Knoxville Attorneys Advocate for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims

Knoxville Attorneys Advocate for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims

Fighting to keep parents and seniors safe during their golden years

Nursing homes should be a place where your mother, father, aunt, or uncle can enjoy their elder years in good health and with the joy of friends and social activities. Sadly, too many nursing home managers and staff hurt, punish, or take advantage of their patients. Seniors with dementia are especially prone to abuse because of their poor cognitive abilities.

Our Knoxville nursing home abuse lawyers explain that filing claims against the home is more than just holding those responsible accountable. Lawsuits also deter nursing homes from harming every other senior in the home. At Banks & Jones, we fight to hold nursing homes to the highest standard of care, and to see justice served for our clients.

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Types of nursing home abuse

It is no excuse for a nursing home to say it didn’t actively cause the abuse. If they knew of the abuse and failed to stop it, they are liable. If they should have known a patient might be abused and failed to take precautions, our Knoxville abuse lawyers demand that the home and the abuser be held liable. Examples of precautionary steps include background checks, creating safety protocols and standards, responsible supervision, and constant review of staff performance. The care of the senior should be rotated to increase the awareness of patient symptoms and mistreatment.

There are four types of abuse your loved one can suffer:

  • Physical Abuse.This includes physically striking a patient, forcefully restraining a senior, and administering drugs that aren’t required or are beyond the usual dosage. Failure to treat a patient in distress is also physical harm. Physical harm can cause death, require surgeries, shorten a senior’s life, and cause long-term agony and pain.
  • Emotional Abuse.This kind of mistreatment can often be as bad, or worse, than physical abuse. Seniors who suffer isolation, depression, anxiety, humiliation, and ridicule require more than just psychological help. They often fail to demand their rights to medication, communication, and the comfort of social communication.
  • Sexual abuse.Sadly, too many doctors, nurses, medical staff, and nursing home staff take advantage of the seniors they work with. Sexual abuse includes rape, assault, improper contact, and other misconduct. The emotional scars often stay with the senior for the rest of her/his life.
  • Financial abuse.Staff often use their personal relationship with a patient to pressure seniors to sign powers of attorney, wills, withdrawal slips for bank accounts, and other documents against their will. At Banks & Jones, we demand that wrongdoers return any wrongful gains, pay punitive damages, and that procedures be implemented to protect seniors’ income and assets.

Many patients suffer pain due to the negligence of the nursing home. Nursing home rooms, hallways and community areas should be designed to minimize the risk of falls. There should be room for patients with canes, walkers, or in wheelchairs to maneuver. A priority should be placed on cleanliness to reduce the risk of infections. Patient medications should be routinely monitored. Breathing tubes, colostomy bags, and other medical devices should be constantly checked and cleaned. If the doctors neglect your loved one’s needs, you may be able to file a claim for medical malpractice.

Signs of abuse our Knoxville lawyers review in nursing home abuse claim

There are 15 nursing homes in Knox County – and some of them are in really bad shape. At least two have been cited for abuse in the past.

Seniors rely on their loved ones to notice if abuse or neglect is taking place. In some cases, a son or daughter can readily see that his or her parent has broken an arm, is malnourished, or is withdrawing. In other cases, the senior may hide the abuse, or the abuse may be hard to detect.

Some of the many signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are:

  • Physical abuse:
    • Bedsores
    • Dehydration
    • Weight loss and malnutrition
    • Bruises, broken bones, and cuts
    • Hair loss
    • Poor hygiene
    • Bleeding
    • Unexplained injuries
  • Emotional abuse:
    • Isolation
    • Lack of communication
    • Refusal or unwillingness to leave a room or spend time with others
    • Behavioral changes
    • Depression
    • Sexual abuse
    • Developing a sexually transmitted disease
    • Underwear that is torn or stained
    • Social withdrawal
    • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Financial abuse
    • Unusual bank withdrawals
    • Payments to medical staff and people who normally wouldn’t be expected to benefit
    • Notices for nonpayment of premiums or other default notices
  • Sexual abuse
    • Depression
    • Not being communicative
    • Any bleeding, scars, or signs of physical contact

Who is liable for nursing home abuse?

Nursing homes are generally liable for the conduct of their employees. This means that if any staff member abuses a patient or is negligent then the nursing staff itself is liable. There may be exceptions for staff members who deliberately seek to harm a patient – but only if the nursing home couldn’t take reasonable steps to avoid the abuse. In many cases, the nursing home can be held liable for any type of abuse or injury if they:

  • Fail to run background checks on their employees
  • Don’t implement protocols for checking on the work performance of employees
  • Don’t respond to complaints about an employee or staff member from a resident, the family of a resident, or another worker
  • Fail to educate their staff
  • Fail to hire or use quality security
  • Fail to provide for the daily needs of the residents
  • Medical neglect
  • Fail to follow any building code requirements
  • Fail to comply with safety and health hazard requirements or to anticipate dangers they should know about
  • Authorize any type of abuse

A staff member or outsider who caused harm to a senior should also be liable. The practical question is whether the nursing home insurance policy will directly cover the damages caused by the harm to the senior or whether the nursing home must also be liable.

In some cases, a third party may be liable. For example, if a medical device is defective and the defect hurts or kills the senior, the manufacturer of the medical device may be strictly liable.

What constitutes nursing home neglect?

Nursing home abuse actions are deliberate. Many times, though, seniors are injured due to negligence.

The most common type of nursing home abuse is premises liability. Nursing homes should be designed with seniors in mind. Seniors are at constant risk of failing. Many older residents use canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. This means there should be good lighting, there should be railings to hold onto, and there should be ramps for wheelchairs.

Other types of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failure of the staff to use good hygiene (such as washing hands on a regular basis) and failure to make sure the seniors use good hygiene. Poor hygiene increases the risks of infection and the spreading of diseases.
  • Failure to clean rooms and the facility on a regular basis. Older patients are in danger of soiling themselves. The beds and garments should be inspected for signs of incontinence and lack of bowel control. Patients and sheets should be as clean as possible.
  • Failure to hire competent staff to take care of all the residents in the facility. Even when staff are doing their best, understaffing can mean residents don’t get the care they need.
  • Improper handling of medications. The nurses and staff who give patients their medicine do need ensure that patients are given the right medications and the correct dosages at the right time of day and week. Forgetting to give a patient his/her medications may be fatal.
  • Failure to provide proper medical care. Facilities that contract to provide medical care to their residents need to ensure that the medical care is competent and professional.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes need to pay special attention to the protocols and procedures necessary to reduce the spread of the disease since seniors are at high-risk.

Patient rights in Knoxville nursing homes

Seniors do have rights that are set forth in federal and state law. Our Knoxville nursing home abuse lawyers fight aggressively to show these rights were violated and that the violation caused your loved one’s pain and suffering.

Nursing homes that receive Medicaid or Medicare for their patients are required, by federal law, to:

  • Develop a plan of care for the patient
  • Have enough trained staff to treat the patients
  • Be prepared to treat common senior ailments and needs
  • Provide pharmaceutical services
  • Ensure that seniors can make choices about their health care and social activities

Tennessee nursing homes are subject to licensing requirements which regulate building standards, Alzheimer services, infectious and hazardous waste, disaster preparedness, and many other patient safety issues.

Included in the Tennessee licensing law is the requirement that nursing home residents and families be informed of the patient’s rights. These rights include the right to:

  • Privacy
  • Promote their religious, social, and psychological well being
  • Receive and send unopened mail
  • Meet with and see anyone privately
  • Be free from physical or chemical restraints
  • Informed consent for medical treatments
  • Choose their medical services including doctors and pharmacy
  • Voice grievances

Patients and families should get a written copy of these rights.

What damages are permitted in nursing home abuse and neglect cases?

The families of seniors who die due to nursing home abuse or neglect have the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their beloved spouse, mother or father. Damages include funeral and burial expenses, the mental anguish the deceased person actually suffered as a result of the fatal injury or illness, the loss of the decedent’s love and support, the suffering of the survivors, and other damages authorized by Tennessee law.

Seniors who suffer physical, sexual, or emotional abuse are also entitled to the following damages from liable parties:

  • Compensation for physical pain
  • Compensation for emotional suffering
  • Compensation for loss of life’s pleasures
  • Any economic loss due to financial abuse
  • All medical bills required for treatment

Even though seniors have a shortened life expectancy, they are still entitled to live each and every day they have to the fullest. When that ability is taken from them, they deserve to be compensated.

In egregious cases, such as deliberate abuse, the senior may be entitled to punitive damages.

Talk to a respected Knoxville nursing home abuse and neglect attorney now

Don’t let your parent or loved one suffer in silence. At Banks & Jones, we take immediate action to stop the abuse by filling a lawsuit and notifying the proper agencies. We fight tirelessly for seniors because we know everyone deserves to enjoy his or her remaining years with dignity, respect, and without fear of harm. We meet with seniors in convenient locations. To discuss your claim please contact us or call 865-546-2141 to schedule an appointment today.