Nursing home abuse in Nebraska is a serious and distressing issue for both victims and their families. Victims of mistreatment at any long-term care facility have rights, including the ability to pursue a lawsuit or an insurance claim for compensation. A skilled nursing home abuse lawyer can guide victims through the legal process, ensuring they receive maximum compensation and justice.

Omaha Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

At Liberty Law Group, our firm represents victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive representation utilizing all available resources to effectively pursue the case from start to finish. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion, Council Bluffs and surrounding areas of Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa. Including the Nebraska counties of Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Dodge, Washington, and Cass as well as the Iowa counties of Pattawattamie, Harrison, and Mills. If you, your parent, or another loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect at a nursing home resulting in an injury or other damage, contact our office immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our attorneys. Our team is standing by and ready to help you through this difficult situation.

Nursing Home Abuse Information Center

Below, Liberty Law Group provides useful information about nursing home abuse, such as its various types and causes, the legal avenues open to victims, and the important role of a nursing home abuse lawyer in Nebraska cases.

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What is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is a residential facility where elderly or disabled individuals receive 24-hour medical and personal care. It’s a place for those who need ongoing healthcare services, but don’t need to be in a hospital. Nursing homes typically offer a combination of nursing care, personal care (like help with bathing and dressing), and therapy services to residents. They are designed to meet the needs of people with chronic health problems or those recovering from illnesses or injuries.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

  • Physical Abuse – Physical abuse in nursing homes involves any form of physical harm inflicted upon residents, often by caregivers or staff members. This type of abuse can include hitting, slapping, pushing, or using unnecessary physical restraints. The symptoms of physical abuse may manifest as bruises, cuts, broken bones, or other unexplained injuries. Elderly residents are particularly vulnerable due to their frailty and dependence on caregivers for daily activities.
  • Emotional Abuse – Emotional or psychological abuse in nursing homes refers to any action that causes emotional distress or harm to the residents. This abuse can be verbal or non-verbal, including yelling, humiliating, ridiculing, or ignoring the resident. It can also involve isolating them from activities or friends. Signs of emotional abuse are not always visible but may include fearfulness, withdrawal, depression, and changes in behavior.
  • Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a particularly heinous form of abuse. It involves any non-consensual sexual contact or interaction, including unwanted touching, sexual assault, or forcing the resident to watch or participate in sexual acts. Indicators of sexual abuse can include bruises on the genital area or breasts, STDs, or sudden changes in behavior.
  • Financial Exploitation – Financial exploitation occurs when staff or others who are close to the elderly individual improperly use their funds, property, or assets. This can include forging signatures, stealing possessions or money, or coercing residents into altering wills or financial documents. Warning signs include sudden changes in financial situations, unexplained withdrawals, or alterations in wills and power of attorney documents.
  • Neglect – Neglect in nursing homes happens when caregivers fail to provide necessary care and services, leading to harm or risk of harm to residents. It can include failing to provide food, water, medication, or assistance with personal hygiene. Neglect can be intentional or due to understaffing and inadequate training. Symptoms of neglect may manifest as malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, or poor personal hygiene.

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Underlying Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

  • Understaffing – Understaffing in nursing homes is a significant cause of abuse. When there are not enough staff members to adequately care for the residents, it can lead to neglect and poor quality of care. Staff may become overwhelmed and frustrated, potentially leading to instances of physical or emotional abuse. Residents might not receive assistance with eating, bathing, or medication, which can escalate to more serious health issues.
  • Lack of Training – Lack of proper training for nursing home staff is another major cause of abuse. When caregivers are not adequately trained, they may not know how to handle difficult situations or care for residents with special needs, such as those with dementia or mobility issues. This lack of knowledge can result in improper handling, neglect, or even unintentional harm to the residents.
  • Burnout and Stress – Caregiver burnout and stress can also contribute to nursing home abuse. Working in a nursing home can be emotionally and physically demanding. Staff members who are burnt out may become impatient, less empathetic, and more prone to taking out their frustrations on residents, leading to emotional or physical abuse.
  • Poor Management and Oversight – Ineffective management and lack of oversight in nursing homes can create an environment where abuse is more likely to occur. Without proper supervision and accountability, staff members may feel they can act without consequences. This can lead to various forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, and financial exploitation of residents.
  • Resident Vulnerability – The inherent vulnerability of residents in nursing homes is a factor that contributes to abuse. Many residents are elderly, have disabilities, or suffer from cognitive impairments, making them more susceptible to abuse and less likely to report it. This vulnerability can be exploited by caregivers or other residents, leading to various forms of abuse.

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How Does Elder Abuse Relate to Nursing Home Abuse?

Elder abuse refers to any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, or involve neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation. This abuse can happen anywhere, including in one’s own home, a relative’s house, or a care facility like a nursing home. Nursing home abuse is a specific type of elder abuse that occurs in a residential care facility. It includes any harm done to residents, whether it’s physical injuries, emotional stress, neglect of their basic needs, or financial manipulation. The vulnerability of nursing home residents – often due to age, health conditions, or dependency on staff for care – can make them particularly susceptible to abuse.

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Type of Injuries Sustained by Nursing Home Abuse Victims

Victims of nursing home abuse can sustain a variety of injuries, some of which are severe and can have long-lasting effects. Common injuries include:

  1. Bedsores (Pressure Ulcers): These sores occur when a person is in the same position for too long without being moved. They can lead to serious infections and even death if untreated.
  2. Broken Bones: These injuries can happen from falls or accidents within the nursing home environment. Hip fractures are particularly common and dangerous for the elderly.
  3. Dehydration and Malnutrition: These conditions arise when residents are not provided with enough food and water, leading to serious health complications.
  4. Infections: Infections can quickly develop, especially if wounds or sores are not properly treated. They can be life-threatening, such as in the case of sepsis.
  5. Injuries Caused by Bed Rails: Bed rails are used to prevent falls from beds but can cause suffocation, cuts, or asphyxiation if not used correctly.
  6. Medication Mistakes: Errors in medication can lead to severe health problems, including reactions to the wrong medication or incorrect dosages.
  7. Spinal Injuries: These can occur due to abusive actions or neglect, such as failing to assist a resident with mobility.

Besides physical injuries, victims can also suffer from emotional and psychological harm due to the abuse or neglect they endure.

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Where Nursing Home Abuse Happens in Nebraska

  • Urban vs. Rural Settings – Nursing homes in urban areas of Nebraska might face different challenges compared to those in rural settings. Urban facilities may have a higher turnover of staff and a larger resident population, which can sometimes lead to oversight issues and increased risk of abuse. In contrast, rural nursing homes might struggle with limited resources and access to trained professionals, which can also contribute to neglect or abuse.
  • For-Profit and Non-Profit Nursing Homes – Both for-profit and non-profit nursing homes in Nebraska are susceptible to instances of abuse. For-profit facilities might experience pressures to maximize profits, potentially leading to understaffing or insufficient training, which can increase the risk of abuse. Non-profit homes, while often more resident-centered, are not immune to such risks, as they also face challenges like funding limitations and staff shortages.
  • Nursing Homes Lacking Staffing and Training – Facilities with inadequate staffing levels or insufficiently trained staff are more prone to incidents of abuse. This can be a concern in both larger institutions and smaller, privately operated homes in Nebraska. The level of staff training and the staff-to-resident ratio are critical factors in determining the likelihood of abuse occurring.
  • Places with Poor Regulatory Oversight – The enforcement of state and federal regulations plays a significant role in curtailing nursing home abuse in Nebraska. Facilities that are regularly inspected and held to high standards by regulatory bodies are less likely to have instances of abuse. However, lapses in enforcement or irregular inspections can lead to an increased risk of abuse in some homes.

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Nursing Homes in Douglas and Lancaster Counties

In Douglas County, Nebraska, nursing home abuse can occur in various long-term care facilities and senior living communities. As the most populated county in Nebraska, home to Omaha, it has a higher concentration of nursing homes compared to other areas. Lancaster County, including the city of Lincoln, also presents environments where nursing home abuse might occur, given its significant elderly population and the presence of multiple care facilities.

Facilities in Douglas County, Nebraska

  • Arbor Care Center – Valhaven
  • Emerald Nursing & Rehab Omaha
  • St. Joseph Villa Nursing Center
  • Hidden Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center
  • The Lutheran Home
  • Life Care Center of Omaha
  • Maple Crest Care Center
  • Alegent Health Immanuel Fontenelle Home
  • Florence Home Healthcare Center
  • Omaha Nursing and Rehab
  • The Ambassador Omaha
  • Lindenwood Nursing Home
  • Keystone Villas
  • Montclair Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • Nebraska Skilled Nursing & Rehab

Facilities in Lancaster County, Nebraska

  • Old Cheney Rehab
  • Sumner Place Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation
  • Azria Health Waverly
  • Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Lancaster Manor
  • Southlake Village Rehabilitation & Care Center
  • Tabitha Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • Hillcrest Firethorn
  • Holmes Lake Manor
  • Ambassador Health of Lincoln
  • Homestead Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
  • St Jane De Chantal Long Term Care Services
  • Tabitha Residence – Cove House
  • Lancaster Rehabilitation Center
  • Holmes Lake Rehabilitation & Care Center

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Liability in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

  • Nursing Home Staff and Caretakers – The most direct form of liability often falls on the individual staff members or caretakers who perpetrate the abuse. This can include nurses, aides, and other personnel directly involved in the day-to-day care of residents. If these individuals engage in abusive actions, they can be held personally liable for their misconduct.
  • Nursing Home Management and Owners – Liability can also extend to the management and owners of the nursing home. This is based on the principle of vicarious liability, where an employer can be held responsible for the actions of its employees if those actions occur within the scope of employment. Additionally, if the abuse stems from inadequate training, understaffing, or negligent hiring practices, the management or owners can be held accountable.
  • Third-Party Contractors – Sometimes, nursing homes employ third-party contractors for services like cleaning, maintenance, or medical care. If a contractor commits abuse, both the individual and the contracting company might be liable. This liability can arise from direct actions of the contractor or from failure to adequately oversee their activities.
  • Medical Professionals – In cases where abuse is linked to medical care, such as improper medication management or medical malpractice, healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses can be held liable. This is particularly relevant if their actions or negligence directly lead to harm.

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Taking Legal Action Against a Nursing Home

Filing an Insurance Claim

When confronting nursing home abuse in Nebraska, the initial recourse often involves filing an insurance claim. This process is critical for several reasons:

  • Immediate Redressal: It is a quicker way to seek compensation for the victim’s injuries and emotional trauma.
  • Evidence Gathering: This stage requires collecting comprehensive documentation, such as medical reports, testimonies from care staff and other residents, and photographic evidence, if available.
  • Claim Assessment: The insurance company will review the claim to assess the extent of liability and damages.
  • Negotiation Phase: This involves detailed discussions between the victim’s representatives and the insurance company to agree on a fair compensation amount.
  • Resolution: Ideally, this process results in a reasonable settlement that covers the victim’s needs without the need for a court trial.

However, not all insurance claims lead to an adequate settlement, and sometimes the claims are outright denied.

Filing a Lawsuit

When an insurance claim is insufficient or denied, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This legal route includes:

  • Initiation of Legal Proceedings: Filing a complaint in court formally starts the lawsuit.
  • Discovery Process: A detailed exchange of information between the parties involved. This phase is critical for uncovering all facts related to the case.
  • Pre-Trial Motions: Legal arguments that may shape the course of the trial, such as motions to dismiss or for summary judgment.
  • Trial Proceedings: Presentation of evidence and arguments in front of a judge or jury. This is a more rigorous process than an insurance claim negotiation.
  • Verdict and Judgment: The court delivers a decision on liability and damages, which can include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages.

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Elements of a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

Successfully proving a nursing home abuse claim, whether through an insurance process or in court, requires a detailed understanding of its foundational elements:

  1. Duty of Care: This involves proving the legal obligation of the nursing home to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.
  2. Breach of Duty: Demonstrating a failure in fulfilling this obligation is essential. This could involve neglect, physical or emotional abuse, or failure to provide basic care needs.
  3. Causation: Establishing a clear link between the breach of duty and the resulting harm is important. This could require medical expert testimony to connect the abuse to the injuries sustained.
  4. Damages: Proving actual damages is pivotal. This encompasses not just physical injuries, but also psychological trauma, financial losses, and overall deterioration in the quality of life.

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Types of Damages in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are the most common form of damages awarded in nursing home abuse cases. These are intended to cover the actual costs and losses that the victim has suffered due to the abuse. They can be broken down into two categories:

  • Economic Damages: These are tangible, quantifiable costs such as medical bills, cost of future medical care, and any other expenses related to the abuse. If the abuse leads to the need for specialized treatment or long-term care, these costs are included here.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These damages are more subjective and include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and the psychological impact of the abuse. Though harder to quantify, they recognize the significant impact abuse can have on a victim’s quality of life.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the defendant intentionally or recklessly abused the victim, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. These are not meant to compensate the victim but rather to punish the perpetrator or the nursing home for particularly harmful behavior.

Wrongful Death Damages

If nursing home abuse leads to the death of a resident, the victim’s family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim for damages. These damages can include the costs associated with medical care prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, and the emotional distress suffered by the family members.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

What constitutes nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse can include physical harm, emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. It’s any action or lack of action that harms a nursing home resident.

How do I know if I have a case for a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
If a resident suffered harm due to neglect or intentional actions of the staff or the facility, there might be grounds for a lawsuit. Signs include unexplained injuries, sudden changes in behavior, poor hygiene, or unexpected financial issues.

Who can be held responsible in a nursing home abuse case?
Responsible parties can include nursing home staff members, the management, or the facility itself. In some cases, third-party contractors and medical professionals may also be liable.

What type of evidence is needed for a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
Evidence can include medical records, witness statements, photos of injuries, and documentation of financial transactions. Any proof of neglect or abuse can support the case.

How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
Nebraska has a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, for filing these lawsuits. This is generally four years from the date of the abuse.

What compensation can be recovered in a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
Compensation may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and in severe cases, punitive damages. If the abuse leads to death, wrongful death damages may also be sought.

Do I need a lawyer for a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
It’s highly recommended to consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer who focuses on nursing home abuse cases. They can navigate the legal system, gather evidence, and ensure the victim’s rights are fully represented.

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Role of a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Helping Victims and Families

Legal Guidance

A nursing home abuse lawyer handles cases where residents of care facilities have been mistreated. They provide expert legal advice, guiding victims and their families through the complex legal process. This includes explaining the victim’s rights, the relevant laws, and the options available for seeking justice and compensation.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

One of the key roles of these lawyers is to thoroughly investigate the abuse. They collect and analyze evidence, which can include medical records, witness statements, and possibly surveillance footage. They also work with experts in medicine and elder care to build a strong case.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Nursing home abuse lawyers are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies. They ensure that any settlements offered are fair and reflect the full extent of the harm suffered. If the insurance company’s offer is inadequate, the lawyer will be prepared to take the case to court.

Litigation and Representation in Court

If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the lawyer will represent the victim in court. This involves presenting the case, arguing on behalf of the victim, and fighting for their right to compensation. They handle all legal proceedings, taking the burden off the victim and their family.

Emotional Support and Advocacy

Beyond the legal aspects, nursing home abuse lawyers often provide emotional support to victims and their families. They understand the sensitive nature of these cases and work to ensure that the victim’s voice is heard and respected throughout the legal process.

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Additional Resources

Nebraska Adult Protective Services (APS) – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services online portal for policies and procedures and regulations relating to abuse. Contact information and what to expect from an APS report of elder abuse are also included on the site.

Nebraska Elder Abuse Laws – The Nebraska Legislature’s official website contains the specific laws on elder abuse. The site contains definitions and classifications of crimes, along with other information about laws passed by Nebraska Legislature on abuse.

Eastern Nebraska Office Of Aging – Non-profit organization that informs seniors and their families on important issues relating to aging and elder care. Visit their website for additional resources and information on available services.

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Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our is dedicated to providing the best possible representation to effectively represent victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing full-service representation utilizing all available resources to pursue each case from start to finish. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, and the surrounding counties of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Cass. We also practice in Iowa, serving Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie County and the surrounding counties of Harrison and Mills. If you, your parent, grandparent, or another loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect at a nursing home facility, you can seek compensation for damages including those resulting from an injury. Contact our office immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your nursing home case with one of our attorneys.

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