Abuse of the elderly is never acceptable, and it occurs far too often across the U.S. In fact, while elderly individuals can be victimized in hospitals and private residences, they can also be abused in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
When you or a loved one has been subjected to any type of nursing home or elder abuse:
- You may have a number of legal options for holding the perpetrator(s) accountable and seeking justice.
- You can turn to the experienced lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. for help investigating your claim and pursuing all available legal remedies.
Our attorneys have more than 90 years of combined legal experience, empowering us with the skills and knowledge to provide the superior representation for any type of nursing home or elder abuse case. We are ready to partner with you, aggressively advocate your rights and fight for the financial recovery and justice you may deserve.
What is Elder Abuse? Is There a Difference between Elder Abuse & Nursing Home Abuse?
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) categorizes and defines elder abuse1 as:
- Domestic elder abuse, which involves neglect, abandonment, exploitation and/or physical, sexual or emotional abuse “committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship “ – Here, “some with a special relationship” to the elder can include spouses, children, friends, other relatives, etc.
- Institutional elder abuse, which involves any of the above-mentioned forms of abuse “occurring in residential facilities… perpetrated by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care or protection” – Here, “residential facilities” can include nursing homes, group homes, assisted living facilities, hospice, etc.
Consequently, while elder abuse can include both domestic and institutional forms of abuse against the elderly, nursing home abuse is a form of institutional elder abuse.
The following bar graph breaks down the five most common types of long-term care institutions for adults in the U.S., revealing whether they are owned and operated by private, government or non-profit organizations. As the graph shows, the majority of facilities are for profit, with home health agencies and residential care communities having the highest percentages of for-profit owners.
NOTES: Percentages are based on unrounded numbers.
SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, National Study of Long-Term Care Providers
What Are the Different Types of Elder & Nursing Home Abuse?
According to the NCEA, elder and nursing home abuse can take many forms, including: 1
- Physical abuse – This involves physical injury or pain and can include actions like slapping, hitting, beating or unnecessarily using restraints on the elderly (via physical restraints and/or medications).
- Emotional abuse – This involves verbal or nonverbal acts used to intimidate, humiliate, distress or otherwise inflict emotional anguish on someone. Actions like yelling, using obscenities or glaring to intimidate someone are examples of emotional elder abuse.
- Sexual abuse – This involves the use of threats, physical force or coercion to commit nonconsensual touching, fondling and/or other sexual acts on someone. This form of abuse is particularly troubling when it involves vulnerable victims who are unable to consent to or understand the nature of the actions due to, for instance, Alzheimer’s disease, coma or other conditions.
- Financial abuse or exploitation – This involves stealing, misusing or mishandling someone’s assets, possessions or property. It can involve coercion, manipulation or use of false pretenses to access and take the victim’s assets.
- Neglect – This involves failures to support the physical, emotional and/or social needs of someone. Some examples include failing to provide food, medication, health care and/or protection to an elderly individual.
- Abandonment – This occurs when someone who is responsible for caring for an elderly individual deserts him or her.
- Isolation – This involves restricting family and/or friends from visiting and/or contacting (via phone, email or snail mail) an elderly individual.
Please be aware that:
- Victims are commonly subjected to more than one type of abuse – For instance, physical abuse and emotional abuse often go hand-in-hand.
- Abusers can include anyone at a facility – For example, staff members, other residents or visitors to the facility (like relatives of residents) can be perpetrators of the abuse.
The following bar graph shows the nature and percentage of different types of long-term care facilities that are certified by Medicaid & Medicare. As the graph reveals, nearly all nursing homes, as well as the majority of adult day services centers and home health agencies, are authorized to participate in Medicaid. For Medicare-certified facilities, nearly all home health agencies, hospices and nursing homes are authorized to participate in Medicare.
NOTES: Medicare certification is not applicable for adult day services centers and residential care communities.
SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, National Study of Long-Term Care Providers
How Common Is Nursing Home & Elder Abuse?
According to the latest findings and statistics, elder and nursing home abuse are occurring at astounding rates. Specifically, recent data indicates that:2
- At least 1 in every 10 people who are 60 or older has been – or will be – the victim of some type of elder abuse.
- From 1999 through 2001, at least 1 in every 3 nursing homes in the U.S. was cited for some violation that “had at least the potential to harm nursing home residents.” At least 30 percent of these incidences involved violations that “were serious enough to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury.”
- Nursing home abuse in the U.S. is on the rise, with abuse violations doubling from 1996 to 2000 alone.
- Elderly adults with disabilities are at a particularly high risk of being victimized by nursing home abuse. In fact, rates of abuse spike more than 50 percent for those with disabilities (when compared to those without disabilities). One study reportedly found that nearly 50 percent of residents with dementia experienced some type of abuse while staying long-term care facilities or nursing homes.
- Each year, nursing home abuse is estimated to cost about $2.8 billion in Medicare hospital expenses and upwards of $5.3 billion in terms of overall medical costs.
These findings of rampant abuse are particularly troubling in light of the facts that:
- The elderly population in the U.S. is growing – U.S. Census data indicates that the elderly population is expected to comprise about 20 percent of U.S. population by 2050.
- The actual incidence of elder and nursing home abuse is likely much higher than the above findings suggest – Many incidents go unreported due to victims’ fear of retaliation, an inability to report the abuse and other factors. In fact, a report from the New York Department of Aging (NYDA) found that, for each elder abuse incident reported to social services or other legal authorities, 24 incidents go unreported and unaddressed.3
The following pie charts reveal the different types of formal complaints filed in 2016 against long-term care facilities in the U.S. While the first chart breaks down complaint types for facilities across the U.S., the second focuses on complaints related to New Jersey facilities.
What Are the Warning Signs of Elder & Nursing Home Abuse?
Without knowing the specifics of your situation, what we can tell you here is that the following are typically some of the parties that can be liable for elder and nursing home abuse:
- Nursing home staff when they are the perpetrators of abuse or when their failures to monitor or care for patients results in abuse
- Contractors who work at nursing homes, like janitorial staff or repair technicians, when they are the perpetrators of abuse
- Corporations that own and operate nursing homes when they hire unqualified or dangerous staff members, when thehy fail to provide sufficient security at their facilities or when any of their policies (or lack of policies) contribute to abuse at their facilities.
Here, it’s crucial to point out that:
- Under the New Jersey Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights, nursing home residents are entitled to certain standards of care and protection from staff. The Residents’ Bill of Rights also states that the nursing home is responsible for costs and attorney fees for litigating an elder abuse case if the patient’s rights were violated during his or her stay.
- More than party can be liable in a single nursing home abuse case. For instance, a staff member and the facility itself can be named as defendants in these cases.
- Nursing home abuse can result in criminal charges, and victims and families can seek restraining orders against the abuser(s).
$325,000 • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect… To a nursing home resident who developed a Stage IV ulcer requiring surgery where the nursing home alleged the resident was non-compliant with recommendations to reduce pressure from excessive wheelchair use.
Do I Have a Nursing Home Abuse Case?
In order to bring legal action against a nursing home, you must be able to prove that:
- The nursing home staff breached an accepted standard of care or failed to abide by a state or federal regulation.
- The breach of duty resulted in an injury.
New Jersey law requires the victim to be at least 60 years old to qualify under elder abuse statutes. Additionally, the law allows for charges of endangering the welfare of the elderly to be filed if the abuser has:
- A legal duty to care for (or has assumed continuing responsibility for the care of) an adult who is at least 60 years old or who lives with an emotional, physical or mental disability.
- Neglected to care for the physical or mental health of the elderly or disabled person
- Failed to allow someone else to properly care for the elder’s physical or mental health needs.
Find out more about a potential elder or nursing home abuse claim by contacting Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C.
Contact a New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse & Elder Abuse Lawyer at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C.
If you or a loved one has been victimized by any type of nursing home or elder abuse, contact an experienced New Jersey nursing home abuse & elder abuse lawyer at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. by calling (201) 585-9111 or emailing us. We are ready to partner with you in the pursuit of financial recovery and justice, and we look forward to helping you with a potential claim.
Courageous, strategic and highly experienced, our attorneys can provide you with exceptional representation as we level the playing field, protect your rights and help you successfully resolve your case. We have the skills and resources to outfight and outsmart the opposition, and we will work tirelessly to secure the best resolutions possible.
Our long-standing record of success and superior legal service has earned us many professional awards and 5-star ratings on Facebook and Google.
For a free legal consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer serving Fort Lee, call (201) 585-9111