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Schwartz Injury Law

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Recent blog posts

Cook County Nursing Home Abuse LawyerNursing homes have a responsibility to ensure adequate levels of staff and supervision so that elderly residents are protected and safe. Unfortunately, nursing homes are often negligent and residents suffer as a consequence. When an elderly resident who struggles to move independently is improperly supervised or left to move unassisted, they may slip, trip, or fall, leading to serious and potentially life-threatening head injuries. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has suffered as a result of improper support or supervision, compensation may be available. 

Common Causes of Head Injuries in Nursing Homes

Although it is possible for residents to hurt their heads in other ways, falls are the most common source of traumatic head injury. Elderly patients, especially those with dementia, risk hurting themselves during normal daily behaviors, such as: 

  • Using the toilet

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Cook County Nursing Home Neglect LawyerIn addition to providing the health, nutrition, and daily schedule for nursing home residents, nursing home staff are also responsible for providing adequate security and supervision. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to crime because their physical frailty and decreased mental faculties can make them such easy targets. 

Additionally, security and supervision are essential when nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are at risk from wandering within or away from facilities. If nursing home residents do not take reasonable measures to prevent this behavior, residents can be injured, abused, lost, taken advantage of, or even killed. Proper security and supervision are intertwined in Illinois nursing homes, and the lack of one may signal the lack of the other. 

Lack of Appropriate Security in Preventing Crime

Nursing homes are responsible for ensuring they have adequate protocols to protect their residents and lawful guests. This means residents should anticipate potential criminal behavior from visitors, employees, and other residents. Whether certain measures are appropriate for a facility depends on the facility’s residents, location, and other factors. What is appropriate security for one nursing home may not be sufficient for another. 

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Cook County Elder Abuse LawyerAlthough it is difficult to countenance anyone taking advantage of a vulnerable senior citizen, elder abuse happens every day in Illinois nursing homes. Nursing home staff or other occupants may take advantage of a senior resident’s imperfect mental health or memory to steal money from them or manipulate them into spending money in a way that seems, at least superficially, to be voluntary. 

The financial abuse of nursing home residents has long-term consequences for the well-being of the victims. Years of hard work and savings can be decimated by the behavior of one unscrupulous individual. If you believe that your loved one has been victimized by financial abuse in a nursing home or residential care facility, a qualified Illinois nursing home abuse attorney may be able to help you hold the perpetrator or the facility responsible. 

How Widespread is Elder Financial Abuse? 

Research by the National Council on Aging, which collects statistics about financial abuse of elders, shows that older people are at a tragically high risk of being taken advantage of by financial predators. Such predatory behavior costs the victims of financial abuse a staggering $36.5 billion every year. Cases of elder abuse are estimated to be widely unreported, so it is crucial for family members and friends to be on the lookout for signs of abuse. 

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Chicago Nursing Home Alzheimer's Abuse AttorneyDespite promising research in disease treatment and prevention, Alzheimer’s disease continues to be a major cause of illness and death in America. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and dementia kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined. 

It is perhaps no wonder that with such a serious disease present in such large numbers, seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s face a higher likelihood of being abused or neglected in their nursing homes or residential care facilities. Because victims of Alzheimer’s are often confused or disconnected in their thinking, it can be very difficult to ascertain the nature or perpetrator of abuse, even when Alzheimer’s patient abuse is clearly taking place. 

Common Types of Abuse of Patients with Dementia

Individuals with loved ones in nursing homes must be aware of several common types of abuse that are directed at victims of Alzheimer’s disease so they can recognize symptoms and take action. Some of the most frequently seen abuses include: 

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 Cook County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

For most of us, there is nothing more horrific than someone taking advantage of an elderly person in their care - especially if that person is someone we love, like a parent or grandparent. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse takes place every day in residential care facilities in Illinois. 

Sexual abuse of elderly nursing home residents is one of the most pernicious and damaging types of abuse, and it is important to hold abusers accountable. Although nursing home residents and their families have a right to expect safe and standardized care, when nursing home staff either perpetrate abuse or fail to prevent it, an experienced attorney can help family members seek justice and prevent such abuse from happening again. 

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 Cook County Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we can ever have. This is especially true if the death was preventable. Unfortunately, in many nursing homes, the standard of care for residents is such that neglect, understaffing, or elder abuse leads to the wrongful death of a resident. 

In this blog, we will review some of the more common wrongful deaths that take place in residential care centers. If you have been affected by a wrongful death of a loved one in a nursing home, you may be able to sue the facility for financial damages. Although a lawsuit cannot undo your loss, it may prevent such tragedies from happening in the future. 

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 Cook County Nursing Home Neglect LawyerElderly bodies have particular needs that must be met every day, including proper nutrition from food and drink, as well as vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that are tailored to each person's needs. Elderly nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to many ailments that can result from malnutrition, especially because many residents struggle to articulate what they are feeling or what they need. 

When nursing home staff fail to provide their residents with appropriate nutrition or sufficient hydration, the consequences can be devastating. Some studies estimate the problem of malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes to be so severe that out of roughly 1,600,000 nursing home residents about one-third of them suffer from some kind of malnourishment. It can be difficult to spot signs of malnutrition in your loved one, but if you are worried that they are suffering from sudden or mysterious fatigue, mouth sores, or vision loss, consider speaking with an experienced nursing home injury attorney right away. 

How Does Nursing Home Malnourishment Develop? 

Unfortunately, the primary cause of malnourishment or dehydration in nursing homes is a result of staff who are overworked, careless, or who simply have a lack of concern for their charges. Inadequate staffing levels can force even the most well-meaning employees to compromise appropriate nutrition and attention to residents’ care. Staff turnover rates at nursing homes are quite high, leading to sufficient training and avoidable mistakes. Proper management, hiring practices, and training regimens at nursing homes can prevent most or all of these staffing problems. 

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Chicago Lawyers for Sepsis in Nursing HomesInfections occur frequently in many health care facilities, but they are of particular concern in nursing homes where residents often have compromised health conditions. Elderly residents are often sick and incapable of fighting infection, leading to life-threatening conditions. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents to prevent conditions like sepsis from occurring. 

If someone you love was seriously injured or died as a result of a sepsis infection during their stay in a nursing home, you may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. An Illinois attorney experienced in nursing home injuries can help you understand your options. 

When Does Sepsis Occur?

The human body is amazingly adept at fighting off infections. Sometimes, however, the body reacts to a preexisting infection by effectively turning the infection-fighting process against itself. This can cause serious and even fatal damage to organs such as the lungs and heart. 

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Chicago Assisted Living Neglect LawyersResidents of assisted living facilities may not require the same level of care and attention as nursing home residents, but they still rely on facility staff to help with many of their personal needs and maintain a safe and healthy living environment. Unfortunately, this means that some assisted living residents suffer from the effects of neglect when facility staff fail to attend to their needs. Just like nursing home residents, assisted living residents may be entitled to compensation for damages suffered due to negligence in their facilities.

Assisted Living Facility Injuries

Many injuries suffered in assisted living facilities are related to neglect or negligence. One common example is an injury resulting from a fall, like broken bones or a head injury. Some residents are at risk of falling within their living quarters, and they may be unable to get up without assistance. When facility staff fails to respond promptly, the effects of a fall injury can get worse, and the resident may also develop pressure sores from laying in the same place for hours or days. Residents may also suffer fall injuries due to hazards in common areas throughout the facility, such as wet floors, loose debris, and unsafe stairways.

Many assisted living residents require assistance with their medication and nutrition, and they can suffer harm when the facility fails or errs in providing this help. For example, facility staff may administer the incorrect medication, or fail to provide supervision for residents who self-administer. Facility staff could also fail to provide the proper nutrition that residents need, or fail to follow health regulations when preparing the food, which could result in food poisoning.

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Will nursing home Neglect AttorneysBedsores are a common problem for nursing home residents who spend most of their day confined to a bed, and while the condition certainly sounds unpleasant and uncomfortable, it can be easy to overlook just how serious the effects can be, especially when bedsores are left to develop over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, bedsores are often the result of nursing home neglect. Depending on the severity of the bedsores, residents and their families may be entitled to substantial compensation from the nursing home facility and staff.

The Development of Bed Sores

Bedsores are also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers, and they can develop when a person remains in the same position for an extended period of time, placing pressure on certain areas of the body and cutting off blood flow. In bedridden nursing home residents, they tend to develop in places like the heels, hips, tailbone, shoulders, and the back of the head.

 

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Will nursing home Abuse LawyerElder abuse is a disturbingly common problem in the United States, and as time goes on, we continue to learn more about its far-reaching effects. A study published last month in JAMA Network Open provides new insights into the prevalence of elder abuse and mistreatment, as well as the populations who may be most at risk of abuse. The findings may have important implications for elder abuse intervention and prevention and may help you stay aware of the risks of elder abuse for you and your loved ones, especially those who live in a nursing home facility.

Studying Older Adults Over Time

For the recently published study, researchers from Cornell University and the University of Toronto conducted two sets of interviews, spaced ten years apart, with the same population of adults over the age of 60. Their objective was to not only gauge the prevalence of elder mistreatment among this population during the ten year period, but also to identify common risk factors among those who were affected.

In total, the study included over 600 participants, with around 60 percent participating in both interviews. The researchers found that between 2009 and 2019, 11.4 percent of the participants experienced some form of elder mistreatment. The most common form of mistreatment reported was financial abuse, followed by emotional abuse, physical abuse, and neglect.

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Chicago nursing home fall injury LawyerYou may be surprised to learn that one of the top causes of severe injuries and deaths in nursing homes is falling. When a nursing home resident is already in poor health, falling can cause excruciating, debilitating injuries. Fall injuries can lead to infection, reduced mobility and independence, low morale, and additional medical complications. Consequently, nursing homes should take every reasonable precaution to prevent fall accidents whenever possible. When a nursing home’s negligence causes a preventable fall, the nursing home may be liable for the resident’s injury or death.

Creating a Safe Environment for Those with Limited Mobility

As we age, our bones become weaker. This means that a fall accident that would only bruise a young person can lead to severely broken bones in an elderly person. Nursing home residents of all ages may suffer from medical conditions that impair balance and coordination. This is why it is so important for nursing homes to ensure that the facility is free of slip and fall or trip and fall hazards. Something as simple as a spilled drink or a loose electrical cord can represent a potentially deadly hazard in a nursing home.

Ensuring that Residents Have Proper Assistive Devices and Footwear

Many nursing home residents want the freedom to move about the facility on their own. Wheelchairs and walkers can help residents move around safely. Unfortunately, many residents suffer from cognitive impairments that impair memory. Therefore, nursing home staff may need to regularly remind residents to use these devices. Staff should also ensure that residents are wearing appropriate, well-fitting footwear that reduces the risk of slipping or tripping. Grab bars, handrails, and a raised toilet seat are just some of the modifications that also reduce the risk of residents falling.  

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Chicago nursing home medication error LawyerThe opioid epidemic is one of the most significant challenges the U.S. is currently facing, and Americans of all ages and backgrounds are affected. Nursing home residents comprise one of the populations at risk of opioid addiction and overdose, especially in cases involving errors in the administration of medication. If you or your family member is suffering from the negative effects of opioids, it is important to understand whether the neglect of nursing home staff may be the root cause.

The Risks of Opioids for Nursing Home Residents

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prescription opioids are responsible for a large portion of the opioid epidemic. Recent statistics show that 10 million people abuse prescription opioids on an annual basis and that prescription opioids are a factor in around 40 percent of opioid overdose deaths.

Nursing home residents can be especially at risk, as they are often prescribed opioids for pain management and other chronic conditions. A 2017 study published by the American Geriatrics Society found that around one in seven nursing home residents were prescribed a long-term course of opioids, while almost one in three residents were prescribed an opioid at some point. While prescription opioids can be a legitimate course of treatment in many cases, they can cause serious problems if something goes wrong.

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Chicago nursing home choking incident Lawyer

According to recent statistics, choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death among the elderly, with more than half of all choking deaths occurring among those over the age of 74. There are many risk factors associated with choking death as a person gets older, including decreased salivation and conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. However, with appropriate care and supervision, many choking incidents are preventable.

 

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Chicago nursing home Sexual Abuse LawyerAny form of nursing home abuse or neglect can be devastating to victims and their loved ones, but perhaps the most harmful and insidious is sexual abuse. While you may never expect to be affected by sexual abuse personally, these terrible incidents do happen, and sometimes close to home. Just last month, a southern Illinois nursing home was fined $200,000 for an incident in which a staff member allegedly sexually assaulted a resident.

In addition to staff members, other residents may also be perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing homes. Regardless of the identity of the offender, sexual abuse can leave physical, emotional, and psychological scars on the victim. If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, it is important to be aware of the possibility of sexual abuse and to understand how to recognize and prevent it.

Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be difficult to detect, as victims are often reluctant to discuss it out of fear or shame. Nursing home residents with dementia may also find it very difficult to communicate their distress, and they may be uncertain as to whether the abuse actually happened. You may not be able to rely on your loved one to tell you of the abuse on their own, so it is important to look for signs that abuse may have occurred.

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Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer

Recently, a Central Illinois nursing home and rehabilitation facility was fined $25,000 by the Illinois Department of Public Health in response to an incident in January in which a resident wandered off the premises. Unfortunately, such incidents are not uncommon in Illinois, and it is important to understand how you can hold a nursing home accountable for neglect if your loved one is injured in a wandering or elopement incident.

The Dangers of Wandering and Elopement

Many nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions are prone to wandering. With proper supervision, nursing home staff can intervene to ensure a resident’s safety. However, without supervision, residents can make their way to unsafe areas within and outside of a nursing home facility. Some injury risks for nursing home residents in wandering and elopement incidents include:

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chicago nursing home abuse lawyerWhen an older person suffers from intentional emotional harm at the hands of their caregivers,  it is often referred to as psychological abuse. It is underreported and difficult to identify as there are not physically visible indicators of this type of harm. Because this type of abuse can be so damaging, it is vital to be aware of the signs that may point to psychological elder abuse and what actions you can take so that your loved one can successfully heal from the mistreatment. 

Psychological Elder Abuse Explained

Physical abuse is often believed to be more common and more damaging, however, emotional abuse such as ridicule, isolation, and intimidation can be just as harmful as physical abuse. Psychological elder abuse occurs when an older individual suffers harm through verbal harassment, yelling, or insults. 

Emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Some examples of psychological elder abuse include:

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chicago nursing home injury lawyerNursing home residents generally require a closer eye to ensure their safety and care. But when a nursing home facility is understaffed, its ability to maintain the wellbeing of its patients can become compromised. Unfortunately, such a situation commonly leads to nursing home neglect.

There are numerous ways in which a staff shortage can negatively impact both staff and residents. Some of these issues include:

  • Medication errors, including skipped doses of medicine

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illinois nursing home neglect lawyerNeglect of nursing home residents is a common and serious problem in Illinois. Most of the incidents occur in the facilities where the residents live, perhaps because of issues like overcrowding or insufficient staffing or training. However, nursing home staff may also be responsible for the care and safety of residents while they are outside of the facility. If you or a loved one suffers an injury at any time while under the care of a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation.

Nursing Home Employees Charged After Recent Illinois Incident

An ongoing case in Illinois illustrates a possible example of how neglect can occur when a nursing home resident is away from the facility. In February of this year, a woman died in a transport van after receiving off-site medical treatment at a hospital. Upon returning to her residential facility, the woman was left in the van overnight in below-freezing temperatures. Now, the driver and the residential care manager at the facility are both facing felony neglect charges.

Risks of Off-Site Injuries for Care Facility Residents

There are a number of situations in which a nursing home resident could be at risk of injury while outside of their care facility. Some examples include:

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chicago nursing home abuse lawyerThe problems of nursing home abuse and neglect are ever-present in Chicago and throughout Illinois, and the state government has made efforts to provide a variety of resources for victims and their families. One such resource is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which provides many services to those living in nursing homes and similar facilities. Recently, Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced an increase in funding for the Chicago region of this program, with the goal of ensuring that it is adequately staffed to meet residents’ needs.

What Does the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Do?

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is responsible for providing a variety of services that benefit nursing home residents. Regional branches of the program have been established throughout Illinois to support residents of different counties, and the services they provide are offered at no cost.

Some of the services the program provides include:

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