Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
The compassionate and competent team of legal professionals at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP has the experience and dedication to help you or a family member recover damages for personal injuries caused by a nursing home accident, abuse, or neglect. We invoke the assistance of qualified medical professionals to help with a case evaluation to determine the fault of parties and the cause of patient injuries. For years, our Albuquerque nursing home abuse lawyers have handled nursing home cases all over the country and are zealous advocates for quality nursing home care.
If you or a family member has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact the firm to get started with a free consultation.
If you’ve decided to seek care from a nursing home facility for you or your loved one, make sure that the nursing home that you’ve selected can provide the quality care that you or your family member deserve.
Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when choosing a nursing home for you or your loved one:
- Get references and recommendations from friends, acquaintances, and professional organizations.
- Prioritize your list and visit several homes.
- Ask the facility for references.
- Ask to speak with current residents.
- Choose a location that is nearby so family and friends can visit.
- Make sure to involve your loved one in making the ultimate decision.
At Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP, we feel strongly about nursing home abuse, especially since the victims are mostly individuals who cannot fight back, such as the elderly and the disabled. In fact, the majority of nursing home abuse cases are not reported immediately because the victims don’t have the capacity to report the misconduct to authorities or their loved ones.
To help determine nursing home abuse, we recommend that you keep an eye out on the following types of abuse and key traits:
Neglect can occur when negligent staff or administrators does not provide proper treatment for the elderly, and it can be identified through:
- A sudden decline in health
- Rapid and unexplained change in weight
- Infections and bed sores
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Poor hygiene and gangrene
- Medication errors
- Wandering or isolation
Poorly trained or abusive staff can mishandle patients when performing daily duties like baths or helping residents in and out of bed, resulting in physical injuries to your loved one. Whatever the reasoning behind an injury, the staff member should always provide the best possible care and be gentle with the elderly. You can identify physical abuse by looking out for:
- Unusual bruising, bleeding, cuts and sores
- Broken bones
- Loose hair or teeth
- Strains and sprains, such as dislocated joints
- Emotional withdrawal and anxiety
Abuse does not always have to be physical or neglectful. Abusive staff members and administrators can provide a mentally unsafe environment to patients using simple words, such as ridiculing, humiliating, yelling at, or threatening a patient. Any action that makes your loved one feel unsafe in a nursing home, including discrimination based on gender, race, or sexual orientation, can have a devastating impact on their mental health, which can impact their physical health. Emotional abuse signs to look out for include:
- Anxiety and sudden shyness
- Low self-esteem and lack of eye contact
- Mood swings
- Isolation from other residents
- Difficulty eating or sleeping
- Refusal of nursing home staff to leave the room during visits
- Denial of access to patient during visitation hours
The elderly are often the targets of financial scams or theft, especially if they feel they can trust a caregiver or administrator. When visiting a loved one or reviewing their payment plan, you should pay attention to:
- Sudden and unusual financial transactions, such as ATM withdrawals
- Lapses in payments or canceled checks
- Disappearance of personal items
- Substandard care in comparison to the cost
- Changes in legal or financial documents, such as wills or powers of attorney
- A lack of understanding about financial changes
- Missing documentation such as invoices or receipts
- Sudden closeness to the elderly on the part of the perpetrator
Sexual abuse can be one of the most difficult types of abuse to approach when it comes to our loved ones, but it can have a devastating impact on their lives. The elderly are often unable to properly describe sexual abuse, either due to trauma or a lack of understanding, but there are ways to identify it:
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising, specifically around the genitals
- Contracting an STD or STI
- Physical or emotional withdrawal
- Panic attacks and PTSD
- Self-harm or suicide attempts
- Inappropriate behavior or actions, either on the part of the victim or abuser
How do you file a claim against a nursing home?
A claim against a nursing home can be a long process. First, once you discover the abuse, document everything. Take pictures of any injuries the resident may have sustained as well as anything in the home that shows abuse, such as torn and bloody clothing. In addition, get any medical records that point to negligence, and speak to a medical professional about any signs of abuse that you may have overlooked. Be sure to talk with your loved one. They may be reluctant to relive the trauma, but they’re the best witness to what was done to them.
Second, consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer. They can give you insights into what the process will look like, what rights were violated, and may be able to answer any questions you have. The claims process can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have a strong understanding of it. A nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to provide expertise and years of knowledge. Once you contact them, your attorney will likely conduct their own investigation into what happened before finally filing the claim for you.
In addition to acquiring legal aid, you can report nursing home abuse to Adult Protective Services, the New Mexico Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and local Albuquerque law enforcement. This process may be stressful and challenging at first, but our knowledgeable legal team can work with you to ensure the rights and safety of your loved ones is secured.
Can a resident file a claim without a contract with the home?
Yes, they can. If a resident is harmed due to inappropriate care from a nursing home then they can recover damages, even without a proper contract. If the harm was due to negligence on the part of the nursing home – such as poor maintenance of the property, lack of suitable supervision or care, negligent hiring of staff, or inadequate maintenance of equipment – then the resident, or their family if the resident passed, may have cause for a claim. On top of that, a resident that was abused may be able to file a claim for damages caused by assault and battery.
Are you allowed to put cameras in a nursing home?
Under certain circumstances, yes. Not all states protect the ability to place surveillance devices in nursing homes, but in New Mexico you are allowed to. However, you must have permission from the resident, as well as any roommates the resident may have. While cameras are helpful in proving abuse, they also strip any privacy from the loved one you’re trying to protect. They may not want the camera installed, even if they are being neglected or abused.
What rights do nursing home residents have?
Under the New Mexican Elder Bill of Rights, the elderly have many rights that every nursing home in New Mexico must follow. This includes the right to a dignified existence, the right to self-determination, the right to be fully informed, the right to grievances, the right of access, and the right to privacy. If a nursing home is found to be violating any of these rights, then they have broken New Mexico law and you may be able to recover damages.
Does someone visiting a nursing home have the right to file a claim if they are injured on the nursing home's property?
Yes, they do. This would be considered a premises liability case, and the visitor would be able to file a claim for any damages suffered from the injury. However, a crucial part of premises liability law is that the party responsible for the property where the visitor was injured was negligent in some way, and thus at fault for the injury. A good example is if a staff member recently mopped a floor, but didn’t put a ‘wet floor’ sign down, resulting in someone slipping and falling. Because the staff member didn’t adequately warn people about the danger, they would be considered negligent. But if proper warning was given and the visitor walked on the wet floor and slipped anyway, then the staff member may not be held liable.
Why do I need a nursing home abuse lawyer?
If a loved one has been abused or neglected while living at a nursing home, you should get them to safety and then immediately contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. These cases can be complicated to navigate. You must determine who is liable and who to file your claim against. Your emotions may be running high due to the distress of seeing a loved one hurt, and that can lead you to miss crucial pieces of evidence. Some nursing homes are more interested in profits than righting any wrongs they committed. They will fight hard to not have to pay for damages, which means you need someone experienced in your corner to make sure they don’t get away with the pain they inflicted on your family.
Don't wait to get help. Contact our Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse lawyers to schedule a free consultation.