Serving Justice

Houston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

When we place trust in a nursing home to take care of our loved ones, we expect them to provide proper care and address their needs on a day-to-day basis. When that trust is broken, it is critical to hire an attorney who can easily recognize situations where nursing home employees have not followed the proper protocols, have not been trained, or have acted in a negligent manner. If you or a loved one has or is suspected of having suffered nursing home abuse, contact Ramsey Law Group. We will work with you to investigate and hold the facility accountable. 

Nursing Home Legal Resources

Why Hire Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers?

At Ramsey Law Group, we care about your loved one’s well-being and will make sure the nursing home is held accountable. Nursing home abuse or neglect is unacceptable under any circumstance, and we understand how devastating it can be. Our nursing home abuse lawyers have:

  • Extensive experience fighting for and obtaining justice on behalf of victims of abuse. 
  • Received national recognition for excellence.
  • Recovered millions in compensation for injury clients.

Our Houston personal injury lawyers are ready to help you navigate what can be a long and challenging legal journey. We will provide compassionate representation that has your loved one’s best interests in mind. Contact us online or by calling (888) 335-7477 to schedule a no-cost consultation today.

Free Case Evaluation Call (888) 335-7477

What Is Considered Elder Abuse?

There are various forms of elder abuse, but most commonly consists of the following: 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse against an elderly person is any type of assault or battery. That includes being punched, hit with objects, kicked, bitten, pinched, slapped, pushed, burned, shaken, unreasonably physically restrained, chemically restrained, or forced to take psychotropic drugs for any purpose not authorized by a physician or any other type of intentional harm. 

Sexual Abuse

Any non-consensual sexual contact between a nursing home staff member and a resident, including sexual assault and battery or rape. 

Emotional Abuse 

The use of words or actions to threaten or intimidate a resident is emotional abuse. It is often inflicted by staff members harassing or bullying residents, humiliating, teasing, prohibiting social activities, not allowing visitors or time with family. 

Neglect 

Neglect can be a less obvious form of abuse and includes failing to provide food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care, or other basic essentials. Nursing home staff may intentionally or unintentionally neglect a resident. An example of unintentional neglect would be if the staff is stretched too thin and does not realize that a resident hasn’t been given their meals. However, there is no excuse for unnecessary harm to a resident.  

Confinement

Any unnecessary restraint or isolation, including forcing a resident to stay in a confined area. There is no reason to physically restrict a resident unless it is for supervised medical purposes. For example, a staff member may take a resident’s wheelchair, walker, crutches, etc. so that they cannot leave their room. 

Healthcare Abuse

When staff members abuse the healthcare system by partaking in improper medical billing, some examples include: 

  • Phantom billing: Billing for services or care that is either not performed or was unnecessary.
  • Double billing, upcoding, or up-billing: Billing for expensive and unnecessary procedures or supplies billed for more than what was actually performed or used.
  • Billing for medically unnecessary or uncovered services or goods.
  • Selling unused drugs or medical records.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse or financial exploitation is the improper or illegal use of a resident’s money, assets, or property. Nursing home patients are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and are often unaware of it. Some examples include a nursing home employee stealing or misusing a resident’s funds or possessions, cashing a resident’s check without permission or authorization, forging a signature, deceiving or coercing a resident to sign a document to such as a contract or will, or improperly using guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney. 

Factors That Contribute to Elder Abuse

Certain health conditions and social circumstances can contribute to an increased risk of elder abuse occurring in a nursing home. Those include: 

  • Poor cognitive function: Mental health problems or mental disorders significantly increase the chances of abuse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 50% of patients with dementia worldwide suffer from some form of abuse. 
  • Increased physical dependency: The more reliant an elderly person is on others, the more susceptible they are to abuse. 
  • Social and family environment: Abuse often goes undetected when elderly residents are socially isolated. 
  • Economic status: Elderly people from lower-income backgrounds are at a higher risk of abuse since they are often placed in lower-quality facilities. 
  • Race: People of color are more likely to suffer from elder abuse. 

What Are the Laws Against Elder Abuse in Texas?

Texas has established laws designed to protect nursing home residents and hold nursing homes accountable for abuse or neglect. 

The Elder Justice Initiative

This law makes it an obligation for Texans to report elder abuse or neglect suspicions. Specifically, when persons over the age of 65, adults with disabilities, or children are suspected of being abused, neglected, or exploited, it must be reported. 

  • If the victim is in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or relies on a home health provider, call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 458-9858. 
  • If the victim is a resident of a long-term care facility that receives Medicaid funding, notify the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at (512) 463-2011 (Austin), toll-free at (800) 252-5400 or by e-mail at: mfcu@texasattorneygeneral.gov.
  • If an elderly victim is not in a healthcare facility, report abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the Texas Family and Protective Services Elder Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400 or 1-512-834-3784.
  • For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, if you are equipped with a Teletypewriter (TTY), call Relay Texas by dialing 711 or (800) 735-2989. Tell the relay agent you need to contact the Texas Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400.

Persons who make a report can do so confidentially and are immune from civil or criminal liability. The Adult Protective Services (APS) will investigate any elder abuse claims that take place within a care facility, including private homes. However, failing to report suspected abuse can result in a misdemeanor charge or state jail felony. 

Penalties for Elder Abuse in Texas

Elder abuse is considered a felony in Texas. Depending on the severity of the crime, the offender may be charged with a first, second, or third-degree felony. A third-degree felony carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony conviction carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. An elder abuser who willingly inflicts serious physical harm will be charged with a first-degree felony, which carries a penalty of life in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Tragically, Texas is ranked as one of the worst states for nursing home quality. 

  • Care facilities in Texas ranked 51 out of 51, with a total score of 2.68 on a 5-point scale, according to a survey by Care.com.
  • 305 nursing homes are reported to be “much below average,” with the lowest possible score for quality of care.
  • Approximately 5,000 cases of elder abuse were reported each month in 2019.  
  • Texas is ranked 50th in nursing home quality by the United Health Foundation’s 2019 American Health Ranking Senior Report. 
  • 64% of elder abuse investigations in Texas involve female victims. 
  • According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), nursing home abuse complaints are broken down as follows: 
    • 27.4% – Physical abuse
    • 22.1% – Resident-on-resident abuse (physical or sexual)
    • 19.4% – Psychological abuse
    • 15.3% – Gross neglect
    • 7.9% – Sexual abuse
    • 7.9% – Financial exploitation 
  • As many as 5,000,000 elderly people are impacted by abuse every year, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). 

What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

When visiting a loved one, keep in mind the following warning signs broken down by the type of abuse: 

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Open wounds
  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Welts
  • Bite marks
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Marks on wrists or other signs of restraint
  • Appearing overmedicated or undermedicated

Sexual Abuse

  • Bleeding from the genital area 
  • Torn or bloody clothing or undergarments
  • Bruises
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or genital infections 
  • Withdrawal, anger, depression, or other emotional changes. 

Emotional Abuse 

  • Changes in behavior or personality
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Frequently arguing with the staff.

Neglect 

  • Bedsores
  • Drastic weight loss or malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Deteriorating health
  • Poor hygiene
  • Smelling of urine and/or feces
  • Stained or bloody clothing or bedding
  • Infections
  • Prohibited from seeing visitors

Healthcare Abuse

  • Incorrect type or administration of medication
  • Duplicate bills for the same appointment, prescriptions, or procedure 
  • Inappropriate billing
  • Inaccurate information on an explanation of benefits paperwork
  • Wrong information on a bill (i.e., the provider, location, or date information)
  • Waived deductibles or copays 

Financial Abuse

  • Sudden and significant bank withdrawals 
  • Changes in regular banking habits
  • Abrupt changes to a will or estate plan
  • Personal possessions disappearing without an explanation 

When Should I Contact a Houston Nursing Home Lawyer?

If you suspect or spot warning signs of an elderly loved one being abused, contact a Houston nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. While your loved one may not be able to articulate precisely what is occurring, a nursing home abuse lawyer understands the importance of finding answers and pursuing accountability. In addition, they have a thorough understanding of the relevant laws, as well as the resources to investigate and help you determine whether abuse has taken place and if you have a claim. They will explain your legal options and gather the evidence needed to prove your claim. 

While families may naturally wish to confront the nursing home staff or management regarding their loved one’s situation, doing so could derail the investigative process. Management may temporarily improve the resident’s conditions, or the staff may increase their efforts to cover up warning signs or evidence. It is best to get advice from a Houston attorney who is familiar with the reputations of local nursing home facilities. They will ensure your claim is handled fairly and that you and your loved one obtains justice.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death in Texas?

Depending on the circumstances, a nursing home can be held liable when a resident is injured or killed as a result of negligence or intentional harm. Nursing homes are required by law to provide residents with a reasonable level of care based on the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, state laws, and industry standards. Therefore, any deviation from their very strict “duty of care” exposes the nursing home to civil and criminal liability. Incidents of negligence that commonly prompt wrongful death claims against a nursing home include: 

  • Negligent training of staff. 
  • Negligent hiring of staff, such as failing to perform background checks.
  • Failure to properly monitor staff.
  • Failure to provide adequate security.
  • Failure to provide daily necessities, such as food, water, personal hygiene, and clean living conditions.
  • Failure to prevent or treat bedsores.  
  • Medical neglect, such as failing to administer medication or preventing regular doctor visits. 
  • Failure to provide appropriate supervision and assistive devices to prevent accidents.
  • Forcing unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints.
  • Intentional abuse, neglect, or exploitation by staff members.
  • Negligent security. 

When the surviving family can demonstrate that negligence on behalf of a nursing home played a role in their loved one’s death, the facility may be legally liable for all resulting damages. In some cases, there may be third parties who are also liable. For example, the manufacturer or vendor of a wheelchair that broke or malfunctioned or a visitor who assaulted a resident, resulting in their death. Contact our Houston wrongful death attorneys today for a free case evaluation. 

Contact Ramsey Law Today

Locally Trusted Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

We are committed to the unyielding pursuit of justice for victims of elder abuse in Houston and across Texas. When you partner with Ramsey Law Group, you are more than just a client. We will treat you like family. Call (888) 335-7477 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.