Nursing Home Abuse

Vancouver, WA Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

Strong advocacy for nursing home residents in Washington State

Many seniors move to nursing homes for health reasons. Many also move for companionship – especially when children may live far away. Nursing homes should provide a lot of joy and care for their residents. Sadly, seniors are often easy targets for abuse and neglect – especially when the facility is understaffed. Seniors often rely on family and friends to help them report that they’re not getting their right medications, that they are being isolated, and that they are showing signs of physical neglect and abuse.

At Philbrook Law Office PS, our Vancouver, WA nursing home lawyers fight for your parents, aunts, uncles, and friends who aren’t getting the care they’re entitled to and who are being physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially abused. We explain that nursing homes residents have specific rights that must be met. We work with elder care doctors to document the harm to a senior resident. Our lawyers will demand compensation for the pain and suffering, medical costs, and the loss of quality of life seniors suffer when nursing homes and staff don’t do their jobs.

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What acts constitute abuse and neglect in Vancouver WA nursing homes?

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are numerous types of abuse which demand attention from loved ones, management and, if necessary, attorneys.

Physical abuse in nursing homes

Physical abuse is “defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.” Acts of physical abuse include “hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning.” Physical abuse also includes improper uses of physical restraints, not administering drugs as required, and any type of physical punishment.

Some of the signs and symptoms of physical abuse include:

  • Bruises, cuts, welts, and rope marks
  • Bones that are broken or fractured
  • Injuries that aren’t treated properly
  • Internal injuries and bleeding
  • Eyeglasses that are broken
  • Signs of restraint
  • “Laboratory findings of medication overdose or under-utilization of prescribed drugs”
  • Sudden changes in behavior of the resident
  • Refusals to let visitors see the patient alone
  • An elder's report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated

Sexual abuse in nursing homes

Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly resident. Some seniors can’t give consent because of a mental or physical incapacity. Sexual abuse includes rape, sodomy, forced nudity, battery, and “sexually explicit photographing.”

Some of the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse include:

  • Bruising and lacerations around the genitals, breasts, or anus
  • Unexplained STIs and venereal diseases
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding that can’t be explained
  • Clothing that is torn, bloody, or stained
  • A report by the elder of a sexual assault or rape

Emotional and psychological abuse in nursing homes

The NCEA defines emotional/psychological abuse as “the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts.” This form of abuse includes intimidation, harassment, verbal assaults, and threats. Examples include:

  • Treating the senior like a child
  • Isolating the senior from family, friends, and social activities
  • Using the “silent treatment”

Some of the signs and symptoms of emotional/psychological abuse include:

  • A senior who is agitated or upset
  • A resident who is withdrawn and/or non-communicative
  • Unusual behavior such as rocking or sucking
  • A report by the senior of emotional abuse

Financial abuse in nursing homes

Improper or illegal use of a senior resident’s funds, assets, or property is financial abuse. Examples of financial abuse include:

  • Cashing checks without permission
  • Forgery
  • Stealing the senior’s money
  • Coercing the senior to sign a power of attorney, a will, or a contract
  • Not properly using a conservatorship or guardianship

Some of the signs of financial abuse include:

  • Unexplained or large bank withdrawals
  • Extra names on bank signature cards
  • New changes in a will or other legal documents
  • Unexplained loss of valuable possessions
  • Unpaid bills
  • “Discovery of an elder's signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions”
  • Claims by relatives or others (who previously showed no interest in the senior) to possessions and the elder’s affairs
  • Unnecessary services
  • The report by an elder of financial abuse
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Recognizing the signs of nursing home neglect

The NCEA defines nursing home neglect as “The refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person's obligations or duties to an elder.” The failure of a fiduciary to provide care and pay for necessary services may also constitute neglect.

Some of the signs of nursing home neglect include:

  • “Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene”
  • Health problems that aren’t attended to
  • Lack of good hygiene – nursing home staff need to wash their hands on a regular basis and make sure the residents do, too
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Living conditions that are unsanitary
  • A report by an elder of neglect

What are examples of nursing home neglect?

Nursing home neglect includes:

  • Failing to follow COVID-19 protocols
  • Failing to vet (run background checks on) the staff of the nursing home
  • Failing to train the staff about proper procedures
  • Understaffing
  • Not handling medications properly
  • Not hiring competent security
  • Medical neglect
  • Failing to comply with local building code requirements and any local, state, or federal safety requirements
  • Not monitoring the performance of the staff
  • Not responding to complaints by elders or members of their family
  • Authorizing or approving any type of abuse

What other types of conduct by a Vancouver, WA nursing home may be grounds for a legal claim?

Nursing homes can be held liable if the resident is abandoned. Nursing homes can also be held liable for any self-neglect by a resident (such as failure to clean themselves, take their medications, or follow safety precautions) who is unattended.

What is the Nursing Home Bill of Rights?

Federal law requires that nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid (most do) inform residents of their rights in writing. Guaranteed Medicare rights include, among others, the following rights:

  • Freedom from discrimination
  • Freedom from abuse and neglect
  • Exercise your rights as a US citizen
  • Notify your representative
  • Receive proper medical care
  • Be treated with respect
  • Freedom from restraints
  • “Have protections against involuntary transfer or discharge”
  • Engage in activities
  • Spend time with visitors and resident groups
  • Control your money
  • Learn about services and fees
  • “Get proper privacy, property, and living arrangements”
  • Register complaints

Washington State also provides rights for nursing home residents. These rights include:

  • “A right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility.”
  • The right to “exercise his or her rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or resident of the United States and the state of Washington”
  • The right to not be subject to reprisals for exercising their rights
  • The right to have a representative exercise their rights for them
  • Many other statutory rights

If nursing homes violate these rights, the nursing homes can be held accountable.

Who is liable for nursing home abuse or neglect?

At Philbrook Law Office, our Washington nursing home lawyers file legal claims against the nursing homes. Nursing homes are responsible for the conduct of their employees. They are responsible for complying with the appropriate safety rules and regulations. They must comply with the terms of their contract with the senior. While there may be exceptions, if a senior is abused, nursing homes are often liable for the abuse. If the nursing home failed to comply with standard nursing home practices, the nursing home should be accountable.

We work with the senior, his/her family, investigators, other seniors, and the staff – either voluntarily or through legal discovery – to show the resident was abused or neglected.

In addition to the nursing home, other possible defendants include:

  • The person who committed the abuse
  • A repair or maintenance company that failed to provide quality repairs or maintenance
  • A manufacturer of any products (such as ladders, cleaners, or medications) that are defective and cause the senior physical harm.

If a resident dies due to nursing home staff negligence, we file a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf.

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What damages are available in Washington nursing home abuse and neglect cases?

Our Vancouver, WA nursing home lawyers file wrongful death claims on behalf of seniors who die due to nursing home abuse or neglect.

Victims of nursing home abuse or neglect often have limited time left on this earth, and they deserve to live out those years with comfort and dignity. When abuse or neglect prevents seniors from living out their years the way the deserve, we demand compensation for the senior’s:

  • Physical pain
  • Medical bills for surgeries, treatments, medications, and assistive devices
  • Loss of life’s pleasure
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Loss of society
  • Any economic losses

In cases of deliberate abuse, the nursing home resident may also be entitled to punitive damages.

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Speak with a respected Vancouver, WA nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today

Time is of the essence when a senior is abused or neglected because he/she only has a limited number of years left to enjoy his/her life. At Philbrook Law Office, we begin the fight immediately to protect seniors from any type of physical, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. When we file nursing home abuse or neglect claims, we’re working to ensure the safety of the senior and all other seniors in the nursing home. For 20 years, we’ve been fighting to hold defendants accountable for misconduct and negligence by settling claims and pursuing verdicts for their pain and suffering, medical costs, and other expenses.

To schedule a free consultation at one of our Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA locations, please call 360-695-3309 or complete our contact form. We also serve the greater Portland area and Oregon State. We represent nursing home abuse and neglect clients on a contingency fee basis.