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Spokane Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

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    Nursing Home Abuse - Paukert & Troppmann

    Spokane Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

    Serving Residents in Washington and Idaho

    Do you need legal help?

    Contact us for a legal consultation.


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      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Read more reviews ➜

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

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      Spokane Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

      The term nursing home often brings to mind images of lonely seniors shut away from the world. But these facilities can be the best solution for seniors who require more assistance and supervision than is reasonably feasible in a private home. Most nursing home employees see caring for residents as a personal mission. But when the wrong person gains access to this vulnerable population and does harm instead of good, it’s critical to pursue justice.

      Our firm is here to help. We offer free legal advice. Call our Spokane nursing home abuse lawyers today.

      Don’t put off contacting us because you’re worried that speaking to a lawyer requires an up-front payment. Call us any time for a free legal consultation.

      What Nursing Home Abuse Looks Like

      Nursing home abuse doesn’t always involve physical harm to residents. While this certainly qualifies as abuse, there are other, less obvious ways a nursing home resident may be harmed in the form of neglect. This can take several forms, such as:

      • Failure to provide enough water or food
      • Isolation due to a failure to help residents with mobility challenges leave their room for the company of others
      • Failure to provide routine, regular hygiene assistance
      • Failure to maintain clean bedding and living quarters
      • Inadequate medical care, such as when lack of preventative care leads to bed sores

      Other forms of abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and sexual assault. The harmful treatment may come from the staff you trust for your loved one’s care. It’s also possible as the result of the actions of other residents, as in peer-to-peer bullying.

      Abuse is sometimes caused by simple greed, resulting in the theft of your loved one’s property. For this reason, it’s important to keep track of credit cards, checks, and valuables, and make sure these items are not kept where they can be accessed by others.

      Nursing home abuse may be due to improperly trained or inattentive staff or understaffing of facilities. Overwhelmed staff members are vulnerable to burnout and taking out frustrations in unhealthy ways.

      When abuse does occur, it’s incumbent upon management to spot it immediately and put a stop to it. When corporate policies cause understaffing, for example, corporate management is also to blame. Thus, in nursing home abuse cases can easily involve more than one at-fault party.

      How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help

      These days, there are procedures in every state for reporting and investigating nursing home abuse, neglect, and exploitation allegations. When such an allegation is made, the investigation often includes interviews of the resident and family members, as well as interviews of nursing home employees. If the investigation reveals the allegations are valid, adult protective services steps in to provide support services to the victim and prevent the abuse or neglect from happening again.

      These measures are not always deemed sufficient by the resident or the person’s family however, to compensate for what their loved one went through. This is where our Spokane nursing home abuse lawyers excel. We have the experience and skill to collect the evidence necessary to build strong claims. We will guide you through the process from start to finish, to help you get compensation as efficiently as possible with minimal stress to you and your loved one. Our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers have the skill to handle claims against staff members and administrators and the corporations that own them.

      Advocating for Your Loved One

      Please familiarize yourself with the following mistakes to avoid to help you recognize, address, and put a stop to nursing home neglect and abuse as quickly as possible.

      Maintain Your Objectivity

      It’s an unfortunate truth that even if the victim is brave enough to speak up, we may second-guess abuse allegations when the potential victim is a senior accusing their caregivers. You’re hearing a complaint from the resident without having witnessed anything, you may lack proof, and you want to be absolutely certain the person isn’t confused or misremembering before you start accusing the staff of impropriety.

      The toughest thing about this type of case is you may never be one hundred percent sure when you move forward. Depending on what’s going on, you may not see physical signs of abuse, and the same is true for psychological neglect. But you know your loved one and if their allegations are true, you’re all they’ve got to step in and stand up for them.

      Listening carefully, observing the interaction of staff and residents on your visits, and checking in with your intuition are important in determining whether you need to report possible abuse.

      It’s also helpful to look for changes in several areas:

      • Do they seem frightened of any employees or other residents?
      • Are they anxious or depressed?
      • Have you noticed a change in mood or behavior?
      • Do they appear dehydrated or seem to be losing weight?
      • Is their hygiene declining?
      • Do they have unexplained injuries, such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, sores, scratches, or marks anywhere, including around their genitals?
      • Are they falling often?
      • Do they seem to be sick often or have frequent infections?
      • Are you seeing signs of bedsores or any other injuries?
      • Are they complaining of someone stealing from them?
      • If you are responsible for their finances, have you noticed missing money from their financial accounts?
      • Have they actually mentioned ill treatment to you?

      The more contact you have with your loved one, the easier it will be to spot changes in their behavior and recognize patterns of abuse. You’re in a tough position, because you’re trying to honor your loved one’s trust in you while making sure you’re being fair and objective about the care they are receiving.

      Keep Records of What You Are Told

      If you see something you are unsure of (“Did my mother actually flinch when the nurse put her sweater over her shoulders?”), make a note in a paper journal or note taking app. If it was nothing, you’ll be able to forget about it and move on. If it was part of a pattern, however, you’ll be adding to your notes and the accumulation of entries will tell the story. The key is to be diligent and always put a date and time with your entries.

      You may think adding the time is excessive, but the more information you can provide should there be a claim to investigate, the easier it will be to verify your observations. Dates with times can help identify who was working where when a particular incident happened.

      Consider taking photos of injuries like bed sores, bruises, or scratches, and adding them to your notes. If you end up needing to prove a pattern of abuse, the more information you have the better; just be sure to keep the original files if you need to provide a copy to someone else.

      Do Report Incidents to the Nursing Home

      It can be scary to “make waves,” and when speaking up for someone in a nursing home, you’re likely to worry it will make the situation even worse. Will your loved one suffer retaliation?

      While this is an understandable concern, there is a citizen’s representative called an ombudsman in every nursing home. This is the best person to speak to about concerns of nursing home abuse and neglect. It’s this person’s job to help protect the rights and the safety of nursing home residents.

      The ombudsman has the responsibility of resolving patient care issues, including allegations of neglect or abuse, as quickly as possible while ensuring there is no retaliation toward your loved one.

      Don’t give a Record Your Statement

      If after working with the Ombudsman, you decide to file a claim, the insurance company for the facility will contact you for a recorded statement. You may get the impression providing this will make your case move more quickly, but it’s best to let your nursing home abuse lawyer handle communications with the insurance company to avoid accidentally throwing any doubt on the validity of your claim.

      Don’t Accept the First Offer from the Insurance Company

      Our Spokane nursing home abuse lawyers are extremely helpful when it comes to considering settlement offers. The first offer you receive is likely to be far too low to consider. Experienced attorneys have the professional objectivity to guide you as to what’s worth considering and what isn’t.

      Another way having a skilled attorney protects you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company is by making it clear that if a reasonable settlement is not reached, your lawyer will take them to trial. If you go it alone, the insurance company is likely to hit you with delays and denials. Cut through the difficulties by handing your claim to a knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer.

      Don’t Wait to Hire a Lawyer

      It’s important to seek an experienced nursing home lawyer as soon as you decide to pursue a claim. This will help give your attorney the best chance of gathering evidence before it gets lost. It also maximizes available time to interview witnesses. By working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, you can help reduce the chances that the at-fault party will abuse anyone else.

      Hiring the Wrong Lawyer

      When you move forward with retaining a lawyer, make sure you select a trial lawyer with experience in nursing home abuse claims. There are many practice areas available to lawyers. Your sister’s divorce attorney may be terrific, but she may not have the experience to successfully handle a nursing home abuse case. Make sure your lawyer has experience and the trial skills to be ready for any contingency.

      Spokane Nursing Home Abuse Client Story

      The story that follows is meant to give you an idea of what’s involved in pursuing a nursing home abuse claim. The names and details of our clients have been edited to maintain their privacy, but the information remains helpful. Read to the end to learn as much as possible. Then give us a call to discuss your specific claim.

      The trouble started in eighth grade, getting meaner and uglier right up until high school graduation. It didn’t come to a head until a rainy Thursday a few years back however, when Gretchen Neiman and Arlene Dawson discovered they were residents of the same nursing home.

      Despite the passing of 66 years, Gretchen recognized Arlene immediately as her wheelchair was rolled up to the lunch table for her first lunch service as a resident. For a moment, Gretchen considered making a snarky remark. But then, how many years had to pass before a person could bury the hatchet? They weren’t silly high school girls anymore.

      Gretchen gave Arlene her best smile, hoping it reached her eyes. “Fancy meeting you here,” she said by way of greeting.

      Unfortunately, Arlene was of the opinion that it was never too early to revisit an old grudge.

      “Nothing fancy about it, Greta. I guess you’re as dim as you were in the eighth grade,” Arlene snapped. She then made a big deal about rolling her eyes to the other residents at the table. Some of them laughed nervously, relieved Arlene wasn’t picking on them. Some were lost in their own thoughts.

      Gretchen tried to think of a comeback, but nothing came to her. She was never very good at witty banter and didn’t like confrontation. She was embarrassed, but hoped she looked like she wasn’t. And what did she care? After all, she got “the guy.” Mark Neiman, captain of the football team, had chosen her to be his homecoming date. Shy, bookish Gretchen. Arlene had been furious back then, but it was nothing compared to her jealous rage when Mark took Gretchen to the prom.

      Back then it was easier for Gretchen to ignore Arlene. She could simply walk away. And she was about to graduate and had much more important things to think about. She and Mark were about to get married.

      The couple went on to a full life together, including four wonderful children, and eight adorable grandchildren. When Mark passed away four years ago, Gretchen stayed in her home for as long as she could. She treasured her independence and was content to live near, but not with her daughter Rachel and her family. She reasoned they were close enough to help if needed, but she was fine on her own.

      After two falls, however, Gretchen had to admit she was becoming unsteady on her feet. When she became wheelchair-bound, she decided it was time to move into the nursing home. After all, her kids all worked full time and had families of their own. Despite their protests, she insisted this would be better for everyone; she would not become a burden to her children. She would not. She made her kids promise to honor her wishes and her daughter Rachel, who had settled nearby, reluctantly helped her arrange to enter the home.

      Now here she was, hoping to make some new friends with peers, and who turns up but Arlene. The woman was stuck in 1953, and as bitter and mean as ever.

      Unfortunately, Gretchen seemed to be assigned to Arlene’s lunch table. She was wheeled up to it at every meal, and every time, Arlene focused on making Gretchen the target of her ire. Gretchen was miserable and growing depressed. She was reluctant to let her children know what was going on; it felt like admitting defeat. She reminded herself that she would not be a burden to her children and stoically endured. When she couldn’t take the thought of dealing with Arlene, she simply skipped meals, claiming not to be hungry.

      During one of her daughter’s daily visits, she said Gretchen looked a bit thin and asked her if she was okay. Gretchen insisted she was just tired, and her own guilt over letting her mom move into the facility kept her from pressing the issue. What if deep down Gretchen thought Rachel had abandoned her?

      Gretchen’s avoidance remedy for the bullying didn’t help. Not only was she losing weight, but she was growing depressed with the isolation. And so it went, she’d stay away until hunger or loneliness spurred her to show up again in the dining room or community room. Arlene truly seemed to be everywhere she went.

      One night at dinner when Gretchen was wheeled up to the table the aide parked her directly beside Arlene.

      “There you go, sitting with your friend will make you feel better. Make sure you get plenty of food in you!” Encouraged the aid as she walked away.

      Arlene leaned in and sneered, “Trying to avoid me? You can run, but you can’t hide, Greta. My niece is head nurse in this joint, so I can do what I please. Even got my own room. I told her you’re my best friend. I asked her to put a note in our charts to bring you to my table for every meal because we can’t stand to be separated. I told her you have the dementia, and you need me because I keep you calm.”

      A frightening smile spread across Arlene’s face. “I told her I help you remember who you are.”

      Gretchen looked around desperate to catch the eye of an aide to move her, but no one was paying attention. When an aide put her dinner plate in front of her, she opened her mouth to speak, but Arlene grabbed her wrist and squeezed hard.

      Rachel would later insist it looked as though her mother might have a bruise on her wrist.

      The two women continued to run into each other at every turn, and Arlene never passed up an opportunity to put Gretchen down or embarrass her.

      One day Gretchen woke up exhausted. She felt as though she were fading away. She finally decided to speak with her daughter, pride be darned. She’d tell her after lunch when she arrived for her visit. She could make it at least that long.

      As it happened, Arlene was in rare form that day. Knowing she intended to speak to Rachel gave Gretchen a little courage though, and she finally asked, “What are you so worked up about, Lena? What have I ever done to you?” In response, Arlene leaned in and hissed, “You stole my man, you Hussie!” And with that, she reached out and dumped her coffee into Gretchen’s lunch.

      When Rachel arrived an hour later, Gretchen told her about Arlene’s bullying. Suddenly it all made sense. Gretchen’s weight loss, the anxiety and depression. Rachel could kick herself for not arriving early enough to be there at mealtime. She promised to take care of it and went straight to the office of the ombudsman.

      When she filed her complaint, however, it seemed as though the woman was going through the motions, but not really engaged. She nodded at the right times and took notes, but Rachel had the distinct impression the woman had heard all this before. She showed an alarming lack of objective surprise. In fact, the more Rachel watched her, the more it appeared the nodding and eyebrow-raising was weary resignation.

      “Is this woman really the head nurse’s aunt?” Rachel asked as she got up to leave.

      “Yes, she is,” said the ombudsman. Again, the nodding.

      “This isn’t the first complaint about Arlene Dawson, is it?” Rachel asked, adding, “I bet you gave her a private room because all her roommates complained about her.”

      “I’m really not at liberty to discuss other patients,” the ombudsman replied, avoiding Rachel’s stare and shifting in her chair as if the seat were on fire. She would say nothing more about Arlene Dawson, but her silence was deafening. Rachel left with assurances that there would be no more bullying of any kind.

      A week later Rachel arrived to find her mother in her room crying. She had an ugly scratch on her face. She said Arlene had been bragging at lunch about having a date with Mark Neiman that afternoon. Arlene said Mark had proposed to her and was telling everyone at the table about her fiancé Mark. Gretchen had tired of Arlene’s rantings and simply informed the rest of the table that Mark Neiman was dead after a long and happy life with her, his wife of 56 years, four children and eight grandchildren.

      Arlene’s reaction was visible on Gretchen’s cheek. That’s when Rachel took her mother home with her and called us.

      How much does it cost to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer?

      We met Gretchen and her daughter two days later for a free legal consultation with Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Kathleen Paukert. Gretchen was adamant we tell her how much a lawyer would cost before she agreed to opening a claim of nursing home abuse.

      “I really don’t want to make this fuss, to be honest,” said Gretchen, “But Rachel has convinced me that if I just leave, that woman will be free to continue tormenting someone else.”

      Attorney Paukert told Gretchen that we work on a contingency fee model, so there would be no up-front cost. “We only get paid when we resolve your claim successfully,” the lawyer said.

      “Well, that sounds good,” Gretchen said. She went on to outline her experience at the nursing home.

      How long will my nursing home abuse claim take?

      “Can you give us an idea of how long my mom’s claim could take?” Rachel asked. “The administrator threatened a huge penalty if I pull her out of the home before the end of the year, but I am not willing to bring her back to that horrible place. Things are likely to get a bit stretched, financially.”

      “Your timeline will depend on a few factors,” Attorney Paukert answered. “Claims against nursing homes can take a bit of time. I’m not saying it’s not worth it; nursing home abuse is intolerable. But I want to prepare you for the likelihood that your case may go all the way to trial and involve the testimony of numerous expert witnesses. We’ll begin by conducting a thorough investigation to support your claim, speaking to the ombudsman, staff, and witnesses at the nursing home. The entire process could take a few years to resolve.

      “As far as penalties go, if we win your case, we may be able to get you reimbursed for the penalty as part of compensation for your damages. The bottom line, Gretchen, is filing a nursing home abuse claim is a marathon, not a sprint.”

      “I understand,” said Gretchen. “But it’s a long time. Who knows if Arlene will be around by the end of it; or me, for that matter?” She looked at her daughter, then smiled and shrugged.

      “Look, Mom. I know, you don’t want to be a “burden.” I really did hear you when you said that. But the truth is, you’re not. I need you to accept that and agree to stay with us now. And the fact that this could take a while makes me even more certain we need to do it. The last thing I’m ever going to do is bring you back there.

      “But some of those residents don’t have the option to leave. If we fight, we can make the company sit up and take notice. They need to better supervise their residents and their staff. What happened to you never should have happened, nor gone on like it did. I know you don’t like confrontation, Mom, but I think this is a good fight if ever there was one.”

      Gretchen agreed to move forward. She retained Paukert and Troppman and Attorney Paukert won her case at trial. The jury provided Gretchen with a sizable award that shocked her and included a full refund of her early exit penalty.

      Call Our Spokane Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today

      We hope the information on this page has provided you with some answers to your questions about nursing home abuse. Keeping in mind that no two cases are the same; we urge you to contact us to schedule your free legal consultation. Nursing homes are supposed to be the best “home away from home” possible for the care of the elderly. Let us guide you through your nursing home abuse claim to help ensure the industry maintains the highest possible standards.

      Client Reviews

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.

      Christine Weaver

      Read More Reviews