We are taught to respect our elders, and most of us have lived by that rule. As good people, we desire to help our loved ones to be comfortable, secure, and safe as they recover from an illness or are forced to live with a prolonged illness or condition. We explore all possibilities, and often after much research and financial commitment, we make a critical decision in the best interest of a loved one only to find out that the nursing home couldn’t care less. Yes, nursing home negligence is carelessness because they just care less for your loved ones.
It’s not only painful for your loved one, but it is painful to witness mistreatment, neglect, or abuse in a nursing home that should have provided them with dignified, respectful care. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. This heartbreaking scenario is a reality for many New Jersey families. But no one should have to suffer due to nursing home abuse or neglect in New Jersey, and those who do may be entitled to monetary compensation.
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., our nursing home abuse attorneys provide compassionate and effective legal services for those who find themselves in positions like yours. We can help you hold harmful nursing home facilities accountable and seek money for your losses. Contact our firm today to discuss the details of your New Jersey nursing home abuse case in a free initial case review.
What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have?
Every nursing home resident in the United States has certain rights and protections. Before and during admission, nursing home facilities must inform residents of these rights in writing and in languages residents understand. Federal law outlines the responsibility of every U.S. nursing home to protect and promote nursing home residents’ rights to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect, including by deciding their own schedule and participating in activities by choice
- Participate in an activities program that meets their needs
- Freedom from discrimination based on federally protected characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion
- Freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- Freedom from discipline through physical or chemical restraints
- Lodge complaints against the nursing home or any other individual without fear of repercussion and have the nursing home address it promptly
- Be fully informed about their health status and get proper medical care
- Have medical, legal, and family representatives notified when serious accidents occur, new medical complications arise, or a change in location or treatment is necessary
- Receive written information about all nursing home services and fees
- Manage their own money or have a trusted representative do it for them
- Proper privacy, personal property, and private living arrangements
- Spend private time with visitors and have visitors at any time
- Receive social services, such as counseling or financial services
- Leave the nursing home or move out at any time
- Protection against unfair residential transfers or discharges
- Form or participate in resident groups with others in the nursing home
- Have friends and family help ensure residents receive quality care
What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?
Nursing home abuse occurs when a nursing home administrator or staff member intentionally causes physical, emotional, or sexual harm to a resident. Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including hitting or shoving, belittling or threatening, and engaging in non-consensual sexual contact.
On the other hand, nursing home neglect occurs when nursing homes do not provide residents with the necessary care and attention. This could include a failure to provide adequate food, water, medical care, or a safe and clean living environment. Neglect can also occur when nursing homes fail to help residents with their basic daily needs, such as bathing and dressing.
Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The most common types of nursing home abuse and neglect in New Jersey include:
- Physical abuse, which includes any type of physical force or violence that causes injury, such as hitting, shoving, or physically restraining residents
- Emotional abuse, which includes verbal or nonverbal behaviors that cause emotional distress, such as belittling, threatening, or isolating a resident
- Sexual abuse, which includes any non-consensual sexual contact or activity, including indecent exposure, sexual assault, and rape
- Financial abuse, which includes theft of personal property, unauthorized changes to financial accounts, and unauthorized use of financial resources or assets
- Neglect, which includes the failure to provide necessities like appropriate food, water, healthcare, social interaction, activities programs, and fundamental freedoms
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Most nursing home abuse occurs out of sight of loved ones, making it hard to notice. If someone you love is a nursing home resident, watch for the following signs as possible indicators of nursing home abuse:
- Physical injuries – Bruises, cuts, broken bones, fall injuries, bedsores, and other injuries can be signs of abuse. Sudden or unexplained weight loss can also signify neglect or abuse.
- Emotional changes – Sudden changes in a resident’s emotional state, such as increased agitation, withdrawal, or unwillingness to speak around caregivers, can be warning signs.
- Unexplained injuries – You should be suspicious of resident injuries that nursing home staff members cannot explain or injuries that do not seem to match the explanation given.
- Unsafe living conditions – Unclean or hazardous living environments, such as residential quarters or common areas that are dirty, smelly, or too hot or cold, can be signs of neglect.
- Medical errors – Administration of incorrect medications or dosages, improper or unnecessary treatments, or failure to provide needed treatment or assistance can be signs of neglect.
What Should You Do If Your Loved One Is Neglected or Abused at a Nursing Home?
If you suspect someone you know is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect their safety and well-being. Here are some steps you can take:
- Talk to the resident – If you can, have a private conversation with the resident to get their point of view. Remember that they could be afraid and unwilling to tell the truth, so trust your gut if something feels off. If you think your loved one might be in immediate danger, don’t wait to remove them from the facility.
- Speak with the nursing home – Contact the nursing home administration and inform them of your suspicions. Many nursing homes have a process for handling complaints, and they might be willing to address your concerns.
- Be nosy and ask questions – Good nursing homes will have no problem with you being present, looking around, and asking questions about any rules or procedures you don’t understand.
- Document everything – Keep an eye out for anything unusual or unsafe in the facility, including the dates, times, and details of what you see. Use your phone to take photographs and video, and don’t hesitate to record everything.
- Report the situation to the proper authorities – Depending on the severity of the neglect or abuse, you might need to contact the police, Adult Protective Services (APS), or other authorities to report the situation and get help for the resident.
- Contact a lawyer for nursing home negligence – If your loved one suffered harm, you should contact a nursing home neglect attorney to help you take legal action as soon as possible.
How Do You Report Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse in New Jersey?
It is essential to report known nursing home abuse and neglect to protect your loved one and others from further harm. In New Jersey, you can report nursing home abuse or neglect by contacting the Division of Aging Services (DOAS), a part of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The DOAS can work with New Jersey APS to start an investigation for potentially at-risk residents.
You can also report abuse or neglect to the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman (NJLTCO), a program that advocates for residents’ rights in long-term care facilities. The ombudsperson can help you file a complaint and provide information and assistance.
What Is the New Jersey Nursing Home Bill of Rights?
The New Jersey Nursing Home Bill of Rights is a state law outlining protections that apply to nursing home residents in addition to the protections from federal law. These protections include the right to:
- Manage their financial affairs
- Wear their own clothing
- Keep and use personal property in their living quarters
- Receive and send unopened mail
- Unaccompanied access to private phone calls
- Physical privacy
- Retain the services of a personal physician
- Unrestricted communication and visitation
- Present grievances to nursing home administrators
- Safe and decent living environments and respectful care
- Refuse to perform services for the nursing home
- Reasonable opportunities for interaction with the opposite sex
- Receive nourishing food that meets their dietary restrictions
If you believe your loved one’s rights have been violated, you should contact a nursing home negligence attorney right away. They can help you protect your loved one and pursue the compensation they need to recover.
Damages in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
If you file a personal injury case due to nursing home abuse or neglect, you could recover compensation for the following types of losses:
- The costs of additional medical treatment for the resident
- Incidental expenses, such as the costs of extra medical travel
- The value of lost wages due to missed time at work for caregivers
- Subjective losses, such as pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life
- Funeral or burial expenses for cases that involve resident fatalities
Legal Issues to Consider
In New Jersey, there is a two-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against a negligent nursing home operator. That starts to run from the date of the abusive event. So it is important to be aware of time limits. Also, if the abuse occurred in a state or county institution, a certain type of notice must be filed with the state or county agency called a Tort Claims Notice within 90 days of the abusive event. This applies to both nursing home abuse and neglect as well as negligence by its physicians and nurses. As a result, it is never too early to contact a competent personal injury lawyer skilled in representing people and families experiencing nursing home abuse.
Contact the New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.
The attorneys at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. have more than four decades of legal experience and have recovered over $800 million for deserving clients like you. Contact our compassionate team for a free consultation to learn more about how our New Jersey nursing home neglect lawyers can help.