Knoxville Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The senior citizen population is one of the most vulnerable in our state. When family members check a loved one into a nursing home, they probably never imagine that someone will intentionally harm them. Yet, abuse is a widespread problem in Knoxville nursing homes and around the state.
Nursing homes employ a variety of staff, including nurses, nurse’s aides, janitors, kitchen help, security, and activity directors. These individuals interact every day with vulnerable seniors, and without them a nursing home would not function.
Unfortunately, many facilities employ people who are dangerous and possibly have a history of violence. Nursing homes must provide safe accommodations to residents, but some staff members intentionally abuse residents in their care behind closed doors.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, contact Atkins Brezina, PLLC today. Our Knoxville nursing home abuse attorney can perform an investigation and file a lawsuit, if necessary, to hold the nursing home accountable. We can put a stop to the abuse and seek compensation from the nursing home. Contact us now.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
An estimated 10% of all senior citizens are the victims of abuse. The most common types of abuse are:
- Physical abuse. Staff members can punch, slap, pinch, or shove residents. They also might spill hot liquids on a resident and cause burns and disfigurement.
- Psychological abuse. Mental harm is just as serious as physical injuries. Nursing home staff might abuse your loved one by isolating them from other people or giving them the silent treatment. They might lie to an elderly resident to scare them.
- Verbal abuse. Staff members harass, threaten, mock, or embarrass residents. They also might use slurs or insulting names.
- Sexual abuse. Too many residents are sexually harassed, forced to watch pornography, groped, or sexually assaulted themselves.
- Financial abuse. Staff might steal a resident’s identity, credit cards, or cash. They might also conspire to get residents to sign over property to them or redo their will and name them as a beneficiary.
- Dehydration and malnutrition. Denying a resident adequate food and water as punishment is abusive behavior and always wrong.
In some cases, a resident is abused by another resident or even a visitor. These types of attacks, though rarer, do happen. Many of our elderly struggle with cognitive decline and communication, so they are especially vulnerable to abuse because they cannot report what is happening to anyone else. Many family members are in the dark about what is happening and therefore do not take corrective action.
Why Nursing Home Abuse is Underreported
Many residents are isolated from their families and friends who might only stop by once a month or even less. Consequently, residents can only report their abuse to other nursing home staff who might disbelieve them.
Other residents are embarrassed by the abuse and refuse to tell anyone because of feelings of shame. They might also fear retribution from any staff member who catches wind that they have been snitching.
If you notice changes to your loved one, speak with nursing home management. For example, your loved one might suddenly become moody or act like a child. They might also be fearful or quiet when specific staff members enter the room. The nursing home should investigate.
Legal Responsibility for Abuse
Most clearly, the staff member who is abusing your loved one is legally responsible for assault, sexual assault, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. If found liable, they should pay compensation to their victims.
However, in many situations, a nursing home is also on the hook, especially if you raised concerns about suspected abuse with them. Once notified, a nursing home should perform a thorough investigation and discipline or fire a staff member who intentionally harms a resident. If another resident assaulted your loved one, the nursing home should also act immediately.
Nursing homes often sweep problems under the rug, or they are negligent in their hiring or supervision of staff. If so, the nursing home owes your loved one compensation, and we can seek that in a settlement.
Abuse Causes Long-Term Harm
Even small acts of abuse—the occasional slap or insult—can deeply scar a nursing home resident emotionally. And because the mind and body are connected, many abused residents begin to see their health decline. An abused nursing home resident could suffer:
- Illness due to a weakened immune system
- Physical injury, such as fracture, contusion, burn, or laceration
- Disability, such as paralysis or brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Some abused seniors end up in a hospital fighting for their lives, and family members have no idea how they got there. Abuse costs families thousands of dollars in medical care and social services.
We Can Sue for Compensation
If your loved one has suffered any form of abuse, we can help. Our Knoxville nursing home abuse attorney can immediately address the situation by visiting a loved one in a facility, interviewing staff, and documenting injuries.
Any staff member who abuses a resident is personally liable. They should pay compensation for medical care, lost income, and pain and suffering, among other losses. We can sue them in court and garnish their wages or other property, if necessary.
In many situations, we can also sue the nursing home. Management at many homes is negligent when it comes to hiring, training, or supervising its staff. They might discreetly look away from complaints of abuse or neglect and even refuse to fire someone who is implicated in misconduct. Nursing homes are ultimately responsible for the safety of its facility and should answer in court when someone in their care is harmed. Nursing homes also have deep pockets—i.e., large insurance policies, which an abusive staff member might not.
We Represent Injured and Abused Nursing Home Residents
At Atkins Brezina, PLLC, each case begins with a phone call. We hear from concerned family members who suspect something is wrong or abused nursing home residents pleading for help. Let us be your advocate as we hold abusive staff and nursing homes accountable.