Written by: The Benton Law Firm Last Updated : March 13, 2023

Physical Abuse

Residents in Texas nursing homes have the right to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Sadly, it is not uncommon for nursing home residents to suffer these types of treatment.

Physical abuse occurs when someone willfully hurts an elderly resident. Nursing home employees, such as medical staff and facility personnel, too often intentionally cause physical harm to their patients. In these cases, nursing home residents have the right to seek compensation in a Texas court.

Based on advanced age, declining health, and reduced mental and functional capacity, the elderly may be defenseless and vulnerable to physical abuse. Nursing home residents isolated from their families often suffer in silence with no way to expose the wrongdoer and seek justice.

A Texas nursing home lawyer can help if you or a loved one has suffered physical abuse in a nursing home. Talk to a skilled attorney at The Benton Law Firm to learn more about protecting your rights or the rights of a friend or family member.

Types of Physical Abuse

Nursing home residents typically suffer the most harm from three types of physical abuse:

  • Active abuse
  • Misuse of restraints
  • Physical neglect

Active Abuse involves conduct where the wrongdoer intends to cause pain or injury to the victim. Examples of active abuse include:

  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Kicking
  • Pinching
  • Pushing
  • Punching
  • Shaking
  • Shoving
  • Slapping

Nursing homes often misuse restraints for their convenience or to discipline a resident. The misuse of restraints is a violation of federal law. Nursing homes are only allowed to use restraints for medical reasons. A staff member may only use them for a limited, defined time. Residents often injure themselves trying to escape from restraints misused by nursing homes.

Although nursing homes may unintentionally physically neglect residents, they are still responsible for any harm this neglect causes to patients. Nursing homes that lack enough staff or adequate resources may physically neglect residents. The failure to provide food, clothing, and sanitary conditions constitutes evidence of physical neglect.

Nursing Home Abusers

Abusers in nursing homes are often nursing home personnel, such as medical staff and caregivers. However, it is also common for nursing home residents to suffer physical abuse from other residents.

Caregivers and other employees often commit willful physical abuse because they suffer physical and emotional exhaustion from overwork. Other employees may lack adequate training and tools to do their jobs. This deficiency can cause stress and frustration that results in physical abuse.

Physical abuse occurs more frequently when potential witnesses, such as staff members and families, are absent. As a result, physical abuse in nursing homes often goes unreported.

Signs of Physical Abuse

The warning signs of physical abuse are much easier to detect than emotional or psychological abuse. However, physical abuse can leave both physical and psychological signs of the original trauma. A caregiver’s refusal to allow a resident to see visitors may also suggest physical abuse.

Indicators of physical abuse include:

  • Abrasions around the wrists and ankles that may suggest the use of some physical restraint
  • Anxiety and fear of others, especially nursing home personnel
  • Bedsores
  • Behavioral and personality changes
  • Broken bones, dislocations
  • Black eyes
  • Bleeding
  • Burns
  • Cuts, lacerations, and bruises
  • Dehydration
  • Depression, withdrawal
  • Hair loss (sudden, unexplained)
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Refusal to take medication
  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene

Liability for Physical Abuse of an Elderly or Disabled Person

Nursing homes have a duty to provide a safe environment for their residents free of abuse. A nursing home’s duty entails providing for the needs of residents, which include:

  • Room and board
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Social services
  • Medications (over-the-counter)
  • Personal needs items

When a nursing home fails to provide for these needs and causes a resident to sustain an injury, the resident has the right to seek compensation from the nursing home.

A resident may have the right to seek compensation for abuse resulting from these actions:

  • Failure to investigate job applicants. Residents and the general public expect nursing homes to conduct background checks on all employees. After all, these workers care for our loved ones when they need it most. Alarmingly, it is not unusual for nursing homes to attract job applicants with abusive character traits who enjoy preying on vulnerable patients. A nursing home’s failure to identify these applicants before hiring is grounds for the nursing home’s liability when this failure causes physical abuse.
  • Failure to hire enough employees. An understaffed nursing home has an adverse domino effect on every employee. One by one, employees will burn out, and some may take their stress and frustration out on a resident by physically abusing them.
  • Failure to train employees. Preparing and training employees to adequately care for nursing home residents is a considerable cost to the nursing home or the corporation that manages it. Rolling the dice with poorly trained employees is a risk many nursing homes seem to take. However, if a worker’s poor training causes you to suffer an injury from physical abuse in a nursing home, you have the right to seek compensation.
  • Failure to supervise employees. Nursing homes must supervise employees to ensure they are meeting the needs of residents. Because the signs of abuse are usually physically visible, nursing home staff must take immediate action at the first sign of physical abuse.
  • Failure to investigate or stop the abuse. Nursing homes must take prompt investigative action when residents or their family members complain of any type of abuse. If the investigation reveals ongoing abuse, the nursing home must directly respond to stop the abuse.

Contact an Experienced Dallas-Ft. Worth Nursing Home Attorney Today

Do you have friends or family members who live in a nursing home? While visiting them, have they ever shown any signs of physical injury? If so, do you believe abuse or neglect is the reason for these injuries?

To learn more about how we can help you, contact The Benton Law Firm at (214) 777-7777. We offer free initial consultations. Jeff Benton has helped injured people in Dallas, Fort Worth, Brownsville, El Paso, Tyler, and throughout Texas recover millions for their injuries.




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