Nursing home abuse has become a societal problem. Unfortunately, our impaired or elderly citizens are not always being cared for in the manner commensurate with their needs, especially when they do not get what they are paying to receive. Typical signs of nursing home abuse or neglect are fractures, bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, severe bruising and infection. Abuse can but does not always mean that a person is being physically assaulted but abuse may be the failure to provide adequate medical care.
Unfortunately, some of the most serious cases of nursing home abuse or neglect lead to the death of the patient. In South Carolina, the personal representative of the estate can bring a survival cause of action against the nursing home if the victim experienced conscious pain and suffering before his or her death. Any award on a survival cause of action is distributed according to South Carolina intestacy laws.
The personal representative of the estate can also bring a wrongful death cause of action for the benefit of the decedent’s spouse and children and other heirs (if no surviving spouse or children) against the nursing home if the nursing home’s abuse or neglect caused the patient’s death. South Carolina has what is called a Statute of Limitations which means that a suit must be brought timely. This space is insufficient to publish all possible limitations on a claim so the best advice is to follow up immediately. When it comes to a question about the Statute of Limitations, we are available to answer any question you may have.
South Carolina state law requires anyone with actual knowledge of physical or mental abuse to a vulnerable adult by a nursing care facility to report that abuse to Vulnerable Adults Investigations Unit of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for facilities connected with the SC Department of Mental Health. A report should be made to the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program for a facility not connected to a state agency. In a case involving death, any person with a reasonable suspicion that a person died due to the abuse or neglect by a nursing care facility must inform the coroner or the medical examiner of the death and the suspected cause.
In most cases of physical or mental abuse or neglect committed by a nursing home employee, an expert witness will have to testify on behalf of the victim. This is often because the victim often suffers memory loss or dementia and would be unable to articulate the cause of the injury that he or she sustained. Additionally, an expert witness may be required to testify that the act or failure to act was below the standard of care. An expert witness will usually be a medical professional or doctor who testifies to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the nursing facility deviated from the standard of care required and that negligence resulted in an injury.
If you or someone in your immediate family has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact the Columbia, SC Attorney at Koon Cook & Walters, LLC to help you.