People place their elderly family members into nursing homes in hopes that their loved ones will be able to enjoy a better quality of life. Unfortunately, the very caregivers to whom families entrust their relatives’ safety are often the same people who end up carelessly or abusively inflicting pain, injury, and distress upon the residents they are supposed to protect. While exact statistics are impossible to track due to victims’ hesitance to report their experiences, the CDC estimates that more than half a million senior citizens will be harmed by elder abuse during the course of an average year. Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County is no exception to this disturbing trend.
If you suspect that your parent, grandparent, or other loved one is being abused or neglected by his or her caregivers, the time to consult with an attorney is now. Nursing home abuse lawyer Brent Wieand handles the full spectrum of wrongful death and personal injury cases related to negligence and elder abuse in assisted living facilities, and offers free initial consultations for all new clients.
You won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless Brent is able to recover compensation, so call (215) 666-7777 right away to start confidentially discussing your family’s legal options for the future.
Deadlines for Filing Death and Injury Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
It’s extremely important to be aware of the deadlines for bringing legal claims in Lackawanna County, which are known as statutes of limitations. Pennsylvania’s statutes of limitations are:
- Two years for wrongful death claims, beginning from the date the victim passed away.
- Two years for personal injury claims, beginning from the date the victim was injured.
If you miss these deadlines and the applicable statute “expires,” your family will be severely deprived of further legal recourse. While there are a few exceptional circumstances under which the normal statutes may not apply, the course of action is to consult with an attorney immediately. It is always helpful to start an investigation into your claim well in advance of the deadline, but even more importantly, to get your loved one out of danger as soon as possible.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse Claims Our Attorneys Handle
The CDC identifies the following broad categories of elder abuse:
- Emotional Abuse — Emotional abuse includes any behavior that deliberately puts elderly residents in fear for their safety or well-being, such as threatening eviction or physical cruelty. People who are suffering through emotional abused may exhibit unusual behavior, such as out-of-character crying fits, restlessness, irritability, or fearfulness. Emotional abuse often escalates into physical assault, so be wary of any potential warning signs.
- Financial Abuse (Financial Exploitation) — Elderly persons are often targeted for financial exploitation for two reasons: often they have built up substantial savings, but may not be technically proficient enough to detect scams or account breaches. If your loved one doesn’t remember making a purchase, or can’t clearly explain or justify a deduction or statement, they may the victim of financial exploitation.
- Neglect — Unlike abuse, neglect or negligence is not usually intentional. In many instances, nursing homes simply do not employ enough staff members to supervise the residents, or fail to train existing staff members adequately. Whether deliberate or unintentional, neglect can lead to severe and preventable injuries or even accidental death. Proving negligence, or the caregiver’s failure to meet state and federal standards, is a key element of many successful claims. Caregiver neglect often plays a major role in otherwise avoidable injuries and accidents, such as falls, bed sores, limb amputations, untreated infections, and residents who wander off the facility’s property where they can be assaulted, lost, robbed, or exposed to the elements.
- Physical Abuse — Physical abuse can range in severity, but telltale warning signs include unexplained bruising, swollen areas, black eyes, and bone fractures. However, abuse does not have to involve beating or hitting. In some cases, caregivers intentionally withhold residents’ medication, over-medicate “troublesome” residents, or even restrict access to food and water.
- Sexual Abuse — Sexual abuse likely has a lower reporting rate than any other kind of elder abuse, due to victims’ feelings of shame, guilt, or fear. If you suspect your loved one is being sexually abused, it’s important to make them feel comfortable sharing their story with you so they can get out of the situation. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases, and will closely guard your family’s privacy throughout the legal process.
If you think your relative is being neglected or mistreated at his or her assisted living facility, Lackawanna County nursing home abuse attorney Brent Wieand can help. To discuss your legal rights in a free and private case evaluation, call Brent at (215) 666-7777 today.
Disclosure: Attorney Brent Wieand’s office is located in Philadelphia, PA. We happily serve clients throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.