greenville Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Every year, more elderly adults need care in the U.S., including South Carolina. Unfortunately, their growing number brings about a growing number of abuse cases. Cases that require the help of an nursing home abuse lawyer in Greenville are reportedly more frequent than ever, and many go unreported.
Are You A Victim? Here’s What an Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Greenville Can Do For You
Several circumstances have lead to this situation at a national and state level:
- According to the CDC’s Health United States Report for 2016, the U.S. population is getting older by the year. Adults over 65 years of age went from representing 10.6% of the population in 2014 to 14.9% of the population in 2015. Life expectancy is on the rise as well, from 76.8 in 2000 to 78.8 in 2015.
- In South Carolina, the State Plan on Aging for 2017-2021 estimates that the number of adults over 60 years of age will get close to 1,500,000 by 2030. Their number currently revolves around 1,000,000, and represents 28% of the state’s population.
- According to Statistic Brain, more than one-third of the nursing homes in the U.S. fail to comply with elder abuse laws, and over 90% of them lack qualified staff. While the Medicare website lists 189 nursing homes in SC, out of which 20 in Greenville County, nursing home abuse risks in these institutions seem quite high, considering that most of them have average and below average ratings.
- According to the SC Aging Plan mentioned above, 42% of senior adults suffer from at least one disability requiring assistance. Also, poverty is part of everyday reality for 13.3% of them, limiting their access to institutionalized care and making them more vulnerable to abuse.
- Despite the measures announced by the authorities to prevent elder abuse in South Carolina, a 2016 study ranks the state last in protecting its elder citizens. Until the authorities succeed to improve and implement their policies, it is up to the elders and their loved ones to defend their rights and prevent abuse.
Since most Greenville nursing home abuse cases occur in nursing homes, it is important for the residents and their families to know their rights and the nursing homes licensing and functioning regulations before choosing one institution or another.
Legal Background for Greenville Nursing Home Abuse Cases
In order to obtain their license, South Carolina nursing facilities have to comply with Medicare and Medicaid regulations. In turn, these regulations require the institutions they address to obtain their license from the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, by complying with South Carolina Regulations 93-110 and 120.
The licensing process involves a two-stage examination. During the first stage, the institution needs to prove its compliance with federal laws. During the second stage, the examination focuses on the institution’s compliance with the laws in force in South Carolina, such as the Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities.
This Bill gives the elders interested in nursing home care the right to receive information regarding the services the facility provides, the costs of those services, and the conditions for obtaining a refund before signing a contract or committing to the facility. It allows the resident or the resident’s guardian to choose the attending physician, participate in care planning, and receive information about any care or treatment changes.
The same Bill of Rights aims to protect residents against nursing home abuse in South Carolina nursing homes, stating that they should not be subject to any physical or mental abuse, and any physical or chemical restraints should follow the order of the treating physician.
Patients should be able to maintain their dignity and privacy, and receive the due treatment disregarding their race, sex, religion, color, nationality, or solutions for covering the costs of institutionalized care. Even the residents’ personal possessions should be safe according to the Bill’s provisions, which recommend storage in secure locations.
Common Signs of Elder Care Abuse in Greenville, SC
Elder abuse covers the exploitation or mistreatment of senior citizens and ranges from the infliction of `physical and mental harm to neglect and using coercion or fraud to obtain material or financial gains. Here is a brief description of the main types of abuse a nursing home abuse lawyer in Greenville can help you with:
1. Physical Abuse
This means causing bodily harm or injury. It covers actions like hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, or burning the senior. Some Greenville elder abuse cases involved wheelchair or bed restraining, locking the elders in their room, or giving them sedative drugs without their doctors’ prescription. Physical abuse instances usually leave visible marks and injuries, like:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, burns, or bleeding
- Broken or sprained bones
- Repeat injuries
Abused seniors often refuse to see the doctor for their wounds.
2. Sexual Abuse
It involves forcing a senior to have sexual contact and may cover anything from forced watching of porn to taking one’s clothes off, inappropriate touching, and rape. Sexual abuse signs include:
- Blood stained and/or torn clothes (underwear)
- Bruises on both sides of one’s body or in the genital area
- Bleeding in the genital area
- Sexually transmitted diseases
3. Psychological Abuse
This refers to emotional harm, and involves threats, yelling, calling names, talking down to someone, repeated ignoring, or excess control of one’s actions. Many Greenville nursing home abuse victims displayed the following signs:
- Became frightened, withdrawn, or their behavior changed unexplainably
- Began rocking back and forth, sucking, mumbling to themselves, and having nightmares
- Developed symptoms of depression, confusion, and lost interest in activities they used to enjoy
4. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse includes threats to the senior’s property or money. It may involve unauthorized use of one’s bank accounts or credit cards, forged signatures, forced changes to legal documents (wills or powers of attorney), inflated costs for various services, or billing for services the senior never received. Common signs are:
- Unusual, unexplainable bank account withdrawals, expenses or missing financial statements
- Legal documents were changed suddenly with no explanation
- Signatures appear forged on legal documents
- Unpaid bills, shut off utilities, or eviction notices
Neglect instances usually refer to the caregivers’ failure to provide seniors with adequate water, food, clothing, medication, or assistance performing various tasks. It can range from unintentional neglect, when the caregivers do not realize they are doing anything wrong, to intentional neglect or abandonment, when the caregivers do not care about the seniors’ health and well-being and abandon them in their room. Common signs of neglect are:
- Messy, unclean appearance of the elder, unpleasant smell, dirty clothes, skin rashes, bedsores, unkempt hair, etc.
- Sudden weight loss or lack of appetite
- Broken or missing dentures, hearing aids, walkers, or glasses
Reporting Elder Care Abuse in Greenville SC
In order to report elder abuse, exploitation, or neglect in Greenville, victims and their close ones, or anyone witnessing the abuse, can call the Greenville County Department of Social Services at (864) 467-7750, or file a written complaint by post or email.
Other options available nationwide are contacting the LGOA Long-Term Care Ombudsman by phone, at 1-800-868-9095. In case of emergency, Greenville elder abuse victims or witnesses should call 911. Other authorities investigating abuse complaints are the South Carolina Adult Protective Services, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (Divisions of Health Care Facilities Licensing, Certification, CON), and the Attorney General’s Office.
It is important to note that elder abuse reports can and should come from anyone aware or suspicious of such instances. They can be victims, relatives, friends, witnesses, medical personnel, volunteers, social workers, law enforcement officers, neighbors, fellow nursing home residents, etc. Reporting cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation could help save the victim’s dignity, health, and even life. In many cases, you will need discretion to report similar abuse. Consult with a seasoned nursing home abuse lawyer in Greenville SC before finalizing the report.
Fighting Elder Care Abuse in Greenville, SC
No matter if the abuse takes place in the victim’s home or in a nursing home, proving it can be troublesome. Anyone can contact the authorities when noticing instances of abuse. Unfortunately, the report will only get the authorities receiving it to question certain behaviors or practices.
Before the authorities can actually punish the abuse, they have to prove that it took place. This is not easy when seniors are involved, since many of them suffer from conditions and diseases or receive treatments that impact their judgment and undermine their credibility.
At Brumback & Langley, we recommend abuse victims and their loved ones to start gathering evidence immediately, and we help them. This way, when we report the abuse, we do not risk waiting too long for the authorities to complete their investigation and our clients do not have to continue to put up with the abuse or worry about retaliations.
There are several ways to prove nursing home abuse in Greenville, depending on the circumstances, the people involved, and the seniors’ condition. Here are the most effective:
- Installing an electronic monitoring device in the resident’s room – It no longer matters whether the senior lives in one’s home or in a specialized institution. The laws in South Carolina allow the installation and use of such devices precisely to prevent and identify instances of elder abuse. If the senior is not able to buy and install the device, the guardian, or even the nursing home abuse lawyer can do it. Once the device is on and recording, one instance of physical abuse could be enough to provide the senior, the guardian, the Greenville nursing home abuse lawyer, and the authorities with solid video and/or audio proof of the abuse.
- Finding witnesses and other victims – In most cases of elder abuse, some people are aware of what is going on, but do not find the courage to speak out. If the senior’s guardian or the attorney goes to them, they may share what they know. Even with video or audio evidence, it helps to have a witness or another victim corroborate one’s story and accusations. Sometimes, the other people have no idea what is going on but hear or see things that can still help the nursing home abuse lawyer build a case. At Brumback & Langley, our dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers have won many cases with the help of witnesses and other victims and we have developed our own strategies to obtain the information we need, even when the people we interview aren’t aware they have it or do not consider it important.
- Documenting physical and psychological trauma – Every abuse instance causes trauma, be it physical or psychological. Sometimes, it takes a trained eye to uncover it, which is why we advise our clients to consult a doctor if or when they notice any of the signs above. A doctor’s evaluation will weigh heavily when attached to a Greenville nursing home abuse report or presented in court. Moreover, the doctor can recommend any treatment necessary and allow the victim and their family to evaluate the financial consequences of the abuse, if any. Many of our clients came to us with the sole purpose of ending the abuse and seeing the abuser punished, but we managed to obtain considerable monetary compensations for the pain and suffering they experienced.
- Paying surprise visits – Caregivers are often the abusers, not only in Greenville nursing home abuse cases, but also in cases involving seniors who receive assistance in their homes. Sometimes, the seniors cannot speak for themselves or simply don’t realize what is going on, and their close ones have only suspicions. Surprise visits can help confirm the abuse or eliminate suspicions. When the visits take place unannounced, the caregivers do not have time to disguise the abuse. They may try to prevent or obstruct visits, but that should be enough to raise some questions for the senior’s family and friends.
- Monitoring the seniors’ financial situation – Financial abuse or exploitation is a common type of nursing home abuse in Greenville County. Caregivers or foreigners befriend seniors and convince them to give them money, buy various items for them, or use their bank accounts or credit cards without the seniors’ authorization or knowledge. By monitoring the seniors’ financial situation, their family can notice any suspicious transactions and further investigate them.
Seek the Help of a Brumback & Langley Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Greenville
Most seniors end up in nursing homes or depend on assisted living services because their family members cannot look after them. Someone struggling to support a family, raise kids, improve one’s health, or deal with some other life issues will have a hard time proving, reporting, and winning an elder abuse case. That is where we come in.
At Brumback & Langley, we understand the hardships of everyday life, and we believe seniors deserve to spend their last years in peace and comfort. When someone brings a South Carolina nursing home abuse case to our attention, we take over the evidence gathering process, the paperwork, and any formalities necessary. We make it our priority to win the case and make sure the abusers receive the due punishment, while the seniors can move on with their life in the best conditions possible.