If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, you should speak to an attorney and the police as soon as possible. When seeking legal recovery, gathering evidence will be of the utmost importance.
Nursing home abuse takes many forms and is not always easy to detect. Abuse may come from staff members or even other nursing home residents. The abuse can be physical and require medical treatment, or it can be psychological or emotional.
Important evidence in a nursing home abuse case may include witness statements, security camera footage from the care facility, medical records, and business records from the nursing home. Much evidence can be acquired through the discovery process in a legal proceeding, but in nursing home neglect cases much of the important evidence should be gathered and preserved long before any lawsuit is filed.
If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, they deserve justice and compensation. Call our Indiana nursing home abuse attorneys of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166 for a free evaluation of your case and we can discuss the best course of action to make sure your claim is fully investigated and important evidence is preserved.
Nursing home abuse is often different in different cases, and it can be hard to spot. In many cases, the abuse comes from staff members at the nursing home. Staff members have a lot of authority over nursing home residents, who are often very vulnerable. Abuse can also come from other angry, upset, or confused patients. Our Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyers can help you identify abuse and get your loved one help.
Knowing what kind of abuse is involved in your case will help us determine what kind of evidence is needed. Abuse takes various forms, so it is important to discuss your case with your attorney as soon as possible.
A lot of nursing home abuse is physical. Being hit, cut, slapped, burned, and other forms of physical abuse are not uncommon. Evidence of physical abuse can often be seen on the victim’s body. If you notice bruises, cuts, scrapes, or marks on your loved one, you should get them medical attention immediately so they can receive treatment and the injuries can be documented.
Abuse can also be emotional or psychological. Verbal harassment, threats, taunting, and bullying can take a severe psychological toll on nursing home residents. This emotional trauma can be made worse because most nursing home residents might be unable to leave on their own, and they might feel like a prisoner.
Abuse does not always involve inflicting suffering upon the victim. In some cases, it involves denying or withholding from the patient things they need. Abuse could include withholding food, medications, or other necessities.
One of the easiest and most important ways to collect and preserve evidence of suspected abuse is to report it to the Indiana Department of Health. Complaints can be submitted electronically or by mail be visiting the IDOH website for registering a complaint against a health care facility. The IDOH will then conduct an investigation, including an inspection of the nursing home by a trained and qualified health provider. This process often involves gathering and preserving evidence and making an official report of the state’s findings.
There is no cost to you for this investigation and it is one of the most important things that you can do. Not only does it ensure an investigation into your concerns by state professionals, it also triggers a process by which state regulators may hold the facilities responsible directly and recommend corrective actions be taken.
If the IDOH conducts an inquiry, state investigators will likely preserve and document evidence related to the abuse of your loved one. However, it is unwise to depend upon this inquiry alone and conducting your own investigation can also prove helpful. Evidence, whether gathered by IDOH or through your own efforts, will help our Indiana nursing home abuse attorneys hold careless nursing homes accountable. You can also provide any of the evidence you find on your own to IDOH which they can use to help them in their inquiry into the incident.
Witness statements are important pieces of evidence. Witnesses might include the abuse victim, other nursing home residents, or other staff members. Some witnesses might have even seen the abuse being carried out and can shed light on what happened. Other times, witnesses can corroborate your loved one’s stories of abuse with their own stories of similar abuse. It is not unusual for multiple residents to face abuse in a single nursing home.
Witness statements and testimony are often the results of an investigation. If the police are involved, they may conduct their own criminal investigation and interview various witnesses. We can also interview witnesses, and if their statements support your claims, they can testify in court.
The nursing home where your loved one lived was likely filled with security cameras. Cameras are very common nowadays, and they see everything. We can demand access to security camera footage from the dates of the abuse during the discovery process. Security cameras might not be in private rooms, but they are often found in common areas like hallways, lounges, and rec rooms. Instances of abuse might have been caught on camera.
Some states by law allow nursing home residents to install their own security cameras in their private rooms. For example, in nearby Illinois, the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act requires nursing homes to permit residents to put their own security cameras in their rooms. Although Indiana law does not require nursing homes to allow this at the time of this writing, it also does not prevent nursing homes from permitting this. We always recommend that families inquire with their nursing home if they will permit a private camera to be installed in their loved ones room. If they will not allow it, this may be a warning sign about that home.
Where there is private security camera footage, this can be powerful evidence in helping prove abuse. It is also a powerful tool to prevent abuse from happening. Direct care staff are much less likely to commit abuse if they know they are being monitored and their actions recorded.
Testimony from the victim is extremely important if they are able. Depending on their condition, your loved one may be able to explain how they were abused, how many times, and the trauma they experienced. Your loved one’s testimony on the witness stand in court may help prove the nursing home is liable for their abuse. In some cases, this type of direct testimony may not be possible because the abuse victim might be in poor health and have difficulty communicating or the abuse may have resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one.
Our Fort Wayne nursing home abuse lawyers are skilled in using other evidence to support your claim in such cases. While direct testimony is very helpful, this evidence is not available in a large number of the cases in which we have obtained recovery.
Nursing home records can also be obtained through discovery and may shed light on things we did not previously know were going on. Nursing homes typically keep records of things like which staff members are on duty, patients or residents they might be assigned to, and the care needs of the people in the nursing home. These records can show us who was around when the abuse occurred and help prove that a particular staff member or several staff members were involved in the abuse. These records are considered business records and are typically admissible as evidence.
It is extremely important to document all injuries your loved experience in the nursing home. Even injuries that did not seem like abuse at the time might be abuse in hindsight. These records will be important when establishing the history of abuse your loved one experienced.
Some other key evidence in your lawsuit against a nursing home may be the outcome of a related criminal case. Abuse in a nursing home is not just a civil lawsuit. It might also be a criminal offense. The nursing home, staff members, other nursing home residents, or anyone else involved in the abuse may be charged and prosecuted. Typically, the criminal case will likely happen before your civil lawsuit would go to trial. However, if the verdict in the criminal case is guilty, our South Bend nursing home abuse attorneys can often use the verdict against the defendant in your civil case as evidence.
If your loved one experienced abuse in a nursing home, our Hammond nursing home abuse lawyers can help your family get justice. For a free case review, call the offices of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.