Words can hurt as much as any other type of abuse. If your loved one in a Louisiana nursing home experiences verbal or emotional mistreatment, they may not realize it is a form of abuse. However, mental abuse has short and long-term effects that can be more difficult to treat than physical injuries.
Seniors in nursing homes can feel isolated from their families. Verbal and emotional abuse from a designated caregiver may make them feel even more alone and out-of-control. Abusers who use words and threats frequently escalate to physical abuse if left unchecked.
Contacting a Louisiana verbal or emotional abuse lawyer can help you navigate the tricky laws surrounding non-physical abuse. If you suspect or have proof that someone is verbally or emotionally abusing your family member, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 and speak to a team member today.
Verbal and Emotional Abuse
Verbal abuse is negative communication with the purpose to frighten, hurt, or control someone. It can be in the form of yelling, speaking, and even whispering. The types of verbal abuse include the following:
- Abusive language, insults, and name-calling
- Humiliation and shame
- Belittling and criticizing
- Manipulation and gaslighting
- Rude remarks
- Withholding information
Nursing home employees can revert to verbal abuse out of frustration, impatience, and stress. For example, an employee may yell or insult a resident who soils their clothing or bed. This can lead to the senior becoming insecure and refusing necessary food and drink.
Verbal abuse often leads to emotional abuse. The spoken mistreatment can cause feelings of insecurity, which abusers use to control their victims. With older adults, abusers may transition emotional abuse into financial exploitation.
An emotional abuser can invalidate a resident’s feelings, opinions, and requests. For instance, a staff member may refuse to give a resident treatment for pain, stating that they exaggerate the discomfort.
What Verbal and Emotional Abuse Looks Like in Nursing Homes
Non-physical abuse can be harder to detect without visible cues. Yet, your parent or spouse may exhibit signs of abuse, such as:
- Withdrawing from social encounters
- Low to no self-esteem
- Hesitation to speak or make eye contact
- Looks of hopelessness, anxiety, and fear
- Changes in behavior, sleeping, and eating
- Avoidance of certain people
If a staff member is verbally or emotionally abusing your family member, they may attempt to isolate them from you and others. This might include limiting visiting hours, preventing them from making phone calls or receiving and sending letters, and constantly monitoring them. One red flag for abuse is an employee who will not leave you alone with your parent, spouse, or grandparent.
Verbal and Emotional Abuse Cases
Mental abuse is the hardest form of abuse to identify and prove. In some instances, mental abuse can cause physical reactions, such as rashes or nerve-related conditions. More often, it presents as psychological trauma.
You need to file a lawsuit against the nursing home within one year of the abuse, according to the Louisiana Revised Statutes (RS) §9:5628. However, certain situations extend this deadline. A Louisiana verbal or emotional abuse lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help guide you through the process.
The Party Responsible for Damages
According to the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, all nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse. The Act also mandates that facilities deliver services in an environment that encourages its residents’ physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Facilities and administration are supposed to make sure there are enough workers. However, overworked and under-qualified caretakers can cause a hostile work and living environment.
Facilities can be liable for mental abuse damages if they:
- Fail to do proper background checks
- Do not train staff members to treat residents with care or to identify signs of abuse
- Fail to hire qualified employees
- Do not supervise employees and residents properly
Recoverable damages can include reimbursements for therapy, psychiatry assessments, and other mental health expenses. You may also sue for the costs to transfer your loved one to a different facility and payment for legal fees.
Like other businesses, nursing homes pay for liability insurance to cover verdicts and settlement compensation fees. When nursing homes face lawsuits, their insurance provider pays for the compensation. Insurance companies often prefer out-of-court settlements to reduce the expense of litigation.
Evidence in Mental Abuse Cases
Gathering evidence for non-visual abuse can be difficult. You and your loved one may feel helpless when it comes to proving the abuse occurred. However, there are ways to show the court that the mental abuse was ongoing and harmful to your family member.
Keeping a record of the abuse is helpful. Dates, times, descriptions of the abuse, and witnesses give your lawyer more to work with. Visual and audio recordings can be useful, as well.
Emotional abusers may verbally insult your loved one in front of other residents as a way to humiliate them. Gathering testimony from eye-witnesses can help reinforce your case when there is no visual evidence.
Victims stuck in a cycle of constant abuse may try to escape through suicide or self-injury. If your loved one hurt or killed themselves due to abuse, a record of this can show the extent they were willing to go to escape.
An assessment of your family member’s mental health can be beneficial to your case. An expert witness on mental abuse may be able to testify to their condition.
A Louisiana verbal or emotional abuse lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can investigate your case to determine the best way to move forward. Call (800) 842-6336 to talk to a member of our team about your legal options.