Nursing Home Injuries – Legal Help In Colorado

Nursing Home Negligence

We trust our loved ones to the care of others

However, they are not always shown the respect and care they rightfully deserve.

Nursing Home Lawsuits

According to the National Council on Aging (NCO), approximately one in ten Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse, with estimates indicating that as many as five million elders are abused each year. At the same time, it appears that only one in 24 cases of abuse ends up being reported to authorities

Elder abuse may consist of physical, emotional, as well as sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published some rather shocking information suggesting that rates of elder abuse are currently particularly high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, presenting a marked increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year!

According to the National Council on Aging (NCO), approximately one in ten Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse, with estimates indicating that as many as five million elders are abused each year. At the same time, it appears that only one in 24 cases of abuse ends up being reported to authorities. 

Elder abuse may consist of physical, emotional, as well as sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published some rather shocking information suggesting that rates of elder abuse are currently particularly high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, presenting a marked increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year!

Elder abuse can have serious physical and mental health consequences, including, for instance, physical injuries, premature mortality, depression, and cognitive decline. Nursing home abuse in particular, which is—unfortunately—an all-too-common occurrence, consists of the mistreatment of senior citizens in assisted living facilities, where caretakers may cause either intentional or unintentional harm to residents. In addition to nursing home abuse, there is also a vast amount of cases of nursing home neglect each year, with residents being left unattended for extended periods of time and put in danger. Common warning signs of abuse or neglect include bruising, bedsores, broken bones, infections, malnourishment, soiled clothing, dehydration, weight loss, and generally all kinds of physical injuries, as well as symptoms of depression.

There are several protections afforded to seniors under Colorado law, as well as remedies that can be pursued. If you or a loved one have suffered abuse or neglect in the context of the provision of services within a nursing home, hospice, or any such kind of care facility in Colorado, it is highly recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney who is familiar with the various related legal provisions and procedures applicable in our state for such cases. Legal Help in Colorado has significant experience in nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits. We are committed to helping elders who have suffered abuse while living in a care facility and supporting their loved ones on each step of their case to bring those responsible to justice.

Important Notions and Definitions

Residents of nursing homes in Colorado are protected under the Protective Services for At-Risk Adults Act (Title 26 of the Colorado Revised Statutes). According to its provisions, abuse, which may also occur in the context of a nursing home, occurs when an “at-risk adult” faces inhumane neglect, harm, or non-accidental injury, meaning either due to negligence or intentionally. 

For the purposes of the Act, an at-risk adult is any person over the age of eighteen who is susceptible to mistreatment or self-neglect because, in plain English, they are unable to take care of themselves without the help of another. Therefore, the protection granted over the Act does not only cover the elderly/those over 60 years of age.

Accordingly, abuse is defined as:

  • The nonaccidental infliction of physical pain or injury, as demonstrated by, but not limited to, substantial or multiple skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, dehydration, burns, bone fractures, poisoning, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling, or suffocation;
  • Confinement or restraint that is unreasonable under generally accepted caretaking standards; or 
  • Subjection to sexual conduct or contact classified as a crime under the Colorado Criminal Code.

Although nursing home neglect does not generally entail incidents as violent as those involving “active” abuse, it is in essence a form of abuse that can be equally detrimental, physically as well as emotionally for victims. 

Instances of neglect in nursing homes usually arise when residents do not receive the proper care from those entrusted with providing it, leading to bodily and emotional harm, various ailments, and, in extreme (yet not entirely uncommon) cases, even death. 

Such cases do not necessarily arise from involuntary actions, such as, for example, accidentally administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dose to a resident, which is something that may potentially have even fatal consequences. There are, sadly, also cases where care staff intentionally fail to care for patients by ignoring their needs and requests, as well as the obligation to adhere to certain required standards. Examples of such actions include, among others, neglecting the personal hygiene of residents, failure to meet their basic living needs, not giving enough food or water to residents, ignoring a resident’s complaints, and many more.

Nursing home abuse often happens in the following ways:

  • Neglect that results in bed sores or other injuries
  • Fractured bones from abuse or from a fall that occurred due to neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Theft
  • Medication errors
  • Lack of medication

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Available Courses of Action

When choosing to place the care of your elderly loved ones (or of yourself, as years go by) in the hands of a nursing home, you are essentially trusting them with the health and wellbeing of your vulnerable family member. If that care facility fails to provide the care require and ends up neglecting or abusing its residents, those victims absolutely deserve to have their rights protected. Negligent or, worse, intentionally malicious actions should not be left unreported or unpunished, and due compensation for the harm caused should be paid by those responsible for such actions.

In view of protecting the health, wellbeing and, ultimately, respecting the dignity of those at-risk adults who end up facing unacceptable circumstances while in the care of nursing homes and similar facilities, the law provides the opportunity of filling a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible entity and the individual employees liable for causing such abuse or showing unacceptable neglect.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to report suspected or actual instances of abuse and neglect in a Colorado nursing home, both in terms of finding justice for their victims and holding accountable those responsible for such actions, but also to protect other existing and potential victims.

If you have become aware of a case of abuse or neglect in a Colorado nursing home or care facility, you should contact an appropriate government agency, such as the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the Colorado Division of the Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators or a local Adult Protective Services Department. Reported cases of abuse or negligence are followed by the conduction of a related elder abuse investigation ordered by the Department in question and, depending on their outcome, criminal charges may be filed against the wrongdoers. You should also seriously consider reporting the matter directly to the police, who will run a criminal investigation that may lead to the arrest and subsequent charging of those responsible.

In addition to the above, you may also wish to explore the possibility of filing a personal injury civil lawsuit with a view of holding the responsible party (or parties) liable for any damages caused. For more tragic cases, where it appears that abuse or neglect on the part of a nursing home or care facility has resulted in a fatality, you may wish to explore the option of filing a wrongful death claim. In such cases, employing the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer who has the knowledge and expertise to handle nursing home abuse cases can offer you invaluable help in many ways and on many levels.

Lawsuit Requirements

Vulnerable senior citizens, regarded by the law as at-risk adults, rely on nursing homes to provide quality care and look after their physical and mental wellbeing. If you or a family member have suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, it is well within your rights to examine your legal options and take action against individuals who have treated you or your loved ones in a way that has caused you physical, emotional, or financial harm.

Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against Colorado nursing homes that engage in abuse or neglect of their residents.

In such cases, you will need to prove that the facility in question was negligent in its care of the resident victim by providing evidence showing that:

  • The person(s) being sued (defendant/s) owed a duty of care to the victim resident (plaintiff).
  • The defendant(s) breached that duty of care.
  • That this breach led to the injury you are.
  • That the plaintiff incurred quantifiable damages from said injury.

In other words, to succeed in recovering damages from the defendant(s) you will need to prove causation between the breach of the duty of care owed toward your loved one, which constituted neglect or abuse, and the ensuing harm suffered. If yours is a case of intentional, rather than negligent, causing of injury to a resident of a nursing home in Colorado, you will need to prove that the perpetrator of the neglect or abuse willfully and purposely intended to cause the harm at issue.

By law, all nursing home facilities, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and other such establishments have a duty to provide residents with the care that they need to ensure that they are as healthy as possible. Therefore, should such facilities fail to provide the expected standard of care to their residents, they can be held liable in the context of a personal injury claim in the State of Colorado if this can be supported by appropriate admissible evidence.

Compensation

Recovery for nursing home abuse or neglect may lead to the payment of economic but also non-economic damages. The former are typically awarded to cover the costs of incurred and estimated future medical treatments and other related monetary expenses (long-term care expenses, medical equipment costs, and so on), as well as property damage and even theft. The latter constitute compensation for pain, emotional distress, and general mental suffering, including diminished quality of life and loss of consortium. If nursing home abuse or neglect led to the death of a member of your family and you will be pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, other emotional losses experienced by the family of the deceased, such as grief or loss of emotional support, may also be claimed for compensation.

Punitive damages are sometimes ordered in more serious cases, where it can be proved that the harm caused to the nursing home resident was the direct result of fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct. This is the case, for example, when nursing home employees act with a reckless disregard for the health and safety of their residents even though they are aware of the potential dangers posed by their conduct.

A personal injury lawyer will be best placed to calculate your claim with accuracy and support you in recovering the damages you deserve. They should also be able to go through your options with you in detail, including explaining how certain caps that are in place on damages awards in Colorado, varying by the type of lawsuit you submit, may affect your individual case.

Time Restrictions

In all personal injury cases, it is imperative to act as soon as you have any kind of doubt as to what may be happening to a loved one who is a resident, making sure to pay attention to any early warning signs. This is particularly true when it comes to nursing home suspected abuse or neglect. Even if you cannot be certain that abuse or neglect is, in fact, taking place, it is always preferable to act early and, if possible, avoid the infliction of further harm, ideally by having a seasoned personal injury lawyer who has experience in nursing home abuse cases review the matter.

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit against a nursing home for abuse or neglect in Colorado is two years. It is crucial that you prepare and file your case within this deadline, as failing to do so may well mean that you will be forever barred from recovering damages from the care facility in question. It should also be pointed out that the deadline for submitting a claim notice is limited to 180 days if your case involves a government facility. Of course, there are always exceptions to these time limitations, and each case should be considered individually. Therefore, it is important to consult a personal injury attorney in order to receive accurate guidance based on your particular case circumstances.

Here at Legal Help in Colorado, we believe in treating all victims with respect and compassion, offering professional services with a human approach. Appointing us as your attorneys means that we will undertake to prepare your nursing home abuse case in an organized and thorough manner, collect all necessary information required to build a solid claim (including the gathering of medical records, photographic evidence, speaking with witnesses and experts, and so on), and ensure that your claim is filed correctly and timely, paying utmost attention to the numerous filing provisions and applicable deadlines.

If negotiations are entered into with the nursing home representatives, we will fight your case vigorously and do all we can to secure the settlement payment you deserve, while avoiding having to resort to legal action. Even if the case does end up going to trial, we will adopt an equally assertive and thoroughgoing approach, and navigate the often complicated discovery process. Most crucially, we will do all we can to make sure that no stone is left unturned in terms of requesting information and evidence from the other side, as well as thoroughly examining witnesses to strengthen your case and represent your interests for the best possible outcome.

Contact Legal Help in Colorado today for a free consultation or call now (303) 351-2567, so we can discuss your case in absolute confidence.