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What To Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Georgia

Offered by Johnson Greer Law Group

A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you demand accountability

When we entrust nursing homes with the care of our elderly loved ones, we expect them to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. Unfortunately, instances of nursing home abuse are all too common. These incidents often manifest as physical harm, emotional distress, neglect, and financial exploitation. 

In Georgia, the law offers protection to the elderly and vulnerable and ensures they have the right to safety and proper care. Recognizing the signs of abuse and understanding how to take action is crucial to safeguard the well-being of our loved ones.

Moreover, families need to be aware of their legal rights and avenues for recourse in cases of nursing home abuse. Seeking the guidance of an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can be instrumental in holding negligent facilities accountable and obtaining justice for victims. 

What are the laws regarding nursing home abuse in Georgia?

Under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds must meet certain standards related to resident care, rights, and staffing. These standards include:

  • The right to be free from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The requirement for a care plan tailored to each resident's needs.
  • Adequate staffing and staff training requirements.

Georgia complements federal regulations with state laws and regulations that further protect nursing home residents. Georgia law provides a Bill of Rights for residents of long-term care facilities (O.C.G.A. § 31-8-100 et seq.), which includes rights similar to those protected under federal law. 

Additionally, Georgia law requires healthcare professionals and facility staff to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elderly or disabled adults to the Department of Human Services or the police (O.C.G.A. § 30-5-4).

Facilities found in violation of these laws and regulations can face fines, required corrective action plans, and, in severe cases, revocation of their license to operate.

How do I recognize signs of nursing home abuse?

It’s not always easy to know when your loved one is experiencing abuse in a nursing home. The elderly may not always communicate their distress or may not understand that they’re being abused. Awareness is the first critical step to protect your loved one’s well-being. Below, you’ll find signs of abuse and neglect to watch out for. 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in nursing homes can range from rough handling during care to outright assault. Indicators include:

  • Unexplained Injuries: Look for bruises, cuts, burns, or fractures that can’t be reasonably explained.
  • Signs of restraint: Marks on wrists or ankles might suggest the improper use of restraints.
  • Frequent hospital visits: A pattern of emergency visits or hospital admissions can be a major red flag.

Emotional abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse often leaves no physical marks but can be just as harmful. Common signs include:

  • Changes in behavior: Withdrawal from social activities, sudden fearfulness, or significant changes in mood can indicate emotional distress.
  • Fear of certain staff members: If your loved one seems uneasy around certain caregivers, there may have been abusive interactions.


Neglect occurs when the basic needs of residents aren’t met. It’s typically evident through: 

  • Poor hygiene: Unkempt appearance, soiled clothing, or bad odors can indicate a lack of proper personal care.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration: Sudden weight loss, dry skin, or other health problems may signal inadequate nutrition or fluid intake.
  • Untreated health problems: New or worsening health issues that are not being addressed are a sign of severe neglect.

Financial exploitation

Exploiting residents for financial gain is another form of abuse, which can be identified as:

  • Unexplained financial transactions: These are withdrawals or purchases that an elderly person cannot explain or did not authorize.
  • Changes in financial documents: These are unusual changes in wills, power of attorney, or other financial documents.

Four critical steps you can take if you suspect nursing home abuse

If you suspect that a loved one is being abused in a nursing home, don’t hesitate to take decisive action. Below, you’ll find four key steps to protect your loved one.

1. Ensure your loved one’s safety

If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, consider whether it’s safe for them to remain in the facility. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove them from the facility temporarily or permanently.

If you notice any visible injuries or unexplained health changes, seek medical attention outside the nursing home for an independent assessment and treatment.

2. Document the evidence

Gathering evidence is critical for any future investigation or legal action. Take photos of any visible signs of abuse, such as bruises, cuts, or other injuries. Keep a detailed log of your observations, including dates, times, descriptions of injuries or changes in behavior, and any interactions with staff members.

Also, obtain copies of the resident's medical records. This should include any documentation of injuries or health concerns that arose during their stay in the nursing home.

3. Report the abuse

To initiate an investigation and prevent further harm, you’ll need to report the nursing home abuse. In cases of immediate danger, contact local law enforcement.

Otherwise, you can report it to: 

  • Georgia’s Division of Aging Services: This organization plays an important role in ensuring the welfare of elderly and disabled adults throughout the state. 
  • Georgia Department of Human Services: The department oversees nursing homes and can launch an investigation into your loved one’s abuse. 
  • Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman: The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for the rights and well-being of nursing home residents. Ombudsmen can investigate complaints, provide information to residents and families, and work to resolve issues.

4. Get legal help

The legal aftermath of nursing home abuse can be frustrating and often confusing. When you consult with a nursing home negligence attorney, they can offer you legal guidance, evaluate the strength of your case, and advise you on the best course of action.

A nursing home attorney can also launch an investigation into the abuse and gather evidence to hold a facility and its staff accountable. If a lawyer has viable evidence, they can use it to negotiate a fair settlement for you and your loved one. If a settlement can’t be reached, they can file a lawsuit against the facility and represent your interests in court.

What is the statute of limitations on elder abuse in Georgia?

When considering legal action for elder abuse in Georgia, it's important to be aware of the time limits set by law for filing a case. The statute of limitations varies depending on the nature of the abuse.

If you're seeking damages resulting from elder abuse, you usually have two years from the date of the injury to file your case. However, in certain circumstances, this period might be extended, such as when the abuse is discovered later.

As such, it's crucial to consult with a nursing home abuse attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your situation. A lawyer can help you navigate Georgia’s legal system and ensure you don’t miss critical legal deadlines that could jeopardize your nursing home abuse claim.

How do I find a lawyer in Georgia if I suspect nursing home abuse?

If your loved one is a victim of abuse in a Georgia nursing home, reach out to an attorney who understands the law and how to investigate facilities. Not only do you want a competent attorney, but you also want someone who takes an inclusive and compassionate approach to cases involving abuse in nursing homes. 

When you hire a lawyer, it won’t cost anything upfront. Nursing home abuse lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for their services. They only receive a certain percentage if they obtain a settlement or court award on your behalf.

If you have any questions or concerns, a nursing home abuse attorney would be glad to assist you during a free initial consultation. To get started, fill out the contact form below, and an attorney will contact you to set up your free and confidential consultation.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Johnson Greer Law Group

Attorneys George S. Johnson and Chad Greer are dedicated to helping those who have suffered — and their families — get the compensation they deserve. We represent clients in Metro...