According to a federal watchdog agency, Georgia ranked as one of the worst states for timely investigations into claims of nursing home abuse last year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Georgia nursing home residents at imminent risk of serious injury or death due to abuse are not able to rely upon the proper state agencies to investigate in a timely manner. Federal law requires that state agencies investigate these types of claims within two days of receiving the complaint, but Georgia took as many as fifteen days before sending an investigator to look into the claims.
The federal agency reported that only Tennessee did worse in response times to claims of nursing home abuse, while almost every other state was able to meet the federally mandated requirements. Georgia and Tennessee accounted for over half of the late responses for investigation nationwide. In 2015, the two states received 912 reports of nursing home residents in immediate danger due to abuse and were late in investigating 654 of those claims. As of early 2017, Georgia had a backlog of 140 abuse and neglect reports it had yet to investigate.
The Georgia state agency has blamed a number of things on its lagging response times, including a high turnover rate, job vacancies, and low pay for the positions needed at the agency that oversees Georgia nursing homes, the Department of Community Health. A spokesperson for the agency claims that the initial backlog in 2017 has been dealt with due to an infusion of state funds. However, the number of claims classified as the most severe – those indicating imminent injury or death – are on the rise in Georgia, seeing a 38 percent increase in the number of those types of complaints between 2011 and 2015. Georgia can face federal sanctions if the agency continues to fail to meet investigation deadlines.
Legal Options for Nursing Home Abuse
Despite reports of lagging investigations by state officials, the victims and families of victims of nursing home abuse have legal options for holding these nursing home facilities accountable for their actions. Civil lawsuits can be filed against the facility and individual caregivers, staff, and administrators for damages. Compensation for nursing home abuse includes economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include payment for current and future medical bills stemming from the injuries caused by the abuse. Noneconomic damages include payment for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, and the loss of enjoyment of life up to $350,000. For the most egregious cases of nursing home abuse, the victim may also be awarded punitive damages up to $250,000 as an additional punishment for the wrongdoer and to deter other facilities from committing similar offenses.
Contact a Lawyer Today
Has your loved one been abused at a nursing home facility? They may be entitled to compensation for nursing home abuse, and the office of Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law can help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a free review of your claims.