St. Louis Nursing Home Negligence
As St. Louis’s population ages, an increasing number of residents must move into nursing homes to help them maintain a high standard of life during their golden years. Nursing homes help with needed medical care and assist aging residents who may no longer have the capacity to care for themselves in the same way they did at a younger age.
With an estimated 16 percent or more of adult St. Louis residents falling into the “senior” category—over the age of 65—aging care services have become increasingly critical across the area. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes provide the high standard of care that residents might expect. In some nursing homes, residents suffer under substantial negligence as they struggle to maintain a high quality of life.
Do you have a loved one who suffered negligence in a nursing home, either in the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, or across the Mississippi in the Metro East? Contact a St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyer at The Bruning Law Firm today to learn more about your family’s rights to pursue justice.
Signs of Nursing Home Negligence in St. Louis
Nursing homes throughout the St. Louis area bear a high duty of care when it comes to caring for their aging residents. These facilities must ensure that residents receive the high standard of care required by law and the assistance they need to maintain a high quality of life, even as they age. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to uphold this duty. Any family member who notices these signs of neglect, or a senior who suffers through neglect in a nursing home, should contact an experienced nursing home attorney as soon as possible to learn more about the right to pursue compensation.
Bedsores or Pressure Sores
Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, often develop when the skin and underlying tissue break down because of prolonged pressure on that area. Pressure sores in nursing homes, for example, may develop because nursing staff members fail to move the patient around adequately, leaving the patient in bed or even sitting for long periods each day. Pressure sores can worsen in severity very quickly if the patient’s care team does not act to alleviate the pressure and remove those symptoms. Unfortunately, some nursing home staff members may try to cover up the symptoms of pressure sores to alleviate liability.
Nursing homes must provide adequate, nutritious food for their residents. Sometimes, that may mean helping residents into a communal dining area. Other times, residents may eat in their rooms, which means nursing home staff may need to bring residents their food. Sometimes, however, nursing home staff may fail to adequately feed patients. Signs of malnourishment may include rapid weight loss, low overall body weight, and increasing weakness. Seniors who suffer from malnutrition may also have a harder time recovering from illness and injuries.
As some seniors age, they may need more supervision to prevent them from suffering inadvertent injuries. Seniors may need assistance going to the restroom or even getting up out of bed, depending on the extent of their weakness as they age. In nursing homes with inadequate supervision, seniors may suffer from frequent injuries as they try and fail to get around on their own. Often, they may end up falling, running into doors, or struggling to lift objects on their own, all of which may result in substantial injury.
Lack of access to adequate water can lead to a quick deterioration in a patient’s overall health. Some seniors, particularly those with conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia, may have a hard time taking in adequate water on their own, since they may not notice thirst cues or may even refuse to drink. In other cases, however, dehydration may occur because nursing home staff fails to provide adequate care for residents.
Mismanaged Medical Conditions (Especially Those Previously Managed)
As seniors age, they may naturally develop new medical conditions or have additional issues with medical conditions that they had before entering the nursing home. If a previously well-managed medical condition seems to spiral out of control, however, or if a senior does not seem to receive adequate care for a known medical issue or a new medical issue, it could indicate neglect in the nursing home environment.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Sometimes, nursing home neglect may not immediately show through obvious medical concerns. Instead, the patient may show subtle signs of poor hygiene. A patient who usually changes his clothes daily may suddenly wear the same clothes several days in a row, or not seem to launder the clothes between wearings. Visitors may notice that the senior smells, particularly if he or she does not clean adequately after going to the toilet. These problems can grow worse over time, especially if nursing home staff members deliberately put off helping patients with self-care tasks, like bathing.
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, you should never delay in reporting your concerns through to nursing home management and/or the authorities if necessary.
The Bruning Law Firm Can Help Victims of St. Louis Nursing Home Negligence
Do you have a loved one who suffered serious negligence in a nursing home? The Bruning Law Firm can help you get a better idea of the compensation your loved one may qualify to pursue. Our experienced team of attorneys has helped many victims recover substantial damages in a wide range of personal injury claims, and we want to help nursing home neglect victims and their families get a better idea of the compensation they should seek. We always help our clients fight for maximum compensation.
Determine what to do when you suspect nursing home neglect.
It can prove difficult to establish nursing home neglect in the beginning, especially if you have a loved one who refuses to speak out against the nursing home or tries to simply take whatever comes in silence. At The Bruning Law Firm, we can help you determine what to do next, from seeking medical care for your loved one to helping establish evidence of neglect to deciding how to handle your suspicions of nursing home neglect.
Investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one.
When nursing home neglect occurs, you want to hold the liable party accountable and ensure that your loved one has a safe environment in which to live. At The Bruning Firm, we can help investigate the circumstances around your loved one, including who may commit neglect that leads to your loved one’s injuries and what parties may share liability for that neglect. Then, we will compile the evidence into a compelling claim that can help you establish your loved one’s right to compensation.
Provide more information about the compensation your loved one should pursue.
Do you know how much compensation your loved one may qualify to pursue after suffering neglect in a nursing home in St. Louis? While we cannot provide guarantees regarding the compensation your loved one will ultimately recover, we can help take a look at your loved one’s medical costs and expenses related to the neglect, then give you a better idea of how much compensation your loved one should expect.
Negotiate on your behalf.
Dealing with the nursing home or at-fault insurance company directly as you try to establish negligence and seek compensation for your loved one can prove incredibly draining, especially if your loved one faces significant medical concerns that can prove difficult to deal with in the aftermath of the neglect. We can take over negotiations on your behalf, taking one item off your plate and freeing you up to take on other tasks.
Why Does Nursing Home Negligence Occur in St. Louis?
Nursing homes throughout the St. Louis area may give common reasons for nursing home negligence. None are good excuses for allowing the people in their care suffer or for inflicting harm on them.
Nursing homes throughout St. Louis and all over Missouri have struggled with staffing shortages for years. Many people do not want to work in nursing homes, where staff members often face immense challenges every day—especially since many nursing students know that nursing homes often have problems retaining adequate staff. Short-staffed nursing homes may not have adequate caregivers on hand to take care of all of a patient’s needs, which can make neglect more likely.
Most people who work in nursing homes genuinely care about their residents. Some people, however, simply do not care that much about their patients. These staff members may fail to provide adequate attention, both throughout the day as they take care of their residents and as residents issue requests for care.
Inadequate training can make a huge difference in the way nursing home staff members, especially new staff members, interact with patients. Some nursing home staff members may not know who bears responsibility for specific tasks or even specific patients. Others may not know how to document patient interactions to ensure that the residents receive a high standard of care. That lack of training and experience can leave staff members unaware that they have committed acts of neglect.
While staff members may decide how they will care for a patient throughout their shifts, the nursing home often bears liability for the actions of those caregivers. If a nursing home resident does suffer negligence, often, the nursing home will bear liability for it.
Specific doctors that work with individual seniors may also bear liability for failure to provide adequate care for nursing home residents. Also, if the nursing home uses a staffing agency, that staffing agency bears liability for vetting its employees. When those employees fail to provide adequate care for nursing home residents, the staffing agency may bear liability.
What Compensation Can St. Louis Seniors Seek After Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect can leave you with a lot of questions, including how much compensation your loved one may have the right to seek. Not only can nursing home neglect leave your loved one with high medical bills, but also ongoing neglect can cause your loved one’s existing conditions to worsen and even shorten your loved one’s lifespan. At The Bruning Law Firm, we cannot guarantee the compensation your loved one will ultimately recover for those injuries. However, most nursing home neglect victims claim compensation for these key categories.
The medical costs associated with significant nursing home neglect can quickly cut into your loved one’s savings and leave your family scrambling to pay the bills. As part of a nursing home neglect claim, you can include any medical costs associated with that neglect, from emergency medical care needed after your loved one suffers a serious fall to the ongoing cost of medical care for a condition that got out of control due to that neglect from your loved one’s caregivers.
Pain and Suffering
Nursing home neglect can cause severe mental and emotional anguish for many seniors. They have the right to live out those golden years in peace, and nursing home neglect can leave them feeling off-balance, unwanted, and generally depressed. In addition, that neglect can lead to significant physical suffering due to injuries or lack of adequate care. As part of your nursing home neglect claim, your family can include compensation for that pain and suffering.
Moving Costs/Increased Care Costs
Sometimes, your loved one may need to leave a current nursing home and move into another one as a direct result of serious neglect. Sometimes, that occurs because your loved one can no longer stay in the current nursing home. Other times, your loved one may need to move to a nursing home that offers a higher overall level of care due to increased weakness because of that neglect. You may have the right to include compensation for those moving expenses and increased care expenses as part of the nursing home negligence claim.
St. Louis Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
There comes a time in the lives of many children and grandchildren when they need to decide whether to put an elderly loved one into a nursing home. While the vast majority of nursing homes and their staff do care about the residents, we have all heard stories and seen news reports of bad apples. And that makes people cautious, which is a good thing.
When looking for the best place to put your elderly loved one, you take great pains to research and verify that the facility takes great care of its residents. If your loved one has a medical issue, you will also want to make sure the facility is equipped to handle that specific concern.
When you decide on a nursing home, you expect the facility to keep your loved one safe and secure. Unfortunately, some facilities do not take their responsibility seriously and hire inexperienced staff or have a culture of abuse.
If you think your loved one has or is currently suffering nursing home negligence, you need to speak with a St. Louis attorney right away. You have legal options available to you. Contact The Bruning Law Firm today for more information.
What Results Have You Obtained for Your Other Clients?
At The Bruning Law Firm, we have proudly helped our St. Louis neighbors for over 35 years. Our goal is to provide every client with compassionate and aggressive legal advocacy. Deciding to put a loved one in a nursing home can be a gut-wrenching decision. But you probably went to great lengths to make sure that you chose the best possible nursing home for your loved one. When the facility and staff violate your trust by neglecting or abusing your loved one, it is frustrating and aggravating.
Speaking with a trusted St. Louis nursing home negligence lawyer can help ease your pain and frustration by helping your loved one get into a better facility and working to hold the negligent facility liable for your loved one’s suffering. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Louis nursing home negligence victims. While past success is no guarantee of future results, our team works diligently and tirelessly to attempt to get you every dollar necessary for our clients.
What Are Some Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?
The biggest sign that your loved one may be experiencing neglect at their nursing home is that they tell you. However, many nursing home residents are fearful of their abuser and are not readily willing to discuss their abuse out of fear. So it becomes your responsibility to notice any signs.
Common signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Sudden mood changes
- Sudden appetite changes
- Missing or torn clothing
- Unexplained expenses
- Appearing withdrawn
- Sudden weight loss
- Appearing overly medicated
- Dirty clothes or living space
- A physical odor
- Cuts or bruises
- Inability to maintain eye contact
Taking note of these signs of nursing home neglect can be a clue to help you take swift action to protect your loved one. Your loved one is counting on you to take action to help them. At the first sight of signs of neglect, you should discuss your concerns with the facility manager. If they do not take any action or you do not feel satisfied with what they have done, you need to reach out to a St. Louis nursing home neglect lawyer, like those at The Bruning Law Firm, as soon as possible.
What Should I Do if I Think a Loved One Is Abused?
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering abuse or neglect at the nursing home, you need to report it to the facility manager. You may be leery of doing so because they may be involved in neglect. However, if you do not report your concerns, you will not know if the problem is systemic or just one bad employee.
Do not be threatening and do not suggest you will sue the facility. You may want to and you may eventually do so, but starting from a place of concern may get you farther toward your goal of making sure your loved one is properly cared for at the facility.
Once you notice signs of abuse and neglect, document everything. Take pictures of your loved one’s physical wounds, if they have any. Keep notes on when you visit, who is working, who you spoke to about your concerns, and what actions you have taken.
Then it is time to speak with a trusted St. Louis nursing home neglect attorney. Your legal team can tell you what additional signs to look out for and how to document and collect evidence to help bolster your case. Reach out to The Bruning Law Firm today.
How Can I Prove the Nursing Home Abused My Loved One?
There are over 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. While most take good care of their residents, some of them abuse and neglect the people placed in their care. Unfortunately, proving that a nursing home facility or its staff act in negligent ways is much easier said than done.
When you bring a claim against the nursing home, you are suing the nursing home for violating their standard of care and neglecting your loved one.
You must show:
- The nursing home had a duty of care to treat your loved one to a high standard of care
- The nursing home or staff breached that duty of care by neglecting or abusing your loved one
- Because of the neglect, your loved one has suffered damages
This might seem straightforward to you. Your loved one was placed in the care of a nursing home facility and they did not provide your loved one with appropriate care and attention. But proving these elements to a legal standard will require substantial evidence.
This is why it can be crucial that you keep records, pictures, and documentation from the moment you suspect your loved one is suffering from neglect. The evidence you collect can help your legal claim by providing crucial details about your loved one’s negligent care and how they were injured, both physically and mentally.
Who Is to Blame?
The answer to this question depends on the specifics of your case. If a single staff member neglected your loved one, you can hold that staff member liable.
However, so could the facility. If the nursing home knew or should have known that your loved one was being neglected but did not take action, they could be responsible for your loved one’s suffering. The facility could also be liable if they did not run a proper background screen on the staff member in question. Negligent hiring practices can run rampant in any industry, especially one where employees are trusted to provide care to elderly individuals.
There may also be a systemic problem at the nursing home facility. While you did your due diligence and research when deciding where to move your loved one, some facilities are good at putting their best foot forward and hiding the rest. As you began to notice disturbing signs about your loved one’s neglect, it became clear the facility had a serious problem. Trying to hold them accountable for their actions is your next step.
When a nursing home employee abuses a resident, they may face criminal charges. However, the criminal case is not a substitute for your civil lawsuit. Even if a staff member is held criminally liable, they may not be required to reimburse you or pay your loved one any damages. In most cases, the employee will be sentenced and the nursing home facility may receive a fine or a revocation or suspension of their license. A criminal conviction can help your civil case, but it does not replace your civil case. To attempt to collect maximum compensation for your loved one’s nursing home neglect, you still need to file a separate claim.
When you seek to hold the nursing home or an individual staff member accountable for your loved one’s suffering, you will need to provide evidence of their neglect. To do that, you may need an investigation into the nursing home and its staff. This is an intense process that your lawyer can help with, making sure that you get the evidence necessary to hold the negligent parties responsible for your loved one’s suffering.
What Damages Are Available?
Depending on who is ultimately at fault for your loved one’s nursing home neglect, you may collect damages for your loved one that include:
- Present and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Fees to move to another nursing home
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
You can attempt to receive reimbursement for the expenses paid out of pocket to move your loved one to a new facility and to get them medical care and attention as a result of their neglect. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to collect punitive damages. These are damages that go well above and beyond the damages listed above and are only granted in extreme cases where you can prove the nursing home acted intentionally, engaged in fraud, or gross negligence. Your lawyer can advise you as to whether it is worth it to try and collect punitive damages in your case.
No matter what, you will need to deal with insurance companies. Whether you allege the nursing home facility or a single staff member is to blame, the insurance company will likely put up a big fight. In clear cases, however, they may offer you a quick settlement.
While this can be both exciting and enticing, take a moment and think about why the insurance company is offering you a quick settlement. It may be because the settlement is in their best interest, not yours or your loved ones. The insurance company’s goal is often to settle your case for as little as possible without regard for whether you can cover all of the costs associated with your loved one’s neglect.
That is why you must partner with a St. Louis nursing home neglect attorney right away. Your lawyer can battle the insurance company on your behalf while you focus on getting your loved one to a new facility where they receive the care they deserve.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Every state limits the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages. Under Missouri law, that time is just five years. This might seem like a long time, but the longer you wait, the less likely you are to be able to successfully claim the nursing home caused your loved one’s neglect.
Over time, evidence of their abuse and neglect may go missing and employees who witnessed the neglect may forget what they saw. This is crucial evidence you will need to prove that the nursing home is liable for damages.
You also need to give your legal team time to investigate the neglect. Many facilities are less than willing to discuss potential problems and employees, fearful of losing their jobs, may not openly discuss any issues they witnessed. Getting to the bottom of the nursing home neglect your loved one faced may take some time.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Having an elderly loved one abused and neglected in a facility meant to provide for their health and wellbeing is anger-inducing. Fortunately, you may have legal options. You can work to hold the facility and staff liable for your loved one’s suffering and the financial hardships you have faced in getting your loved one into a new facility.
Partnering with a trusted legal advocate with experience in holding nursing homes liable can give you a leg up on your ability to hold the facility to account. Suing the nursing home may be the last thing on your mind, but as you relocate your loved one to a new facility, you will incur additional costs. Plus, you should fight for compensation for your loved one’s suffering at the hands of a negligent facility and staff.
Contact The Bruning Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation with our dedicated team so you can learn more about your legal options and get your loved one into a better situation.
An Experienced St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help
If your loved one has suffered an injury due to any type of nursing home abuse, they deserve full and fair compensation from the responsible party for their injuries and losses. At The Bruning Law Firm, our St. Louis personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations.
"AJ and team were so delightful to work with. They were very responsive to all emails and phone calls. I always knew which step we were on in the process of getting my lawsuit settled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the amount the settlement was for was twice that of the original coverage of the insurance company. I don’t know how they did it but I am very pleased with the service they provided. Hands down easiest process, and people to deal with. 100% recommend if you have a personal injury case to be worked. Hopefully I won’t need their services again, but if I do I won’t hesitate to call." - Amanda W.
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