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Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

July 19, 2023

Over $400 Million worth of case results

Awarded The Best Lawyer in 2024 by U.S. News

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By law, nursing homes and assisted living facilities must treat all residents with dignity and respect. All kinds of nursing home abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, are inexcusable and punishable under federal and Illinois legislation.

Unfortunately, abuse is common in long-term care facilities across the US, despite numerous laws protecting the rights of nursing home residents.

Facilities often hide the mistreatment from local authorities and protect perpetrators to avoid liability for victims’ injuries. 

You deserve justice if a nursing home’s negligence injured you or a loved one.

Our experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, will defend your legal rights and hold all at-fault parties accountable for their actions.

Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

Chicago Assisted Living Injury Attorney

Common Causes of Injuries in Assisted Living Facilities

Most nursing home injuries stem from abuse and neglect.

Generally, a nursing facility with the following issues is more prone to accidents and mistreatment:

  • Understaffing: All nursing facilities need adequate employees to maintain minimum care standards and avoid injuries caused by preventable errors, including accidents and medical mistakes. Employees in understaffed assisted living facilities are more likely to cut corners, neglect residents (intentionally or otherwise), or abuse residents due to stress and job dissatisfaction.
  • Lack of Funding: Insufficient budgets almost always lead to poor nursing home care. A lack of funding means inadequate staffing, training, equipment, supplies, and other necessities for proper care. 
  • Poor Management: Management performance directly affects residents’ quality of care. A poorly performing management team could lead to dissatisfied employees, which, in turn, increases the risk of abuse. Moreover, poor management can lead to staffing issues contributing to neglect, such as insufficient nurses per shift and lack of resident supervision.
  • Inadequate Training and Experience: Nursing home employees need sufficient training, experience, and background to meet the care standards that elderly and disabled residents require. Nursing facilities that fail to satisfy this standard make way for abuse, neglect, and medical errors.
  • Underreporting: The Adult Protective Services Act requires certain professionals to report known or suspected abuse of people 60 or older and adults with disabilities aged 18-59. Adult care professionals are among the mandatory reporters. Sadly, many abuse cases go unreported and, therefore, unaddressed, further increasing the risk for residents.

These problems often lead to direct causes of injuries, such as:

  • Lack of Supervision: Residents need supervision to ensure they don’t hurt themselves or others. Understaffed and underfunded assisted living facilities often lack the employees to provide enough attention to all residents. This issue increases the risk of accidents, abuse, neglect, and resident-to-resident violence.
  • Low Standards of Care: Assisted living facilities that lack funding, staff, and good management often provide substandard care, amenities, services, and equipment. Unfortunately, poor care frequently becomes the norm in these low-quality facilities, further risking the health and safety of residents.
  • Medical Malpractice: Insufficient training and experience are the primary causes of misdiagnosis, medication errors, and other medical mistakes in assisted living settings. 
  • Environmental Hazards: Unsafe environments increase the likelihood of falls, communicable diseases, and other harm. A low-quality assisted living home could put residents at risk by failing to address hazards like slippery floors, broken stair railings, dirty bedding, etc.
  • Employee Dissatisfaction: Wage issues and a poorly managed assisted living home can create frustrated employees, who may be more likely to be abusive or neglectful towards patients. 

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) lists the five types of abuse commonly reported in nursing and assisted living facilities:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a caregiver or another resident inflicts bodily injury or harm to a nursing home resident.

It includes any act of physical violence, such as:

  • Kicking
  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Hair-pulling
  • Pushing
  • Restraining without a medical reason

According to a 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) study on elder abuse, over 9% of nursing and assisted living employees admitted to committing physical abuse.

Older people or their proxies reported about 14% of cases, but the problem remains underreported. 

Physical assault or abuse poses an extremely high risk of injury and death to an elderly resident, as most older adults are frail and heal slowly from injuries.

This kind of mistreatment could lead to injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, and internal bleeding.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual activity with a resident, including non-physical contact.

Sexual abuse includes but is not limited to:

  • Unwanted kissing or touching
  • Sexual comments
  • Explicit photography
  • Indecent exposure
  • Rape or attempted rape

Sexual assault and abuse can lead to physical harm, such as injuries like sexually transmitted infections and emotional pain. 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or mental abuse occurs when a staff member causes psychological harm to a resident.

This mistreatment often involves some kind of verbal abuse, such as:

  • Humiliation
  • Degradation
  • Gaslighting
  • Bullying
  • Harassment 

However, mental abuse can also involve non-verbal actions, such as isolating an individual from other residents or taking away amenities as punishment.

According to WHO, nearly 33% of staff members admitted to psychologically abusing residents in 2020.

Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Financial abuse is the illegal or non-consensual manipulation or use of a resident’s financial assets.

It may include:

  • Unauthorized bank withdrawals
  • Forging checks
  • Investment fraud
  • Overcharging for services
  • Identity theft
  • Theft of valuables

Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is common in all settings, including assisted living facilities.

Older adults who depend on others for care often have limited access to their assets and may have reduced cognitive abilities.

Neglect

Neglect is when a caregiver fails to provide a resident’s basic needs, including food, water, medical care, hygiene, and social connection. It can be intentional or unintentional, depending on how the neglect occurs.

For instance, a caregiver could be unwilfully neglectful if they fail to provide hygiene assistance because the resident’s record states they can meet that need independently.

Regardless, neglect is considered abuse and puts residents at risk of injury, illness, malnutrition, dehydration, and other health consequences.

What Laws Protect the Rights of Nursing Home Residents?

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 establishes the minimum care standards for nursing facilities and the legal rights of each resident, including the right to be free from abuse and neglect and the right to have their own doctor.

Nursing homes that receive Medicaid or Medicare must meet these standards to obtain certifications and avoid penalties.

In Illinois, facilities must abide by the Nursing Home Care Act.

This law establishes residents’ rights and the responsibilities of establishments to protect residents from abuse or neglect.

Additionally, Illinois has the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act, which aims to safeguard assisted living facility residents’ health, safety, and welfare. 

Aside from the Nursing Home Care Act, Illinois nursing care facilities must satisfy the US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) federal regulations.

Every nursing facility under Medicare or Medicaid is subject to periodic assessments, which could lead to violations and penalties if inspectors find lapses in care.

The Consequences of Abuse or Neglect for Assisted Living Facility Residents

Elder abuse and neglect can inflict physical, emotional, and financial harm on a resident.

Physical Injuries and Ailments

Physical or sexual assault and neglect can lead to:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Internal bleeding
  • Bruises and lacerations
  • Burns
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Pressure ulcers

Emotional and Behavioral Effects

Physical, sexual, and mental abuse can cause:

  • Self-neglect
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders and weight loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Regressive behaviors
  • Violent outbursts
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Self-harm 
  • Suicide

These consequences could increase mortality in elderly residents, especially those with pre-existing health conditions.

Additionally, abuse or neglect can lead to financial hardships for the victim and their family members due to medical bills or assets lost to financial exploitation.

Where to Report Abuse

Many older adults and people with disabilities cannot take action against abuse without help from friends or family members.

If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated in their assisted living facility, you could file a report to the police or the following:

  • Illinois Department of Public Health Nursing Home Hotline (800-252-4343)
  • Illinois Adult Protective Services Hotline (1-866-800-1409)
  • Office of Executive Inspector General
  • Senior Citizens Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-243-5377)

Call 911 if you think your loved one or another resident is in danger.

Assisted living facilities must meet the minimum care standards set by federal and state laws, which include protecting residents from abuse or neglect.

Failure to do so could lead to their liability for injuries and other damages caused by employees or other residents.

Potential Recovery

Victims can file personal injury claims against negligent assisted living facilities and recover financial compensation for their losses.

Claimable damages may include:

  • Medical Expenses: Out-of-pocket costs for hospitalization, surgery, medication, therapy, emergency transportation, etc.
  • Disability: Expenses for mobility aids, rehabilitation, and other related damages if the victim becomes permanently disabled from their injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical, emotional, and mental distress.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Financial compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost due to injuries and their short or long-term effects.
  • Lost Wages: Salaries, wages, and benefits lost by friends or relatives while caring for their injured loved one.
  • Assets Lost to Financial Exploitation: The victim loses money, investments, and valuables to financial abuse or exploitation.
  • Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical bills, grief, loss of consortium, and other related damages if the victim dies from the abuse.
  • Punitive Damages: Further compensation on top of compensatory damages used to punish negligent parties for egregious negligence or abuse.

Settlements for nursing care abuse vary, depending on factors like the degree of injuries sustained and resulting financial losses for the victim.

Your lawyer will estimate the potential value of your claim during your free case evaluation.

Can You Sue a Negligent Facility?

Most abuse cases against assisted living facilities settle out of court, where defendants agree to pay a specific amount to avoid a lawsuit.

However, some cases proceed to litigation, usually when parties cannot agree to a settlement. 

You can sue an assisted living facility if it refuses to pay fair financial compensation.

While the process is typically riskier and more tedious than a claim, it may be necessary to recover what you deserve.

Our lawyers will help you learn more about your legal options during your consultation. 

Seek Help from the Best Chicago Assisted Living Injury Attorneys

Residents in assisted living deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Sadly, many older adults and disabled individuals suffer abuse from the people who are supposed to care for them.

You could be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one experienced abuse in an assisted living setting.

Our compassionate attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help you obtain justice and hold at-fault parties accountable.

Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship. 

Our assisted living abuse lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis.

This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

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- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
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