Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawsuits 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 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
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.
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.