Nursing home abuse is a real problem in Washington state, with real innocent victims who suffer every day. Recently, a jury awarded $23 million in a lawsuit against a very well-known, Seattle-based operator of assisted-living residences. The jury found that the company was responsible for the death of an 81-year-old woman due to elder abuse and neglect. This is just one of many examples of serious nursing home abuse and neglect in our community.
The nursing home industry has become a multi-billion dollar business comprised of major corporations. In some facilities profitability has become more important than administering proper care. Nursing home neglect or abuse can have tragic results such as nursing home deaths, falls resulting in broken bones, malnutrition, dehydration, ulcers and residents wandering off the nursing home premises and stepping into harm's way.
Bedsores, medication errors, malnutrition, abuse, and neglect are among the federal health and safety violations that jeopardize nursing home patients. Nursing home abuse attorneys not only help those who have been harmed as a result of nursing home abuse and negligence, but their skill and vigilance helps safeguard our senior population by assuring that accountability and proper standards are in place for the industry.
Washington State Laws For Abuse & Neglect
Washington State Law (RCW 74.34.020; RCW 74.34.021) defines a "vulnerable adult" as someone who is either (a) 60 years of age or older with functional, physical, or mental inability to care for self; or (b) 18 years of age or older who has a developmental disability, is assigned a guardian as per RCW 11.88, lives in a nursing facility, boarding home, adult family home, or soldier's home, residential habilitation center, or any facility licensed or required to be licensed by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), or receives in-home services through a licensed health care agency, hospice, or an individual provider.
In 2007, the Washington State Department Of Social And Health Services (DSHS) received 13,551 reports of possible abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation involving elderly people. That same year, the DSHS Residential Care Services agency received more than 29,000 reports of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.
In an effort to address these issues, the Washington State Legislature in 2009 enacted SB 5639/HB 1788, the Vulnerable Adults Act, in order to establish stronger protections for vulnerable adults in Washington state, as well as stronger punishments for those who are found to be guilty of elder abuse or neglect.
Why You May Benefit From A Lawyer's Help
All personal injury cases are unique in their own way, and the same rings true for nursing home abuse and neglect cases. In serious cases involving significant injuries and other damages, it may be necessary to hire experts witnesses and review medical records, staffing and employment documents, and other types of evidence in order to establish negligence and strengthen the case.
Hiring an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can ensure that all of the necessary steps are taken to ensure a successful resolution to the case.
Nursing home administrators and care givers should never be allowed to needlessly endanger the lives of the residents in their care. If you or a family member has suffered due to nursing home neglect, the Davis Law Group can help you. We have the skill and experience necessary to represent you. Call (206) 727-4000 to begin the free evaluation of your potential claim.
Poorly-Rated Nursing Homes Near Seattle
Reports state that 30 percent of nursing home facilities are cited for instances of neglect and/or abuse. For this reason, both federal and state governments have introduced legislation to protect residents of nursing homes. If you have a loved one that has been injured, you may need the help of a Washington nursing home abuse attorney.
The following nursing home facilities in King County received only a one-star overall rating (one out of a five possible stars) from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). A one-star rating indicates that, when considering health inspections, staffing measures, fire safety inspections and the quality of resident care, the facilities' overall rating was "much below average".
- Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation - Arden, 16357 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98133
- Renton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 80 Southwest Second Street, Renton, WA 98057
- Talbot Center for Rehab & Healthcare, 4430 Talbot Road South, Renton, WA 98055
Possible Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs
It is important to thoroughly understand the warning signs of potential nursing home negligence. Understanding the warning signs of abuse is the first step of stopping it.
If you see any of the following signs of elder abuse in nursing homes, they should be immediately investigated:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, or fractures in various stages of healing
- Bedsores or frozen joints
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections; vaginal or anal bleeding; torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Staff refusing to allow visitors to see resident or delays in allowing visitors to see resident
- Staff not allowing resident to be alone with visitor
- Resident being kept in an over-medicated state
- Loss of resident's possessions
- Sudden large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in banking practices
- Abrupt changes in will or other financial documents
In addition to those 10 warning signs, elder abuse in nursing homes can occur in many different ways. Family members of nursing home residents should be aware of a number of health-related issues and warning signs that could be indicators of abuse or neglect:
- Unjustified isolation
- Unsanitary environment
- Malnutrition, dehydration
- Smells of urine and/or feces
- Unkempt appearance
- Rude, humiliating, derogatory comments by staff
- Poor personal hygiene
- Untreated medical condition
- Sudden, unjustified selling of property
- Missing/stolen money or property
- Radical changes in handling personal/financial affairs
- Specific complaints by residents
Damages Recoverable for Nursing Home Abuse
Victims of elder abuse and their families may be able to recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses. When a nursing home and its staff abuses or neglects a resident in a way that causes physical harm, the nursing home may be on the hook for medical bills. Potential medical expenses that may be covered include:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital bills
- Rehabilitation/physical therapy
- Lost wages. In most types of personal injury cases, the wronged party can receive reimbursement for missed time from work. But because most nursing home residents don’t work, this applies in only some cases.
- Pain and suffering. A type of non-economic damage, this applies to almost every nursing home abuse case. If the victim has suffered a damaged “quality of life,” a jury may use its best judgment to determine how much money it’s worth.
In other states, cases that exceed ordinary negligence – malicious abuse or neglect — may result in punitive damages. Washington state does not have punitive damages.
Free Nursing Home Abuse Legal Consultation
Abuse and neglect victims often worry about the cost of hiring a nursing home abuse attorney, as victims often have fixed incomes or are otherwise unable to afford the costly retainers that most attorneys charge. Fortunately, our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no up-front costs associated with hiring our attorneys to represent you. In a contingency fee agreement, the plaintiff only owes legal fees after the case has been successfully resolved.
We also offer a free case review to nursing home abuse victims, so there is no fee for meeting with us to discuss the merits of your case. We will explain exactly how we believe we can help you and outline the many reasons why hiring a lawyer might be in your best interests.
If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above-mentioned "warning signs" or you believe that a nursing home or adult care facility is guilty of neglect or abuse, it may be in your best interests to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney in Washington state who has experience handling nursing home abuse claims. Contact us using the confidential form on this page or call (206) 727-4000 to get started.