Columbia, South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Working with Families to Protect their Loved Ones

Being responsible for the health and safety of another person is always hard, especially when it’s your aging parent or another beloved family member. When they need more care than you can give, you turn to a nursing home or assisted living facility to provide that 24/7 help they require. Even after you’ve done your research and made the most informed, best decision you can, you worry. Because you’ve heard the stories about nursing home abuse and neglect, beatings, sexual abuse, over-medication. If your worst fears have come true and you believe your loved one has been abused or injured while in the care of a South Carolina nursing home or assisted living facility, call the nursing home abuse lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia.

At this point you may just have your suspicions, without hard proof. Or you may have been faced with undeniable evidence and moved your loved one out of there. In either case, Bert Louthian can help you with the next steps. Your loved one deserves better, and they could be entitled to compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.

Call (888) 359-2807 or fill out our contact form to tell us what’s on your mind. We have decades of experience helping people who have been harmed by nursing home abuse and negligence. And we offer free consultations, so you don’t have to add lawyer’s fees to the list of your worries.

We care about protecting our elders and others who are vulnerable. Let us help you achieve justice when negligent or malicious people harm your loved ones. Speak to Bert Louthian, a South Carolina nursing home abuse and personal injury attorney who gets results.

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Damages In A Nursing Home Lawsuit

Medical expenses will likely constitute a significant amount of the economic damages sought in a nursing home abuse case. The care that is required to treat residents for the harm they’ve suffered can be extremely costly. A resident might require doctor visits, hospitalization, therapy, surgery, medications and several other expensive services.

Damages might also come in the form of non-economic or punitive damages. Non-economic damages are related to suffering and pain caused by a nursing home’s negligence. Punitive damages are essentially a penalty given to the facility for their wrongdoing. Depending on the circumstances of a case, these damages can be significant. A nursing home abuse attorney can help you understand the potential damages involved.

South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer: Fighting For The Safety Of Your Loved Ones

With nearly 1.4 million people in the U.S. living in nursing homes, the issue of nursing home abuse and neglect of this vulnerable population stands out as increasingly important. It is estimated that about 10 percent of all elders experience abuse, and that around 2.15 million are abused nationwide each year. In nursing homes, roughly 44 percent of patients have reported that they experienced abuse. If you have legal questions about elder abuse, contact a South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer for answers.

How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help You

THIS MAY BE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH A BAD NURSING HOME.

At Louthian Law, we have, unfortunately, been involved with a number of situations in which a nursing home resident did not receive the respect and care they needed and deserved.

Because we’ve handled other problems like yours, we know what it takes to build a successful case. We might even be familiar with the facility where your loved one has been a resident. We’re aware of the rules and regulations that apply to South Carolina nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living communities, and we’re dedicated to ensuring that they’re followed so that no seniors or patients are harmed.

We will help you collect the information you need, handle communications with the nursing home management and their lawyers, prepare the paperwork required when filing a lawsuit and always keep you informed about the progress being made in your case. Hiring a skilled South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney helps ensure that you will achieve a settlement that truly reflects the damages you or a loved one has faced.

The nursing home attorneys at Louthian Law are ready to help you. Give us a call at (888) 359-2807 to discuss your case, or fill out our contact form and we’ll get in touch right away.

All About Filing A Nursing Home Abuse Case

STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE TO PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONE

First, if your loved one has been injured, seek medical attention. This is necessary not only to get treatment for their injuries, but also to document the facts related to the abuse — its timing, its consequences, and its severity.

Get as many details about the incident as you can, from your loved one, from other residents, and perhaps from trusted staff members. Make notes about what happened and who was involved. Take photographs of any injuries. This documentation and the medical reports will be important evidence in helping prove your legal claim. And it will help your nursing home abuse attorney begin his investigation and guide his preparation of further questioning of those who failed in their duty to care for your loved one.

The majority of nursing home abuse cases are settled out of court through negotiations. Sometimes when a nursing home and their insurance company know that an attorney is handling the case, they will quickly agree to settle rather than taking a chance on going to trial. However, if settlement can’t be reached before a lawsuit is filed, Bert Louthian will be thoroughly prepared to present your case to a judge and jury.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT SETTLEMENT CAN OCCUR AT ANY TIME DURING THE LITIGATION PROCESS . . . EVEN AFTER TRIAL BEGINS.

Prior to trial, as part of the overall discovery process, which is the information-gathering phase, your attorney may take the depositions of nursing home employees and witnesses in the case, and you may be asked to give a deposition to the nursing home’s attorneys. A deposition is similar to being questioned in a courtroom, but it takes place outside the courtroom, such as in an attorney’s office or conference room. If you are asked to give a deposition, your attorney will explain the process to you and help you be prepared.

Filing a nursing home abuse case is a complicated process, and you may feel like it is more than you can handle right now. A South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer at the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia can answer your questions and help you understand the options you have.

Call us at (888) 359-2807 or fill out our contact form to GET HELP NOW. A free case evaluation is yours for the asking.

When Victims Remain Silent

In our state alone, tens of thousands of complaints of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation are submitted each year. Yet experts estimate that only one in 14 incidents of abuse at nursing homes is ever reported to authorities, so the real number of abuse cases is likely much higher than the statistics show.

Why would someone not speak up after being mistreated by a caregiver?

  • One reason nursing home or retirement home injuries are unreported is that the victims are either physically or verbally intimidated into staying silent. They may feel powerless to change their situation and fear that the problem will become worse if they speak up.
  • There is an imbalance of power in nursing home situations, causing residents to suspect that they won’t be believed by an abuser’s supervisor.
  • A nursing home patient may simply be incapable of telling someone about the abuse. Family members of patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or conditions affecting their ability to communicate may complain on the patient’s behalf, but it may take them a while to recognize a pattern of abuse.
  • Most elderly folks don’t want to be a burden on their family. This could mean they don’t complain even when they absolutely should.

How Common is Nursing Home Abuse?

Elder Person with CaneElder abuse is a cruelty so abhorrent that it is almost unfathomable. It’s difficult to imagine someone cruel enough to physically assault a senior citizen or someone who is incapacitated by a medical problem. This is especially true when the perpetrator is a healthcare provider or someone else entrusted with the safety and welfare of a vulnerable human being.

The abuse and neglect of nursing home residents is far more common that most people would like to believe. One study reported that more than 40 percent of nursing home residents said they had experienced abuse. In another one, over half of nursing home staff members admitted that they had mistreated older residents!… read more.

If your loved one was abused by a nursing home employee, they may not have been the first. Let Bert Louthian help ensure that the abuser is stopped and all responsible parties made to pay for the harm that has been done.

Widespread Underreporting by Those in the Know

Even when a resident or their family member files a complaint of injury or negligence, the situation may be swept under the rug or just be forgotten, never to become part of the documented accounts of nursing home abuse. Failure to report can be done by...

Healthcare professionals, such as emergency department personnel, who may be unaware of mandatory elder abuse reporting laws.

Ombudsmen, who may not file a report if the complaint is resolved. In one survey, 36 percent of ombudsmen said they viewed their role to be resolution of existing problems, not filing complaints if the problems are solved.

Nurse’s aide registries, which may simply fire a CNA or allow them to resign rather than conduct an investigation and report the incident.

Family members, who may fear that their loved one will experience retaliation. In a survey by the Atlanta Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, families and residents said they thought that reporting abuse was futile or that they or their family member might suffer even more abuse. Some also thought that using other channels for resolving things, such as speaking to the nursing home’s administrator, were better than reporting abuse to authorities.

Types Of Nursing Home Abuse

There are several types of nursing home abuse, and some kinds of abuse can be harder to spot than others. But all of these varieties of abuse show some sort of sign.

  • Physical abuse. Examples include pinching, hitting, slapping, or handling a patient roughly when changing their clothing or diapers or when bathing them. Bruising, welts, and other outward signs can indicate physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse. The elderly often do not have the strength or ability to fend off assaults. Such abuse can take many forms, from improper touching (especially when the patient is unclothed), sexual jokes, comments, or gestures, all the way up to rape or attempted rape. Patients often show fear or complain of pain in the genital area.
  • Verbal abuse. Verbal abuse demeans the patient and can intimidate or frighten them. Talking down to patients, ordering them to perform humiliating actions, and threatening them are all forms of verbal abuse. The signs of abuse can be similar to sexual abuse, with the patient showing fear, withdrawing, or becoming agitated or aggressive.
  • Neglect means the lack of adequate nutrition; not giving medication on time or at all (especially pain medication); failure to provide regular baths, clean clothing and bedding; and uncomfortable facility temperatures (too hot or too cold). Nursing home neglect covers a wide range of actions that can cause much suffering on the part of the patient or, in extreme cases, even death. Bedsores, lack of cleanliness, dirty clothing or bedding, or complaints from the patient of pain or lack of attention can all indicate neglect.

TOP FIVE COMPLAINTS IN S.C. NURSING HOMES IN 2017

1. Dignity, Respect, Staff Attitudes: 536

2. Physical Abuse: 402

3. Gross Neglect: 364

4. Accidents, Improper Handling: 350

5. Abuse, Verbal/Mental (including punishment, seclusion): 197

Source: Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

Spotting The Signs Of Abuse and Neglect

Abuse in nursing homes can take several forms, ranging from persistent bedsores that become septic and cause significant pain and injury to financial exploitation. If you have a loved one in a South Carolina nursing home, some of the key signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Open wounds, cuts, bruises or welts
  • Bedsores
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Torn clothing
  • Broken or missing personal items
  • Complaints about being slapped or mistreated
  • Emotional states of extreme agitation or unusual withdrawal
  • Unusual and new behavior, such as sucking, biting or rocking
  • Complaints of pain when using the bathroom or pain in their genital area
  • Use of physical restraints – or bruises/marks around legs or arms that suggest the use of restraints
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unusually pale skin coloring
  • Sudden change in medication or dosage, particularly any medication used for sedation
  • Temperature extremes at the nursing home
  • Nursing home staff that can’t properly explain a resident’s physical condition
  • Nursing home staff that discourages family members from visiting with the resident alone
  • Residents that wander from the facility because of poor supervision.

South Carolina Nursing Home Care: A Bill Of Rights

Nursing home residents in South Carolina have rights which are protected under the federal Nursing Home Reform Law enacted in 1987 in the Social Security Act. Facilities which participate in Medicare or Medicaid must “promote and protect the rights of each resident” and place a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination.

Many nursing home residents and their family members are unaware of their rights under South Carolina law. All assisted living facilities must clearly post a list known as the residents’ bill of rights where all residents can see it.

Typically these rights will include:

  • Medical rights – to be kept informed of health status and medication and for relatives to be kept informed of any change in a loved one’s health status or impending release
  • Physical rights – to be free of any physical abuse, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse, including use of physical or chemical restraints for the convenience of the nursing home staff rather than the avoidance of self-injury
  • Right to privacy – to receive and send mail, use the telephone, share a room with a spouse and keep personal belongings
  • Financial rights – to handle one’s own money or designate an individual to handle finances and to have access to financial records and statements, as well as information about nursing home fees.

Who Is Responsible when A Nursing Home Resident is Mistreated?

When an aide or orderly — or even another resident — harms a person residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility, the facility’s management bears a significant amount of responsibility for what occurs there. They can and should be held liable for…

  • inadequate screening and hiring practices
  • providing insufficient training
  • poor supervision
  • failure to protect from a known danger
  • failure to follow applicable rules and regulations
  • lax safety and sanitation standards
  • and many other practices which could lead to physical or emotional injury.

Of course, the staff members themselves — those who either committed, permitted or failed to notice the abuse or neglect — might also be named as defendants in a legal action to collect compensation for your loved one’s suffering.

Likewise, if another resident committed the abuse, they might be held accountable for the injuries they’ve inflicted.

In many situations, there is more than enough blame to go around and multiple parties should be named in a complaint. With the Louthian Law firm on your side, you can rest assured that our thorough investigation will seek compensation from all appropriate sources.

Best and Worst Nursing Homes in Columbia, SC

Nursing Home AbuseWhen you are looking for a nursing home bed for Mom, Dad, or another loved one, it can be difficult—to say the least—to figure out which place will provide the best and most compassionate care. Is it the nursing home that costs the most? The one with the swankiest lobby? The one that doesn’t have a lot of unpleasant odors? The one where the caregivers smile at you the most? If you have hard data available and do your homework, it can be easier to choose a nursing home. We have provided data and sources for you here that we hope will be of use.

Evaluating Nursing Homes in South Carolina

With the hundreds of nursing homes in South Carolina — many of them right here in Columbia — you may have no idea how to even start the process of finding the right facility for your loved one. You may have heard the horror stories about abuse, neglect, and indifference. And of course you want to make sure your family member is in a place that’s clean and where the staff is compassionate and medically competent. Thankfully, there are resources that can help you find the best — and avoid the worst — nursing homes in the state… read more

WHAT DOES A NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY COST?

The charges and method of payment for nursing home attorneys can vary from one firm to another. At the Louthian Law Firm, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will be paid only if we win your case. Our consultations are also free, so you won’t get a bill for simply speaking with us about your legal options.

Let’s discuss your case in a free consultation. You can reach us via our contact form, or call us at (888) 359-2807.

SOUTH CAROLINA NURSING HOME CARE: A BILL OF RIGHTS

Nursing home residents in South Carolina have rights which are protected under the federal nursing home reform law enacted in 1987 in the social security act. Facilities which participate in Medicare or Medicaid must “promote and protect the rights of each resident” and place a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination.

Many nursing home residents and their family members are unaware of their rights under South Carolina law. All assisted living facilities must clearly post a list known as the residents’ bill of rights where all residents can see it.

Typically these rights will include:

  • Medical rights – to be kept informed of health status and medication and for relatives to be kept informed of any change in a loved one’s health status or impending release
  • Physical rights – to be free of any physical abuse, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse, including use of physical or chemical restraints for the convenience of the nursing home staff rather than the avoidance of self-injury
  • Right to privacy – to receive and send mail, use the telephone, share a room with a spouse and keep personal belongings
  • Financial rights – to handle one’s own money or designate an individual to handle finances and to have access to financial records and statements, as well as information about nursing home fees.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NURSING HOME ABUSE CASES

Are you concerned about placing a loved one in a continuing care facility? Do you currently know someone in a nursing home and have reason to be worried? Our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) might help you with some of your concerns.

How common is nursing home abuse in South Carolina?

While it is possible that many cases of nursing home abuse, neglect and exploitation go unreported each year, we do have some idea of the prevalence of the problem through the statistics compiled by the state’s Adult Protection Coordinating Council, a group composed of 21 public and private organizations and consumers. The Council’s data show the following numbers of complaints filed during 2017:

  • 6,993 cases were reported to Adult Protective Services.
  • 1,666 complaints were made to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
  • 44 complaints were made to the Medicare Fraud Control Unit.

Does nursing home abuse affect only the elderly?

Not at all. Although the majority of people living in nursing homes are age 65 and over, people with other types of serious disabilities, such as traumatic brain injuries, may also reside in nursing homes because their families cannot care for them at home. The South Carolina Vulnerable Adults Investigation Unit of the State Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, received 929 complaints of nursing home abuse for patients of all ages in 2015. Some of the categories with alleged problems include:

  • 352 complaints concerning a death
  • 161 complaints concerning physical abuse
  • 151 complaints concerning substandard care
  • 33 complaints concerning psychological abuse
  • 29 complaints concerning neglect
  • 26 complaints concerning some kind of exploitation
  • 19 complaints concerning sexual abuse.

I just learned that the nursing home employee who abused my loved one has a criminal record. Shouldn’t the facility have checked on that before hiring them?

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 92 percent of nursing homes employ one or more individuals who have been convicted of at least one crime. In South Carolina, anyone who is paid by or who has a written contract to provide “hands-on” care to a resident, patient, or client must have a criminal background check. Most applicants qualify for only a state check; federal checks are required only of applicants who have not been a resident of South Carolina or another state for at least 12 months. The decision of whether or not to employ a person after receiving the background check is left up to the employer. However, there are a few notable exceptions, including this one: A facility, if it wants to secure and keep a South Carolina state license to run a nursing home, cannot hire any person who was ever convicted of, or who pled “no contest” (nolo contendere) to, a charge of “child or adult abuse, neglect, or mistreatment, or any other felony.”

What kinds of abuse can happen to my loved one?

Any of the following behaviors or actions can be classed as abuse, and any caretaker in any facility or care situation can be guilty of them:

  • Physical abuse: inflicting physical injury or pain
  • Sexual abuse: any unwanted sexual contact
  • Emotional or psychological abuse: intimidation, threats of abuse, verbal harassment, name-calling
  • Willful deprivation: withholding food, liquids, or medication deliberately, including pain medication
  • Financial exploitation: misuse or theft of the patient’s financial resources
  • Passive neglect: not providing things essential to life, such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
  • Confinement: the use of restraints when there is no medical basis or need
  • Chemical restraint: overmedication with anti-psychotic drugs. One-third of all nursing home patients are given anti-psychotic drugs.

What signs could indicate that a nursing home resident has been abused or neglected?

If you observe any of the following signs with regard to your loved one who lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you would be wise to explore the situation to determine whether the facility is properly caring for them:

  • Weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained bruises, wounds or dislocations
  • Bloody or torn clothing or bedding
  • Fearfulness and other personality changes
  • Frequent illnesses or infections
  • Sedation/over-medication
  • Unexplained sexually-transmitted diseases, or injuries to the genitals, anus, breast, or mouth
  • Agitation or fretting
  • Wandering or attempts to “escape”
  • Depression or unresponsiveness
  • Unusual or unexplained financial transactions
  • Insufficient staff, such as having one nurse’s
  • aide to care for as many as 30 patients
  • Seeming distrust, paranoia, or fear of the staff by the patient
  • Aggressiveness or distrust of visitors on the part of staff, especially if they won’t leave you alone with the patient.

Who regulates nursing homes in South Carolina?

Nursing homes must be licensed by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, which sets standards they must meet in many areas, such as training, record keeping, medication management, food service, infection control, and building design. All facilities are subject to inspection or investigation at any time, without prior notice. These reports are available to the public upon written request.

What should I do if I have a complaint?

If you have a concern about the operation of a facility, you can call the South Carolina DHEC at (803) 898-DHEC (3432). If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of physical, sexual or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, neglect or abandonment, contact the SC Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at (803) 734-9900.

What do I do if I’m unsure whether my loved one has been neglected or abused?

It’s best to act in the best interest of your loved one and be proactive. Look for signs of abuse; speak with your loved one, if possible; and don’t be afraid to make complaints to the facility’s employees or management. Once you believe that your loved one has been mistreated and experienced harm from negligent staff, contact a legal professional for assistance.

What information do I need to bring to my free consultation?

Bring any evidence that you have gathered, including documents, pictures or any notes you have taken.

How long do these cases take to resolve?

The time frame for a nursing home abuse case varies widely from one case to another. In some circumstances, the matter can be resolved quickly, potentially in a matter of weeks. In others, the process is much longer. However, you can still act to promptly remove your loved one from the facility, while the case progresses.

Why is an elderly resident afraid to speak up about the abuse or neglect they’ve experienced?

The unfortunate reality is that residents who have been mistreated could be afraid to speak up. They might worry about repercussions from their abusers, whether they be staff or other residents. In some cases, they might be unable to articulate their experience. This is particularly true of nursing home patients with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Seeking Truth, Securing Justice For Seniors

When someone you love has been hurt, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. When this happens, the South Carolina nursing home injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can review your legal options and work with you to determine the most appropriate next step.

Many South Carolina assisted living facilities are part of a larger chain, complete with its own legal department.

The nursing home’s lawyers may try to dispute abuse and neglect claims, but we have represented victims of neglect or abuse in retirement homes and we understand how to deal with negligent facilities and the nursing home attorneys who represent them. While a lawsuit cannot heal bedsores or restore someone’s health, a South Carolina nursing home abuse claim can help recover the large sums spent on a neglectful or abusive nursing home, as well as medical bills created by that abuse or neglect. You may also be able to hold the abusers accountable for the pain and suffering they caused.

For a free consultation, call our South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys today toll free at (803) 454-1200, or use our contact form.

RESOURCES FOR ELDERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

More information on elder abuse can be found at the websites for:

You can also see the Louthian Law Firm’s Nursing Home FAQs page for answers to your questions.

Click here for more information on Nursing Home Neglect Law.

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