what conditions would be considered unacceptable
Even if it’s true that the facility’s staff members neglected patients because they were understaffed or genuinely ignorant as to the need for care or supervision, it’s no excuse for the mistreatment. The facility itself has a duty to properly train and supervise its employees and to ensure that facilities are appropriately staffed so that residents are safe and receive proper and necessary care. Failing to satisfy this duty is in and of itself a form of negligence that leaves the nursing home facility financially liable for the actions of its employees.
Let Our Assisted Living Facility Abuse Lawyers Help Evaluate Signs of Abuse
Abuse may not be immediately apparent. Elderly residents of assisted living facilities must often rely upon family and loved ones to identify signs of abuse and neglect.
Your loved one may be unable to report the abuse or neglect because of an underlying medical condition. Even an assisted living resident who has no cognitive or communication problems may not report abuse due to fear. Many abused residents are coerced or threatened by assisted living facility staff members into keeping quiet. Your family member is counting on you to identify signs of abuse and neglect.
Signs of Assisted Living Facility Abuse
If you notice any of these common warning signals that can indicate is taking place, it is time to contact an assisted living facility abuse lawyer for help investigating your concerns:
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as withdrawal or depression
- Rapid declines in health
- Sudden loss of weight or dehydration
- Changes in appearance or grooming habits
- Frequent injuries
- Injuries that are not sufficiently explained
- Suspicious bruises, infections or sores
- Unusual or unanticipated financial transactions or requests for funds
Sugarman Law Fights Vigorously to Recover Compensation for Victims of Assisted Living Facility Abuse
At Sugarman Law, Barry Sugarman is dedicated to protecting vulnerable residents of assisted living facilities. In particular, our team knows that we have to act fast in dangerous situations such as:
- Improper monitoring that leads to your loved one suffering injuries in a slip-and-fall accident
- Failures to properly administer medications, which can lead to long-term adverse side effects or even death
- Unsanitary conditions that cause infections requiring significant medical treatment and rehabilitation or even leading to death
- Failures to properly follow a doctor’s orders, which may cause your loved one’s condition to worsen and jeopardize his or her health
Your loved one relies on the care assisted living facilities are designed to provide. Understaffing and improper training are no excuses for assisted living facility abuse and neglect. By breaking your family’s trust and abusing your parent, the facility and its workers have let you down.
Assisted Living Facility Abuse Lawsuits
Putting a stop to continuing abuse is the first step to rescuing your loved one from this awful situation, but there’s still work to be done. The effects of abuse and neglect can be sincere and long-lasting. Sugarman Law has the passion and experience necessary to fight for justice, even when that means facing the large corporations that own assisted living facilities in a court of law.
How Much Is an Assisted Living Facility Abuse Claim Worth?
Sugarman Law will fight to hold the facility and the corporation that owns the facility financially responsible for the injuries and emotional trauma suffered by your loved one as well as the financial costs.
Once we speak with you about your unique situation, we will fight to recover compensation for all of your loved one’s damages, including:
- All unreimbursed medical expenses
- Rehabilitative costs
- The cost of moving your loved one to another facility
- Emotional or psychological counseling
- Pain and suffering
- Restitution in cases of financial abuse and fraud
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs
- Punitive damages where available
What Will an Assisted Living Facility Abuse Attorney Do for Me?
Sugarman Law’s assisted living facility abuse lawyers have the resources and knowledge necessary to uncover evidence of the abuse.
We will leave no stone unturned in investigating your case and take steps such as:
- Evaluating the hiring practices of the facility
- Identifying whether any staff members had a history of violence or abuse
- Analyzing the facility’s training records to determine whether staff members received adequate training
- Examining how the facility ensured that staff members were properly supervised, including whether surprise inspections or evaluations were conducted and what they entailed
Uncovering discrepancies or problems in any of these areas can constitute a clear signal that the assisted living facility was negligent in its hiring practices. Establishing this negligence makes the facility financially responsible for any abuse that took place.
Call Sugarman Law Today to Discuss Your Suspicions With an Experienced Assisted Living Facility Abuse Lawyer
Once you have identified warning signs of abuse or neglect, do not wait to discuss your concerns. Get your loved one the help they need immediately by calling a lawyer with specialized experience handling assisted living facility abuse cases.
Remember that your loved one may be embarrassed to report the abuse or afraid that the abuse will get worse if they try to stop it. They’re depending on you to be the one to act.
If you suspect abuse, please fill out this online contact form, or call Barry Sugarman and his dedicated team of assisted living facility abuse lawyers toll-free at 1-866-657-5660, to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced assisted living facility abuse lawyer at one of our two convenient locations. We have offices located at 80 East Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876 and 8000 Sagemore Drive, Marlton, NJ 08053.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ: What is the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home? Why are the two regulated differently?
Most people distinguish between an assisted living facility and a nursing home based on the level of care that is provided. While nursing home residents may require ongoing medical care, often residents of assisted living facilities have difficulties that involve things like mobility, frailty or the need for some level of memory care. Although residents of both types of facilities are vulnerable to abuse, nursing homes receive a large portion of their funding from government-run programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, while most assisted living facility residents fund the costs of their care privately. Because of this, the government has developed a set of regulations for nursing homes that, unfortunately, may not apply in the context of a private assisted living facility.
FAQ: My loved one suffered from abuse in an assisted living facility and is now receiving care in the hospital to recover. She is covered by Medicare, so all of her medical expenses are covered. What kind of compensation can I recover against the facility?
As is common, your loved one will not have medical expenses that we can fight to recover. She will likely be unable to recover damages for lost wages or earning potential at her age. Despite this, compensation remains available. In many cases involving assisted living home abuse, compensation for pain and suffering, the humiliation or embarrassment suffered by your loved one, and any economic costs of psychological counseling are the primary forms of compensation that we will fight to recover. In cases resulting in severe injuries, illness or permanent disability, we can also recover compensation for your loved one’s loss of enjoyment of life. If the abuse was particularly severe and intentional, we can even fight to prove that you deserve financial compensation specifically designed to punish the assisted living facility for its negligence—also known as punitive damages.
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