Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

When we leave our elderly loved ones or the sick and infirm of our families in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, we do so expecting that the very best quality of care will be provided to our family member, spouse, or friend. Unfortunately, abuse of the elderly or infirm occurs at alarming rates.

Personal injury claims provide individuals with the means to hold responsible parties accountable for such abuse and also may serve to prevent others from suffering the same, despicable treatment in the future. A well-qualified Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer could help victims of such abuse and their families seek compensation for the harms and losses they have suffered at the hands of their caretakers. Reach out to a compassionate attorney today to get started on your claim. En Español.

Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

While the list of types of trauma that may be experienced by abusive treatment on the part of the nursing home staff is a long one, there are three main categories of harm that are most often prosecuted in nursing home abuse lawsuits:

Under the definition of abuse, which has been determined to involve the “willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish,” a boundless litany of unfortunate possibilities can surface. Specific types of nursing home abuse can include assault and battery, sexual abuse, and confinement/imprisonment or unnecessary use of restraint on patients.

The category of neglect is different from abuse, which is generally considered ill-treatment or neglect with intent and is characterized by the failure of a caretaker to fulfill the obligations required for a person’s care. Neglect could involve failure to provide basic human needs such as food and water, failure of staff members to help prevent bed sores and infection (one of the most common complaints in nursing homes), or failure of the staff to alert medical personnel to a resident’s specific medical problems.

Medical malpractice is usually seen in cases where a doctor or medical practitioner does not provide the standard of care to a nursing home resident that is required by their field. Medical malpractice could include medication errors, surgical errors, and failure to diagnose a patient with a particular illness.

Maryland Law Specific to Nursing Homes

Nursing homes in the state of Maryland are monitored by The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene while the Code of Maryland Regulations requires all licensed nursing homes to adhere to a set of rules and procedures. One of these regulations is that all nursing homes operating in the state are required to have set policies in place to prevent abuse and neglect of their residents. Just the failure to have these procedures in place can be cause enough for a lawsuit to be filed at a specific nursing home or care facility.

State-Wide Recourse

As with every state in the U.S., Maryland has many resources in place that a resident and/or their family members can avail themselves of when they feel their needs are not being met or worse, they find out that serious abuse is occurring. Contacting the Office of Health Care Quality is a great first step to airing concerns, as is consulting with an experienced Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer who could advise you on the process of filing a claim. Filing a personal injury suit in an effort to obtain compensation for nursing home abuses to either you or your loved ones is a good way for you to hold the abusive parties responsible for their negligent behavior.

The Duty of Care Owed by Maryland Nursing Home Facilities

Under normal circumstances, an expert witness’s opinion is required to determine the legal duty of care by the staff and facility of a Maryland nursing home. Nursing home abuse cases come to the fore when a nurse, an administrator, a certified nurse technician, or a doctor assesses a particular case and states that the facility had a legal duty to provide and care for the person to a certain degree. It is up to the expert to ascertain whether the facility transgressed that standard.

There can be some complications involved in adjudicating cases dealing with the duty of care. Often times, there are expert witnesses on either side disputing whether the standard of care was fulfilled. In these types of instances, many times,  fact witnesses are as an important factor in aiding the jury in arriving at a verdict

You should consult a lawyer immediately if you or someone dear to you has suffered owing to the failure of a nursing home to fulfill their legal duty of care. An experienced Maryland nursing home abuse attorney could assess all the available evidence and present a solid claim for damages.

Factors Considered in Assessing Legal Duty

Besides experience, expert witnesses depend on state and federal regulations pertaining to nursing homes, general standards, and assess whether the facility has a staff large enough to care for residents.

After this, they will provide a detailed and precise opinion about the resident of the nursing home to assess their functional capacity.

The expert is likely to ask questions such as:

  • Does the facility have a care plan that averts deterioration of the resident and their ability to look after themselves such as eating, maintaining hygiene, bathing, going to the restroom, and communicating?
  • Is there a comprehensive care plan for every resident?
  • Does the facility ensure that residents are provided for at the standard that is necessary to make sure that they receive adequate care?

It is important to address whether the resident is able to take care of themselves and carry out their daily activities.

According to the law, the residents should not get pressure sores and if they do develop these the nursing home will have to remedy the situation that caused it and/or deal with this injury until the patient is completely healthy. The purpose here is to make sure that every resident is well-fed, clean, and tended to with dignity and respect.

It is often necessary to present the resident’s clinical records to establish whether or not the facility was doing its best for the individual. With the help of all these, the expert could ascertain if the nursing home fulfilled its duty of care or not.

First Steps to Take if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Maryland

When you leave someone you care about in the care of a nursing home, you do so expecting them to be looked after well.

But, if you suspect that this is not the case and they have been subjected to abuse at a nursing home, you should act immediately by contacting a Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer. You need to assume this will continue if you do not step in and do something about it.

Here are some first steps you can initiate to protect the victim:

  1. Keep your cool. It is natural that you will feel angry or frustrated when your family member is a nursing home resident, and you have reason to think that they are subjected to abuse. It is essential for your loved one’s sake to stay calm and attempt to resolve the matter in a reasonable way.
  2. Seek clarifications from the management and staff of the Maryland nursing home you suspect of abuse. It is important to listen to their side of the matter before you act. In the event of their inability or unwillingness to explain the matter satisfactorily, you should attempt to pursue more formal action. It is essential that the management of the nursing home is willing to and able to explain any situation that appears to you as possible neglect or abuse, irrespective of whether it directly relates to your dear one or not.
  3. You should speak privately to your dear one about the issue. You might have to think of further action if the nursing home does not permit this for some reason. You should report any suspected abuse and consult a qualified Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer. You should know that a nursing home resident may shy away from speaking about abuse for many reasons including fear and not wishing to make you anxious.
  4. Be meticulous and record everything. Keep notes and pictures when you feel there is something wrong. Find out the names and designations of the staff you speak to. Also, talk to residents who are coherent and might have knowledge of the situation. Inform the nursing home management of the incident. If they do not handle it soon, speak to an experienced Maryland nursing home abuse attorney.
  5. In the event of clear abuse and/or imminent danger, summon the police. They might ask you to file a complaint. In some instances, police intervention may be necessary to make sure that the nursing home residents stay safe.
  6. Contact an Ombudsman in the state through the website aging.Maryland.gov. This person has the responsibility of ensuring an investigation into neglect and abuse at long-term care facilities.
  7. Speak to an experienced Maryland nursing home abuse attorney. If someone dear to you is being subjected to neglect or abuse, they are eligible for protection as well as compensation legally. Based on your relationship, you may also be eligible for compensation.

What to Expect When Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Case in Maryland

It is important to be prepared with all of the necessary information about your case when attempting to pursue a personal injury case. A skilled nursing home abuse attorney in Maryland could help you to collect evidence, gather documents, and obtain expert testimony. Filing lawsuits in Maryland for nursing home abuse can be a time-consuming process and you might be embroiled in that suit for a very long time.

As a claimant, you can help your case to have the best chance for success by:

  • Amassing all documents you can obtain. These include medical records, autopsy reports (if applicable), journals, letters, emails, even pictures/video showing physical damage caused by the abuse
  • Befriending nursing home staff that might be agreeable to testifying in court on your behalf
  • Eliciting help and/or testimony from medical personnel

Entrusting our loved ones to the care of nursing home staff and medical professionals is not an easy task, and finding out that a family member has experienced abusive or neglectful treatment while in the care of professionals is a traumatic experience. A personal injury claim could help abuse victims and their loved ones to recover damages suffered through such abhorrent treatment. A seasoned Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer could help you gather all the information required for a personal injury claim, and guide you through the process from start to finish.

Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Trial Process

If you believe someone in your family has suffered abuse or neglect in a Maryland nursing home, it is wise to take action promptly.

Although it is possible to file a complaint with the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality, many people find it helpful to talk to an attorney who has experience handling nursing home abuse cases, because a knowledgeable Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer could evaluate the circumstances, explain all available options, and file a civil lawsuit if necessary.

The trial process can often be quite complex, so even those who choose to file a suit on their own without an attorney are advised to obtain legal guidance well before the trial.

Investigating Nursing Home Abuse

Before a trial, the most important step any litigant can take is to thoroughly investigate the facts and obtain as much evidence as possible. It is helpful to have photographs of the nursing home resident before the abuse as well as after. Potential witnesses should be interviewed and everything should be properly documented. Records should be requested and examined.

In addition to knowing what happened at the nursing home, it is often necessary to have evidence of how an episode should have been handled according to accepted medical practices. Often expert witnesses are consulted to determine the standard and ascertain whether the conduct at the nursing home violated that standard.

Expert witnesses may include medical professionals, nursing home administrators, and others with experience in the field of long-term care. A skilled Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer could help with the investigation process.

The Beginning Stages of Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

Many nursing home contracts contain arbitration clauses, so it will be essential to verify that the resident or responsible family member has not signed an enforceable arbitration agreement. The issue of enforceability may be obvious based on Maryland case law or it may need to be litigated at trial.

After a lawsuit is filed, usually in a Maryland circuit court, the discovery process begins. Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys use this process to collect more detailed evidence by seeking written information such as answers to specific questions (interrogatories), and requests to provide documents and by asking questions orally at deposition proceedings.

A Settlement is a Possibility at Any Stage

Although many people in Maryland believe that offers to settle a case are made well before a trial, in fact, a settlement can occur at any stage of the proceedings. Often attorneys will wait to see what evidence the other side has amassed before deciding whether to make a settlement offer.

An experienced Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer could then evaluate any offers to determine whether it makes sense to accept an offer, conduct further negotiations, or proceed to trial. A nursing home abuse case may also be settled through mediation.

Litigation Process

If the case actually proceeds to litigation, the trial begins with opening statements by attorneys for each side. In these statements, they explain what they intend to prove during the course of the trial, which may last several days.

The party alleging abuse will usually need to testify and will be cross-examined by the defense attorneys. While this part of the process may difficult for some people, preparation by an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Maryland could make the process much easier.

The lawyer for the party seeking relief will also present witnesses, medical evidence, and other evidence to prove the abuse allegations. After this, the defense will present their evidence, and then both sides will sum up the evidence in closing arguments. When all information has been submitted, the jury or judge will make a determination.

Talk with a Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you suspect one of your loved ones has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, contact a Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer. An attorney could help you seek justice for your loved one’s suffering. Call today to learn about your legal options and how a lawyer could help you recover the compensation you deserve.