At least 10% of adults age 65 and older will experience some form of elder abuse each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. And some of that occurs in care facilities. If you’re concerned about nursing home abuse in North Carolina, we’ve got the information you need.
We want the best for our aging loved ones. Sometimes that means moving them to a nursing home where they can get the medical and social support they need. Most nursing homes in the Tar Heel State are safe and responsible places for your loved one to live out their days. But there is some risk.
IMPORTANT: If you suspect nursing home abuse in North Carolina, consult an experienced nursing home neglect attorney to protect your loved one’s rights and get the justice they deserve. Click here to speak with a nearby attorney for FREE about your claim.
Nursing Home Resident Rights in North Carolina
State law protects the rights of people living in nursing homes, including:
- To be free of mental and physical abuse
- To be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of personal dignity and individuality
- To enjoy privacy in their room
- To manage their financial affairs unless other legal arrangements are in place
Defining Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Nursing home abuse in North Carolina can impact your loved one’s physical and emotional health, financial security, and social connections. Even worse, it can degenerate current conditions, cause depression, require hospitalization and increase mortality. Unfortunately, some elders fall prey to multiple types of abuse and neglect.
IMPORTANT: Consult a North Carolina nursing home abuse attorney to discover which type applies to your case and which damages you can sue for.
Elder Financial Abuse & Exploitation
According to the DOJ, elder financial abuse includes,
“making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.”
Signs of nursing home financial abuse in North Carolina:
- Missing cash or checks
- Unpaid bills and unusual purchases
- Increased use of credit cards
- Frequent ATM withdrawals or transfers
- Changes to financial account information, wills and trusts
Nursing Home Neglect in North Carolina
Nursing home neglect is the second-most prevalent form of elder abuse. It occurs when the facility and its staff fail or refuse to ensure residents’ safety, physical health, and emotional and social well-being.
Signs of nursing home neglect in North Carolina:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Untreated or unmanaged health issues, including pressure sores
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unsafe, unsanitary or unclean living conditions
- Unnecessary restraint or confinement
- Low quality of life
You may have a case if you see nursing home staff:
- Leave patients alone or unsupervised for long periods of time
- Fail to follow basic protocols of hygiene, safety, and infection control
- Withhold walkers and wheelchairs when required
- Keep residents in bed for too long
- Fail to give medication in the right dosage or at the right time
Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes
Psychological abuse is the third-most common form of nursing home abuse in North Carolina. The U.S. DOJ defines it as:
“undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.”
Signs of nursing home emotional abuse in North Carolina:
- Your family member’s own reports of being mistreated
- Heightened anxiety or depression
- Social and physical withdrawal
- Not communicating or responding
- Unusual behaviors like rocking or biting
- Excessive apologies and fear
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
You may have a case if you see nursing home staff:
- Withhold basic care, medication, or food
- Restrict decision-making
- Use demeaning language
- Threaten social isolation
- Scold excessively
- Cause or ignore emotional distress
- Display humiliating gestures
- Hyper-control behavior
Elder Physical Abuse in North Carolina
Though unthinkable, elder physical abuse does occur. Be alert if your loved one or their caregiver can’t give you a simple, clear explanation of what caused their injury.
Signs of nursing home physical abuse in North Carolina
- Your family member’s own reports of being slapped, kicked or otherwise mistreated
- Underdosing or overdosing of prescription drugs
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Sprains and dislocations
- Fractured or broken bones
- Open wounds
- Abrasions, burns and cuts
- Bruises and black eyes
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Inappropriate sexual conduct or contact is hard to think about, but it does happen. If your loved one suffer from sexual abuse, know your resources to report sexual abuse whenever possible.
Signs of nursing home sexual abuse in North Carolina:
- Changes in demeanor, such as fear or withdrawal from a specific nursing home staffer
- Blood on sheets, linens or clothing
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area
- Your elder’s report of sexual assault or rape
- Evidence of pornographic material shown to a loved one with diminished capacity
- Unexplained venereal disease, genital infections, vaginal or anal bleeding
Preventing Elder Abuse & Neglect
You’ve taken the first step to reduce risk by learning how to recognize possible nursing home abuse in North Carolina. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you to also:
- Check on your loved ones and listen so you fully understand their situations and can provide advocacy and support.
- Report abuse or suspected abuse so it doesn’t continue.
- Learn how the signs of elder abuse differ from the normal aging process.
IMPORTANT: Staffing shortages make it hard to find trained, responsible nursing home staff. One way to lower the likelihood of elder abuse is to verify the staff-to-patient ratio.
It’s also important to choose a reputable care facility. Here are 12 questions to help you find a good nursing home in North Carolina.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in North Carolina
IMPORTANT: If you suspect abuse, don’t wait to report it.
Notify the authorities immediately if you see or suspect anything. You have three options:
- Report to North Carolina Adult Protective Services officials in the county local to the nursing home. Find a local office here.
- Call the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services CARE-LINE at (800) 662-7030. It’s toll-free within the state.
- Contact law enforcement with jurisdiction over the facility.
The North Carolina Ombudsman
The North Carolina Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program connects you with state officials who can:
- Explain residents’ rights and other federal and state laws and regulations affecting long-term care facilities and residents.
- Give guidance on powers of attorney, living wills and guardianship.
- Investigate and assess allegations to help you and your loved one resolve concerns and problems around nursing home neglect and abuse in North Carolina.
- Refer you to other agencies.
IMPORTANT: Proving abuse and neglect can be difficult and not every lawsuit qualifies. Consider a free consultation with an attorney experienced in North Carolina nursing home cases to see if you have a case and what kind of compensation you can expect. See how the process works.
4 Types of Damages in North Carolina
Victims of nursing home abuse in North Carolina may be able to sue for compensatory damages or punitive damages. A lawyer guides you through the legal process and can secure a higher settlement than if you represent your loved one.
- Economic damages: You may be able to get reimbursement for prior and future medical care related to the abuse or neglect. This can include physical therapy and mental health services.
- Emotional distress damages: The pain and suffering your loved one experiences after abuse and neglect may qualify for a money settlement. This includes sleep and eating disruption, fear, anxiety and depression. You may also have a case for loss of enjoyment, or how the abuse or neglect impacts your daily living and quality of life.
- Property loss compensation: In cases of financial abuse and theft, you may be able to sue for the amount taken or value/replacement cost of stolen items.
Punitive damages address fraud, malice or wanton conduct.
IMPORTANT: There are strict laws about which damages can be claimed and how much can be awarded. Work with an attorney who’s handled nursing home abuse in North Carolina to get the maximum settlement possible.
North Carolina Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in nursing home abuse and neglect cases in North Carolina is three years.
IMPORTANT: Don’t wait to start the process. Filing as soon as possible ensures the facts are fresh and evidence isn’t forgotten or lost. This is critical to building a convincing case for insurance companies, judges and juries.
Find a North Carolina Nursing Home Lawyer
Lawyers in these cases typically work on contingency. Your family won’t have to pay until your loved one’s settlement arrives.
Not sure how to find expert legal counsel? Our attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate to take your North Carolina nursing home abuse or neglect case.
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.