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Madison Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Madison Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

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Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys Serving Wisconsin

The Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan are dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home patients and ending nursing home neglect and abuse in Wisconsin. We have the experience and resources you need to secure justice and recover financial losses.

If you suspect a loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse in a Wisconsin nursing home or assisted-living center, contact Boller & Vaughan today online or at (608) 268-0268 for your FREE, no-obligation case evaluation. Our nursing home abuse attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything until we successfully resolve your case.

Why Choose Boller & Vaughan for Your Wisconsin Nursing Home Abuse Case?

Attorneys Matthew Boller and Michelle Vaughan founded Boller & Vaughn in 2004 to protect seniors against elder abuse and neglect. We are passionate about helping residents of Wisconsin nursing homes, community-based residential facilities, assisted living facilities, and adult family homes.

No other law firm in the state has dedicated its practice to protecting the rights of vulnerable residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We understand the many hardships faced by the victims of elder abuse and their families. We are committed to helping victims move forward with dignity.

Boller & Vaughan has obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of nursing home residents, some of which were the largest recoveries in the history of Wisconsin. We have built a reputation as the leading law firm in the state for recovering the maximum compensation for nursing home residents.

We thoroughly investigate every claim. Nursing home investigations can be difficult and time-intensive. The nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan possess the knowledge and resources needed to gather pertinent evidence that supports your claim.

Our results speak for themselves.


Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Defined

Entrusting the life of a loved one to a nursing home or other care facility is a difficult decision, but often an unavoidable one. Sadly, a growing number of reports indicate various types of abuse are increasing within nursing homes and other care centers.

The state of Wisconsin recognizes several forms of elder abuse:

  • Physical abuse: The intentional or reckless infliction of physical pain or injury.
  • Emotional abuse: Language or behavior intended to intimidate, humiliate, threaten, frighten or harass.
  • Sexual abuse: Any unwanted sexual contact as outlined by Wisconsin’s sexual assault statute.
  • Financial exploitation: Obtaining another individual’s money or property through deception, enticement, or force. This may include – but is not limited to – theft, forgery, debit or credit card transaction crimes, or the unauthorized use of identifying information or documents.
  • Neglect: The failure of a caregiver to provide adequate supervision or other necessary services to an individual in his or her care. Neglect is distinguished from abuse by intent.

Signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse are sometimes obvious. For example, victims of physical or sexual abuse may have bruises, cuts, or other signs of physical harm. Likewise, nursing home neglect victims often develop bedsores or exhibit signs of malnutrition like sudden weight loss.

But indicators of emotional abuse and financial exploitation may be harder to detect. Nursing home residents are often unable or unwilling to communicate neglect or abuse, either due to medical impairments or fear of retribution.

This is why it’s important for family members and other loved ones to be vigilant for signs of neglect or abuse.

Call for a FREE Consultation (608) 268-0268

Where Does Elder Abuse and Neglect Most Commonly Occur?

The term “nursing home abuse” is often used to describe mistreatment in any facility. However, elder abuse and neglect can happen in a wide variety of places. Facilities differ in their responsibilities to residents and the applicable laws and regulations:

  • Nursing homes
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Assisted living facilities, including adult day care, adult family homes, community-based residential facilities, and residential apartment complexes
  • Memory care facilities
  • Retirement homes and retirement communities

Elder abuse and elder neglect don’t only occur in outside facilities. In cases of home care abuse, a caregiver who comes to your loved one’s home or your home can mistreat them in a place where they should be able to feel safe.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse in Wisconsin Nursing Homes

While these laws and regulations are in place to protect the elderly population, they don’t eliminate abuse. This is why it’s so important to understand the signs. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has identified some of the most common signs of elder abuse as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the deliberate inflicting of physical pain, injury, or impairment upon another person. It may involve hitting, strangling, kicking, shoving, burning, the inappropriate use of drugs, physical restraints, confinement, or other forms of harm that cause bruises, welts, lacerations, punctures, fractures, swelling, scratches, and other injuries. Signs of physical abuse may include but are not limited to:

  • Abrasions or bruising around the wrists or ankles, which may indicate the use of restraints
  • Broken bones
  • Evidence of overmedication or insufficient medication
  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as anxiety or social withdrawal
  • Torn or bloodied clothing or bedding
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other minor injuries
  • Untreated injuries or medical problems

It’s important to note that physical abuse is not limited to blatant physical acts of violence. Physical abuse can also include the unreasonable use of restraints, overmedicating a resident, or withholding medication or medical treatment from a resident.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any form of nonconsensual sexual contact, as well as sexual contact with a person who is unable to give consent. It can include “hands-off” behaviors such as exhibitionism, taking sexually explicit photographs, and making someone watch pornography, as well as “hands-on” offenses like rape or sodomy, and “harmful genital practices” which involve intrusive and/or painful procedures on the genitals or rectal area. 

People with disabilities and developmental disabilities are particularly at risk of this type of abuse, and men are most commonly identified as perpetrators. Common indicators of sexual abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety around certain caregivers or staff members, particularly concerning bathing, bathroom assistance, or dressing
  • Bleeding from the anus or vagina
  • Bruises or marks around the breasts, buttocks, or genitals
  • Bruising or abrasions around the wrists or ankles, indicating the use of restraints
  • Torn, bloody, or stained undergarments or bedding
  • Sudden behavioral changes, such as fearfulness, depression, or social withdrawal
  • Sudden difficulty walking or discomfort when sitting
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or genital infections

Sexual abuse may also include coerced nudity or the taking of sexually explicit photos or videos.

Signs of Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse involves language or behavior intended to intimidate, humiliate, ridicule, threaten, harass, coerce, blame, scapegoat, or cause emotional pain or distress. Nonverbal forms of emotional abuse, such as ignoring the individual or isolating them from friends or activities, can also occur. Signs that an individual may be experiencing emotional abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral changes, such as sudden agitation, depression, or social withdrawal
  • Fearfulness of caregivers or other staff members
  • Loss of appetite
  • Self-destructive behavior such as failing to use lifestyle or medical aids including dentures, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or walkers

In some instances of emotional abuse, the victim will exhibit behaviors associated with dementia, including finger biting, thumbsucking, and rocking compulsively.

signs of nursing home neglect list | Boller and Vaughan

Signs of Neglect

Neglect is the refusal or failure to provide an individual with life necessities, such as food, water, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Unintentional neglect may result from ignorance by the caregiver or family member or denial that an individual needs as much care as he or she does. However, be cautious about situations involving suspected neglect for which the caregiver or family member is making excuses. 

Indicators that a nursing home resident may be a victim of neglect include:

  • Bed sores (also referred to as pressure ulcers) caused by extended periods of sitting or laying down
  • Behavioral changes, such as social withdrawal
  • Dehydration or malnourishment
  • Poor personal hygiene (bad breath, body odor, dirty clothing, lack of grooming)
  • Recurring illnesses or infections
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unclean living conditions (dirty bedding, unsanitary room and/or bathroom)

Neglect is differentiated from abuse by intent. Abuse is defined as an intent to cause harm. In cases of neglect, harm is the result of a caregiver’s failure to deliver basic needs or other necessary services, such as prescription medication.

Signs of Financial Exploitation

Illegal or improper use of the funds, assets, or property of an individual is known as financial exploitation. This can include cashing checks without permission, forgery of signatures, misusing or stealing money or possessions, coercing or deceiving an individual into signing any document (check, contract, will), and abuse of guardianship or power of attorney. 

Elder adults are more likely to be victims of financial exploitation since they usually possess more assets. However, the exploitation of a younger adult with fewer assets can still be highly damaging. 

Warning signs of elder financial abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Addition of new authorized secondary signers for financial accounts
  • Changes to legal documents, such as alterations to the power of attorney or adjustments to a will
  • Disappearance of personal possessions or cash on hand
  • Inclusion of a caregiver’s name on bank cards or financial accounts
  • Redirection of financial records to a new address
  • Requests for additional bank cards or credit cards
  • Sudden changes from regular banking habits
  • Sudden confusion about financial accounts and financial transactions
  • Unexplained financial withdrawals or sudden overdraft fees

Examples of elder financial exploitation include forging the individual’s signature, stealing cash or possessions, and coercing the individual to sign financial documents.

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Your initial consultation with our lawyers is FREE. During your consultation we will evaluate the merits of your case and give you our honest opinion of whether or not it is worth pursuing.

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How To Report Elder Neglect or Abuse in Wisconsin

In the context of nursing homes, assisted-living centers and community based-residential facilities (CBRFs), neglect and abuse are rarely limited to a single resident. Taking immediate action when elder neglect or abuse is suspected can save lives.

In many circumstances, reporting elder neglect or abuse is also required by law. Wisconsin requires mandatory reporting of potential neglect or abuse by certain individuals, including:

  • Employees of any care facility licensed by, certified by, or registered with the state
  • Health care providers
  • Social workers, professional counselors, or family therapists

However, anyone can report suspected mistreatment. If you believe the situation is an emergency, call 911 or local law enforcement.

If you suspect financial exploitation or non-emergency maltreatment, you may contact your county’s elder abuse agency. For a complete list of those helplines, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Elder Adults At-Risk Help Lines page.

Wisconsin’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is a useful resource for concerned family members seeking help regarding the quality of care within nursing homes, community-based residential facilities, and other services of managed long-term care programs.

Timely reporting of elder abuse is often left to family members and friends. This is why it’s important to understand the definitions of abuse as well as your legal options.

Legal Help for Wisconsin Elder Abuse Victims and Their Families

Reporting suspected neglect or abuse is the first step to protecting your loved one and others from further harm. Contacting a Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney with experience in elder abuse cases is also a good idea.

A knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer can help ensure your claim is thoroughly investigated and that critical evidence is preserved. An attorney can also pursue financial compensation for associated damages including medical expenses, pain, and suffering, or wrongful death.

The nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan have earned a reputation throughout the state and nationwide for our success in nursing home neglect and abuse cases. We fight hard to protect the rights of victims and their families, and we obtained one of the largest assisted-living neglect verdicts in Wisconsin history.

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Wisconsin Nursing Home Laws And Regulations

The Wisconsin Department of Health defines abuse in nursing homes as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and self-neglect. These include acts of restraint, isolation or confinement, or harm to the client’s psychological or intellectual functioning. Forcible administration of medication or treatments is also considered abuse.

Unfortunately, the number of cases of elder abuse has drastically increased year over year since 2001. As reported by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, there were 3,251 reported elder abuse cases in 2001. By 2018, that number had grown to 8,803. As of 2021, there were over 10,000 incidents reported. 

Though many of these cases are self-neglect, 9% involve neglect by others, and one-fifth of reported cases include financial abuse of some sort. 

Nursing homes can provide a reprieve for those elderly who are being abused by family, friends, or caretakers. However, sometimes those nursing homes can prove breeding grounds for more intense abuse, especially when the elderly are separated from their families by long car rides or plane trips. The majority of cases of elder abuse and neglect occur in the person’s place of residence, whether in their home or a nursing home. 

If you suspect a loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse in a Wisconsin nursing home or assisted-living center, contact Boller & Vaughan. Our nursing home abuse lawyers help victims who come to us for legal representation, but we’re also committed to shedding more light on this problem to enable others to see the signs and take action to stop it.

places where elder abuse commonly occurs list - Boller and Vaughan

Wisconsin Laws Designed to Protect the Elderly in Nursing Homes

There are a number of laws in place to protect the elderly and disabled in Wisconsin and in the U.S. in general.

The first law is dictated by Wisconsin Stat. § 50.01(3), which defines a nursing home as: 

“a place where 5 or more persons who are not related to the operator or administrator reside, receive care or treatment and, because of their mental or physical condition, require access to 24-hour nursing services, including limited nursing care, intermediate level nursing care and skilled nursing services.”

As dictated by DHS 132.60, nursing home residents also have the right to:

  1. Hygiene (each resident shall be kept comfortably clean and well-groomed)
  2. Decubiti prevention (prevention of bedsores)
  3. Basic nursing care
  4. Engagement and encouragement to take part in activities
  5. Fast reporting of any changes to medical conditions
  6. Pain monitoring and updates to attending physician
  7. Rehabilitation and assistive devices 
  8. Proper nourishment via food and fluid based on the resident’s diet.
  9. Proper delivery of a resident’s necessary medications

As per Wisconsin state law DHS 132.31(6), any resident of a nursing home may file a complaint with a licensee or the department regarding the operation of a facility if these rights are violated.

Nursing homes and care facilities in the state of Wisconsin must also run a background check on all employees to prevent instances of abuse.

There are federal codes for regulations and definitions that define what a nursing home can and cannot do. If the nursing home provides care for Medicare and Medicaid recipients, they must follow the State Operations Manual rules and abide by definitions, care plans, and facility limits.

In general, the Wisconsin, federal, and Medicare/Medicaid regulations guarantee that residents have the right to:

  • Private and unrestricted visitation and communication with anyone they choose (via mail, in-person visits, or phone) 
  • Reasonable access to financials (if managed by the facility)
  • Manage their own finances
  • Keep and use personal possessions
  • Adequate care and supervision

Residents cannot be:

  • Humiliated
  • Harassed
  • Threatened
  • Physically abused
  • Sexually abused
  • Mentally or verbally abused
  • Financially abused
  • Restrained physically or chemically
  • Subjected to involuntary seclusion
  • Discriminated or reciprocated against when they voice grievances about their care or contact the Ombudsman to advocate on their behalf

If you believe you or a loved one is being abused in the care of a nursing home, it’s important to contact authorities and get help as soon as possible. Contact the Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan today to discuss your case for FREE.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities Before Placing a Loved One in a Nursing Home

Nursing homes are not simply warehouses for the elderly and disabled; they are meant to be spaces and homes that improve quality of life. There are many laws governing the treatment of nursing home residents in the state of Wisconsin, including their legal right to be treated with dignity.

Many nursing home residents and family members aren’t made aware of the laws and regulations regarding nursing home treatment, including their duty to promote as much independence for residents as possible.

All nursing homes in Wisconsin are subject to the laws and regulations of the state. Prior to choosing a care facility, we encourage you to do your due diligence. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a provider and facility search that offers detailed information about each facility in the state. You can access their nursing home search function here, or their assisted living search function here.

What To Do if You Suspect an Elderly Loved One Is Being Abused or Neglected in a Wisconsin Nursing Home

If you believe that you or a loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse, remember that each Wisconsin county has a telephone number that people can call to report suspected abuse. Cases of alleged elder abuse may also be reported through the toll-free Elder Abuse Help Line at 833-586-0107.

If you want to seek a claim against a nursing home or provider because you or a loved one have experienced elder abuse or neglect in Wisconsin, our litigation team is here to help. Please contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan promptly for a FREE case evaluation.

Should we handle your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, only recouping payment for our services should we win you monetary compensation. In many cases, a statute of limitations may apply.

Compensation in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

If you or a loved one was harmed as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other facility, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for the losses you have suffered. The Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan will pursue your claim to recover damages such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Financial losses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Punitive damages

The compensation you may be able to pursue in your claim will depend on the damages incurred. It is important to contact a Wisconsin nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case. Your lawyer will thoroughly analyze the losses you have sustained and advise you of the best course of action.

Contact a Madison Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for FREE

The Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan have a proven record of successfully recovering compensation for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. If your loved one has suffered at the hands of a nursing home staff member or another resident, contact our office right away.

Contact us today online or at (608) 268-0268 for a FREE case review. Boller & Vaughan proudly serves clients in Madison and throughout Wisconsin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I File a Lawsuit on Behalf of My Loved One?

To file a lawsuit for abuse or neglect in a nursing home or memory care facility, the person filing the suit must have legal standing. The resident who was mistreated – as well as their legal guardian – have standing to bring a case. If the resident passes away, the estate can file claims for damages such as the resident’s pain and suffering, loss of a loved one and punitive damages. Additionally, a wrongful death suit may be brought by the resident’s surviving family members.

Who Is Liable for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Neglect and abuse often occur in long-term care facilities due to inadequate staffing and supervision. Insufficient staffing can lead to neglect, and unsupervised staff may fail to provide proper care, like preventing bedsores. In some cases, outside parties, such as medical providers or product suppliers, may be liable for harm caused to residents. The experienced legal team at Boller & Vaughan can help you understand your situation and guide you through the process of filing a claim for nursing home abuse and neglect.

How Can I Find Information About a Nursing Home’s Track Record?

The Division of Quality Assurance generates Consumer Information Reports annually, which provide information about nursing homes and other facilities in Wisconsin. The reports include information about federal violations and staff, with the aim of assisting those who currently reside in – or plan to reside in – these facilities.

Additionally, you can take steps to personally evaluate nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

  • Look for comfortable living conditions: When evaluating a long-term care facility for a loved one, it’s important to ask about the residents’ daily routines. Questions to consider may include:
  • What will a typical day look like for my loved one?
  • How often will they receive personal care, such as bathing?
  • Are there options for private meals or do they have to eat in a common area?
  • Are there opportunities for individual or group activities? If so, what kind of activities are available?

By asking these types of questions, you can gain a better understanding of what daily life is like at the facility and determine if it aligns with your loved one’s needs and preferences.

  • Understand the balance of safety and autonomy: When assessing assisted living facilities and nursing homes, it is essential to understand their policies concerning residents’ autonomy. It is generally best to allow residents to maintain as much independence as possible while still ensuring their safety. It is important to inquire about the level of decision-making power your loved one will have over their personal life and routine, such as choosing meal options, setting wake-up and bedtimes, and determining times when they do not wish to be disturbed. Consistency in routine can be vital to the well-being of your loved one.
  • Inquire about the caregivers: It is crucial to inquire about whether the same caregivers will be consistently caring for your loved one. Consistency is beneficial for senior citizens. Sudden changes in caregivers can be disruptive, particularly for those with conditions such as dementia, vision impairment, or Alzheimer’s. In general, it is advisable to select a facility that assigns the same team of caregivers to the same patients.

Ensure a person-centered approach: It is essential to ensure that the prospective living facility will understand and treat your loved one as an individual deserving of respect. The caregivers should strive to preserve their patients’ dignity and autonomy. It is important to inquire about whether your loved one will be permitted to continue their usual routines and activities, and whether the staff will make an effort to understand and respect your loved one’s preferences. If your loved one has a condition, such as dementia, that hinders them from communicating their wants and needs, it is crucial to know the facility’s protocol for obtaining information from trusted family members. A reputable nursing home or assisted living facility should have established procedures in place for this purpose.

How Long Do You Have to File a Nursing Home Abuse or Negligence Case in Wisconsin?

To protect your rights, it is important to file a lawsuit for nursing home abuse or negligence within three years of discovering the injury, or within one year of when you should have reasonably known about it. This same three-year statute of limitations applies to wrongful death cases. It is recommended to consult with a lawyer experienced in nursing home abuse and neglect cases for a personalized analysis of the statute of limitations in your specific case.

When Should I Consult with a Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Attorney?

It is recommended to seek the assistance of a lawyer as soon as you suspect abuse or neglect of a loved one. An attorney can evaluate the situation, launch an investigation promptly, and ensure that the case is filed within the legal time frame. Engaging an attorney at an early stage can increase the chances of a positive outcome.

How Common Is Nursing Home Abuse?

The Wisconsin Department of Justice reported a significant rise in the number of elder abuse cases since 2001, in which there were 3,251 documented incidents. That number grew to 8,803 by 2018, and in 2021, there were more than 10,000 reported cases.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services publishes an annual report summarizing elder abuse and neglect data collected from county agencies across the state. In 2021, Wisconsin reported 10,712 cases of elder abuse and neglect. The majority of these incidents, 44.8%, were self-neglect, 9% were neglect by others, and 21.6% were financial exploitation.

In 2021, the majority of abuse and neglect incidents happened at the victim’s place of residence, whether it was their own home, nursing home, or assisted living facility. More than 87% of incidents occurred at the victim’s residence.

The report includes demographic information about the victims of reported abuse or neglect. About 56% of adults at risk were female and 44% were male. One-third of cases involved adults aged between 60 and 69, another third involved adults aged between 70 and 79, 25% involved adults aged 80-89, and the remaining cases were for people 90 years or older. 90% of reported incidents were not considered life-threatening. However, 34% of cases that resulted in death were found to be related to the reported incident, and in 50% of those, the death was directly attributed to abuse or neglect.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

The value of a nursing home abuse case can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the extent of injuries, medical expenses, and if there is a permanent injury involved. As experienced nursing home abuse attorneys, we can provide an estimate of the range of value based on our knowledge of handling similar cases. A more accurate evaluation can only be made once we have a full understanding of your specific situation. We are happy to discuss these factors with you and use our knowledge, resources, and experience to help maximize the value of your case.

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