Statutory Protection Of Seniors In Oklahoma

Today's state laws in Oklahoma provide nursing home abuse victims and their families different avenues for reporting and remedying abuse. Although their effectiveness is currently being questioned, it is nonetheless important to be aware of them.

The Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst have provided a comprehensive overview of the actions you can take if an elderly loved one has suffered at the hands of abusive or neglectful staff. We believe that, ultimately, vast reforms will need to be made in order to uplift Oklahoma's reputation as having some of the worst assisted-living facilities in the nation. If you have questions related to nursing homes in Oklahoma or would like to discuss a situation involving the abuse of a loved one, don't hesitate to contact us. Please fill out a contact form online or call us at 800-539-0652 to schedule a consultation.

What Are Adult Protective Services?

Many states, including Oklahoma, have adult protective service agencies in place to protect especially vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect or exploitation. Before bringing a civil or criminal suit against a nursing home, victims and their families can turn to adult protective services to report and redress their situation.

Allegations brought to adult protective services through an established system of reporting are investigated, and if the allegations are determined to be well-founded, the agency then provides the victim with assistance in resolving the issues and preventing them from ever occurring again. Services provided by the agency include medical assistance, counseling, financial assistance, special transportation or transfer to another facility.

Unfortunately, some victims and their families may find adult protective services to be inadequate in redressing their particular circumstances. In these cases, civil or criminal litigation may present the best available option for holding the responsible party accountable and recovering financial compensation for various damages.

What Types Of Legal Action Can I Take Against Nursing Home Abuse?

Oklahoma law allows elderly victims to file civil suits based on causes of action relating to abuse, neglect or exploitation. If the causes of action are established, the state may grant victims awards for the damages they have suffered. They may also issue protective or restraining orders to immediately relieve victims from ongoing abuse or neglect. Additionally, residents of long-term care facilities have the option of activating specific statutory rights such as the right to be free from abuse and neglect and the right to a safe environment.

Although no federal law explicitly addresses nursing home resident rights and the violation thereof, there are many federal statutes and regulations that may be used to support nursing home abuse or neglect claims. The Federal False Claims Act can be used if a facility's funds are not being used in appropriate ways, or if a nursing home made claims of providing quality care, it may be sued for false advertising.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?

State definitions of abuse vary but usually include actions that cause emotional suffering, psychological damage or other forms of mental distress. Acts ranging from verbal abuse to unreasonable isolation may be covered. Nursing home abuse typically falls under the following categories:

Abuse — The unnecessary administration of physical or chemical restraints may also be addressed. In some cases, a resident may be confined or administered chemical restraints for his or her own protection, but these methods may not be used to excess or for any other purpose besides that of safety.

Neglect — The failure to provide for essential health and safety needs. It does not matter if the neglectful actions have their basis in plain carelessness or malicious intent; they can have the same devastating effect and count as neglect just the same. Residents of nursing homes often require assistance with basic functions such as eating, drinking and cleaning, among other daily needs. Failure to meet these needs by the staff may result in serious health complications such as bedsores and infection.

Sexual abuse — Predatory caregivers may take advantage of elderly residents who are physically and/or mentally vulnerable and coerce or force residents into giving sexual favors. Sexual abuse is not limited to physical sex acts, but may also include forcing the person to watch sex acts or look at pornographic material.

Exploitation — Exploitation is defined by many states as the wrongful use or misuse of an elder's funds, property or person. Some states go further to define the unlawful act as one that is committed either without the victim's consent or through deception, intimidation or other undue influence. Although acts of exploitation may not directly jeopardize the victim's physical health, they have the potential to induce depression, shame, and other mental and emotional issues.

Call An Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you or someone you love has been abused, neglected or exploited at a nursing home in Oklahoma, call Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst to get the legal protection you need to stop the abuse now. We can help you navigate the legal process to acquire justice and even compensation for damages. Call us anytime at 800-539-0652 or submit an online contact form.