Sweet Home Alabama may not be so sweet for some of the approximately 25,000 residents of the 225 nursing homes in the state. According to a recent study, Alabama ranked 49th in long-term care provided for older adults. Only Kentucky and Indiana did a poorer job. This ranking raises serious questions about whether the nursing home provides your loved one the quality of care required by federal and state law.
What Are the Laws I Should Know About?
Federal law requires that the nursing home give each resident:
- A written plan for the resident’s highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being
- A comprehensive assessment of the resident’s functional capacity.
- Proper nutrition
- A professional program to meet the needs and interests of the resident
Federal law also forbids physical and mental abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and restraints for punishment.
Alabama law requires properly trained staff who are required to perform their duties as instructed by their supervisors who also are properly trained.
If nursing home personnel fail to obey the law, they are negligent. If this negligence injures your loved one, they can sue.
Elder abuse describes an intentional act such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, or stealing property or medication. These are crimes, and the person responsible can be charged and your loved one can sue.
How Will I Know If the Care is Substandard?
- Listen to what your loved one tells you
- Look for obvious cuts, bruises, or other signs of physical harm
- Look for malnutrition and dehydration
- Look for significant changes such as poor hygiene, depression, dementia, or disorientation
- Check the medical record for improper medication
- Look for bed sores, infections, or conditions such as impacted bowels
You know your loved one. If you find anything amiss, immediately seek answers from the staff, the supervisors, and the facility director. Demand that a doctor examines your loved one or that they be taken to the hospital. After you have stabilized their medical condition, consider consulting an experienced nursing home lawyer who can answer your questions.
What are the Possible Damages?
If your loved one was damaged by a negligent act, they may be entitled to recover economic losses, such as extra medical bills, and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
If your loved one was damaged by an intentional act like physical assault, they may recover, in addition, punitive damages which are awarded to punish the wrongdoer. Both the nursing home and the person who committed the crime may be liable.
If the negligent or intentional act caused your loved one’s death, then their estate could sue for wrongful death for punitive damages.
Nursing home litigation increases 5% annually. Here are some examples of successful Alabama cases:
- A $1.5 million settlement against a nursing home that failed to properly monitor a patient. He walked away and was never found.
- A $1.2 million verdict against a nursing home that failed to provide oxygen to a patient, resulting in his death
- A $700,000 verdict against a nursing home that failed to treat a patient’s bed sores, resulting in his death
Call to speak with an experienced attorney like those at Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C. To schedule a FREE initial consultation, call 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our site to chat instantly!