The abuse of a loved one is both intolerable and hard to fathom; yet in nursing homes across America, the abuse of vulnerable elderly persons often goes unreported and is sadly more rampant than we would like to acknowledge. In some cases, the mistreatment of nursing home residents can result in serious, even fatal injuries to victims.
When evidence of nursing home abuse becomes clear, you and/or your loved one deserve the best representation you can find. In Maine, this means calling the law offices of Hardy, Wolf, and Downing. Our nursing home abuse lawyer and personal injury lawyers have the skill, expertise, and track record to help victims of this very particular area of medical malpractice.
Nursing Home Abuse in Maine
Each year in Maine, an estimated 14,000 new reports of elder abuse will surface, and these, according to Maine’s Office of Aging and Disability Services, represent a negligible fraction (15 percent) of the instances of elder abuse that actually occur here every year. In other words, 85 percent of Maine seniors who experience mistreatment at the hands of a caregiver, be they a family member or paid caregiver, will not report it, often because of embarrassment or fear.
In a December 2012 article in Bangor News, the director of the Office of Aging and Disability Services elaborated more on why exploited seniors often won’t tell on their abuser: “Some people might think, ‘The abuse that I’m receiving now may be more acceptable than me going into a nursing home and losing my independence,’” said Ricker Hamilton. “They’re thinking, ‘I may lose my only caregiver.’”
Even more sadly, fear-induced silence about exploitation only ensures that the abuse will continue and become an entrenched and in some cases physically dangerous pattern for a vulnerable loved one. When this occurs, you need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to defend your rights.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Their Manifestations
Nursing home abuse can take many forms. These include:
- Physical (when a loved one shows signs of physical injury like being beaten, kicked or hit)
- Sexual (violations may occur against their will or without knowledge)
- Psychological (when an elderly person is subjected to verbal or emotional abuse, such as mocking, taunting, threatening, shaming or manipulation
- Gross neglect (failing to provide for a victim’s most basic physical needs, including appropriate medical care)
- Financial (committing fraud in the victim’s name and/or stealing from patient’s possessions or bank account)
Of these various forms of nursing home abuse, the last two, gross neglect and financial abuse, are by far the most common.
In Maine, we have seen quite a number of financial abuse lawsuits come through our justice system. Strikingly, in a large proportion of these cases, another family member is to blame. One common example: a child with power of attorney spends all of his/her mother’s retirement savings on his/her personal expenses instead, leaving Mom with no money to her name and in low-income housing as a result.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect that your loved one may be a victim of nursing home medical malpractice in addition to contacting our lawyers for a free consultation, you’ll want to watch for and keep a record of any or all of the below indications that your loved one may be experiencing abuse:
- Broken bones, sprains or bruises
- Soiled or torn underwear or sheets
- An unexplained venereal disease (in the case of sexual abuse)
- Irregularities in medication (overdose or evidence that medication has not been administered regularly, leftover medication)
- Broken glasses
- Missing items that belonged to your loved one
- Suspicious changes to your loved one’s financial accounts
- Changes in your loved one’s emotional demeanor, especially an increase in anxiety, depression or isolationist tendencies
When you consult with nursing home abuse lawyers at Hardy, Wolf, and Downing, we offer a team of experts to sift through the evidence and conduct investigations that will test and corroborate your own suspicions.
Standards for Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit in Maine
Any nursing home staff member, contract worker, family member or resident who engages in any one of the various forms of elderly abuse, can be sued for their actions in a civil personal injury lawsuit. Zero toleration of nursing home abuse is something for which you can and should have a right to expect from the professionals who care for your loved one. Nursing homes are required to abide by certain obligations to protect their patients from being preyed on physically, sexually, emotionally or financially; and these residences are also held to high standards of care when it comes to meeting the basic physical needs of their patients.
If you have suffered losses related to your or a loved one’s abuse, you and/or your loved one may be eligible to receive compensation.
A Maine Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help
There is almost nothing worse than harboring the suspicion your loved one is being mistreated by the very people entrusted with your loved one’s care. There is almost nothing worse than being the victim of abuse. If you suspect something is dangerously amiss in the care of your elderly loved one, call Hardy Wolf & Downing today at 1-800-992-7333 and help us hold perpetrators of elderly abuse accountable.
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