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How To Prove Nursing Home Abuse in California

Offered by Valentine Law Group Apc

Getting to the bottom of elder abuse can require a thorough investigation

It can be hard to tell when a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect.

The signs might be hidden. The victim may not understand or be aware of the harm done to them. Often, the abused resident is unable to communicate their pain due to their physical or mental condition. Some are silent because they fear staff may retaliate against them for making a report.

However, the biggest challenge to identifying nursing home abuse and negligence is the nursing homes themselves. Proving nursing home abuse can be complicated and made even more frustrating by stonewalling from owners and operators. But it is not impossible. An experienced nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer can help break through obstacles to collect strong proof of abuse.

In general, there are three stages in a nursing home abuse case.

  1. Identify the abuse and its effects.
  2. Collect evidence of how and why the abuse took place.
  3. Take legal action to hold the nursing home or other responsible parties accountable.

Report abuse and contact a nursing home abuse lawyer

Never let suspicions of abuse go unchecked. Often, it takes the force of legal action to get nursing homes to stop abuse and neglect.

The best thing a loved one can do if they suspect abuse is trusting their gut. Consult a California nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer right away. Most elder abuse attorneys offer free case consultations.

If you suspect or are experiencing nursing home abuse in California, you probably have many questions. Get answers you can trust from a verified attorney.

Identifying nursing home abuse

Understanding the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect makes it easier to spot when there is a problem. Common signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Falling injuries.
  • New or worsened pressure ulcers (bedsores).
  • Complaining of moderate or severe pain.
  • Sudden trips to the emergency room.
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts.
  • Bone fractures.
  • Infections
  • Decreased appetite.
  • New or worsening mental health affecting anxiety, communication, and agitation.
  • Loss of mobility.

If you believe abuse has occurred or is ongoing, report it immediately to the nursing home and contact a lawyer.

Proving nursing home abuse and neglect

The California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) says that those who suffer "recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of this abuse" are eligible to collect enhanced damages if they prove their case by "clear and convincing evidence." Of course, every case is different, but in general, a successful nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit includes several elements:

  • The nursing home or care facility owed the resident a duty of care.
  • This duty of care was breached by negligent or abusive actions or conditions under the facility's control.
  • This breach led to abuse and/or neglect, causing injury.
  • In some cases, it is also necessary to have proof that ownership and/or management were aware of but did not adequately address the abuse.

In the most heinous cases, a jury may award punitive damages and attorney's fees to nursing home abuse victims in addition to standard injury compensation. If the resident died due to nursing home abuse and neglect, loved ones may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering before death and costs related to the death itself.

Key evidence in nursing home abuse cases

Nursing home owners and managers have a variety of tactics to avoid responsibility and hide evidence. However, an experienced California nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer will know what to look for and how to obtain it – even if the nursing home doesn't want them to. Evidence that may be collected to support a nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuit includes:

  • Internal nursing home memos.
  • Deposition testimony.
  • Medical and financial records.
  • Facility visits.
  • Documents, emails, and other communications given to the client by the facility.
  • Company data and reports.
  • Electronic evidence like audit logs.
  • Communication records and emails between nursing home leadership.

Abusive nursing homes fight hard to protect their profits

When a nursing home is accused of negligence and abuse, it may be uncooperative and try to delay proceedings. They may be hoping for some of these outcomes:

  • Less public attention to the case.
  • Reduced hit to a facility's reputation and ability to attract new clients.
  • Witnesses lose their memories.
  • Documents are "lost" over time.
  • Routine and scheduled destruction of video, audio, or other records.
  • Exhausting the victim's financial resources.
  • The abuse victim or key witness may die before the trial starts.

To accomplish this, dishonest nursing homes use misdirection, omission, and stalling tactics. For example, they may hide or even falsify documents. Or they'll offer an alternative narrative: the victim was elderly and in failing health, and their injury or illness was unavoidable.

To make a nursing home take a case seriously, you need the credible threat of strong legal action. You need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to counter their tactics and build your family's case.

Only a nursing home abuse lawyer can fight for your rights

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), California Department of Public Health, and California Department of Social Services, among other agencies, investigate nursing home and assisted living (or RCFE) abuse complaints. However, these investigations aim to determine which laws, if any, were broken and assess penalties. They do not help an individual collect the compensation and justice they deserve. Only a civil claim or lawsuit filed by an experienced California nursing home and assisted living abuse and negligence attorney can obtain compensation for the victim's medical expenses and other losses.

It's not always easy to come forward and take action in response to nursing home abuse. However, you should know that by taking a stand, you are helping to hold the nursing home accountable and prevent others from suffering similar abuse. If you suspect or know you or a loved one is being abused and/or neglected by a California nursing home, contact an experienced, verified attorney in your area.

Do not delay. California has a statute of limitations on nursing home abuse and wrongful death actions. Schedule your free, confidential case consultation today.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Valentine Law Group Apc
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The Valentine Law Group in California handles complex legal cases primarily involving elder abuse and nursing home neglect. Contact us to learn more. Offices in Mission Viejo and ...