Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
No one should become a victim of neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, approximately one in 10 people age 60 and older in the U.S. have experienced some form of elder abuse, as reported by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Estimates range as high as 5 million senior citizens abused every year.
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers are tough advocates for victims of elder abuse, which often occurs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. If you believe your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, schedule a consultation with our firm. Our experienced Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers will work tirelessly to investigate the circumstances, hold responsible parties accountable, and recover compensation for your losses.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases We Handle
Nursing home abuse can occur in many different forms. The abuse may be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers handle a wide range of nursing home abuse and neglect situations, including:
Falls and Fractures
Nursing homes have a duty to provide supervision for residents and keep their facilities safe. If they fail to meet these obligations, elderly people can fall and suffer fractures.
With proper care, bedsores are preventable. If nursing home employees are not properly trained in preventing, identifying, and treating bedsores, they can develop into serious injuries, with fatal complications in some cases.
Without proper care and supervision, older people in nursing homes can become malnourished. Malnourishment is especially dangerous in the elderly and can increase the risk of illness and injuries.
Overdosing, under-dosing, and mixing up medications are nursing home errors that can lead to life-threatening situations.
Many older people are susceptible to choking. With proper nursing home supervision, this dangerous situation can and should be prevented.
Clogged breathing tubes
Elderly people in nursing homes with conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or ALS, may need to be intubated. Nursing homes have a duty to ensure that breathing tubes do not become clogged.
This condition is a life-threatening response of the body to infection. Sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Older people, who are often more susceptible to sepsis, require prompt medical attention from knowledgeable caregivers.
This is among the most common forms of nursing home abuse. Circumstances under which Illinois nursing home residents can be legally restrained are extremely limited. Unlawful restraint can cause severe emotional and physical injuries.
Verbal abuse in nursing homes can cause severe emotional and psychological trauma in elderly people. Facilities that belittle and abuse residents should be held accountable.
Victims of sexual harassment in nursing homes may be vulnerable and afraid to come forward, or unable to talk about what occurred. Take action right away if you suspect sexual nursing home abuse.
If your loved one died in a Chicago nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, speak with an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney right away.
Information on Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (210 ILCS 45) falls under the state Health Facilities and Regulation laws. This Act is designed to protect residents in nursing homes and other institutions that are defined under the law as long-term care facilities. This law ensures the safety of residents in both for-profit and non-profit nursing home facilities.
Please note that there are several facilities that are not covered under this Act. This includes:
- Childcare facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Facilities operated by the federal government or the state of Illinois
- Other facilities excluded by the Act
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act addresses issues such as:
- The rights of residents
- Responsibilities of the long-term care facility
The Act extensively addresses the rights of residents in nursing homes. These include the right to:
- be free from abuse and neglect
- manage their own financial affairs
- medical care by the doctor of their choice (at their own expense)
- access and review their medical records (their family also has this right)
- refuse medical treatment
- keep their clothing and other personal items in their room
- religious freedom
- phones, mail, and to receive visitors
- be free from unreasonable restraint
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics in Illinois
Nursing home abuse is more common than most people realize in the US, but this topic is vastly understudied. Some studies suggest that most cases of elder abuse in this country go unreported. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse and the American Association for Justice, nursing home abuse and neglect happens in approximately 1 out of every 3 nursing homes in the US. Around 10% of the 1.4 million nursing home residents will be a victim of abuse or neglect when they stay in nursing homes.
According to the Illinois Department of Aging:
- there were 16,507 reports of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation received by Adult Protective Services.
- While most abusers are family members, a significant percentage of abusers were nursing home staff.
- Victims typically experience more than one type of abuse.
- 67% of the victims were female, and 33% were male.
- 49% of abusers were male, and 51% were female.
When looking at these statistics, please keep in mind that the numbers are likely nowhere near complete because of the underreporting of this abuse.
Signs of nursing home abuse
It can be difficult for family members and friends to recognize that abuse is happening to their loved one in a nursing home. No two cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are the same. However, visitors to those in a nursing home should always be on the lookout for the following:
- Unusual or unexplained bruising, cuts, punctures, skin tears
- Unexplained broken bones or fractures
- Sudden weight loss
- Mood swings or outbursts
- Reclusiveness or withdrawn behavior
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of cleanliness
- Frequent infections
In many cases, nursing home staff may try to say that the signs and symptoms above are simply the result of the person’s own fault (falling, getting older, etc.). If you are suspicious of what is going on or if the stories staff are telling you do not seem right, you need to suspect that abuse is going on.
What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, there are several steps you can take to ensure your loved one is protected. You may need to contact law enforcement to investigate the situation. Most instances of elder abuse and neglect are criminal.
You should immediately report the nursing home abuse to the Illinois Department of Aging. There are several agencies in Illinois that accept reports of nursing home abuse. Visit the Illinois Department of Health website or call the Nursing Home Hotline by dialing 800-252-4343. Please know that they are not emergency responders. They will receive the information and investigate it appropriately. If there is an emergency, call 911.
After you get the initial emergency settled, secure assistance from a knowledgeable and experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. Your attorney will be an advocate for you and your loved one throughout this entire process. They will guide you through every step you need to take to ensure those responsible are held accountable for their actions.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
There are various types of lawsuits that may be filed in instances of nursing home abuse. This could include a personal injury claim or a medical malpractice claim. In instances where nursing home abuse or neglect leads to the death of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against the negligent party.
It will be necessary for your Chicago nursing home abuse attorney to prove that the nursing home and their staff were negligent. They will need to prove the following elements of negligence:
- Duty – There must have been a duty to care established between the plaintiff and the defendant. In a nursing home abuse case, this is generally not difficult to prove. If the victim was a resident at a nursing home, then the facility and staff owe them a duty of care.
- Breach – It needs to be shown that the nursing home breached its duty of care to the resident. This may require extensive investigation by your attorney into the incident.
- Causation – Your attorney will need to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages – The plaintiff (the nursing home resident) must have suffered actual damages from their injuries.
In Illinois, you have two years from the date of an injury or illness to file a lawsuit against a negligent nursing home.
What kind of compensation are you entitled to in a Chicago Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit?
If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a Chicago nursing home, they may be entitled to compensation. This could include both economic and non-economic damages such as the following:
- Coverage for medical expenses related to the abuse
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- The total cost of staying in the nursing home
- Relocation expenses if necessary
- Possible punitive damages against those responsible for the abuse
Each case is different, and the total amount awarded to a victim will vary depending on numerous factors, including the severity of the injuries, the victim’s total losses, and the negligence that can be proven. Other relevant factors include the age of the individual, the facility’s history of care, whether the nursing home has insurance, and the conduct of the facility and staff.
How much does a nursing home abuse attorney cost in Chicago, IL?
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we take all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will pay no upfront fees and face no out-of-pocket costs while your case is ongoing. Our fees are directly tied to the success of your case. You will only pay legal fees when we secure the compensation you deserve.
Get Experienced Legal Guidance Today
If you believe your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in any form, do not wait to talk to a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. Do not hesitate to come to our firm for sound legal counsel and dedicated representation. At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates in Chicago, we have vast experience in nursing home abuse and personal injury matters. Our successful track record of recovering substantial settlements and verdicts for our clients speaks for itself. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.