Home Health Aide Abuse Lawyers
You Need an Experienced New Jersey Lawyer to Hold a Home Health Aide Accountable for Abuse and Neglect
The best home health aides give senior citizens the priceless gift of being able to remain in their homes even when they need assistance. Unfortunately, the worst home health aides can cause otherwise stable individuals to deteriorate rapidly and irreversibly. When that happens, the home health aide must be held responsible.
You’re angry – as you should be – when you discover that a trusted home health aide was actually abusing or neglecting your loved one all along. You welcomed this person into the home and relied on them to care for a helpless family member. Every act of abuse or neglect was a betrayal of your trust. You want to do something about it – but you need someone on your side who will be just as passionate and persistent about getting justice for your family member as you are.
At Sugarman Law, Barry Sugarman and his team are committed to stopping the abuse. For more than 30 years, we have held home health aides accountable for abuse and neglect of their clients.
What Is a Home Health Aide?
Home health aides work in the field of healthcare, but the scope of their work is different from that of licensed nursing staff who are hired to come into the home and provide care. In fact, though some certification may be necessary, a home health aide is not a registered nurse or a licensed medical professional and is not hired to provide medical care at all.
Instead, home health aides assist individuals who need help performing the “activities of daily living”, or ADLs, without sustaining an injury due to a disability, injury or another medical condition.
Home health aides often help clients with the following activities:
- Bathing, grooming and personal hygiene activities
- Dressing and undressing
- Meal preparation and eating
- Transferring from one place to the next
- Safely using the restroom
Home health aides can also be useful in helping with the grocery shopping, running errands, ensuring your loved one has properly taken his or her medications, housekeeping, laundry and more.
Home Health Aides and In-Home Care
Home health aides can provide an important and substantial service to the elderly and those living with disabilities. The services of a home health aide allow these individuals to stay in their homes, rather than being forced to move away from familiar places and people and into an unfamiliar nursing home.
Additionally, because the cost of obtaining quality long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility continues to rise dramatically each year, home health aides may offer a more cost-effective solution for families. Hiring a home health aide allows your loved ones to continue to live independently and yet remain safe from falls and other injuries while you are busy earning a living.
As the baby boomer population continues to age, home health aides are likely to be an extremely valuable asset in allowing more people to age in place safely at home. This makes it even more critical that all incidents of abuse are stopped, reported and punished to the fullest extent possible.
Why Does Home Health Aide Abuse Happen?
Home health aides are often in a unique position to take advantage of their clients if they so choose. They are trusted to come into the home on a regular basis. Home health aides may have unfettered access to both your loved one’s body and finances, especially when no other family members are around.
Additionally, many home health agencies are negligent in their hiring and training practices. As a result, home health aides are:
- Poorly trained
This dangerous combination of circumstances, unfortunately, sets the stage for abuse and neglect to happen. Make no mistake – patients absolutely die as a result of home health aides’ abusive and neglectful behaviors.
Just how often does it happen? Elder abuse—in many cases, at the hands of home health aides—is shockingly common. Data shows that one in 10 people aged 60 or older has been, or will be, the victim of some type of abuse.
Types of Home Health Aide Abuse and Neglect
Abuse and neglect can come in many forms. When your family is in need of a home health aide, it is important to remain vigilant – especially if you have any reason to suspect abuse or neglect. Contact Sugarman Law immediately if you believe your loved one has been the victim of any one of these types of abuse at the hands of a home health aide:
- Financial abuse. Home health aides may have access to your loved one’s mail, computers and other confidential files and information. This puts them in a unique position to take advantage of your loved one by stealing credit card information or other property, forging signatures on checks or other documents or even withholding care in exchange for additional payments or other financial benefits. The elderly are especially susceptible to financial abuse, as they may be unfamiliar with technology and need help managing their finances.
- Emotional abuse. Your loved one likely relies upon the assistance of his or her home health aide to get through basic daily tasks. This puts the home health aide in a position to emotionally abuse his or her patient through yelling, bullying, manipulation, intimidation or even ignoring and isolating your family member.
- Physical abuse. Even though your loved one is able to remain in the home, he or she may remain vulnerable to physical abuse at the hands of a caregiver. Examples of physical abuse may include kicking or hitting, improper use of restraints, improper administration of medications or withholding of food and water.
- Sexual abuse. Individuals who require memory care are especially susceptible to sexual abuse at the hands of their home health aides. In these cases, your loved one may be unable to even understand that the abuse is taking place, making it especially important that you seek out help.
- Isolation. Home health aides may be the primary human contact for an individual who requires care and does not have loved ones living nearby. Isolation is a form of emotional abuse that involves restricting your loved ones access to family and friends by cutting off contact via visits, phone, email, and letters.
Abuse and Neglect at the Hands of Home Health Aides May be Difficult to Detect
In many cases, your loved one may suffer from more than one type of abuse at the hands of an unscrupulous home health aide—for example, a home health aide may isolate their patient in order to gain access to his or her finances and commit financial fraud.
Signs of Home Health Aide Abuse
Although it can often be difficult to determine whether a home health aide is abusing or neglecting your loved one, you should contact Sugarman Law for help right away if you notice any of these potential warning signs:
- Dramatic changes in behavior, such as depression or emotional withdrawal from loved ones
- Withdrawal from community activities previously enjoyed by your loved one
- Lack of communication or contact where communication was previously frequent
- Unusual financial transactions
- Weight loss
- Frequent or unexplained accidents or falls
- Any physical markings that might signal physical or sexual abuse is taking place
Attempting to discuss any of these issues with your loved one could possibly help you get to the bottom of the cause – but in many cases, an abusive home health aide may use fear or intimidation to coerce your loved one into pretending that everything is fine.
Individuals receiving care from an in-home health aide may fail to report the abuse, even upon questioning from family members or trusted friends, because:
- They are afraid of retaliation
- They are embarrassed to report they have been victimized
- The abuser may have restricted their methods of communication, even by physically taking away their phone or computer
- They may have a memory-related illness, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, or another disability that prevents them from understanding that the abuse is even taking place
Even patients who are of sound mind and able to communicate normally can be reluctant to speak up – and that only means that your loved one needs you more than ever.
In cases where you suspect abuse but your family member isn’t willing or able to ask for help, more aggressive actions may be needed to investigate and determine whether your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect.
Sugarman Law is here to help. Barry Sugarman serves clients throughout New Jersey, from Cape May County to Hudson County, and provides a free initial consultation to all potential clients. Call today to see how he can fight to hold the home health aide who abused your loved one liable for that abuse or neglect to the fullest extent of the law.
Holding Home Health Agencies Responsible for Neglect and Abuse
In many cases, a home health aide will be procured through a home health aide agency that promises to properly screen and train home health aides so that your loved ones are protected.
Despite what families would want to believe, these home health aide agencies are often primarily motivated by profit, not by kindness. The agency itself may act negligently by:
- Accepting more patients than its aides can safely care for
- Hiring home health aides willing to work for little pay without proper screening
- Providing little or no training to their home health aides
- Failing to hire supervisors to ensure abuse and neglect is prevented
In some circumstances, these factors can all contribute to the hiring of a home health aide who abuses or neglects your loved one. When this happens, the agency is liable for the harm its negligence has caused.
Barry Sugarman Fights to Win Maximum Compensation for Victims of Home Health Aide Abuse
An experienced home health aide abuse lawyer can work to establish your right to recover compensation once abuse or neglect has been uncovered by:
- Interviewing your loved one to understand their account of the abuse
- Consulting with experts to gather evidence as to the likelihood of abuse if your loved one is unable to testify
- Interviewing friends and neighbors gain their account of the abuse
- Investigating the home health aide agency to see whether they properly hire, train and supervise their home health aides
- Locating any certifications that the home health aide did complete to determine what was required for certification
Barry Sugarman has been advocating on behalf of clients who have been victimized by those in a position of power for over 30 years. He has dedicated his entire career and practice to hold the perpetrators of abuse financially responsible for their reprehensible actions. As he works to uncover evidence of abuse at the hands of a home health aide, Barry will leave no stone unturned.
Sugarman Law will make sure you are compensated for:
- Any medical or rehabilitative costs
- The cost of emotional counseling
- Restitution in the case of financial abuse
- Non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation and the fear caused by the abuse
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Sugarman Law to Discuss Your Concerns With a Knowledgeable Home Health Aide Abuse Lawyer
Once you have identified any sign that a home health aide is abusing or neglecting your loved one, it is important to get help immediately to stop the abuse.
The home health aide agency that you used to hire your aide should be notified immediately so that a replacement can be found before any legal action is even initiated. Once the abuse has been stopped, contact Sugarman Law to discuss your options for holding the responsible parties financially accountable for their actions.
You can fill out this online contact form, or call home health aide abuse lawyer Barry Sugarman toll free at 1-866-657-5660 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer. We have offices in two convenient locations: 80 East Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876 and 8000 Sagemore Drive, Marlton, NJ 08053.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ: What are the certification and/or licensing requirements for home health aides in New Jersey?
Home health aides can take on many forms, and not all home health aides are properly certified. To become certified as a home health aide by the New Jersey Board of Nursing, applicants must complete an approved training course, complete a competency evaluation, pass federal and state criminal background checks and be supervised by a professional registered nurse. Certification must be renewed every two years. Despite this, not all home health aide agencies are vigilant about ensuring that their staff members are properly certified or trained, and many home health aides do not complete these training requirements at all.
FAQ: If home health aides are underpaid and overworked, what is the point of bringing a lawsuit against an abusive aide for financial compensation?
It is true that home health aides are often underpaid, and while they can be held both civilly and criminally responsible for their actions, they often will not have the funds available to satisfy a compensation award. Despite this, a company or agency that hires home health aides and contracts them out to care for patients can also be held financially responsible for the actions of its employees. This employment liability theory makes sense, because the employer-agency is actually the entity that made representations to you about the level of care that the individual would receive—and while you may have conducted a cursory interview with the aide, the agency itself was responsible for making sure that only trustworthy, trained home health aides were sent to your loved one’s home.
FAQ: The home health agency says that the aide was an independent contractor so that I have to sue the aide directly. Is this true?
While many home health aide agencies will attempt to characterize their workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, in order to avoid liability, it is the actual facts and circumstances of the relationship (rather than the agency’s mere statement) that controls in the legal context. Sugarman Law will fight to establish that the home health aide was, in reality, acting as an agent or employee of the company in order to hold that company responsible for its negligent hiring practices.
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