Physical Abuse In Nursing Homes: Your Legal Options

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are responsible for providing a safe place for the elderly, who are often vulnerable to illness and injury. Too often, however, poor policies and substandard care result in neglect and abuse that can harm nursing home residents.

Physical assault is a serious matter in all instances, as these attacks can result in major injuries or even death for a victim. However, the elderly residents of nursing homes are at an even greater risk of suffering serious consequences when targeted for physical assault. Because of their advanced age, the elderly are more likely to suffer an injury and may take longer than a person of a younger age to heal from an injury.

Unfortunately, physical assault toward the elderly is often perpetrated by nursing home staff for various reasons, leaving lasting damage on a victim. The Oklahoma physical assault lawyers at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst in Oklahoma City understand the seriousness of such incidents and the terrible consequences they have. Those who have suffered assaults and their families have the right to seek compensation and justice for these attacks.

Common Instances Of Nursing Home Physical Assault

There are a variety of causes for a nursing home staff member to attack a resident such as stress, personal frustrations, arguments or issues with the elderly, but none of them are justifiable or reasonable. Due to nursing home staff's power and access to each resident, often without supervision, many types of physical assaults may occur. When these attacks are not stopped by the administration, or are covered up by the staff, they can easily worsen.

Physical assault that frequently occurs in nursing homes includes hitting, slapping, pushing, tripping, shaking, beating, burning and pinching. These actions are meant to hurt the resident, as well as intimidate and coerce him or her into compliance with some actions or to obey the perpetrator. Assault can also be applied to the threat of violence, scaring the victim into compliance.

The Effects Of Physical Assault

Due to the often fragile physical condition of residents, physical assault can easily worsen any injuries that they had prior to the incidents and inflict new trauma. Physical assault on a resident of a nursing home can often result in:

  • Cuts and bruises — Most assaults result in at least these injuries, which may be evidence that attacks are occurring. However, staff may say that it was caused by an accident and inflict pain where it is not as easily noticed.
  • Broken bones — Much harder to heal from when older, but can be unnoticed if the resident was already bedridden prior to the injury.
  • Constant fear — The victim may live in continual fear of the person hurting him or her, as staff have access to rooms and control over many aspects of residents' daily life.
  • Mental and emotional trauma — Being assaulted is frightening for all, which may leave lasting psychological and emotional scars from the pain and that it was done by a person who was supposed to show care.
  • Hospitalization — While staff may send the victim to the hospital, they may claim the injury was caused by an accident. The cost of hospitalization may be placed on the victim's relatives.
  • Traumatic brain injury — Brain trauma from an assault can seriously damage a victim's bodily and cognitive functions and may lead to death. Injured elders may be unable to tell of their injury or staff may be unable/unwilling to diagnose the injury and treat it.

Physical Assault Cover-Ups

While many instances of physical assault are quickly reported by residents or discovered by other staff or administration and swiftly dealt with, there are many other cases where such abuse is hidden in some manner. The perpetrator will often attempt to hide the assault, but other staff and even the administration may try to cover up the incident, either because they do not want the staff member to get in trouble or they do not want the center to be penalized. Hiding the act for fear of a lawsuit is also common, as nursing homes will try to avoid the loss of money that often comes with such claims. These cover-ups are at the expense of the resident, as it will often result in him or her not receiving the proper injury care and the staff member continuing his or her assaults.

Oklahoma Nursing Home Physical Assault Attorneys

A nursing home staff's physical assault of a resident not only violates Oklahoma law, but also violates the trust of residents and their families as well as their human rights. The injuries and related losses suffered from these assaults can result in enormous financial costs and the need for various forms of expensive rehabilitation. At Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst, our Oklahoma elder physical abuse attorneys can aid in the search for needed compensation for both the victimized resident and his or her family. For more information on how we can help you, call us.