Abuse of Alzheimer’s Patients in Chicago Nursing Homes

Was your loved one the victim of Alzheimer’s nursing home patient abuse?  Call us at 312-346-8620 today.

At Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, we have over 50 years of experience pursuing legal action against nursing homes and their employees. When you hire us, we will fight for your loved one’s rights and seek the justice they deserve.

Abuse or neglect that occurs at a nursing home is negligence. Negligence is the failure of one party to provide a reasonable degree of care to another. When a nurse, assistant, or another employee does not do their job correctly, negligent patient care can result.

It’s hard for Alzheimer’s patients who are victims of abuse to advocate for themselves. They might forget what happened or be unable to recall the perpetrator’s name. In severe cases, they’re unable to communicate at all.  The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC can advocate on their behalf to make sure their rights are preserved.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, language, and thought. Memory loss is one of the first symptoms people notice. As the disease progresses, they can have difficulty with speech, judgment, and performing routine tasks.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Behavior and mood changes
  • Disorientation
  • Social withdrawal
  • Confusion
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Trouble speaking, walking, and swallowing
  • Impaired judgment
  • Delusions
  • Depression or anxiety

There still isn’t a definitive cause of Alzheimer’s; however, there are some risk factors researchers believe could increase the chance of developing it:

  • Being 65 and over. The risk doubles every five years
  • Changes in the brain
  • Family history of the disease
  • Stroke and heart disease risk factors could increase risk
  • Diet, education, and environment may contribute
  • Genetics

Types of Abuse Alzheimer’s Patients Experience

Patients with Alzheimer’s require assistance with their daily activities, including self-care. Staff members are responsible for helping their patients with routine tasks and ensuring the facility is clean and safe.  They are to provide medical treatment when necessary. An error or deliberate act of mistreatment could result in severe injuries to the patient.

Alzheimer’s nursing home residents may become victims of the following types of abuse:

Physical abuse – The intentional use of force to cause pain, harm, or death. The most common warning signs include:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Burns, bruises, and cuts
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Tooth loss
  • Hair loss
  • Fear of specific caregivers
  • Withdrawal from favorite activities
  • Chronic hospitalization for similar injuries

Emotional abuse – Causing emotional or psychological distress. The most common warning signs include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Depression
  • Withdrawn from family and friends
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Change in eating habits

Sexual abuse – Forced and unwanted sexual acts. The most common warning signs include:

  • Pelvic injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Torn or stained underwear
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Bruised inner thighs or genitals
  • Diagnosis of a new sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Neglect – Failure to provide adequate care. The most common warning signs include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Unclean living conditions
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Bedsores
  • Infections
  • Medication errors
  • Loss of mobility
  • Psychological injuries, such as depression or anxiety

Begin Your Legal Case Immediately After the Abuse Occurs

If you discover someone has abused your loved one while they were an Alzheimer’s patient at a nursing home, you should take immediate legal action. The sooner you begin working on your case, the sooner you can recover compensation from the at-fault party.

The facility and its employees are required to provide a safe place for their residents. Any failure to do so is a form of negligence and they could be liable for injuries that occur. It is your legal right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against those who caused your loved one harm and seek the justice they deserve.

Report the nursing home abuse incident. 

Tell someone in management what happened. Complete an incident report with detailed information, such as dates the abuse occurred, names of the abusers, location of the incident, and injuries caused. In severe situations, it might be necessary to contact local law enforcement and file a police report if you want to press criminal charges.

Seek medical care. 

Bring your loved one to the doctor for an immediate evaluation of their injuries. Be sure to make sure they attend any recommended follow up appointments. Do not stop treatment until they make a full recovery, or their doctors place them at maximum medical improvement.

Transfer your loved one. 

Move them to a different nursing home or assisted living facility to get them away from their abuser. If you can’t find another place you can trust, it might be best to move them into your home or a family member’s home for now.

Talk to witnesses.

If any staff members or other residents saw the abuse, write down their names and phone numbers. They can become crucial witnesses if your case goes to trial, and they may need to testify.

Gather evidence of nursing home abuse.

Keep any evidence relevant to the case. Medical records, prescriptions, and other documents can help prove the injuries your loved one sustained.

Hire a lawyer. 

Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC immediately, and we will help you with your case.

Who’s Liable for Abuse of an Alzheimer’s Patient?

In some situations, the nursing home could be held liable for any abuse or neglect on the part of the employees. These facilities must ensure the people they hire are qualified, experienced, and understand procedures. Actions taken by nursing homes that can lead to abuse include:

  • Failure to perform background checks on new staff
  • Inadequate training
  • Lack of supervision
  • Poor maintenance and repairs of the property
  • Understaffing the facility

Sometimes, an individual can be held liable for the harm they caused to a resident. Nurses and caregivers must provide every patient with the right medications, prompt treatment of injuries, assistance with hygiene, and other tasks. Failure in these duties could result in injuries.

Nurses and caregivers can be held liable in any of the following situations:

  • Medication errors
  • Ignoring repeated requests for assistance to the bathroom or another part of the facility
  • Physically restraining someone unnecessarily
  • Lack of knowledge about dealing with Alzheimer’s patients
  • Withholding food or water
  • Failure to regularly move patient to prevent bedsores

Pursuing Compensation in an Insurance Claim

Your loved one deserves to recover compensation for the damages they incurred. Damages are the total losses suffered after an accident or injury. They come in two major subcategories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages refer to expenses, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage

Noneconomic damages are intangible losses, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disability or impairment

When you file an insurance claim, the insurance adjuster will face the challenge of determining a fair settlement amount for your loved one. Since it isn’t that easy to calculate noneconomic damages, they might consider some of these contributing factors of the case:

  • Type of injury sustained and how serious it is
  • Impact of the abuse on daily life
  • Emotional or mental injuries suffered
  • Total medical expenses
  • Permanent disfigurement, impairment, or disability resulting from the abuse
  • Estimated future costs of necessary treatment
  • Development of new physical or mental limitations
  • Evidence proving fault

Filing a Civil Lawsuit in Chicago

If you decide you want to sue the nursing home or staff member for their participation in the abuse against your loved one, there’s a strict deadline you must follow, known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in Illinois is two years. That means you have two years from the abuse date to file your lawsuit. If the deadline passes, you could lose your right to pursue legal action.

You and your lawyer will choose a legal theory to use in your case against the nursing home or employee. Negligence is a common legal theory. There are five elements you must prove existed at the time the abuse occurred:

  1. Duty: The at-fault party owed your loved one a duty of reasonable care to avoid causing harm;
  2. Breach of duty: They failed to uphold their duty;
  3. Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their actions, your loved one wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
  4. Proximate cause: Their injury was the direct result of the at-fault parties’ breach and
  5. Damages: Your loved one incurred damages due to the injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your mind is likely spinning thinking of all the things you should know or do to help the person you care for who’s been abused. Here are some of the questions we get about Alzheimer’s abuse cases at our practice:

What does it cost to hire a lawyer for my Alzheimer’s abuse claim?

In order to give everyone equal access to high-quality legal representation, we work on a contingency fee basis at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC. This means that instead of requiring any fees upfront, we will cover all the costs of your case. Once we help you get the compensation you deserve, we collect a percentage of the money you receive. However, you don’t owe us any money unless we win your case. If we lose, you don’t owe us anything.

What if the statute of limitations has passed on my claim?

While the statute of limitations on most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury in Illinois, there are a few circumstances that allow for the deadline to be extended. If the injury isn’t found right away, the deadline can sometimes be extended to two years from the date the injury is discovered.

Given that many Alzheimer’s patients have difficulty communicating, the abuse they’ve suffered may not be inherently obvious, and their families may not immediately realize what’s happened. An Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer can tell you more about whether an extension of the statute of limitations applies in your case.

How common is elder abuse in Illinois?

According to a report from the Illinois Department on Aging’s Adult Protective Services program, there were 21,348 reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation in the 2019 fiscal year. This is an increase of 4,841 reports compared with the 2018 fiscal year. Here are a few other findings from the report:

  • The biggest category of abuse reported to APS was financial exploitation (8,467 reports). Other major categories of abuse include emotional abuse (5,943), passive neglect (5,370), physical abuse (3,589), willful deprivation (2,261), confinement (1,162), and sexual abuse (706).
  • 82 percent of the reports made to APS involved a victim age 60 or older.
  • Women were more likely to be abused than men.
  • Abusers were 48% male and 52% female.

How do you prove Alzheimer’s nursing home patient abuse?

Alzheimer’s nursing home patient abuse claims are some of the most challenging personal injury cases we see at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC because many of the victims have difficulty speaking in their own defense. Without testimony from the victim, it can be hard to demonstrate how the nursing home is liable for the abuse. However, a good nursing home abuse lawyer will find ways around this obstacle. Some of the evidence that can be used to establish liability in an Alzheimer’s abuse case includes:

  • The victim’s medical records
  • Testimony from Alzheimer’s abuse experts
  • Surveillance camera footage from the nursing home
  • Records from the nursing home (i.e., prior allegations of abuse made against the facility)

Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC

Since opening in 1970, Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC has been able to recover millions of dollars for our clients. When you hire us, we will craft a legal strategy that gets you and your family the maximum available compensation. You can depend on our team of professionals to provide you with personalized attention throughout your entire case.

We will use every resource at our disposal and our knowledge of nursing home abuse cases to ensure your loved one does not suffer any further. Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC will fight for justice so they can recover from their injuries.

If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, call us at 312-346-8620 today to schedule your initial consultation.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : December 4, 2023