Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Kansas City, MO, Helping Seek Justice for Your Elderly Loved Ones
One of the most difficult decisions many of us will ever make is putting a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility. In doing so, we’re putting the well-being of our parents or grandparents into the hands of others, albeit professional caretakers. But when these professionals break that trust in the form of abuse or neglect, they must be held accountable. Unfortunately, navigating an abuse or neglect claim can be difficult and confusing. If you’re hoping to get justice for an elderly person who was harmed in some way—ranging from physically to financially—a nursing home abuse lawyer in Kansas City, MO, may be able to help.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, our team of legal professionals understands the importance of pursuing a nursing home abuse case. While getting justice for your loved one is our primary concern, this process is also essential to remove unqualified and dangerous staff members or healthcare providers from positions of trust. It’s scary to think of how many cases of Kansas City nursing home abuse go undiscovered and unpunished, so when such incidents are uncovered, it’s unacceptable for liable parties not to be held accountable. We offer free consultations at Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, so contact us today to learn how you can best move forward.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse is defined as the infliction of physical, sexual, or emotional injury or harm, including financial exploitation by any person, firm, or corporation. Typically, abuse refers to a deliberate and intentional act where the motivation is to cause harm. Nursing home neglect is a form of abuse, but when the term is used, it doesn’t always imply that there was a deliberate attempt to maliciously cause harm.
Rather, nursing home neglect is defined as the failure to provide services to an eligible adult by any person, firm, or corporation who has a duty to provide such services. This applies when such failure presents either an imminent danger to the health, safety or welfare of the client or a likelihood that death or serious physical harm would result. Abuse and neglect can take many different forms, and even recognizing the signs can sometimes be difficult. Here are some of the most common red flags that abuse or neglect may be occurring:
- Dehydration or sudden weight loss
- Multiple falls
- Wounds or infection of the coccyx (tailbone) or heels
- Changes in activity level or mood
- Unexplained injuries, including cuts and bruises
- New or worsening disorientation or confusion
While sometimes abuse and neglect are not distinctly noticeable, the victim will more often than not show signs of mistreatment. It is imperative to regularly check for such red flags of abuse and neglect. If you notice such signs, you’ll want to ask nursing home management for an explanation. Many suspected cases of Kansas City nursing home abuse turn out to be nothing more than misunderstandings or understandable accidents. However, don’t automatically assume that the word of a staff member, supervisor, or anyone else is honest. If you believe an assisted living facility is engaged in unreasonable or negligent conduct, it’s important to reach out to an attorney as quickly as possible.
If there are clear signs of abuse or you believe a resident is in imminent danger, however, it’s important to start by calling local authorities. At the very least, you’ll be able to file a report documenting the situation. In some cases, police may find it appropriate to remove residents from a nursing facility. What happens in any given situation will vary based on circumstances, but if you suspect physical abuse, neglect, financial theft, or any other form of abuse, it’s important that you take immediate action for the well-being of your elderly loved one and other residents.
What are the Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
When Kansas City residents worry about their loved ones in nursing homes, they typically envision scenes of physical abuse. They think of staff members grabbing their loved one’s arm too tight or something similar. While this is certainly one form of elder abuse seen in assisted living facilities, it’s far from the only type. In fact, many other forms of abuse or neglect could be far more common. Unfortunately, they’re not always as easy to spot. A nursing home abuse attorney can help you better understand what your loved one may be facing but understanding the following types of abuse will give you the necessary knowledge to fight back.
Physical injuries can cause serious harm to an elderly person. This is why physical abuse is such a scary outcome in nursing homes. Such abuse can include rough handling, punching, slapping, kicking, choking, and other forms of assault. Family members should take prompt action regardless of the type of abuse or neglect that’s occurring, but physical abuse requires an immediate response.
Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse. Any type of intimate touching, forced nudity, intercourse, molestation, taking of explicit photos, or any form of improper sexual act falls under this umbrella. Residents with dementia are at a higher risk for this form of abuse.
Also referred to as emotional abuse, psychological harm can occur when residents face social isolation or aggressive behaviors. Threatening violence, yelling, removal from social activities, and an array of other acts qualify as psychological abuse. This can be just as detrimental as physical harm, so don’t hesitate to contact a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney if you have suspicions.
Nursing home abandonment is a broad term that describes a variety of different behaviors. The simplest definition simply focuses on an individual who’s responsible for another deserting them. There was one instance where an unpaid cook and janitor were the only ones who stayed and cared for residents when everyone abandoned an entire facility, but abandonment doesn’t have to occur on this level to cause severe injuries and danger.
All these acts may fall under Kansas City nursing home abandonment:
- Leaving residents alone in the facility or public area for an extended period
- Failing to regularly check in on residents
- Failing to assist residents in their daily activities
- Ignoring patient requests or calls for help
- Leaving residents alone for extended periods of time
This is yet another situation where the above list is extensive but not exhaustive. Other types of harm—such as physical or emotional abuse—can also fall under this broad term. When a nursing home fails in this manner, it’s difficult for them to provide any justification. A Missouri court will likely see it the same way, so it’s imperative that you speak to a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today.
Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse faced by our aging relatives. When this occurs in nursing homes, it often takes the form of overcharging for basic necessities, improperly spending government checks, and a variety of other types of theft and fraud. This abuse often goes unnoticed unless family members undertake in-depth research, and at times, even this isn’t enough. If you believe your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse via their finances, though, a legal professional may be able to help you find evidence.
Nursing Home Neglect
Neglect can take on many forms in a nursing home. This typically occurs when a failure or refusal to provide adequate care happens. This can include failing to provide for basic needs (e.g., food, water, safe living conditions), medical malpractice (i.e., inadequate attention to medical needs), social/emotional neglect, and personal hygiene neglect. This list isn’t exhaustive, though, so contact our Kansas City law firm today if you suspect any form of abuse or neglect.
What are the Legal Grounds for Nursing Home Abuse Cases?
The first thing our personal injury law firm does after hearing your story is identifying on what grounds your case can be filed along with the responsible parties. If we take your case, we’ll start working on your claim immediately. This means we’ll collect all pertinent evidence to your case. The process involves accessing medical documents and facility reports, conducting interviews with witnesses, investigating claims of abuse, and filing the appropriate legal documents. Whatever it takes to prove that your family member was abused, our Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys will work nonstop so you can have justice.
The first step in such a case, though, is identifying the grounds for a legal claim. These grounds include:
Nursing homes have an obligation to their residents to hire personnel who are properly qualified. This means hiring only those with the requisite academic degrees for their position and those who have no record of abuse or violence. If a facility hires its employees without conducting background checks—or if it keeps an employee who’s known to be incompetent—then it’s very easy for nursing home abuse to occur. This can put every resident at risk. In such situations, the nursing home can be held responsible when unqualified staff members harm residents.
A report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows the average nursing home staff-to-resident ratio is 1 staff member to every 1.64 residents. When a facility fails to employ adequate staff, residents may be neglected since no one can monitor them or provide the necessary care. Additionally, these low ratios cause more work for staff members who may not receive proper compensation for the job they perform. This creates employee stress which leads to a loss of morale and compassion. Nursing homes can be found liable if a resident suffers an injury or dies as a result of the failure to have an adequate number of caretakers.
In some cases, assisted care employees are not provided with the proper training necessary to handle disabled or difficult residents. This means nursing home abuse can occur simply because staffers do not know how to provide the level of care that’s required by law and expected by the families of residents. This is a major reason that 17 St. Louis and Kansas City facilities were identified as providing “poor care” in a Congressional report. Nursing homes can be held accountable when inadequate training of their staff leads to the injury of a patient.
Third-Party Responsibility Claim
If nursing home neglect or abuse occurs due to third parties within the residence, the facility itself may still be held accountable. This is because they have a duty to provide a safe environment for their residents. For instance, imagine a situation where an individual is injured by another resident or the guest of another resident. This could easily occur if the nursing home failed to provide adequate security to prevent such an incident. These Kansas City nursing home abuse cases are particularly disheartening since some of these individuals should’ve never been on site in the first place.
Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights
Nursing home residents are entitled to autonomy, dignity, and privacy. A nursing home can be held liable if one of its employees violates these fundamental rights.
Medications are a part and parcel of old age, and nursing home residents can suffer if they aren’t provided the right dosage of medication at the right time. If the resident is injured by a prescription drug error, then the physician, administering nurse, pharmacy, or pharmacist can be held accountable.
Failure to Provide a Safe and Clean Environment
Residents of nursing home facilities are at risk of many infectious germs. Showers, baths, and bathrooms that are not regularly sanitized are high-risk areas where germs can spread among nursing home residents. Also, diseases can stem from a lack of cleanliness. If the staff fails to properly clean nursing home facilities, it increases the risk of infection and other health problems for residents. This can be considered facility negligence.
Important Resources for Relatives of Nursing Home Residents
If you suspect an elderly loved one is being abused or neglected by nursing home staff—or if you’re looking for more information on nursing homes—see the list below for resources and the proper authorities to reach out to. You can also contact the Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyers at Mohlman Gurney Injury Law for a free consultation. We can help bring peace and justice to your victimized elderly loved ones. And since we work on a contingency fee basis, you’ll see no out-of-pocket expenses and only pay if we secure compensation.
State Nursing Home Resources
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-0210
- Missouri Ombudsman Program
- The Missouri ombudsman program is a network of volunteers serving residents of nursing homes and residential care facilities to provide advocacy, support, and assistance with any problems or complaints.
- Kansas Adult Protective Services – 800-922-5330
- Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services – 800-842-0078
Federal Nursing Home Resources
- National Adult Protective Services Association – The APS map is designed to provide easy access to information on reporting suspected abuse nationwide.
- National Center on Elder Abuse – The NCEA provides the latest information regarding research, training, best practices, news, and resources on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation to professionals and the public.
- Nursing Home Abuse Center
- National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
- Administration for Community Living
Finding the Right Nursing Home
- Eldercare Locator
- gov – Finding a Nursing Home
- Step-by-step guide from U.S. News World & World Report
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Kansas City, MO Can Help
Sending an elderly relative to a nursing home is typically a difficult decision. When such a decision is made, though, we expect our loved ones to be cared for. Unfortunately, this isn’t always how it works out. If you suspect nursing home abuse, it’s important that you immediately reach out for legal assistance. Doing so is imperative for the well-being of your loved one, and failing to take action can leave them and other residents at risk of harm. Speaking with a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney can help you figure out the best path forward. Even if negligent conduct is accidental, it cannot be allowed to stand.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, we understand how important your loved ones are to you. No one deserves to become a victim of neglect or abuse, but it’s particularly disheartening when such injuries affect the most vulnerable among us. Far too many elderly patients face emotional, financial, and physical abuse—along with neglect—but this doesn’t mean they can’t receive justice. Contact us today by calling (816) 648-6000 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Kansas City, MO. Our dedicated attorneys will work relentlessly to hold liable parties accountable for your loved one’s injuries.