Do you suspect an elderly loved one in a nursing home may be a victim of either abuse or neglect? Unfortunately, elder abuse is not rare. The good news is many people are working to stop this crime and help victims. If you are stepping in to assist your own elderly relative by making the decision to talk to a nursing home lawyer, good for you. Taking action now can protect others from suffering the same fate.
Elder abuse is a recognized term that refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act that causes harm to an older person. The term also refers to conditions or acts that create a serious risk of harm to an older person by a family member, caregiver, or other person in a trust relationship. This is also sometimes called elder mistreatment.
“For too long, elderly people have faced abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” said respected U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in 2021. He shared that even before the pandemic, many older people suffered. A study found that at least one in 10 older Americans are victims of some form of elder abuse each year.
You are not alone. If someone you love is among this number, then it is time to talk to an attorney.
Your First Conversation with a Nursing Home Lawyer: What to Expect
The person you’ll speak with is a personal injury attorney who understands both federal and state-based elder abuse laws. They will also be familiar with the legal protections in place for nursing home residents like your elderly friend or relative. This consultation starts with a phone call.
This conversation is always free. What’s more, it doesn’t obligate you to do anything else. This is your chance to share your story as well as gather information about your options. The attorney will ask questions such as:
- “Is your loved one able to communicate clearly?”
- “Can they make a sworn statement?”
- “How and when did you begin to suspect the nursing home resident was a victim of abuse or neglect?”
- “What evidence do you have to support your loved one’s case?”
Evidence may consist of photos, audio recordings and voicemails, or doctor’s records showing things like bed sores, broken bones, or other injuries. If you have documents or evidence to share with the nursing home lawyer, you’ll schedule a confidential, in-person meeting or a video call, depending on your area’s current Covid restrictions.
Tips for Your First Consultation
Help your loved one by carefully preparing for the consultation ahead of time:
- Only share relevant details of your loved one’s situation. Be clear and stick to the point.
- Write down a timeline of what happened to your nursing home resident.
- Collect the names, first and last, of all people involved.
- Answer the lawyer’s questions as directly as possible. If you don’t know something, it is okay to say so.
- Organize your evidence by date.
- Take notes during the call so you can share what is discussed with your loved one.
What to Ask the Nursing Home Lawyer
In addition to being prepared to share your loved one’s situation, it is a good idea to have a list of questions for the lawyer as well. These may include:
- How many cases like this one have you handled? How many cases like mine do you usually handle each year?
- When do you think this situation can be resolved? What result do you feel is most likely?
- What is your standard fee agreement for handling a case like this one?
- Will my loved one need to make a sworn statement? How is that collected?
- What happens next if we decide to retain you as my loved one’s nursing home lawyer?
Taking Elder Abuse Seriously
Ending elder abuse is a government priority. The Transforming America’s Response to Elder Abuse: Mobilizing Attorneys for Older Victims of Abuse & Financial Exploitation program has hired 22 lawyers across the country. Their job is to provide legal services for victims of elder abuse in rural areas.
Lawyers who’ve been hired by this program work with victims of elder abuse in order to enforce their rights. They are also addressing issues such as financial crimes, housing, and protection orders. In addition, they make referrals to other services designed to support aging and disabled Americans.
Thank you for joining the country-wide fight to end elder abuse and neglect. Your case is an important one, and your loved one deserves justice.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online nursing home neglect case evaluation now!
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.