South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

Abuse in South Carolina nursing homes and long-term care facilities exists. If you believe your loved one or elderly relative is a victim of abuse or neglect, contact our experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys. We are committed to holding those responsible for abusing our elderly citizens accountable.

Nursing home abuse takes many forms, including physical abuse and sexual assault. Elderly residents are often more susceptible to these types of abuse because of their age, disabilities, or dementia. Whether it is intentional abuse or unintentional neglect, your loved one should not be subjected to such horrific conduct.

Numerous cases of nursing home abuse go unreported because the victims are unable to advocate for themselves. It often takes a concerned and observant relative to recognize the signs of abuse. If you think your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact Burriss & Ridgeway at (803) 451-4000.

Types of Abuse in South Carolina Nursing Homes

Abuse in long-term care facilities and nursing homes comes in a variety of forms. Some of the most common forms of abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home resident experiences physical force that results in injuries ranging from bruises to broken bones. Common examples of physical abuse include kicking, slapping, biting, pinching, punching, and choking. This type of abuse could come from a member of the facility staff or another resident.

Emotional Abuse

When a vulnerable person is subjected to threats, harassment, or humiliation, it is a form of emotional abuse. A nursing home resident who suffers emotional abuse often feels scared, confused, or emotionally distressed. Some forms of emotional abuse include isolating a resident, ignoring them, or taking actions to keep them in a state of fear or anxiety.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when there is any sexual contact without consent between a resident and the facility staff or another resident. For example, a nursing home resident could be touched, fondled, or forced to undress.

Financial Abuse

Nursing home residents are vulnerable targets for financial exploitation. This type of abuse takes many forms, including identity theft or residents being scammed for their bank account or credit card information. Sometimes, another resident or staff member will pressure a resident to purchase things for them. In other cases, the facility itself bills a resident for unnecessary procedures or treatments that were never done.

In addition to these types of intentional abuse, many South Carolina nursing home residents are victims of neglect. Understaffed facilities or improperly trained personnel can lead to neglect. Residents might be left in bed for too long, not washed properly or at all, or not receive their required medication. While this conduct might not be deliberate, facilities that fail to provide an acceptable standard of care should be held accountable for mistreating those in their care.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

Nursing home abuse takes many forms. Unfortunately, many victims of this type of abuse are unable to communicate that they are being abused. In some situations, the victim is driven by intimidation or fear. In others, their cognitive abilities make it difficult to understand that they are being abused. In many situations, it is up to the family and other loved ones to see the symptoms or signs of abuse.

Unexplained Bruising or Other Injuries

If your loved one exhibits signs of unexplained injuries or is bruised, it could be a sign of abuse. Unfortunately, elderly individuals are prone to bruising and subject to falls. However, if there are scratches, cuts, or broken bones without a reasonable explanation, you should contact our experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys. This is especially the case if the injuries are around or on your loved one’s genital or private areas.

Changes in Behavior or Mood

If you notice an abrupt change in your loved one’s mood or behavior, it could indicate that they are being emotionally abused. Some signs of possible abuse include fear, agitation, withdrawal, depression, anxiety, or anger. Often, a sign of financial exploitation is an unwillingness to discuss finances or unexplained charges on a credit card or withdrawals from a bank account. You know your loved one’s character better than anyone else, so if there is a sudden shift in their conduct, it should not be ignored.

Malnutrition

Deteriorating health is not uncommon as someone ages. However, a sudden change in weight or health could be a sign of malnutrition or dehydration. Signs that your loved one is being neglected include a swollen tongue, general weakness, cracked lips, or problems with urination or bowel movements.

Poor Hygiene

Another common sign of neglect in nursing homes is a change in your loved one’s hygiene or the sanitary conditions of their living environment. Soiled clothes, stained bedding, or dirty living conditions are all signs of possible neglect. If your loved one appears unwashed, contact the facility administrators and an experienced lawyer.

Changes in Fiances

Financial exploitation is a common form of nursing home abuse. If your loved one is missing cash or property, it could be an indication that they are victims of financial exploitation. Other signs include forged checks, unnecessary purchases, and unpaid bills. Some predators will attempt to have your loved one execute a power of attorney in their favor or modify their will.

Is South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse a Civil or Criminal Case?

Any nursing home abuse victim or family member who is contemplating their legal options for recovery against an abusive nursing home facility or staff member should understand the differences between the criminal and civil ramifications of their situation.

Most types of nursing home abuse provide the opportunity for criminal prosecution. Criminal charges are brought and argued by and on behalf of the government. The potential consequences of a guilty verdict in a criminal case could include substantial fines and prison sentences for defendants. While these may provide feelings of closure for victims, they are not a means of remedy for the harm caused by the abuse.

That is why nursing home abuse victims in South Carolina can also file their own civil action against the abusive party. These two actions can coexist, meaning you should not wait until the criminal case has concluded to act on your civil claim.

In a successful civil lawsuit for nursing home abuse, the court will order the defendant to pay the victim monetary compensation (also known as damages) to account for the harms the victim endured. This includes both economic and personal harms, which will be discussed in the section below.

If there is no criminal prosecution for the abuse in your case, or if the defendant is not found guilty, you should not be dissuaded from acting on your civil claim. The burden of proof in nursing home abuse cases in South Carolina requires that the prosecutor establish guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a substantially higher standard than the one used in civil cases, which requires plaintiffs to prove their case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” Essentially, if you and your South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer can show that the defendant’s abuse was substantially more likely than not, you can succeed in your civil claim.

What Damages are Available in a South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?

To get access to monetary compensation for harms they sustained, victims must pursue a civil lawsuit against the party responsible for the abuse. While you do not need a lawyer to file a lawsuit against a nursing home, it can be critical to have an experienced hand to guide you through the process. Through a civil personal injury lawsuit for nursing home abuse, the victim may be able to recover economic, non-economic, and, in some cases, punitive damages.

Economic Damages

In nursing home abuse cases, the primary factor in economic damages is the necessary medical care required as a direct result of sustaining the abuse. For instance, the cost of additional medical care necessary to deal with the physical injuries of the abuse is a financial harm covered by economic damages. If the harms caused by the abuse include changes to daily living, such as accessibility modifications or live-in care, these costs will be compensated through damages. Be sure to keep a detailed record of all the receipts, bills, and invoices you receive for expenses paid out to deal with the consequences of the abuse so that your South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer can tally up how much you may be entitled to through economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

The pain and suffering resulting from the nursing home’s abuse or neglect is also compensable, even though it is not necessarily financial in nature. This is particularly relevant in the case of emotional abuse, but physical injuries can also cause pain and suffering. Non-economic damages are available for harms such as chronic pain, physical and mental limitations, or the onset of psychological conditions such as depression or anxiety caused by the nursing home abuse.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are based on the defendant’s conduct rather than the victim’s condition resulting from the abuse. Therefore, punitive damages might not be available in a personal injury case that alleges mere negligence. However, gross recklessness and intentionally harmful conduct may provide the court reason to additionally punish the defendant. Your South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney will be able to identify where punitive damages might be available so that you can better understand what your case may be worth.

How Should I Report Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina?

If you or a loved one has experienced abuse or neglect at a South Carolina nursing home or assisted care facility, it is important that you report the situation to the higher authorities immediately. If you or anyone else is facing immediate danger, you should call 911 as soon as possible.

Generally, abuses of vulnerable adults should be reported to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS). The DSS investigates every report of abuse or neglect in nursing homes while keeping the identity of the reporter confidential to avoid any threats of retribution.

To report nursing home abuse to the South Carolina DSS, call their direct reporting line at 1-888-CARE4US (1-888-227-3487) or fill out a report online through the state’s official portal.

There are other ways to report abuse to other entities for specific situations that you can use in addition to the DSS’ service. These are additional forms of reporting, so you should still file a report with the DSS even if you are also reporting through another one of these options.

If the abuse occurred in a licensed nursing home, community residential care facility, or assisted living facility, call the Long Term Care Ombudsman at (800) 868-9095.

If the residential facility where the abuse occurred was contracted or operated by the Department of Mental Health or Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, call the SLED Special Victims Unit at (866) 200-6066.

If the abuse involved identity theft or other forms of financial scamming, call the Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 922-1594.

For those who are not sure how to get help or need help submitting a report of their nursing home abuse to the proper authorities, seek the assistance of an experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney.

Our South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Will Fight For Your Loved Ones.

When our loved ones are in a long-term care facility or nursing home, we expect them to be well cared for and treated with respect. When our elderly relatives are victims of abuse, those who are responsible should be held accountable. At Burriss & Ridgeway, our South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to fighting for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Call (803) 451-4000 if you suspect your loved one is being abused.

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