Birmingham Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys
Protecting elderly victims of abuse throughout Alabama
The actor Michael J. Fox once said that “family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” We believe that. It is our honor to care for those who once cared for us. If you discover that your loved ones are being neglected or abused in their nursing home or assisted living facilities, know that it’s normal to feel betrayed, angry, or even guilty for not suspecting it sooner. Also know that the Birmingham nursing home neglect lawyers of Mezrano Law Firm are here to help you fight for your loved one’s rights and future. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.
What is the difference between “neglect” and “abuse” in a nursing home?
While you can use both phrases interchangeably, the general definitions are as follows:
- Neglect is the failure to fulfill the needs of an elderly person in one’s care. It can stem from ignorance about what that care is, and it can be unmotivated. Failing to turn an immobile patient over every few hours so that he or she does not develop bedsores is an example of nursing home neglect.
- Abuse is a deliberate, sometimes malicious act. It can be motivated by the desire to gain power over a patient. Physically or sexually assaulting a resident is an example of nursing home abuse.
No matter why your loved one was injured – whether it was thoughtless neglect or malicious abuse – is irrelevant to your claim, because neither is legal. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their patients, and negligent AND abusive behaviors are not allowed.
How big of a problem is elder abuse?
Big. According to the National Council on Aging, about 1 in 10 seniors will be abused, but only 1 in 14 cases will ever be reported to law enforcement.
In Alabama, this is a real concern. The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that “Alabama’s elderly population is expected to grow by 82.4 percent between 2010 and 2040, adding 542,061 elderly to the population” – and that the rate of elder abuse in our state is about 12.4 out of every 10,000 people. Rural communities have a higher percentage of reported abuse of the elderly.
How safe is my loved one’s nursing home in Birmingham?
There are 227 nursing homes in Alabama, and 40 are in the greater Birmingham area. Every single nursing facility has been cited for at least 2 deficiencies by ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect database, but the following facilities have all been cited for “serious” deficiencies, the types of problems which put people in immediate danger:
- Terrace Oaks Care & Rehabilitation Center, in Bessemer
- Galleria Woods Skilled Nursing Facility, in Birmingham
- Civic Center Health And Rehabilitation, LLC, in Birmingham
- TLC Nursing Center, in Oneonta
- Trussville Health & Rehabilitation Center, in Trussville
How does your loved one’s Birmingham nursing home compare? [Compare Nursing Homes]
Recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect at Birmingham nursing homes
One of the problems with recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect is that many of them can simply be chalked up to the aging process. A fall might be an isolated incident, and changes in personality may be expected in a patient with dementia. There are some signs, however, that cannot be explained away; neither can patterns of events. Here are some of the most common signs:
- Physical bruising or lacerations, especially on the wrists, face, or ankles
- Poor hygiene, including wearing dirty clothes, being left in dirty diapers, or being unwashed
- Sudden changes in personality
- Skin that stays put when gently pinched (a sign of dehydration)
- Rapid weight loss
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Excessive doses of medication used for restraint, or to make patients more “docile”
- Bruising, lacerations, and bleeding in and around the genitals, anus, breasts, and pelvic region
- Physically shying away from touch, or from specific residents or staff
If your loved one is being bullied or abused by another resident, you may still have a claim against the nursing home. Had the staff, doctors, or other personnel been doing their jobs properly, such behaviors should have been noticed and corrected. Failing to maintain a safe space for residents is a sign of neglect.
Missing money and valuables
Financial abuse is a real problem in nursing homes. If you notice that your family member’s wallet is often empty, that his or her safe has been emptied, that jewelry is missing, or a number of strange debits on his or her accounts (checking, savings, and healthcare-associated), the nursing home may be committing fraud and financial abuse.
Getting help for elder abuse
Understand that your loved one has rights and protections under the law. If you suspect those rights have been violated, you can contact the Alabama Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 800-AGE-LINE, or by contacting:
United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County
3600 8th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35232
Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham
2 20th Street North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Filing a lawsuit against a Birmingham nursing home
Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. When you speak with us, bring as much information as you can: photos, eyewitness descriptions (written or on video), medical records, and so forth. If you cannot access that information, we can get it for you.
From there, Mezrano Law Firm will build a case to show that your loved one’s injuries were caused by negligence or abuse, and that he or she is entitled to damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Property loss (like jewelry or art)
- Lost income (like Social Security checks) or lost savings
If your loved one died as a result of his or her injuries, or as a result of neglect, we can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the accountable parties.
Family is everything. When someone has hurt your loved one, Mezrano Law Firm fights back. Our experienced Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyers know what it takes to build a successful case. To learn more about our services, please call 205-206-6300 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation.
If you have a case, you have a lawyer. Call us today to learn more.
Nursing Home Inspect // Alabama
How does your loved one’s Birmingham nursing home compare?
Data Source: Propublica – Nursing Home Inspect, Alabama