Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Did you suffer injuries or illness at the hands of a negligent nursing home? Our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers can help you seek justice. At Ankin Law, we have helped victims in the Chicagoland area recover since 1940. 

Elderly residents in nursing homes are vulnerable to neglect and abuse when facilities fail to uphold the expected duty of care. In 2020 alone, there were over 15,000 nursing home abuse complaints filed. This is just a drop in the bucket compared to the larger issue of elder abuse and neglect, which impacts as many as 5 million victims annually. However, nursing home abuse cases may be even more prominent, as many incidents go unreported due to lack of resources, fear of retaliation, or feelings of shame.

We will investigate your case to tie your injuries to the actions of the negligent facility, staff member, or entity. When you hire the attorneys at Ankin Law to handle your injury case, you’ll benefit from:

  • 24/7 availability
  • More than 100 years of combined experience
  • FREE consultations 
  • A team that will come to you if you can’t come to us
  • No attorney fees unless we win your case

For an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer with your best interests at heart, call (312) 600-0000 

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is any negligent, intentional, or willful act that harms, or causes a significant risk of harm, to a nursing home resident. Nursing home abuse can be physical, like hitting, pushing, or kicking. It can be emotional, like isolating, instilling fear, or humiliating. Abuse in nursing homes can also be sexual, like when caregivers make unwanted sexual advances, or force the resident to participate in or watch pornographic videos. Financial exploitation is another form of elder abuse.

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Nursing home neglect can also be considered elder abuse. Several types of neglect commonly occur in nursing home settings:

Medical Neglect

This occurs when residents do not receive adequate medical care, including failure to administer prescribed medications, delays in seeking medical attention for injuries or illnesses, or neglecting to provide necessary medical treatments and therapies.

Hygiene Neglect

Hygiene neglect involves the failure to assist residents with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, oral care, toileting, and changing clothes. Residents may suffer from infections, skin breakdown, or emotional distress due to poor hygiene practices.

Nutritional Neglect

Nutritional neglect occurs when residents do not receive proper nutrition and hydration. This can result from inadequate meal preparation, failure to accommodate dietary needs or preferences, or neglecting to assist residents with eating and drinking. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to weight loss, weakness, and susceptibility to illness.

Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect involves the failure to provide residents with social interaction, emotional support, and meaningful activities. Residents may experience loneliness, depression, anxiety, or feelings of abandonment due to neglectful practices by staff or isolation from other residents.

Social Neglect

Social neglect occurs when residents are isolated or excluded from participating in social activities, events, or community outings. Staff may fail to engage residents in group activities, recreational programs, or opportunities for socialization, leading to feelings of loneliness, boredom, and decreased quality of life.

Environmental Neglect

Environmental neglect refers to unsafe or unsanitary living conditions within the nursing home facility. This can include inadequate maintenance of living spaces, failure to address safety hazards, poor cleanliness and sanitation practices, and insufficient pest control measures.

Hygiene and Infection Control Neglect

Neglecting proper hygiene and infection control measures can lead to the spread of infections and diseases among residents. This may include failure to implement hand hygiene protocols, improper cleaning and disinfection of shared surfaces, and inadequate management of contagious illnesses.

Identifying and addressing these forms of neglect is crucial for ensuring the health, safety, and dignity of nursing home residents. Families and loved ones should remain vigilant for signs of neglect and take action to hold facilities accountable for failing to provide appropriate nursing home care and support to residents.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Chicago nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to injuries from abuse and neglect. Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse helps you protect your loved one. Additionally, identifying elder abuse soon after it occurs affords you with the opportunity to gather evidence before it is destroyed. 

Since nursing home abuse takes many forms, the signs that your loved one is suffering can vary. However, there are some key characteristics to watch for that may indicate a resident has suffered harm. 

Unusual Behavioral Changes

Elderly victims who suffer abuse often fail to come forward due to fear of retaliation or feelings of shame. These feelings can manifest behavioral changes in an abuse survivor. Behavioral symptoms of physical and mental abuse can mirror other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Additionally, your loved one may appear fearful, non-communicative, irritable, or withdrawn. Some elderly residents who have been abused may display touch avoidance, rocking back and forth, or regression in their cognitive condition.

Sudden Changes in Financial Circumstances

A sudden change in your loved one’s financial circumstances could be indicative of exploitation or abuse. Older adults can become victims of financial abuse or exploitation at the hands of family members, caregivers, other residents, or nursing home staff. Signs of financial abuse include lost or missing valuables, unexplained withdrawals, inability to cover monthly expenses, unexpected changes in the victim’s financial situation, maxed out credit cards or bounced checks, and adding names to accounts, powers of attorney, or cards. 

Signs of Restraints

Unnecessary restraints in nursing homes are prohibited under the Nursing Home Care Act. Restraining a resident is only considered necessary in emergency situations. Even under appropriate circumstances, nursing home staff typically need the consent of a resident or a doctor’s orders to apply restraints. These restraints have to allow for some mobility and function. Restraints may be physical, such as straps, or chemical, such as sedatives. 

Signs your loved one has been illegally restrained include bruising or injuries around the wrist or ankles or continuous sedation. Your loved one may also demonstrate signs of regular sedation, such as grogginess, fatigue, or confusion.

Unexplained Injuries

Unexplainable injuries, frequent injuries, and serious injuries are some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse. These injuries may be caused by a staff member’s negligence or intentional act, or the actions of a family member or other resident. Unexplained injuries that may be signs of elder abuse include:

  • Bruises, welts, and lacerations 
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
  • Unexplained death

In addition to the above injuries, bloodied or torn clothing and frequent illness may be signs of sexual or physical abuse.

Untreated Medical Conditions

Worsening health conditions, untreated infections, or delays in seeking medical care for residents’ ailments suggest neglect in monitoring and addressing medical needs. Additionally, Residents may receive incorrect medications, missed doses, or experience adverse effects due to improper administration, signaling neglect in medication management and oversight.

Staff Refuses to Let You be Alone With the Resident

Your loved one’s abuser may try to prevent you from spending time alone with the nursing home resident. By preventing one-on-one time, the abuser prevents the abused or neglected resident from exposing the abuse. Additionally, the nursing home or its staff members may deny visitations in an effort to keep you from discovering signs of physical or mental abuse. 

Signs of Neglect

Unusual weight loss and dehydration are signs that your loved one is experiencing nursing home neglect. Malnutrition, unsanitary living conditions, unchanged bedding, or dirty clothes may also signify neglect. Residents may exhibit unkempt appearance, dirty clothing, body odor, or unattended hygiene needs, indicating neglect in assistance with bathing, grooming, toileting, and oral care. Your loved one may also experience consistent falls, wander off, or elope when they are ignored by nursing home staff. Other signs that an elderly resident has been neglected include missing medications and bedsores. 

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home are similar to the symptoms of physical abuse. Key indicators include torn or bloody clothing, bruising on the arms and thighs, aversion to touch, emotional distress, withdrawn behavior, fear, newly acquired STIs and other infections, and unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.

Families and loved ones should remain vigilant for these signs and promptly address concerns with nursing home staff and administration. Reporting suspected neglect and abuse to appropriate authorities and seeking legal advice helps ensure residents receive the care and support they deserve.

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    The Federal Rights of a Nursing Home Resident

    Residents of nursing homes are protected under federal law. These laws help to ensure that America’s nursing homes meet a certain standard of care. While elderly victims are still vulnerable to abuse, these laws help establish grounds for an Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuit. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you determine whether a care facility violated these laws and, subsequently, violated the expected standard of care.

    Basic rights established for nursing home residents include the right to be free from abuse, neglect, and discrimination, to receive proper medical care, to be free from physical or chemical restraints, to be provided with proper privacy and living arrangements, and to obtain information on services and fees, among other things. 

    Understanding the laws that regulate Illinois nursing homes can help you decide if your loved one’s legal rights have been violated. The federal laws that govern nursing homes are:

    Nursing Home Reform Act:

    Established in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act establishes benchmarks of care that facilities must meet to retain federal funding. Under this law, nursing homes are required to assess and respond to each resident’s needs, provide activities and an environment where residents can be active, maintain the health of residents, maintain accessible patient records, provide nutrition, hydration, and hygiene, and retain an appropriate amount of staff and supervision to ensure the care and safety of residents.

    The Nursing Home Reform Act also establishes a Bill of Rights for residents. Under this act, residents have the right to privacy, proper nursing home care and treatment, voice their concerns freely without fear of retaliation, and make their own decisions when mentally capable. 

    Elder Justice Act:

    The Elder Justice Act was established in 2010. This act provides funding to Adult Protective Service programs, and enforces a duty for nursing home staff to report incidents of abuse and neglect.

    The Elder Justice Act also creates a background check database for nursing homes to use when hiring staff, with the intention of preventing abuse by repeat offenders. Nursing homes must notify the state and Secretary of Health and Human Services within 60 days if a facility is closing, and explain how residents will find a new facility. Finally, this act establishes the Elder Justice Coordinating Council to discuss ways to protect residents from abuse and neglect and report to congress on key issues.

    Older Americans Act:

    The Older Americans Act is a group of federal laws regulating services available to the elderly. The OAA dates back to 1965, and helps support at-home care services, legal resources, and other essential resources.  Additionally, the OAA helps to prevent elder abuse and neglect. This act also established the Administration on Aging. 

    How to Report Abuse in a Nursing Home

    While reporting the suspected abuse of your loved one to the nursing home supervisor is usually the first step, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s better to report elder abuse to a third party instead. Fortunately, Illinois has a number of resources available to people who wish to report nursing home abuse. 

    Some of the ways you can report nursing home abuse include:

    • Calling 9-1-1: If you believe that your loved one is in immediate danger, you should call 9-1-1 to report the abuse right away. Emergency responders will evaluate your loved one’s condition and remove him or her from harm’s way.
    • Contacting the Long Term Care Ombudsman: You can contact your local Long Term Care Ombudsman, who will investigate your complaint and take steps to resolve any issues concerning nursing home abuse or neglect.
    • Contacting the Senior Helpline: You may also call the Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966 (toll-free) or (888) 206-1327 (TTY). Alternatively, you can contact the agency by e-mail at aging.ilsenior@illinois.gov.
    • Calling a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer: The nursing home abuse attorneys at Ankin Law offer free, no-obligation consultations to people who may need to file a lawsuit for elder abuse. Our lawyers can guide you through reporting the suspected abuse and help you access resources to ensure your loved one is safe.

    Causes of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

    Any number of factors can lead to abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Some primary causes of elder abuse are the fault of the nursing home itself, while others fall on the staff member providing care. The cause of your loved one’s injuries may help determine who to hold liable in a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

    Top causes of nursing home abuse or neglect include:

    • Improper staffing – When nursing homes fail to provide or schedule adequate staffing, caregivers can face burnout, exhaustion, and compassion fatigue. This may leave staff members irritable and struggling to provide adequate care to residents. When nursing home staff is stretched too thin for a prolonged period of time, residents are at a greater risk of becoming abuse and neglect victims.
    • Negligent hiring practices – A nursing home practices negligent hiring when it fails to thoroughly screen potential staff members prior to onboarding. Without proper screening, nursing homes run the risk of exposing residents to predators, abusers, and other ill-intentioned caregivers.
    • Lack of training – Another top cause of nursing home abuse and neglect is lack of proper training. When staff members aren’t properly trained, they can’t provide adequate care to residents. This puts residents at risk of having improper medication administered, developing bedsores, falling when unsupervised, and choking when dietary needs are ignored.
    • Profit-focused management – When a nursing home is managed with a for-profit attitude, residents suffer. A nursing home that is cutting corners financially is more likely to pay unfair wages, practice negligent hiring or training, and fail to meet the medical care needs of its residents.

    Compensation Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Can Help You Recover

    The compensation available in your nursing home abuse claim depends on the damages you or your loved one suffered. Often, this is dependent on the nature of the abuse suffered. When physical injuries occur, a resident may require medical treatment that he or she otherwise would not have needed. When abusive acts are intentional, punitive damages may apply to punish the abuser. If a resident sustains financial losses from exploitation, these can also be recovered through a claim. 

    Compensatory damages in a nursing home abuse case include:

    • Economic damages. Economic damages represent the financial losses the resident experienced. These losses can be direct financial costs, or indirect costs. Examples of economic damages in a nursing home abuse claim include medical treatment costs and compensation for stolen valuables or money.
    • Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages represent the emotional costs a resident endures as a result of abuse or neglect. These damages include pain and suffering, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life. The value of these damages is harder to prove; therefore, they are typically calculated based on the value of the economic damage award.

    Who Can Be Held Liable in a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?

    The liable party in a nursing home abuse lawsuit depends on whom the abuser was and the circumstances that allowed for the abuse. In some cases, the nursing home or long term care facility may be responsible for the injuries caused to the resident. In others, a specific caregiver or caregivers may be at-fault. Knowing how to identify the liable party in your nursing home abuse lawsuit helps you determine who to sue.

    • When the nursing home is liable for abuse: The nursing home may be liable for abuse or neglect resulting from improper staffing, a failure to screen new hires, improper training, or policies that facilitate abusive conditions.
    • When a caregiver is at fault: A caregiver is liable when abuse or neglect occurs because of intentional acts, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, or emotional abuse. Caregivers are also liable for neglect that occurs as a violation of facility policy or an intentional act.
    • When abuse is caused by another resident: In some cases, abuse may occur at the hands of another resident. When this occurs, the facility may still be held liable for negligent security or neglectful conditions that allowed for the abuse.

    How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help You

    A nursing home will go to great length to deny allegations of abuse or neglect. This is because these allegations do not just pave the way for a lawsuit. Occurrences of abuse within a facility place it within violation of federal standards, which can impact funding. Nursing homes, like many other systems, are profit-driven entities. 

    A nursing home abuse lawyer can increase the strength of your claim and help you secure a favorable outcome. At Ankin Law, our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers will provide you with: 

    • Aggressive legal representation that will hold the facility or caregiver accountable for the harm suffered.
    • A compassionate team that sees your loved one as more than a just a case and has his or her best interest at heart.
    • Experienced litigators who will take your case to trial to achieve justice on your behalf.

    The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Ankin Law will not back down when trying your case. With decades of experience, our attorneys know how to build a strong case against a negligent care facility to win you fair compensation.

    Who Can Sue in a Nursing Home Abuse Case?

    Any resident who was injured in a nursing home or long term care facility because of maltreatment has the right to recover damages through a nursing home abuse claim. Victims of nursing home abuse or neglect can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault caregiver or facility. In cases of fatal nursing home abuse, the victim’s family members, or his or her estate, may file a lawsuit or claim to recover the resulting costs.

    How Long Do You Have to Sue a Nursing Home in Illinois?

    Under most circumstances, plaintiffs have two years to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a facility or other liable party. However, there are exceptions to this rule. When a victim is temporarily or permanently incapacitated, tolling applies to the statute of limitations. This means the deadline to file a claim is paused. Cases involving financial exploitation may also fall under an extended statute of limitations.
    Under circumstances where tolling does not apply to the two-year statute of limitations, the timer begins on the day the resident suffered damages, or reasonably should have discovered his or her losses or injuries.

    When nursing home abuse turns fatal, a victim’s family members or estate can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. A two-year statute of limitations applies to wrongful death lawsuits caused by nursing home abuse or neglect.

    What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect?

    Nursing home abuse involves intentional harm or mistreatment of residents by caregivers, including physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation. Nursing home neglect, on the other hand, refers to the failure to provide adequate care and attention to residents’ needs, resulting in harm or injury. While abuse involves direct actions to harm residents, neglect typically stems from omissions or failures to meet residents’ basic needs, such as food, hygiene, or medical care.

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    Helpful Resources for Nursing Home Abuse Survivors in Chicago

    Remember, you have the right to live in a safe and dignified environment, free from abuse and neglect. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these resources for help, support, and advocacy. Call us today for a free consultation.

    1. National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) Website: https://ncea.acl.gov/ The NCEA provides information, resources, and support services for victims of elder abuse, including nursing home abuse. They offer a helpline, state resources, and educational materials.
    2. National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center Website: https://ltcombudsman.org/ This organization advocates for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. They can assist with reporting abuse, providing information on residents’ rights, and resolving complaints.
    3. National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) Website: https://napsa-now.org/ NAPSA is a national organization that supports adult protective services programs, which investigate and respond to cases of elder abuse, including those occurring in nursing homes.
    4. Elder Justice Coalition Website: https://elderjusticecoalition.com/ This coalition provides resources and advocacy efforts to prevent elder abuse, including nursing home abuse. They offer educational materials, news updates, and a directory of state resources.
    5. Local Law Enforcement and Adult Protective Services: Contact your local police department or county adult protective services agency to report suspected nursing home abuse and seek guidance on available resources and support services in your area.
    6. Nursing Home Abuse Support Groups: Look for local or online support groups specifically for nursing home abuse survivors and their families. These groups can provide a safe space to share experiences, find emotional support, and connect with others who have gone through similar situations.