Schwartz Injury Law


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shutterstock_1062952382.jpgAs our bodies age, the internal and external tissues become more fragile and can get damaged more easily. When compounded with mobility issues, bruising and other superficial injuries are often commonly seen on elderly Illinois nursing home patients, even when they receive the best care. However, persistent bruises that seem to be in odd places may be a sign that something more serious is going on. 

While it is hard to imagine someone deliberately abusing an elderly nursing home resident, such unfortunate incidents do happen. It is important for friends and family members who have a loved one in a residential care facility to be on the alert for strange or suspicious bruising, fractures, or other unexplained injuries. If you are worried that your loved one may be suffering from physical abuse, it is important to take action right away. 

Injuries of Unknown Source

Nursing homes and other residential care facilities are required by federal law to document injuries sustained by their patients. If an injury was allegedly not observed or cannot be explained by nursing home staff, it is considered an “injury of unknown source.” Nursing homes must also include details describing where the injury occurred, how severe the injury was, and whether there was more than one injury discovered at once or whether the injuries seem to occur in a pattern over an extended period of time. 


shutterstock_701470849.jpgIllinois nursing home residents are often elderly, sick, and particularly susceptible to abuse or victimization from staff who claim to restrain residents who are a threat to their own safety. While there is no question that some nursing home residents may be unable to safely control their movements and could accidentally hurt themselves or others, there are safe and appropriate ways to use restraints. When restraints or restraining techniques are improperly used, they can be dangerous to patients. It is important to understand how and when nursing home facilities should use restraints so you can be on the alert for potential abuse of your loved one. 

Common Types of Physical Restraint in Nursing Homes

Physical restraints can vary and depend on the particular issue that a resident is having. They may be devices, materials, or equipment that is near or attached to a patient’s body that is not easily removed. Common types of restraints include: 

  • Soft ties


elmhurst nursing home injury lawyerMost of us take the ability to chew and swallow our food for granted. We eat three times a day or more without thinking twice about whether eating poses a risk to our safety. But as bodies age, reductions in muscle mass and strength in the mouth and throat, combined with dental problems such as tooth loss, make elderly populations at a much higher risk of choking on food. Even babies and very young children are at substantially less risk of choking on food than an adult over age 65. 

This has especially significant implications for elderly residents of Illinois nursing homes who often require the assistance of nursing home staff to eat. When staff are overworked, undertrained, or left to monitor too many patients, nursing home residents may be improperly supervised and could choke on their food as a result. Sometimes, choking incidents are serious enough to be fatal

Choking Incidents Require Immediate Attention

When someone chokes on food, the food may partially or fully block the airway. If the food only partially blocks a person’s airway, they can usually cough and make noise. Often coughing is enough to move the food and clear the airway. 


chicago nursing home abuse lawyerWhen a family has to decide whether to put a beloved and respected elder in a nursing home, it is often a heartbreaking and difficult choice. A family must place enormous trust in a residential care facility’s ability to provide medical care, physical safety, financial security, and a healthy daily routine for a parent or grandparent. 

Unfortunately, nursing home staff do not always treat residents with dignity and respect. Understaffed and overstressed employees often do not have the time or the energy to monitor every patient sufficiently and it can be easy for an abused patient’s symptoms or complaints to go unnoticed. This is especially true when a patient suffers from dementia or another condition that makes it hard to speak or discuss a problem in detail. It is essential for the families of nursing home residents to be aware of signs of physical abuse so if it is present, it can be stopped and justice can be pursued with the help of a nursing home abuse attorney. 

Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers elder abuse to be intentional or negligent behavior that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. Research suggests that victims of elder abuse are more than two times as likely to die prematurely compared to people who do not suffer from elder abuse. 


chicago nursing home injury lawyerSome Illinois nursing home residents have difficulty breathing by themselves. Many medical respiratory issues can cause breathing difficulties, such as pneumonia, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Traumatic brain injuries and degenerative brain disease can also make independent breathing difficult. When a patient in a nursing home struggles to breathe independently, intubation may be necessary.  

Putting a plastic tube into a patient’s airway, or intubation, is a fairly common procedure. But the sensitive tissue in human airways means medical staff must exercise caution when inserting, removing, or adjusting the tube. Sometimes improperly administered breathing tubes can cause serious enough damage that a patient can die. If someone you love has been hurt or killed by a breathing tube injury in their nursing home, you may want to speak with an attorney. 

What are Common Injuries Resulting From Breathing Tubes? 

Breathing tube injuries are most likely to happen in an emergency when medical staff have to act with urgency and complicating factors may already be present. But even during standard procedures, serious injuries may result. They include, but are not limited to: 


Cook County Nursing Home Injury LawyerWhen nursing home residents cannot urinate on their own, often due to mobility or medical issues, catheters may be used. A urinary, or foley, catheter is a small, thin tube made of soft and flexible material that is inserted into the bladder via the urethra to collect a patient’s urine. While catheters can be very useful, they are not without risks. 

Unfortunately, nursing home staff will sometimes improperly administer catheters. Whether due to understaffing, undertrained staff, or unnoticed catheter-related complications, catheters can quickly place a patient at serious risk of infection and in need of further treatment. If you believe your loved one has been injured by a catheter due to nursing home abuse or neglect, an experienced Illinois nursing home injury attorney may be able to help. 

Safe Catheter Use is Essential

While the idea of a catheter might be uncomfortable to think about, it is essential for families of nursing home patients to understand how appropriate catheter use looks and functions. That way, if something is wrong, family and other loved ones may be able to identify symptoms of catheter complications. Nursing home staff are expected to use the following procedures: 


Cook County Nursing Home Injury LawyerUnder Illinois law, nursing homes have a responsibility to provide their residents with an appropriate standard of care. This includes allowing residents to manage their own affairs unless otherwise specified, keep their personal property, retain their own doctor if desired, and provide any security and other protection necessary to keep the residents safe from harm. 

For some residents, particularly those with degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, this means providing extensive supervision and using other measures that keep residents from wandering around or off the premises. Wandering and elopement (leaving the nursing home altogether) pose serious dangers to residents who are unaware of their surroundings and of what they need to do to keep themselves safe. One area in particular–a nursing home’s kitchen–is a source of many serious injuries to wandering nursing home residents. 

Common Injuries Sustained by Wandering Nursing Home Residents in Kitchens

Kitchens are full of possible hazards when they are navigated by someone who does not know how to protect themselves from grills, fryers, ovens, knives, and walk-in freezers. Residents who wander into kitchens can suffer from the following injuries: 


Cook County Nursing Home Slip and Fall LawyerWinter weather is notoriously bad in the midwest, and although Chicago is allegedly known as “The Windy City” for political reasons, the nickname suits the weather as well. Repeated days of snow, rain, and ice followed by weeks of sub-zero temperature and zero sunshine can make sidewalks hazardous to everyone. 

Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to slipping and falling, even on safe, stable surfaces. But when nursing home caretakers fail to manage nursing home outdoor premises, frail elderly residents can be put at risk of serious injuries when they fall on slippery surfaces. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has recently suffered from a fall, an experienced Illinois nursing home attorney may be able to help you. 

Common Injuries from Nursing Home Slip and Fall Accidents 

Elderly residents often have lower bone density and are more prone to hurting themselves when they fall. They are also at greater risk of falling because of difficulty walking and maintaining proper balance. When nursing home residents wander outside or are allowed to walk outside with visitors, winter weather can increase the risk of slipping and falling. 


Chicago Nursing Home Food Poisoning LawyerUnsanitary conditions in nursing home kitchens can run the gamut from disgusting to downright dangerous. Undercooked meat, bugs in food storage areas, unsanitized cooking equipment, and food left unrefrigerated for too long all constitute food safety violations–but more importantly, they allow for dangerous pathogens to develop. 

Nursing home residents are often in frail health and are particularly vulnerable to the risks of improper food handling. Because food poisoning may sound more quotidian than bedsores and sepsis, it tends to get less attention–but it can be just as dangerous. If your loved one has experienced sickness, hospitalization, or death in their long-term care facility because of foodborne illness, an experienced nursing home injuries attorney may be able to help. 

Know the Dangers of Foodborne Illness to Elderly Residents 

People over the age of 65 are particularly susceptible to food poisoning because they often have weak immune systems, chronic disease, and decreased digestive capabilities. All of these make residents more vulnerable to foodborne illness and less capable of recovering from it safely. 


Cook County Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyNursing home residents often depend on their caregivers for help with every aspect of their life. When nursing home staff are negligent, careless, or overworked, nursing home residents can suffer. Families who put their trust in a nursing home may be shocked to discover how poorly their loved one is treated, or, worse, find out about negligent treatment when the consequences have already been serious or even fatal. 

One of the most common types of injuries caused by nursing home negligence is severe burns. Even small activities like drinking from a too-hot cup of soup can cause an elderly body serious injury; this is all the more true with major daily activities like showering in water that is too hot. If you are concerned that nursing home negligence led to your loved one getting burned in their nursing home, read on. 

Common Causes of Nursing Home Burns

Elderly nursing home residents often have thinner skin, reduced mobility, and diminished senses, a dangerous combination that makes them at heightened risk for burns. Some common ways residents acquire serious burns include: 


Chicago Nursing Home Abuse LawyerResidents of nursing home facilities live there because they are unable to properly care for themselves. Physical illness, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related health problems make residents particularly vulnerable and dependent on the nursing home for many things – food, personal cleanliness, emotional security, and physical safety.

Not all accidents or injuries are preventable, but when injuries occur, nursing homes are responsible for treating wounds and keeping them clean. Without an appropriate standard of care, wounds can fail to heal and even get worse. In the worst cases, nursing home neglect can cause improperly treated wounds that can lead to local infections, the onset of sepsis, and even fatalities

Common Wounds Seen in Nursing Home Residents

Due to their fragile nature and frequent inability to move independently, nursing home residents are at an increased risk of injuring themselves. When a young person gets hurt, their body can frequently heal itself without complications or substantial care. Elderly people’s wounds, however, require increased monitoring, treatment, and cleanliness so soft tissue can heal properly. 


cook county nursing home abuse lawyerFew people want to think about themselves or anyone else suffering from a fractured or broken bone, but they are common injuries that result from daily living. For most people, communicating the pain of a bone injury is easy to do because such an injury is difficult to mistake for anything else. 

Some bone fractures, however, do not necessarily have outward indicators that would let an observer immediately know that something is wrong. This can be especially hazardous to an elderly nursing home resident who may struggle to communicate that they are in pain. Nursing home staff and managers have a responsibility to ensure that any bone fractures are quickly diagnosed and treated, but they may fail to do so for many reasons. If your loved one is in a nursing home and you fear they may have suffered from abuse or neglect due to a failure to diagnose a bone fracture, read on. 

Signs of a Bone Fracture

Bone fractures are classified into two basic categories: Open fractures, when a bone breaks and pokes through the skin, and closed fractures when a bone is broken but the skin is not. In the case of open fractures, these injuries are obvious and easy to diagnose. However, some fractures can be very small, leaving no discernable outward signs but leaving the person with the fracture in significant and sometimes even debilitating pain. 


Illinois nursing home wrongful death lawyerThe decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Most people wish that they did not have to move their elderly or disabled loved one out of their home and into a long-term care facility, but they often do not have another choice. Nursing homes are filled with residents who need more extensive medical care and help with daily living tasks than a family member could handle on their own.

Many nursing home residents are quite frail, and when nursing home staff do not properly care for the residents or meet their medical needs, the results can be deadly. If your loved one passed away while staying in a nursing home and you believe the death was due to negligence or abuse, do not hesitate to contact a qualified nursing home abuse injury lawyer for help.

What is the Definition of a Wrongful Death?

Because many nursing home residents are elderly or in poor health when they arrive at the facility, it is not surprising that many residents pass away while staying in the facility. Consequently, it can sometimes be difficult to know if a loved one’s death was preventable or not. The term “wrongful death” refers to deaths that happen as a result of the negligent or intentionally harmful acts of another. The Wrongful Death Act in the Illinois Complied Statutes technically defines a wrongful death as a death resulting from “a wrongful act, neglect or default.” This means that a nursing home staff member’s action or inaction may be to blame for the death of a resident. Other times, it is the nursing home facility itself that is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit.


Cook County Nursing Home Neglect LawyerPeople in nursing homes are there because they need an enhanced level of assistance and care. When someone decides to live in a nursing home, or is moved there with the help of their family or friends, the nursing home is responsible for providing a legal standard of daily care. 

But what happens if, rather than caring for you or your loved one, the nursing home stops providing the care and instead threatens eviction? Eviction is threatening, frightening, and may even be wrongful. If you fear you or your loved one are facing wrongful eviction from a nursing home, read on. 

When is Eviction From a Nursing Home Considered Wrongful? 

Although nursing homes must provide residents with a high standard of care, some situations make it impossible for them to do so. If a resident cannot pay for their care, develops conditions that the nursing home is not capable of caring for safely, or no longer needs the kind of specialized care a nursing home provides, a nursing home may ask a resident to leave. 


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


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. 


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. 


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: 


 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. 


 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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