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NURSING HOME ABUSE

We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.

Minneapolis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

When your loved one needs continuous skilled medical care, it may be time for them to live in a nursing home. While this decision is incredibly difficult for families to make, you’re doing it for your loved one’s health and wellbeing. If your loved one’s nursing home facility has an abusive staff member or neglects them, then their health may be at risk. While it’s saddening to discover your loved one suffered because of the actions of others, you can seek justice for them. A Minneapolis nursing home abuse lawyer from Madia Law, LLC may be able to represent your loved one and get the compensation they deserve.

Our firm protects the rights of Minneapolis citizens when they’ve been wrongfully injured. We’re aware that some nursing homes can cause devastating injuries due to negligence. Our experienced lawyers can diligently investigate your loved one’s case to find out who acted negligently, how their negligent actions harmed them, and the injuries and losses they suffered. We’ll seek full and fair compensation.

Skilled nursing facility cases can be complex. We aren’t intimidated when it comes to going up against an institution and will do everything possible to get your loved one the results they deserve. One of the important aspects of your loved one’s case is whether they were victims of abuse or neglect. Let’s go over those differences.

The Difference Between Abuse and Neglect

While the terms nursing home abuse and neglect may be used interchangeably, they are two different concepts. An action with willful intent to cause injury, intimidation, confinement, or another form of punishment that results in harm is considered abuse. Neglect means the nursing home fails to provide the care necessary to maintain the resident’s health and wellbeing, which can result in harm. Whether your loved one suffered abuse or neglect, neither is acceptable and should not have happened in the first place. A nursing home abuse attorney from Madia Law, LLC is ready to investigate what circumstances led to the abuse and neglect of your loved one and fight for justice on their behalf.

If your loved one suffered injuries or other forms of harm in their nursing home, you’re going to wonder what happened and how it affected your loved one’s health. There are myriad types of abuse and neglect. Let’s go over those different types and what symptoms can indicate what your loved one is going through.

  • Physical.  Using excessive force, hitting, shoving, or other forms of aggressive physical contact is abusive. An abusive staff member could also handle your loved one too roughly. When this form of abuse occurs, bruising and cuts can appear. In severe cases, broken bones are possible. Illegal restraint use may also occur, where the nursing home uses physical or chemical restraints to control or punish patients. Physical restraints may cause cuts or markings where they were placed and improper restraints can cause life-threatening situations, such as strangulation and loss of circulation.
  • Emotional and Psychological. Staff who put down residents with insults, harsh tones, and the use of vulgar language are being emotionally and psychologically abusive. Belittling or speaking about residents as if they’re not present can be humiliating and takes an emotional toll. Staff may also prevent your loved one from participating in social activities or being around other residents.  If your loved one has become withdrawn, fearful, or less engaged than they normally are, then they may be a victim of emotional or psychological abuse.
  • Financial.  Some staff may take advantage of your loved one’s situation and begin stealing money from them. This could be from using credit cards or forging checks, but there could be more long-term consequences like changing wills or deeds. It’s important to make sure your loved one’s assets are protected if they’re living in a nursing home. If money is going missing from accounts or your loved one is getting strange charges, then this could be a sign someone is financially exploiting them.
  • Sexual.  This form of abuse can occur if staff sexually harassed or assaulted your loved one. Being put in situations where residents aren’t clothed or are shown inappropriate pictures are also forms of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, residents may not have the physical strength or the ability to shout for help if this is occurring. Physical injuries and STDs are signs that this form of abuse could be happening. The physical injuries could be anywhere, but injuries around the resident’s private areas can indicate the abuse is sexual.
  • Resident-on-Resident.  This form of abuse is rarely investigated because it’s often underreported. However, other residents can be the reason why abuse is occurring. If this is the case, the nursing home should be the ones to identify what’s happening and take measures to protect your loved one. These symptoms can present as physical or emotional.

While negligence doesn’t include willful intent, it can be just as life-threatening. Negligence can include:

  • Medication Errors.  If nurses aren’t able to give your loved one the individual attention they deserve, this could mean your loved one isn’t getting medication on time. Missing doses could severely affect your loved one’s health because they aren’t getting the regular medicine they need to help maintain their quality of life. Other cases of negligence could result in your loved one getting the wrong medication or the incorrect dose, which can put your loved one’s life in danger.
  • Bed Sores.  Some residents may have limited mobility and spend most of their time in bed or sitting in a wheelchair. If they’re left in the same position for too long, pressure sores, also called bedsores, can develop on the back, hips, elbows, ankles, and heels. These painful injuries can become deadly if they’re infected and may require surgery as treatment.
  • Unsanitary Living Conditions.  A negligent nursing home may not keep up with maintaining a clean facility. Unsanitary living conditions also make it more likely for contagious illnesses to spread. Your loved one should also be in a clean room with fresh clothes and bedsheets. If they’re in old or soiled clothes, then they’re likely getting neglected and aren’t getting the care they need.
  • Slip and Falls. When residents need help doing everyday tasks, they need a nurse on a regular basis. However, if there are hours at a time where no one sees them, the resident may try to do something on their own. If a resident is trying to get up to get a drink of water or use the restroom, they may slip and fall. Slip and fall injuries can cause trauma to the brain, neck, spine, and result in broken bones or severe sprains. The resident may not be able to get up by themselves and won’t get help until staff members realize what happened. Nursing homes should also be aware of residents who are at risk of falling and take measures to prevent falls.

Any form of abuse or neglect can severely affect your loved one’s health. As their quality of life declines, their strength and immune system can weaken. Your loved one may also experience mental health issues as well, like depression or anxiety. No one should have to experience this. A Minneapolis nursing home abuse attorney can find out what kind of abuse or neglect occurred, who was responsible, and we’ll seek maximum compensation for your loved one.

What to Look for in a Nursing Home

When your loved one is in a long-term care facility and you suspect abuse or neglect, your loved one may not be able to tell you. They could have memory issues that make it difficult to recall instances that recently happened and to communicate it. Other reasons why your loved one may not verbalize the abuse that’s happening is because of fear or shame. Now that you know the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, you can also look for other signs that can indicate the quality of the nursing home.

  • Security. Ensuring your loved one’s safety is vital for peace of mind when your loved one lives in a nursing home. See if there are security measures to make sure residents cannot leave on their own or without anyone’s knowledge. Some residents may be prone to wandering and if they leave the premises. They could become confused and in danger of injury.
  • Nutrition.  Your loved one’s health requires a nutritious diet. Seeing what meals are served will give you an indication of the quality of food your loved one eats.
  • Staff.  You can keep track of how often you see staff around the home to get an idea if there are regular intervals when they visit your loved one. If possible, you can also ask questions about your loved one’s care. An attentive nursing home will likely have people who have concrete answers and want to find solutions to give your loved one the best care possible. If you feel you’re being brushed off or are treated disrespectfully, this could indicate the level of care your loved one receives on a daily basis.
  • Testimonies. Speaking with other families about their opinion of their loved one’s care can provide insight into how others are treated at the home. While this won’t definitively answer if your loved one is facing abuse or neglect, if another family is having concerns, then looking further into your loved one’s care may be necessary.

As you’re paying attention to the signs of abuse or neglect and looking into how the nursing home runs, you may want to visit during less popular hours. After the workday and weekends are times where nursing homes could be expecting more visitors. If you go during the middle of the day you may be visiting at a time where you’ll get a more accurate view of what the home is like.

You may also want to get an idea of who will be in direct contact with your loved one at their nursing home. This can include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, and more. When you know who interacts with your loved one on a daily basis and what their duties are, you’ll have an idea of who could potentially be responsible for the abuse or neglect of your loved one. For example, an RN is typically in charge of medical duties like administering medication, where a CNA could provide personal hygiene care.

Nursing Home Red Flags

There are some red flags to look out for in a nursing home. If your loved one was injured or has an illness and the nursing home didn’t inform you, they could be trying to brush over an instance of abuse or neglect. While an occasional bump or bruise may happen during your loved one’s time in a nursing home, consistent or multiple injuries is not the norm. When you ask about your loved one’s condition and how these injuries happened, see if you get a vague answer. If no one seems to be able to give you information or tries to move past the subject, this could be cause for alarm.

A nursing home that prevents you from seeing your loved one or also doesn’t allow you to visit them unsupervised are other indications of an abusive or neglectful facility.

In fact, preventing a resident from seeing their loved one is a violation of their rights. Madia Law, LLC is well-versed in resident rights and knows what your loved one can recover with a personal injury claim. Let’s take a look at what rights your loved one has as a nursing home resident and how our expertise can help them secure their future.

The Minnesota Department of Health lists the federal and state rights that protect seniors living in nursing homes to ensure their wellbeing. If a nursing home violates those rights, our lawyers will discover which ones. As a resident in a nursing home, your loved one has rights in the following areas:

  • Resident Rights
  • Responsive Service
  • Continuity of Care
  • Exercise of Rights
  • Planning and Implementing Care
  • Choice of Attending Physician
  • Relationship with Other Health Services
  • Respect and Dignity
  • Self Determination
  • Services Included in Medicare or Medicaid Payment
  • Information and Communication
  • Notification of Changes
  • Admission
  • Privacy and Confidentiality
  • Safe Environment
  • Grievances
  • Contact with External Entities
  • Freedom from Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation
  • Restraints
  • Admission, Transfer, and Discharge

Some examples of those rights include:

  • Residents will have a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with people and services outside of the facility.
  • The nursing home must treat the resident with respect and dignity.
  • Nursing homes provide residents with equal access to care regardless of factors like their diagnosis, condition, and how they afford it.
  • Residents can exercise their rights without fear of discrimination, retaliation, prevention, or coercion from the facility.
  • Freedom from use of physical or chemical restraints used as a form of punishment or convenience.
  • Residents can determine their own schedules.

When your loved one’s rights are denied, their health and wellbeing can suffer. Madia Law, LLC is here to hold the nursing home accountable and fight for your loved one’s rights.

When a loved one has been harmed at their nursing home, you may not know who you can turn to. You’ll first want to get your loved one to a safe environment. You can contact the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC). However, if your loved one is in immediate danger, call the police. Once your loved one is safe, you can start seeking your legal options. With Madia Law, LLC on your side, you’ll know experienced attorneys are advocating for your family member.

In an elder abuse claim, your loved one may have sustained economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages refer to monetary losses such as:

  • Medical Expenses (Past, Current, and Future Care)
  • Relocation Costs

When we look at your loved one’s medical records, we’ll be able to see the injuries they suffered. Additional evidence that we’ll seek to support your loved one’s case includes photographs, eyewitness accounts, and consultations with medical experts.

Noneconomic damages include the emotional consequences of abuse or neglect. While these may not have a monetary amount attached to them, your nursing home abuse attorney will take these into account when determining your loved one’s compensation.

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If your loved one loses their life because of the abuse or neglect they faced, you can still seek justice for them with a wrongful death claim. Our lawyers will be at your side during this difficult time. While we cannot undo the loss of a loved one, we can fight for you to recover compensation that will give you financial security.

Seek Experienced Representation with Madia Law

When you’re caring for a loved one who was harmed in their nursing home, you may be hesitant to get involved with a personal injury claim, but taking legal action is often the best way for your loved one to have the means to recover from their injuries. An experienced and compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer from Madia Law, LLC will stand up for your loved one and protect their best interests.

You’ll also send a clear message to the nursing home that their actions were unacceptable and should never have happened. After you bring your claim forward, it could spark change within the home so this doesn’t happen to another resident.

When your loved one needs a voice, Madia Law, LLC is here to represent them and speak on behalf of your family. The first step to getting justice is contacting us today to schedule an obligation-free consultation. You’ll meet with an attorney to go over the facts of what happened to your loved one and get answers to questions you have about the legal process. We’ll work together to find the best way forward.

THE MADIA LAW WAY

We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients. 

We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely.  We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case.  We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well.  We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case.  We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial. 

Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward.  Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.

If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit.  Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required.  We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points.  Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims.  A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations.  Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.

Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions.  Not us.  Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity.  We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case.  Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections.  We view this as a wonderful opportunity.  In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on.  We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t.  The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts.  We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny.  Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true.  And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA.  That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.

One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery.  We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery.  This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses.  This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.

This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible.  So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true.  That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes.  We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is.  We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.

The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases.  We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery.  We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.

Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.

After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.

This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries.  We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials.  At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct.  As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.

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