Between 2010 and 2021, the Wolverine State of Michigan rose in population, particularly in Michigan’s 65+ age group. Between 2010 and 2021, this population segment increased 37.6%. With a rising elderly demographic, nursing home abuse in Michigan must be monitored and prosecuted.
In fact, according to reporting by USA Today, a woman faced charges for the choking death of a Michigan nursing home resident in her care. Michigan.gov reports more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, experiencing injury, neglect, and exploitation.
If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a Michigan nursing home, it’s time to speak with a nursing home neglect attorney. Your loved one deserves a settlement payment for their suffering. If you live in or near Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing or Ann Arbor, it is time to take action.
What is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in Michigan?
Michigan enacted the Social Welfare Act of 1939 to extend government assistance and medical care to “poor or unfortunate persons”. This includes dependent children, the elderly, and those living in nursing home facilities.
Section 11 of the Social Welfare Act defines abuse as the following:
“(a) “Abuse” means harm or threatened harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by another person. Abuse includes, but is not limited to, nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or maltreatment.”
Michigan specifically highlights that abuse is intentional, but there is another form of harm caused by reckless or negligent behavior. Michigan defines neglect as:
“(d) “Neglect” means harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by the inability of the adult to respond to a harmful situation or by the conduct of a person who assumes responsibility for a significant aspect of the adult’s health or welfare. Neglect includes the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care…”
Neglect is different from abuse because it is caused by negligence or recklessness, not deliberate harm. Even though they are different in intention, you may hold a nursing home facility liable for both.
There are many reasons a nursing home can be sued in Michigan, including:
- Falls resulting in serious injuries
- Bed sores
- Residents wandering away
- Wrongful death
If one of these reasons apply to you, consult a nursing home abuse attorney to get started on your claim. You have a limited time to apply depending on your case, so the sooner you start, the better.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Michigan
When suspecting physical nursing home abuse, look for:
- Unexplained loss of mobility
- Repeated ER visits
- Unexplained injuries
Emotional abuse leaves no direct physical injuries, but there are signs this type of behavior is happening:
- Emotional withdrawal
- Less eye contact than normal when loved ones visit
- Being unwilling to speak freely or answer questions
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Emotional distress when left alone
Exercise great care when talking about financial abuse with your loved one. Spotting the warning signs is crucial to stopping further extortion and theft before it’s too late.
Make sure your loved one in Michigan isn’t experiencing the following signs of financial exploitation:
- A lack of access to the resident’s finances
- Unexplained transfer of assets or money to another person
- Unexpected changes to a resident’s banking info
- Abrupt changes to their will or other financial assets
- Recent reluctance to talk about financial matters
- Sudden loss of personal belongings
- Balance statements with transfers to another caregiver
If you’re wondering whether these signs apply to you, fall back on Michigan’s legal definitions and talk to a legal professional. A lawyer in your state specializing in Michigan nursing home law will know whether your loved one got unjustly abused.
How Do I Prove Nursing Home Abuse?
You can prove nursing home abuse by showing right evidence showing your injuries were caused by negligence or intentional harm.
Gather evidence such as:
- Photos of injuries or bedsores
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
It’s your attorney’s job to organize the evidence, but they need the right info to start your claim.
It may sound counterintuitive, but you must report the situation to the owners of the nursing home before starting your claim. Nursing homes generally have guidelines they must follow to continue receiving funding from the government. If you have proof they disobeyed federal and state law, you have a good reason to start your abuse claim.
Take photographs and make written statements regarding the following:
- What you observed
- When you observed the incident
- Who was involved
- Any other relevant information
Next, report applicable situations to Adult Protective Services-MDHHS, the local police, the Attorney General Health Care Fraud Division or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Michigan
To report nursing home abuse, contact the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Adult Protective Services at 855-444-3911.
If a nursing home resident suffers serious injury or harm, the facility must file a report with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). If you are a mandated reporter in health care, you must report any suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult to Adult Protective Services by calling 855-444-3911.
- Can the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman at 866-485-9393 or 517-827-8040
- Office of Recipient Rights at 800-854-9090
Rights Nursing Home Residents Have in Michigan
Residents living in Medicaid-funded nursing homes have additional rights given by the state of Michigan. These rights are protected by laws made by both the state and federal government.
You have a right to adequate and proper care regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, or source of payment. You have a right to personal privacy and confidentiality. You’re entitled to a reasonable, clean, home-like living space. You have a right to be protected from:
- Mental, physical, sexual, and verbal abuse
- Isolation (unless medically necessary)
- Misuse of your property
Types of Damages Residents Can Sue For
There are two types of damages you can file for in a Michigan nursing home abuse claim:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Economic and non-economic damages are filed under compensatory damages, compensation for harm, injury, or expenses incurred by the liable defendant(s). Economic damages are measurable expenses suffered due to abuse or neglect. These expenses may include:
- Medical care
- Relocation costs
- Physical therapy
- Mental health treatment
Non-economic damages are the non-measurable expenses from abuse. The limit on total non-economic damages in Michigan “shall not exceed $280,000.00“ but there are exceptions that raise the cap to $500,000 and the amount is regularly adjusted up for inflation. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are designed to punish fraud, malice, or wanton conduct on the part of a defendant but are generally not awarded in the state of Michigan.
Michigan Statute of Limitations
All states make a deadline for filing claims against nursing home abuse, called the statute of limitations. This deadline prevents cases from lasting indefinitely, and filing past this timeline will dramatically reduce your chances of getting your claim accepted. The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse cases in Michigan is three years.
How a Michigan Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help
Nursing home abuse attorneys typically work under contingency fees. This means your family won’t have to pay them until your loved one’s settlement arrives. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process and secure your family a much higher settlement than if you represent yourself.
Not sure how to locate an attorney to represent your Michigan nursing home abuse case? LegalASAP’s attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate in Michigan.
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.