According to U.S. News & World Report, Minnesota contains 364 nursing homes, including 86 that received five-star ratings. Unfortunately, nursing home residents suffer injuries from negligence even in highly rated nursing homes, to say nothing of the nursing homes that don't rank so highly. Neglected residents can find themselves with bedsores or other ailments that attentive staff would always prevent.
If a Minnesota nursing home injured you or your loved one, let an experienced Minnesota nursing home negligence lawyer from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers evaluate your case. Our attorneys will determine if you or your loved one are eligible to receive compensation.
What Is Nursing Home Negligence?
Federal and state laws guarantee rights to nursing home residents to ensure that they get the care they need. This care includes providing food, shelter, prescribed medication, and access to health care services.
Additionally, nursing home residents have the right to determine their activities and what they will eat, whenever reasonably possible, and the right to live free from physical or chemical restraints, abuse, discrimination, and other mistreatment.
Nursing home negligence occurs when nursing home staff fail to provide the standard of care required to meet the residents’ rights. This negligence can take several forms and attributes to many factors, including not providing enough staff to adequately meet residents’ needs or supervise everyone in their care.
How Prevalent Is Nursing Home Negligence in Minnesota?
Minnesota saw more than 25,000 allegations of neglect, abuse, unexplained serious injuries, and thefts in one year in state-licensed nursing homes. Despite broad authority by the state Health Department to intervene, including ordering corrective measures such as better staff training, fines, or even revocation of the facility's license—as well as a state law requiring the health department to notify prosecuting authorities of evidence of abuse—the state Health Department rarely takes action. It didn't investigate 97 percent of these allegations. Investigations can drag on for months while fines go uncollected and abuse continues.
Families are often unaware of the abuse and neglect of their loved ones and must report suspected abuse themselves. It can be difficult to determine if the changes they see in their loved one’s overall health and behavior are due to the aging process or if they are evidence of neglect and abuse. Family members complain that the state does not inform them when an investigation involving the mistreatment of their loved one occurs or will not keep them updated on the investigation results.
Types of Nursing Home Negligence
While many people consider nursing home negligence to involve physical or sexual abuse, several other types of negligence injure residents. Here is a look at the most common types.
Nursing home neglect refers to the failure to provide goods and services needed to keep the elderly resident safe and meet their daily living needs.
Some examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Failing to keep the resident adequately hydrated or nourished with consideration of the residents’ specific dietary needs.
- Not providing oral or dental care, or failing to provide specific care of physical needs outlined in the resident’s care plan.
- Failing to change residents promptly after they are wet or soiled from incontinence.
- Not adequately supervising residents to avoid resident-on-resident abuse, or elopement, which involves a resident wandering away from the facility.
- Failing to offer activities and mental stimulation to bedridden residents.
- Not providing fall support for residents who are at risk of fall injuries.
- Failing to provide the proper medication and proper dosage to residents.
- Failing to assist residents with bathing or toileting as ordered in their care plan.
- Not answering resident call lights or failing to assist the resident when asked.
Warning signs of nursing home resident neglect include the resident appearing dirty, malnourished, or dehydrated; new or worsening bedsores; wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather; unsafe living conditions, such as no heat or water at the facility, bed bugs, and other signs of facility disrepair; and desertion of the resident in a public place.
Nursing home physical abuse involves a staff member or another resident inflicting physical harm on a resident by pushing, kicking, slapping, or punching the resident. Physical abuse can also occur from using physical restraints or sedating medications to prevent the resident from freely moving around.
Some warning signs that indicate physical abuse include unexplained injuries such as bruises or welts on the resident’s body, recurring injuries, and unexplained fear of a staff member or other resident.
Emotional abuse consists of verbal or non-verbal behavior designed to cause the resident emotional harm or anguish.
This behavior can include:
- Threatening or intimidating a resident.
- Insulting or belittling a resident.
- Isolating the resident from others.
- Yelling at a resident.
- Making the resident feel guilty or distressed about a situation.
- Giving the resident the silent treatment.
Some behavioral changes indicating that a nursing home resident is enduring emotional abuse include: depression and withdrawal; self-isolation; agitation; new unusual behaviors such as rocking or sucking their thumb; and refusal to eat or take medications.
Sexual abuse in a nursing home setting includes subjecting the resident to sexual activity. While sexual penetration is one form of sexual abuse, others include unwanted intimate touching, particularly to the breasts or genitals; forced nudity; taking sexually explicit photographs, videos, or audio-recordings of the resident; and forced observation of sexual acts or pornography.
Warning signs that a resident was sexually assaulted in a nursing home include bruising on the thighs, genitalia, or breasts; unexplained genital infections or new sexually transmitted infections; unexplained vaginal bleeding or irritation; difficulty sitting or walking; and torn or blood-stained underwear.
Financial exploitation occurs in a nursing home setting when someone takes the resident’s money or belongings. This abuse can include the staff’s failure to prevent residents from stealing other residents’ belongings, staff members stealing residents’ belongings, or staff using the resident’s bank cards or gaining access to their financial accounts through deceptive means.
Warning signs that give rise to concerns about financial exploitation in a nursing home setting include:
- Significant withdrawals from the resident's banking account;
- Sudden changes in the resident's financial condition;
- Items or cash missing from the resident's room;
- Suspicious changes to the resident's will, power-of-attorney, or financial accounts, such as new names added to the resident's bank signature card.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Is Abused or Neglected
If you suspect a Minnesota nursing home has abused or neglected your loved one:
- Call 911 if you feel that your loved one is in immediate danger.
- Report the mistreatment to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center at 1-844-880-1574. This hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All reports of suspected maltreatment reach state agencies equipped to investigate the report. These agencies can include county adult protective services agencies, the Minnesota Department of Health, or the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
- Report the suspected abuse or neglect to the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care. This office, in the Minnesota Board on Aging, investigates and resolves complaints about the quality of services, quality of life, rights violations, access to services, discharge or eviction concerns, and public programs for the state's elderly population in long-term care facilities.
- Contact our experienced Minnesota nursing home negligence attorneys at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers to hold the facility accountable for mistreatment and obtain compensation for the injuries incurred from nursing home negligence.
The Services Our Lawyers Can Provide You
An experienced nursing home negligence lawyer can provide many services to assist you in seeking compensation through a claim, including:
- Determining all sources of liability and insurance resources available to provide compensation for your loved one's injuries. This process involves carefully investigating the details of your claim. If your loved one's injury resulted from a staff member's negligence, you can hold the facility liable because it must employ and schedule enough properly licensed and trained staff to meet the residents' needs.
- Establishing a value to the claim based on the expenses and psychological effects incurred from the negligence. Common expenses and effects in a nursing home claim include medical treatment of the injury; placement at a different long-term care facility where the resident can obtain better care; the repair or replacement of stolen or destroyed personal belongings; and the physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress incurred by the resident as a result of the negligence.
- Communicating with the at-fault party's insurance provider to protect the resident and their family from losing compensation to insurance company tactics to reduce or eliminate nursing home claims, and negotiate out-of-court settlements.
- Litigating services. In Minnesota, you can file a personal injury claim in court within two years of the accident if the at-fault party's insurance provider fails to fully compensate you for your claim. Often, settlement negotiations continue even after filing a lawsuit, and you can even settle during the process.
- Collecting the negotiated settlement or court award.
How to Afford a Minnesota Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
Many nursing home residents and their family members are reluctant to hire an attorney to help them seek compensation for nursing home negligence because they believe they cannot afford one.
Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers work through a contingent fee billing method that allows the claimant to withhold payment for their legal team’s services until after winning compensation through settlement or litigation.
Additionally, many personal injury lawyers—including those at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers—provide free case evaluations, which allow a potential claimant to meet with an attorney and obtain guidance about the process and answers to their legal questions without obligation. This opportunity ensures that anyone who needs help with the personal injury claims process has access to it.
Let Us Help You With Your Minnesota Nursing Home Negligence Claim
If nursing home negligence injured you or a loved one, an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can seek compensation and hold the negligent nursing facility accountable. We are dedicated to helping our clients repair and rebuild after injury, providing customized services to meet the unique needs of our clients. We have experience with the legal process and understand families' difficulties after an injury from nursing home negligence.