Have you or your loved one experienced abuse or neglect at an assisted living center in the Oklahoma City area?
Abuse and neglect in assisted living centers can be a serious problem. Oklahoma state agencies provide some oversight by issuing licenses and conducting periodic inspections (“surveys”). However, state regulators do not have sufficient staff to oversee the day-to-day operations of the hundreds of Oklahoma nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult day care centers, and residential care homes.
We largely depend on the civil justice system to keep Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities in check. When a resident is abused or neglected and experiences significant harms, the resident or the resident’s family has a right to file a civil suit.
Facility owners and administrators are more afraid of a lawsuit than they are a negative inspection, because of the damages a jury might order the facility to pay, including costly punitive damages if the abuse or neglect is severe.
When does an assisted living center resident have legitimate grounds to file a civil complaint? The first thing a prospective plaintiff must understand is that a lawsuit is only feasible when significant harms and losses have occurred, such as a permanent disability, medical expenses, pain and suffering, or wrongful death. The jury then attaches a dollar value to those damages and makes an award. No matter how bad a facility’s actions may be, if significant damages cannot be demonstrated, there is no point in filing the suit.
How to tell if Assisted Living Abuse has Occurred
If significant damages have been experienced, the lawsuit must demonstrate that the harms resulted from abuse or neglect by the facility. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating the feasibility of a lawsuit:
- Did the facility perform an assessment of the resident’s physical and cognitive health before admitting the resident? If no assessment was performed, the facility may have no basis to prove that it was able to meet the needs of the resident.
- Did the facility offer a written disclosure of services it provides and does not provide. If the facility does not advise residents and prospective residents about its range of services, it may have no basis to refute a resident’s complaint that the facility failed to provide services that were expected.
- Did the facility create a service plan that specified exactly what services the resident would receive to address needs identified in the assessment?
- Did the facility periodically update the service plan, as the resident’s physical and cognitive health changed? Did it conduct periodic service plan conferences with the resident and family to advise of changes to the service plan, so the resident and family would remain fully informed about services being provided?
- Has the resident’s physical or cognitive health declined since entering the assisted living facility? Should the resident have been transferred to a nursing home or specialized care facility? Did the assisted living center notify the resident and/or family that a transfer was necessary?
- Did the assisted living center’s building, equipment, staff, programs and services live up to what was promised in the facility’s advertising, website and printed materials?
- Did the assisted living center promise to provide care for special needs, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia? Did it live up to those promises? Did it have adequate programs and services to meet those special needs?
- Did the facility have sufficient staff to provide the specialized services it promised?
- Did the resident hurt oneself by falling? Did the resident develop bedsores? Those are warning signs that an assisted living may be allowing a resident to stay who might be better off in a nursing home.
- If a patient with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia was allowed to continue living in the facility, did the facility take sufficient measures to make sure the resident did not wander off into danger.
- Was the facility involved in the resident’s medication management? Did it advertise that it would provide medication management? Did the facility fail to provide adequate medication management?
If Your Family Member was Injured in an Assisted Living Facility, Our Lawyers Can Help
The Oklahoma Assisted Living Abuse Lawyers at Hasbrook & Hasbrook are dedicated to helping seniors who have experienced abuse and neglect receive compensation for the physical and emotional damages they have experienced. In addition, such a lawsuit will deter the facility from continuing harmful practices that will inevitably harm others.
Residents of assisted living centers and other long-term care facilities have a right to expect a certain level of care. For a free consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact Hasbrook & Hasbrook by telephone at (405) 698-3040, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use our website contact form.