Like nursing homes, assisted living facilities are supposed to provide safe and comfortable living environments for senior citizens who are no longer able to function independently. Unfortunately, nursing homes and assisted living communities also share another trait in common: both have high rates of abuse and neglect. Though sometimes overlooked in comparison to nursing home abuse, abuse in assisted living communities is an equally serious problem, and causes many preventable deaths and injuries in elderly men and women each year.
If you’re worried that your elderly father, mother, spouse, or other loved one is being neglected or abused by staff at his or her assisted living community, you should talk about your legal options with experienced personal injury lawyer Brent Wieand. Our firm handles personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against negligent assisted living facilities, and can offer advice on how to proceed if you suspect that neglect or abuse has occurred. To speak confidentially about compensation for abuse or neglect in an assisted living community, contact us for a free legal consultation today.
Assisted Living Neglect and Abuse Statistics
The main difference between a nursing home and an assisted living community is that nursing homes are equipped to offer more extensive medical care and services. While assisted living residents are generally in better health than residents of nursing homes, both types of facilities employ staff members who have frequent contact with the residents, which creates opportunities for abuse and neglect to occur. Assisted living residents are therefore at risk for physical violence, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation at the hands of employees and caregivers. In other cases, the abusers are not the facility’s employees, but rather other residents at the assisting living facility.
Assisted living abuse has not been studied as extensively as nursing home abuse. However, existing data suggests abuse in assisted living facilities to be fairly widespread. Based on administrators’ and care workers’ responses to abuse questionnaires, a March 2013 report prepared for the Department of Justice estimated the following prevalence rates of various types of abuse in assisted living facilities:
- “Bullying a resident” 73 per 1,000 residents
- “Aggressive behavior” 50 per 1,000 residents
- “Throw things at resident” 46 per 1,000 residents
- “Stealing things” 44 per 1,000 residents
- “Not giving needed medication” 43 per 1,000 residents
- “Pushing, grabbing, or pinching” 41 per 1,000 residents
- “Hurting resident” 35 per 1,000 residents
- “Hitting a resident” 31 per 1,000 residents
- “Not giving food” 31 per 1,000 residents
- “Not giving fluids” 25 per 1,000 residents
- “Pulling hair or kicking” 24 per 1,000 residents
- “Stealing money” 22 per 1,000 residents
- “Unwelcome touching” 16 per 1,000 residents
Unfortunately, systematic underreporting of elder abuse likely means that the true figures are substantially higher.
Suing an Assisted Living Facility for Injury or Wrongful Death
Assisted living facilities have a duty of care to their residents, which means they have a duty to avoid harming individuals who are under their care. If an assisted living community breaches this duty, and the breach leads to an accident or act of abuse that causes harm to a resident, the facility may be held liable for the resulting death or injury. There are many ways an assisted living facility can be negligent in its care of a resident, such as:
- Failing to call emergency services, or transfer a resident as necessary, when a serious injury or medical condition occurs.
- Failing to conduct background checks on employees.
- Failing to provide safe and sanitary living conditions.
- Failing to provide the correct medication in the appropriate dose, or overmedicating residents.
- Failing to prevent employees from hitting, kicking, beating, biting, shoving, punching, slapping, sexually assaulting, raping, stealing from, or otherwise harming residents.
- Failing to supervise employees and/or residents.
If the facility is found to be liable for the victim’s death or injury, the victim or their surviving loved ones may be able to recover compensation for:
- Burial and funeral expenses, in a case involving wrongful death.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Medical bills.
- Pain and suffering.
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Expenses and financial losses that are reasonably expected to result from the death or injury, such as loss of benefits, or the cost of an anticipated surgery.
It is vital that you are represented by a knowledgeable and experienced assisted living abuse attorney throughout the settlement negotiation process. The assisted living facility and its insurance company will retain blackhat defense counsel who are highly compensated to twist facts and circumvent accountability. For this reason, it is vital to have legal help of your own in order to level the playing field and have a fair chance at justice.
If the assisted living facility refuses to settle, or is unwilling to extend a reasonable offer, our firm will be prepared to try your case in front of a jury.
Contact Experienced Assisted Living Injury Lawyers About Your Injury Claim
If you have any questions about the warning signs of elder abuse, reporting an assisted living facility violation, or your family’s legal options for filing a claim or lawsuit against a facility where abuse or neglect has occurred, Brent Wieand is ready to help. We handle numerous cases involving abuse and neglect in assisting living communities and nursing homes. To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation with our assisted living injury lawyers, contact us today.