San Francisco Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Our elderly population should be among the most valued members of society, but unfortunately they often suffer while in care facilities. Sometimes, nursing home residents simply suffer because of health conditions and circumstances that no one can control. In other situations, there is clear evidence of negligence, neglect, and carelessness that leads to needless suffering. This is completely inexcusable, and guilty parties must be held accountable. After all, younger individuals may also find themselves in nursing homes one day. These kinds of issues affect us all, and they need to be addressed.
Legal Obligations of Nursing Home Staff
Because nursing homes function as both a medical and residential facility, they have the legal duty to care for the health and overall wellbeing of their residents.
Staff members who use unapproved restraint methods, verbally attack, or physically abuse residents as a means of discipline are violating this duty of care. Additionally, when nursing home staff fail to provide food, water, or medication, they also may be liable for elderly abuse or neglect.
It is important to note that injured parties may have the option to bring a claim against the facility in addition to individual staff members. If an attorney finds that an assisted living community allows instances of abuse to occur on their property, it may be liable according to state law as well. For example, our San Francisco nursing home abuse attorneys can use evidence of failure to adequately train or monitor staff to prove that a facility is liable.
Some residents who experience elder abuse often cannot — or are too afraid to — communicate what has been happening to them. However, warning signs can take many forms. Some may include: Weight loss from lack of nutrition, Loss of mobility, Pressure sores or bedsores, Stiff or frozen joints, Missing possessions, Unexplained withdrawals from or changes to financial accounts, Unexplained bruises, cuts, fractures, burns and broken bones, Staff refusal to allow visitors, Unexplained delays in permitting familial visits and/or a hesitancy to allow visits unaccompanied by staff, Residents who appear overmedicated and/or unsanitary conditions.
Nursing Homes in California Must Adhere to Strict Standards
There are legal regulations in place that ensure all nursing homes in California operate in a proper, ethical manner. These “care standards” include:
- Taking into Account an Individual’s Needs: Nursing homes in California have an obligation to personalize their services and cater to an individual’s needs. They need to recognize that long-term care is not a “one size fits all” approach. Among other things, these facilities must listen to residents and build their schedules, room assignments, and other systems accordingly.
- They Must Have the Proper Amount of Staff: Nursing homes in California also have a legal obligation to hire the correct amount of staff. Understaffed nursing homes are not allowed to operate. In addition, staff members must have the correct qualifications to carry out their jobs.
- They Must Provide Proper Nutrition: Nursing homes must also provide residents with healthy diets. If certain residents have medical issues that call for altered diets, nursing homes must accommodate these changes.
- Nursing Homes Must Be Hygienic: It is very important that nursing homes follow correct infection control guidelines, keeping facilities as sterile and as hygienic as possible. Elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to diseases and infections. These nursing homes have a legal duty to control infections.
Those are just a few legal guidelines that a nursing home must follow in the state of California, and there are many others. As a general note, nursing home residents should speak out and protest as soon as they feel that something has gone wrong with their care. There are many regulations that a nursing home must follow. If a resident is in needless pain or discomfort, one of these regulations has probably been broken.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Residents of nursing homes may deal with many types of abuse during their stay. It is important to understand what form this abuse can take, what to look out for, and what actually constitutes abuse in a legal context:
- General Neglect: General neglect is a blanket term that covers a range of different violations. It is worth pointing out that neglect is not the same as abuse, since abuse is intentional whereas neglect can be unintentional. All forms of neglect involve the failure to provide proper care. This may include not checking on residents over long periods of time, not keeping residents clean, failing to provide enough food and water, not providing residents with the correct medication, failing to keep the facility hygienic, and much more.
- Physical Abuse: As the name suggests, this form of abuse involves actual physical violence or unwanted contact. For example, staff may hit, punch, or shove residents. They may also restrain residents against their will, or use objects to hurt them.
- Psychological Abuse: Psychological abuse is unfortunately quite common in nursing homes. This is when residents are disrespected and made to feel a sense of anguish and stress. Examples include verbal insults, threats, solitary confinement, and taking away a resident’s rights and freedoms.
- Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is a combination of both physical and psychological abuse. This can take the form of unwanted touching, groping, or other forms of sexualized contact. This is obviously completely unacceptable.
- Financial Abuse: This is when staff or other associates of the nursing home seek to gain control or access to a resident’s finances through deceptive means. These individuals may try to win the resident’s trust before essentially robbing them. Examples of financial abuse include confiscating a resident’s financial documents, stealing their property, and abusing the power of attorney.
What Rights Does a Nursing Home Resident Have?
A nursing home resident has many rights that they can exercise at any time. These include: The right to sign admissions contracts in a proper, transparent, and ethical manner; The right to Medicaid or Medicare compensation; The right to a security deposit; The right to be free from unlawful or improper transfers or evictions; The right to live a dignified life and to receive proper care; The right to an environment that feels like home; The right to make their own decisions about important matters, like healthcare and finances; The right to request and be granted access to their medical records and the right to a sense of privacy.
Nursing Homes in California and COVID-19
Nursing homes in California have come under increased scrutiny during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In February of 2021, it was reported that nursing home workers in California had gone on strike. These individuals were protesting the unsafe and understaffed conditions in nursing homes across the state. Along with protesting the lack of patient safety, they also asked for better wages and more benefits.
California rivals New York for the state with the most COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes. In addition, many have stated that numerous cities across the nation have underreported the true number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. The relatively low wages of nursing home workers has been cited as an area that can be improved, especially if we want to improve overall safety and professionalism at these facilities.
In the Bay Area, numerous counties expressed frustration at the slow rate of vaccinations for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These are just a few of the key issues related to nursing homes that have become obvious during the pandemic. Fortunately, California is one of the few states that has not granted “legal immunity” to nursing homes during the pandemic, which means that residents and family members can still sue these facilities for damages related to the coronavirus.
Statute of Limitations
According to California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, an injured party in a nursing home abuse case generally has two years from the date of discovery of an injury to demand compensation. If a plaintiff does not file his/her claim before the statute of limitations expires, they may risk the opportunity to seek compensation.
However, claimants should understand that there are some exceptions to this deadline. For example, the court may extend the statute of limitations if a resident was unable to speak out for years following their injuries due to the fear of retaliation. Our nursing home neglect attorneys in San Francisco can help a claimant meet all statutory deadlines that apply to his/her case.
Seek the Services of a Compassionate San Francisco Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Care facilities have a legal obligation to provide adequate medical care in addition to ensuring their residents have a safe and caring environment. Unfortunately, nursing homes do not always operate at this standard, which can result in instances of abuse and neglect.
Although care facilities have a duty to keep their residents safe and free from abuse, failures in hiring practices or training can allow these incidents to occur. The consequences of these incidents can result in severe physical injuries and debilitating emotional trauma.
If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in his/her care facility, speak with our dedicated personal injury attorneys when you are ready to take legal action. Our San Francisco nursing home abuse lawyers can investigate your loved one’s case and build a claim against negligent staff members and/or the responsible facility.
Our dedicated San Francisco based nursing home abuse lawyers can help. Regardless if you were a victim in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or surrounding, an attorney can handle every part of the claims process from initial investigation to helping measure an injured party’s losses. Whether you are a resident who has suffered abuse, or you are a concerned family member, contact the legal professionals at Mary Alexander & Associates to see how we can help you. Call today for an initial case consultation.