Do you need Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers in South Carolina?
Placing your loved one in a nursing home is difficult. It is an emotionally and mentally draining decision. You trust that your loved one will be well taken care of and that patient care and proper treatment are cornerstones of the facility. When that promise, contract or the patient’s rights are violated, the nursing home should be held responsible for negligence. Sadly, when loved ones age, they become more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Some older people opt to move into nursing homes or long-term care facilities to ensure that they are well cared for, and will be protected from the effects of their deteriorating physical and/or mental conditions. In these settings, however, older people are sometimes actually physically and/or psychologically harmed by the negligent or intentional acts of their caregivers.
In patient care settings, several factors have been shown to contribute to the abuse or neglect of residents, including:
- poorly qualified and inadequately trained staff;
- staff with a history of violence;
- inadequate numbers of staff;
- the isolation of residents; and, the
- known reluctance of residents to report abuse out of embarrassment or fear.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Approaches
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect cases present the challenge of overcoming a tendency on the part of others, including insurance adjusters and even physicians, to discount an elderly person’s injuries and the diminished quality of life that results from them. Our attorneys take an aggressive approach to confronting the kind of egregious misconduct found in nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
We are proud to give our clients’ cases close attention. Every matter deserves the same level of care and attention despite its size. We are cognizant of the fact that you would be contacting us for help with a difficult and potentially emotional situation. We will be sensitive to this fact and will work with you to determine your best course of action. The Nursing Home Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm LLC understands that the time following an accident is often difficult for all parties involved. We work closely with victims and families of personal injury in Columbia, SC to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. We will do our best to get you the best possible outcome based on the direction you give and your perspective on the case.
We represent elderly clients and families who have been victims of:
- Bedsores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, and infections
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Financial abuse and exploitation
- Falls, dislocations and fractures
- Inadequate staffing, training, and negligent supervision claims
- Medication and prescription errors
- Inappropriate use of physical or chemical restraints
- Physical, emotional, and psychological abuse and neglect
A nursing home can be held liable for negligence if:
- the nursing home’s owner or employees breached a duty of care owed to the injured person;
- the person’s injury was caused by this breach; and,
- the nursing home owner’s or employee’s conduct caused the injury.
While each case is unique, patient care facilities can be sued for:
- assault and battery
- negligent hiring and retention of employees
- negligent personal supervision and care
- negligent maintenance of the home or facility
Nursing Home Liability
A nursing home can be liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior for any wrongful act or omission of its employees committed within the scope of the employee’s duties. To succeed under this theory, the injured person must show that at the time of his or her injuries, the employee was acting on behalf of the nursing home and in furtherance of its business.
Nursing Home Negligence of Supervision and Care
Nursing homes have a legal duty to protect patients from predictable injury risks arising from their physical conditions and impairments, such as self-injury. Caregivers should be trained to take reasonable safety precautions based on the needs of each individual patient. Caregivers are also responsible for providing reasonable care to each resident. Reasonable care is also applied within the context of each patient’s situation.
Nursing home operators are under a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to their patients, and the reasonableness of the care is assessed relative to the patient’s physical and mental condition. A nursing home has a duty to safeguard residents from the foreseeable consequences of their various physical and mental impairment(s), which includes taking reasonable precautions to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.
Nursing Home Negligence for Unsafe Facility
A nursing home is under a duty to use reasonable care to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition for residents and visitors. Visitors to a private nursing home are usually considered invitees of the home; as such, the nursing owes them a duty of ordinary care for their safety. Essentially, this requires that the premises used by residents and visitors be kept in a safe condition and not expose anyone to danger unnecessarily. The nursing home should also eliminate any known dangers on the premises, or at least warn residents and visitors of any hidden conditions about which it is, or should be, aware.
Nursing Home Negligence for Improper Equipment
Residents of private nursing homes have the right to expect that the homes and their employees will exercise reasonable care in selecting and maintaining the equipment and facilities used by residents. Defective devices such as wheelchairs, beds, lamps and other appliances, and poorly maintained stairways, hallways, and examination tables have resulted in nursing home liability.
Nursing Home Abuse Criminal Charges
In some cases, the failure to provide residents with sufficient food, keep residents clean enough, or prevent bedsores from occurring, have supported convictions for Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Criminal Charges. In other cases, the unjustified use of physical restraint or force against nursing home residents has resulted in convictions for nursing home abuse. In some states, the definition of abuse may require inappropriate physical contact that harms or threatens to harm the patient, and may not cover verbal threats.
Where a nursing home has knowledge of special facts relative to certain residents, liability for failing to respond appropriately to such information may be imposed. For example, where nursing homes have had knowledge of violent or aggressive behavior of patients who later attacked other residents, they have been found liable for their failure to protect the other residents and/or supervise the violent residents
Mental suffering for which one may recover damages can include the following:
- Fear of the consequences of an injury while awaiting help;
- Fear experienced in the period between realizing an incident likely to cause injury was going to occur and the time of occurrence;
- Fear experienced after an injury about what else could have happened;
- Anxiety about one’s physical health and future well-being;
- Fear of the need for future surgery as a result of one’s injuries;
- Fear of increased vulnerability to future injury;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Building a Case of Negligence Against a Health Care Facility
When a South Carolina nursing home or patient care facility places profit over adequate care whether due to inadequate supervision, understaffing or otherwise, and your loved one is injured or killed as a result, the nursing home should be held responsible for your losses.
The Strom Law Firm, LLC has been fighting nursing home abuse for over 15 years, and we can help you build a case of negligence.
Proving a Nursing Home is Responsible for the Death of a Loved One – Building a Case of Negligence
In a case where a resident dies because of the nursing home’s negligence, it is not necessary to prove that the resident would have survived if not for the negligence. If the facility accelerated the resident’s death at all, it may be liable for the death, and if the negligence caused the resident additional pain and suffering, the nursing home can be liable to the resident’s estate for mental suffering.
A plaintiff suing a nursing home may need to offer expert medical testimony about what is or is not a proper practice, treatment or procedure in a given situation, unless the lack of care or skill by the nursing home is so apparent that the average person would comprehend it based on his or her common knowledge and experience. For instance, if a nursing home administrator is alleged to have failed to exercise care with respect to maintaining the nursing home facility, that issue will likely not require expert testimony, whereas a nurse’s treatment of a patient’s condition might.
Expert testimony can help establish the standard of professional care against which the conduct of a defendant nursing home should be measured. This testimony will also help establish that the resident’s injuries were the result of the nursing home’s failure to exercise the appropriate care.
Breach of Contract
Usually, a nursing home will enter into a contract with a resident, in which it sets out what services it will provide, and the cost of those services.
If the perceived abuse or neglect of the nursing home or its employees is contrary to promises made in the contract regarding the care of residents, the nursing home can be sued under a breach of contract theory.
Many contracts require only that the home provide such services as are “reasonably necessary” for the resident’s well-being, but even under this standard, a nursing home can be found negligent if it failed to meet the basic needs of a resident.
Task the Health Care Facility with the Burden of Proof
If an injured resident does not know exactly what caused his or her injury, but it is the type of injury that would not have occurred without negligence on the part of the nursing home, his or her attorney may invoke a legal doctrine known as “res ipsa loquitur,” which places the burden on the nursing home to show that it was not negligent.
This doctrine might be successfully invoked, for example, in a case where a bedridden resident is injured by the use, or failure of, a medical instrument operated only by nursing home staff, and which does not ordinarily injure patients.
When the Doctor Is to Blame: Medical Malpractice
Wrongful Death or Negligence May Result From Medical Malpractice, Instead of Nursing Home Negligence
The case of wrongful death or injury of elderly residents could be the result of malpractice, instead of negligence or abuse. Experienced attorneys have learned how to evaluate, gather facts and apply the law in establishing blame, should any exist. Below are common factors of medical malpractice in nursing home cases. Contact the Strom Law Firm to find specific answers to your questions. (888-490-2847).
The nursing home is claiming that it is the doctor’s fault. What is a physician’s standard of care and how do I prove medical malpractice?
In a suit against a physician, medical malpractice most commonly occurs under the following circumstances:
- The physician delayed diagnosis of a medical condition, or failed to diagnosis the patient’s medical condition altogether;
- The physician properly made the correct diagnosis, and then failed to properly treat the medical condition properly;
- The physician failed to perform a surgical procedure properly; or
- The physician fails to obtain the informed consent of the patient before performing a procedure or operation.
What types of cases are typically brought against health care professionals and hospitals for elder injury or death?
Health care professionals and hospitals are responsible for compensating a patient injured as a result of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice suits arise under the following circumstances:
- Against a government agency that operated the hospital or provided specified medical care.
- Against a hospital for administering improper or overdoses of medication, negligent nursing care, inadequate sanitation, infection, or equipment failure.
- Against a physician, who in the general practice of medicine, deviated from the general accepted standards of practice in the community.
- Against a medical specialist who deviated from a nationally accepted standard of practice for specialists in that field of medicine.
Proving your Medical Malpractice Case
To prove a medical malpractice case, you must establish what a reasonable doctor should do to treat your medical condition and that your doctor was negligent by not following appropriate medical protocol for your condition.
The only way to prove what a reasonable doctor should do in the same situation is through the testimony of a highly qualified expert in that particular medical field. These experts usually come from well-regarded medical schools like Duke, Harvard, Emory, and Johns Hopkins and are expensive.
Typically, the attorney will advance the costs of these experts. Of course, the defendant will retain his or her own experts who may have differing opinions. A jury usually has to decide which expert is more credible in his or her explanation regarding whether the medical professional or physician being sued was negligent and committed malpractice.
Even after proving that the doctor or medical professional was negligent, you must still establish damages in the form of lost earning potential and future medical costs. To prove these damages, you will likely will need testimony from a vocational expert, economist, and a person specializing in developing life care plans.
To prove a nursing home malpractice case, you must establish what a reasonable medical professional, including nurse or CNA, should do under the same circumstances. The only way to prove what a reasonable medical professional should do in the same situation is through the testimony of a highly qualified expert in that particular medical field. Typically, the attorney will advance the costs of these experts. Of course, the defendant will retain his or her own experts who may have differing opinions. A jury usually has to decide which expert is more credible in his or her explanation regarding whether the medical professional or nursing home facility being sued was negligent and committed malpractice or was negligent.
Nursing Home Defense Tactics
A common nursing home defense tactic employed by defendants in cases brought against nursing homes is to attack causation, and argue that a resident’s underlying disease(s) and physical condition caused the alleged injury, or at least make the issue of causation unclear.
Says Complied with the Minimum Licensing Standards
Many states have enacted statutes or regulations that establish certain minimum standards of care for private nursing homes. Even if a nursing home can show it complied with minimum licensing standards, however, it may still be liable for a resident’s injuries. For these reasons, it is important to have an attorney research the applicable standard of care, licensing requirements, and other regulations in your area. We offer a free consultation with one of our nursing home lawyers customized to your specific situation to see how we can help.
Blames Pre-Existing Condition
An issue that comes up frequently in nursing home litigation is whether the resident’s injury was inevitable due to his or her preexisting poor health, medical complications, mental condition, or advanced age. Patient care facilities often argue that a resident’s preexisting health condition, and not any negligence on the part of the nursing home, was the true cause of an injury alleged in a lawsuit.
Don’t let these claims deter you. There is a well established rule of law that a defendant (such as a nursing home) takes its victim as it finds him/her, preexisting conditions and all. Thus, the fact that a resident’s injury may have been made worse or harder to treat because of a preexisting physical or mental condition does not relieve the defendant of liability.
Complaints Against Nursing Homes – Report Elder Abuse & Neglect
Anyone who suspects neglect, wrong-doing, abuse or fraud regarding a resident in a nursing home, may anonymously Report Elder Abuse & Neglect to Adult Protective Services.
If you seek legal counsel for damages in an elder abuse or neglect case, Adult Protective Services must first investigate and provide a written Report Elder Abuse & Neglect for the incident(s). During the investigative period, as your attorneys, the Strom Law Firm would begin gathering information and evidence for your suit, as well as maintain communication with Adult Protective Services on your behalf.
Report Elder Abuse & Neglect or Exploitation in South Carolina
Report online: Visit the Adult Protective Services page. In the top right column, you’ll find a drop down menu to make a report.
Call to report suspected mistreatment in:
- Private or foster homes: 803-898-7318
- Richland county long-term care facilities: 803-734-9900
- Long-term care facilities outside Richland County: 800-868-9095
Find resources and learn more: Visit South Carolina’s office of aging Ombudsman site. The site provides reports and access to records on long-term care facilities as well as the residents’ Bill of Rights.
Remedy of Nursing Home Neglect
In certain situations adult protective services may be able to meet the needs of a nursing home resident who has been abused, neglected, or exploited.
If Adult Protective Serivces concludes that an allegation of mistreatment is well-founded, it will respond by offering the victim appropriate services, such as medical assistance, counseling, special transportation, assistance with money management, or placement in a different residential setting.
In South Carolina Adult Protective Services will secure and coordinate existing services (mental health etc.), arrange for living quarters, obtain financial benefits to which a vulnerable adult is entitled, and secure medical services, supplies, and legal services.
When Complaints Against Nursing Homes Warrant Legal Action
Adult Protective Services cannot turn back time to reverse an injury or untimely death. If the victim’s family does not feel satisfied or justly compensated for the injury or indignity suffered at the hands of the nursing home after working with Adult Protective Services, the victim’s family can proceed against the nursing home for negligence.
The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC have aggressively pursued justice on behalf of loved ones and their families who have suffered injury or death as a result of nursing home negligence. Our nursing home attorneys are available for a no-cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and possible remedies against your nursing home or patient care facility.
Call Today for a Free Elder Law Consultation
The investigators and attorneys will move quickly and discretely to uncover and preserve critical evidence and vigorously pursue the maximum amount of compensation available under applicable laws.
If your loved one has been injured while under the care of a nursing home, contact the Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. today for a free consultation (803) 252-4800 to discuss your best possible course of action. We offer flexible appointment times and will aggressively fight for justice.