Temecula Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
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Temecula Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the National Center on Elderly Abuse, the following types of abuse are most common among nursing home residents:
- Physical – Physical abuse is among the most reported types of abuse yet it is a form of abuse your loved one may hide. Covering bruises is one way the elderly can keep their abuse a secret from you. Their fear of retaliation often prevents them from sharing information regarding their abuse. In addition to bruises, warning signs of possible physical abuse include scratches, torn clothing, anxiety, and fear of a certain caregiver.
- Psychological – Verbal abuse is generally a form of psychological abuse that can leave your loved one depressed or anxious. Screaming, yelling, using obscenities, and threats are something that no elderly person should experience. Observing and listening to how the staff interacts with your loved one and other residents before entering a room can alert you to possible psychological abuse.
- Sexual – The sexual abuse of the elderly in our nation’s nursing homes is disturbing. The elderly’s need for help with bathing and the inability to defend themselves is something some staff members use to their advantage. Torn or bloody clothing and unexplained infections are among the more common signs of possible sexual abuse.
- Financial – Missing money, overdrawn checking accounts, and maxed out credit cards are just a few clues of financial exploitation. If your loved one was financially stable when they entered the nursing home but now lacks funds, something is amiss. Financial abuse of the elderly is especially troublesome for those with cognitive impairment. These particular patients are at risk for financial abuse.
- Neglect – If your loved one appears unkempt, has unwashed hair, or is wearing the same, dirty clothes as your last visit, they may suffer from neglect. Other forms of neglect are the development of bedsores that lead to infection, not receiving medications, or neglecting important hygiene, including oral or dental care.
Nursing home residents often fail to alarm their families to abuse and neglect due to fear of continued abuse. They may want to spare their loved ones the worry or their cognitive abilities may prevent them from fully understanding their situations.
Family members must step up to represent and to protect the best interests of their loved ones. The elderly need a voice that protects them against the adult bullies entrusted with their care.
If you suspect your loved one suffered any form of abuse by nursing home staff, seek immediate medical attention for them. Report the abuse to management and to local law enforcement and relocate your loved one to a different facility. Your next step is to contact Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Driving Factors Behind Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes are known for staffing shortages. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires that Medicare collect and analyze the payroll information of the more than 14,000 nursing homes receiving their funds. The study found the shortages a reality, with weekends representing the lowest staffing levels.
While most nursing home employees treat residents with respect, it only takes one overworked or under-trained employee to abuse someone. Stressed employees, a failure to conduct a background check, or similar circumstances can result in possible abuse.
Many nursing home employees cite low pay and long hours as among the many reasons they choose to leave their positions. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse due to a nursing home that fails to adequately staff their facility, take action. In addition to helping your loved one, you may just save the life of another resident.
There is no excuse for nursing home abuse. In some cases, the person responsible may face criminal charges in addition to a civil claim for damages. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we want to help you secure justice for your loved one. It is our honor to assist families in their quest for accountability and fair compensation for their loved one’s nursing home abuse. By holding these bad actors accountable, we can help ensure the safety of the oldest and most vulnerable members of our Temecula community.
If your loved one died as a result of the abuse suffered by a nursing home employee, you may qualify for a wrongful death claim. The loss you feel can never be replaced by money. Possible compensation can, however, serve as a form of justice and help cover your loved one’s final expenses.
Physical or sexual abuse can lead to broken bones or infections that many never heal. In addition to a weakened immune system, your loved one’s health may include other issues that compromised their ability to improve. An unexplained fall or the development of pneumonia due to neglect can lead to a loved one’s death.
A wrongful death lawyer from our team can investigate and determine liability for your loved one’s death. A careful review of all evidence, including any photos, videos, witness statements, police reports, and medical reports is often necessary for identifying those liable for the abuse.
To develop the best case possible, we need time—something not on your side. We should begin work on your case as soon as possible. We may need to track down and to interview staff from the nursing home who moved on to other jobs or who are reluctant to speak.
No senior member of the population should experience abuse of any form. When abuse occurs that results in their death, talking with a member of our team can help you to understand your options for civil action.
Temecula Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, residents and staff of nursing homes throughout Riverside County suffered terribly. According to the California Health Care Foundation, 40 percent of the fatalities during the first wave of the virus afflicted nursing home residents and workers.
Perhaps deaths were inevitable in nursing facilities in and around Temecula, but experts also believe that problems with quality control in California nursing facilities contributed to the high death toll. As of the last health inspection before the pandemic struck, approximately 70 percent of the nursing homes in California did not have an infection control policy and had not implemented infection control procedures as required by federal and state laws.
Failing to implement policies to prevent deadly infections from spreading throughout the resident population is just one of many ways a nursing home’s negligence can harm its residents and staff. In this blog post, we answer some Frequently Asked Questions we receive from Temecula workers, residents, and visitors about their legal rights when dangerous practices at a nursing home put residents in harm’s way.
For answers to your specific questions about nursing home negligence in and around Temecula, contact a skilled attorney today.
What is nursing home negligence?
Nursing home negligence is any unreasonably dangerous decision, action, or inaction by staff or administration of a nursing facility that results in harm to residents or other staff. It consists of unreasonably dangerous and harmful conduct relating to both medical and non-medical aspects of providing and caring for residents of nursing homes.
Some circumstances that can qualify as negligence in a Temecula nursing home setting include:
- Failing to keep the premises free of hazards that could cause injuries, such as wet or slippery floors, poor lighting, and protection of residents from assault by another resident or abuse by a staff member.
- Hiring an employee who is improperly certified or trained for the position, or who has exhibited a history of neglecting, abusing, or exploiting residents either at the facility, while previously employed at another facility, or has a criminal history of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Failing to maintain staffing at a facility sufficient to meet the needs of all residents.
- Failure of nursing home staff to check-in on, monitor, or pay attention to residents and their needs.
- Inadequate supervision of residents that can result in harm, such as when a resident falls because staff fails to assist, or when a resident leaves a facility without staff knowledge.
- Failing to implement policies to safeguard the health of residents, including infection control procedures and protocols relating to the cleanliness of the facility.
- Failing to provide adequate medical treatment for residents’ ongoing and acute medical concerns.
These are just some examples of nursing home negligence. Any unreasonably dangerous decision, action, or inaction that puts a nursing home resident in harm’s way can constitute negligence and can lead to legal liability.
Who conducts nursing home inspections in Temecula, and how often do these inspections take place?
Nursing home inspections are conducted once a year to certify facilities that wish to accept Medicare/Medicaid residents (which is the vast majority of them). These inspections—referred to as surveys—are a task that is shared by both federal and state authorities. The federal government sets the criteria that the facility must meet to maintain certification. State surveyors conduct the inspections on behalf of the federal government and make recommendations regarding the potential certification.
Inspections are also performed during investigations of complaints against a nursing facility, though these inspections are commonly more limited in scope than the annual survey.
What happens when a nursing homein Temecula fails an inspection?
In the past decade, nursing homes in California have averaged a higher number of deficiencies in inspections—13 per facility, per inspection—than the national average of 7 deficiencies per inspection.
When the facility is found to be deficient in one or more of the surveyed categories, consequences vary depending on the severity of the deficiency. For minor deficiencies, the facility will usually have time to come into compliance with federal regulations and the surveyors will return to ensure that this has been done. More serious deficiencies can result in withheld federal payments to the facility or could even result in the nursing home being shut down.
What happens if a Temecula nursing home resident reports negligence?
When a resident and/or his or her family member reports harmful negligence to a local law enforcement agency, the local ombudsman, or the state licensing agency, state licensing officials will typically begin an investigation. This investigation often includes interviewing witnesses, interviewing staff members, and inspecting the conditions at the facility that were the subject of the complaint.
Validated complaints are reported to the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services, who can assess a penalty against the facility. Additionally, validated complaints can result in criminal penalties for staff members responsible for the neglect or abuse, and can even lead to the facility being closed by state officials.
One thing that does not automatically happen when someone reports nursing home negligence, however, is a legal action to obtain compensation for the victims of that negligence. To enforce those rights, Temecula nursing home negligence victims and their families must seek the help of an experienced nursing home injury lawyer as soon as possible, preferably before they take the step of making an official report.
If my loved one disclosed nursing home negligence during an appointment with a doctor, is the doctor required to report it?
If your loved one reported conditions that constitute physical harmful negligence at a Temecula nursing home, then in most cases the doctor is required to report it under California law. Others who must report abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation include staff members of the facility and others responsible for providing care for the elder either on a consistent or intermittent basis.
Mandatory reporting triggers official investigations, which in turn can affect your loved one’s legal rights. We strongly encourage anyone who suspects nursing home negligence to speak with an experienced attorney first, if possible, before lodging a complaint directly with a regulator or with a mandated reporter like a doctor.
Can physical or chemical restraints be used on a resident in a nursing home in Temecula?
The use of physical or chemical restraints was a common occurrence at nursing home facilities in the past, as many people believed that restraining a resident—particularly one with cognitive declines or mobility loss—was an effective way to keep the resident safe from harm.
However, medical experts in recent decades have found that the practice does not keep the resident safer, but rather, exposes the resident to a greater risk of physical and emotional injury. Restraints are only approved for use in nursing homes in emergencies, such as when a resident is posing an imminent risk of harming himself or herself, or others.
Occasionally, restraints will be recommended for medical treatment. However, the resident—if he or she is able, or his or her legal representative—must consent to the treatment and the use of the restraint. This consent can only be given after the physician recommending the restraint has explained to the resident and/or his or her representative the exact reason for the treatment, the reason restraint is a necessary part of the treatment, and alternative options to the restraint.
If nursing home staff restrained your loved one without consent, contact an experienced nursing home negligence and abuse attorney right away.
What damages can I recover in a lawsuit for nursing home negligence that harmed my loved one?
Every case of Temecula nursing home negligence has unique facts, so there is no guarantee that you can recover any damages, or that you will recover any specific amount.
Generally speaking, however, legal action on behalf of a resident of a Temecula nursing home who suffered harm because of negligence at the facility can often seek to recover compensation for:
- Out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the negligence, such as hospital bills, medications, the cost of moving the resident, and replacement of personal property.
- Damages for the harmful impacts that negligence has had on your loved one’s life and wellbeing, such as physical pain and suffering and emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.
- In some cases, punitive damages, which are damages recovered in cases where the nursing home’s negligence involved malice, oppression, or fraud (in other words, it was extreme and outrageous).
Speaking with an experienced Temecula nursing home negligence attorney is the most reliable way to determine the scope and amount of the potential damages you may have the right to recover on your loved one’s behalf.
If my family sues over the treatment of my loved one in a nursing home in Temecula, does my loved one have to testify in court?
Probably not, but it’s possible. More likely, your loved one may have to give out-of-court testimony through a deposition.
The vast majority of Temecula nursing home cases end in a negotiated settlement before any trial happens. As a result, few victims end up having to testify in a courtroom. However, the process of discovery in a lawsuit often requires victims to give sworn testimony in what is known as a deposition, at which a defense lawyer asks the victim questions about the claim.
Can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed for a death that resulted from nursing home negligence?
In many cases, yes. If your loved one died as a result of nursing home negligence in Temecula, you or your family may have the right to take legal action for wrongful death. In that lawsuit, your family may recover damages associated with the harm your loved one suffered. Speak with an experienced attorney in Temecula right away to learn more.
How much does a nursing home negligence attorney cost in Temecula?
In virtually all cases, an attorney costs no money up-front, and only receives compensation if you get paid first. This is what is known as a contingency fee arrangement, and it is how nearly all nursing home negligence attorneys get paid.
Attorneys also uniformly offer free case evaluations to potential clients. So, contacting and meeting with an attorney for the first time will not cost you anything.
I slipped and fell while visiting my mother at her nursing home. Can I recover damages for my injury?
There is a good chance that you can. If your fall was the result of a dangerous property condition that the facility staff knew about or should have reasonably discovered through regular inspection of the facility, then you likely have the right to hold the nursing home financially accountable for your injuries. Like any property owner, nursing homes must maintain safe premises for visitors as well as residents, and face legal liability if they fail to do so and someone gets hurt.
What should I look for in a Temecula nursing home for my loved one?
When looking for a nursing home for your loved one, it is important to understand the level of care your loved one needs. This may include memory care services for dementia, or a particular diet he is required to adhere to, or even close proximity to your home so you can visit regularly.
You may also want to consider:
- Solicit opinions on local nursing facilities from family members, friends, or members of your church who are already using them. Your loved one’s physician is also a good source of recommendations about area nursing homes.
- Is the facility Medicare/Medicaid certified? Certification means that the facility is inspected annually and required to adhere to federal standards of care.
- Take a tour of the facility. Is it clean? Is the atmosphere calming? Did you observe warm interactions between the staff members and the residents? Beware of facilities that appear overly chaotic, with loud noises, odd smells, constantly ringing phones and nurse call lights that staff does not respond to. These signs could indicate that the facility is short on staff, which is one of the most common reasons why nursing home abuse and neglect occurs.
- Meet key members of the staff and ask questions. Beware of facilities where key staff members are unavailable to speak with you or where staff members avoid answering your questions.
- Plan a second, unannounced visit so that you can observe the facility at a different time of day and when staff members aren’t expecting you. Try to arrive around a mealtime so you can observe the dining area. Are residents who need help eating being given that assistance? Does the dining area look clean? Does the food look appetizing?
- Trust your gut instinct. Did you have a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right when you visited the facility? Chances are, there is truth behind the feeling. You need to feel comfortable with the choice you and your loved one make regarding the place where he or she will reside and receive care.
If your loved one suffered an injury due to negligence at a Temecula nursing home, contact our experienced Temecula nursing home negligence lawyers today for a free case evaluation.
Why You Need Our Temecula Nursing Home Lawyers
Most nursing homes are for-profit businesses with large insurance companies protecting their best interests. To protect their client, insurance companies often try to settle claims quickly and for the lowest compensation possible. They simply want your case to go away before it generates negative attention for the nursing home.
Protecting the best interests of your loved one is essential to ensuring the abuse stops immediately. A personal injury lawyer can aggressively fight for fair compensation for your loved one by negotiating with the insurance company. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our experience has taught us the various ways insurance companies try to avoid paying abuse victims what they deserve.
Let us put our experience to work for you. While most personal injury cases settle out-of-court, we are ready to go to trial if necessary. Taking a tough stand with insurance companies is where we excel. As personal injury lawyers, we take cases involving nursing home abuse seriously.
Most of our staff have an elderly loved one or have worked with an elderly person in the Temecula community. The thought of this most vulnerable population experiencing harm by the hands hired to care for them is disturbing and heartbreaking.
Trying to hold the nursing home accountable on your own can only lead to disappointment. As a fresh set of eyes and ears, our team may learn or spot something that you missed. Removing yourself from the situation and concentrating on your loved one is the best use of your time and energy.
Nursing home administration and staff may attempt to confuse you or mislead you about your loved one’s care. This is just another reason why securing a member of our Temecula legal team to help you can avoid additional stress.
How Gomez Trial Attorneys Can Help You
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we use our experience to help Temecula clients through their most difficult times. Nursing home abuse cases are highly emotional for families. Many family members feel helpless and often guilty regarding their loved one’s abuse.
To pursue compensation for your loved one’s injuries or death, we must prove the following:
- The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care.
- The defendant was negligent, either through their actions or by failing to act in a way that protected your loved one from harm.
- This defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s injuries.
- Your loved one sustained damages due to the defendant’s negligence.
The statute of limitations regarding civil procedure limits that amount of time allowed for filing your case. The time involved with seeking medical assistance for your loved one, relocating them to another facility, or in the worst case, planning their funeral, is a whirlwind. Before you know it, the time for seeking compensation passed. When this happens, you may be barred from pursuing financial compensation forever.
You have too much on your mind to deal with the facts of your case. By letting our team help you, you can rest easier knowing someone is protecting your loved one’s best interests.
Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys Today
Consulting with an attorney may already be on your to-do list. Putting it off is easy—the more you have to do, the further it gets pushed down the list. It is imperative, however, that you contact us as early as possible.
Worrying about your loved one is exhausting. In addition to your family responsibilities, your job, and other commitments, you stress over how they are coping with their injuries and possible new home. Your vulnerable state may result in accepting an early insurance company offer to put the situation behind you.
Accepting a low dollar settlement is not justice when it comes to the nursing home industry and accountability. Your loved one most likely used their life savings to pay thousands of dollars each month for their care. The abuse they suffered was not fair, it was illegal, and it deserves justice.
Should you accept what the insurance company offers, you may forfeit the right to pursue compensation later, should your loved one’s condition worsen. The abuse of the elderly is of real concern, and as personal injury lawyers, we want to help you in your pursuit of accountability.
Gomez Trial Attorneys proudly serves Temecula and the rest of the state as a whole. We treat each and every client with the utmost respect. Insurance companies know that we will not back down until we secure a fair settlement.
There is limited time for filing your case. We understand that this is a frightening and frustrating time for you and your loved one. The unexpected need to relocate them to a different facility may require funds that neither you nor they possess. Compensation for this sudden expense is just a part of the damages we can pursue on behalf of your loved one.
Each civil case is different. The outcome of your case depends upon the details involving your loved one’s abuse. The sooner we review your loved one’s case, the sooner we can get to work on their behalf. The abuse your loved one suffered at the very hands of those paid to care for them is unacceptable. Whether your case involves personal injury or wrongful death, we can help guide you through the civil litigation process.
You have nothing to lose by calling for a free case evaluation today: (619) 237-3490, or contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online today to schedule a consultation with a dedicated Temecula nursing home negligence associate.
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