Centerville Nursing Home AbuseAs the senior citizen population continues to rise, more and more people in Georgia spend time in nursing homes. Sadly, nursing home abuse and neglect is a major problem at many of these facilities. Such acts spawn so many questions that it is hard to know where to turn first. So, we designed this page as a resource exclusively for families in and around Centerville. You can count on Schenk Smith for assertive representation in court, and you can also count on us for the answers you need.

Some people use the phrases “nursing home abuse” and “nursing home neglect” interchangeably. But, they actually mean very different things. Abuse involves intentional conduct, like hitting or kicking a helpless resident. Neglect usually means activity that is no less harmful but is unintentional. Examples include failing to turn residents in bed.

Nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse usually have a common denominator, and that factor is often understaffing. As many as 90 percent of the nursing homes in Georgia are dangerously understaffed.

When understaffing is a problem, emergency response time and reception-area staffing are usually the first things to suffer. So, there may be no immediate support available when needed, and there may be no one to stop dangerous elopement (nursing home wandering). Workers also log lots of overtime hours in understaffed environments. Stressed-out workers sometimes take out their frustrations on vulnerable residents.

At the Atlanta law firm of Schenk Smith LLC, we understand nursing home abuse and neglect cases better than most. That’s because we focus exclusively on this area of the law. So, we know what evidence to gather and how to present it in a compelling way to the jury. That formula almost always results in high compensation and proper justice for victims and their families.

Suing a nursing home for abuse- What to expect

Most civil actions in Georgia settle out of court. In fact, a significant number settle without even filing suit. Since resolution can come at any time, the exact process is never quite the same in two different cases. However, the procedural outline is very much the same, so you can know what to expect in a Georgia nursing home suit.

Almost all the cases we handle begin with a free initial consultation. At this meeting, which is always with a lawyer, we review all the relevant facts in the case. Then, we quickly analyze the situation and inform you of your options. Then, working together, we formulate a plan of action that’s best for you and your family.

Then, the work begins. Our first priority is your loved one’s well-being. So, if a doctor’s care is necessary, we can help you arrange for medical care from an experienced elder care physician. That arrangement normally includes any subsequent interventions needed, such as physical therapy.

We also collect evidence. The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Some of the evidence we collect includes:

  • Video: Georgia law permits hidden camera recording in a few limited situations. One involves confirmation of abuse or neglect allegations. Before you install a “Granny Cam” or other device in your loved one’s room, talk to us about it. If allowed, however, video evidence is very useful in court.
  • Witness Statements: The best witnesses are those who saw the complained-of abuse. If other witnesses saw other abusive behavior at the Houston County long-term care facility, their testimony may be available as well. Anyone, including family members, other residents, and other workers, can be an effective witness.
  • Medical Records: These documents are often the foundation of the victim/plaintiff’s claim for damages. A skilled attorney can take the matter-of-fact information and use it to paint a colorful picture for the jury.

After the evidence is mostly collected, we send a demand letter to the nursing home. If liability and damages are both 100 percent certain, the parties may quickly agree on a fair monetary amount. But there is almost always at least some question. So, the process usually moves forward.

If the case does not settle straightaway, we promptly file a petition in court to preserve your rights. The statute of limitations is usually rather short in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. We do not believe in taking unnecessary risks, especially if our clients must pay any price. The lawsuit process usually unfolds as follows:

  • Pleadings: Both the victim/plaintiff and defendant file various documents with the court. Sometimes these documents are simply procedural paperwork. Other times, they ask for immediate judgement and other relief.
  • Discovery: The purpose of a trial is to find the truth of the matter. So, both sides exchange information about their respective claims and defenses. Common discovery tools include the aforementioned medical records, depositions, and written answers to questions.
  • Mediation: Most Houston County judges order contested cases to mediation. A neutral third party tries to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. Voluntary mediation is successful about 75 percent of the time, so we almost always give it a go.
  • Trial: If the settlement process fails, the trial takes place either before a judge or a jury. In some cases, the verdict is appealable.

The timeline is almost impossible to set. Sometimes this process takes a few months and sometimes a few years.

How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

As mentioned, the statute of limitations varies in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Generally, it is two years. That’s the standard limitations period in most tort cases. If the nursing home was a state-owned facility, which does happen occasionally, the statute of limitations may be considerably shorter.

Sometimes, especially in neglect cases, the limitations period is substantially longer. The discovery rule may be applicable in these situations. According to this doctrine, the statute of limitations is tolled (the clock does not begin ticking) until the victims:

  • Are aware of their injuries, and
  • Have reason to believe that the defendant’s action or inaction caused their injuries.

The discovery rule is particularly applicable in cases that involve toxic exposure. These situations arise in nursing homes quite a bit. Many facilities are almost constantly being renovated, expanded, repaired, or otherwise worked on. Dangerous substances, such as asbestos, sometimes leak into the air during these activities.

Regardless of what the statute of limitations allows, it’s always best to take legal action as soon as possible. Delay has no benefit. The defendant will usually not come to the negotiating table unless there is the spectre of adverse legal action. And, the longer the victim/plaintiff waits, the more difficult it becomes to obtain evidence.

Schenk Smith are Centerville nursing home lawyers

At the very root of the nursing home abuse and neglect crisis in Georgia is this simple fact: Far too many companies put profits before people. The main reason so many long-term care facilities are understaffed is that the owners are not willing to spend the money to raise staff levels.

We take the exact opposite approach at Schenk Smith. Our award-winning attorneys put people before profits, first and always. We fight hard for fair compensation, but not to line our own pockets. Instead, we undertake this fight for you. We also meet you where you are, whether you live near the Galleria Mall, Ashlund Ridge, and Old Stone Crossing.

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect in Centerville, Georgia – What you need to know.

Centerville, Georgia is located in Houston County and has a population of 7,576 residents. Of those, 18 percent are over 65. Nursing home abuse is just as common in quiet, out-of-the-way communities like this as it is in bustling urban centers.

What are the indicators of nursing home neglect?

Nursing home neglect is very difficult to detect. Most facilities go to great lengths to conceal abuse because of the substantial liability these claims entail. So, it’s important to look for a few general warning signs.

When you visit your loved one, look for any new injuries. They may be extremely minor and very hard to spot. If your loved one cannot explain what happened or seems reluctant or defensive, these are additional warning signs. In terms of emotional abuse, look for personality changes. Perhaps your loved one will be more agitated than usual, have a very short temper, or be depressed.

Not every bruise or abrasion is an indication of nursing home abuse. The same principle applies to the next area, which is lack of staffing. As mentioned earlier, understaffed environments are usually dangerous environments. One or two incidents probably should not set off alarm bells, especially if the instances are rather far apart. But if the front desk is chronically empty, the hourly rounds are more like daily rounds, or there are other similar issues, reach out to a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Pay attention to online reviews. These reviews are usually either five stars or zero stars. Very few people both to leave three-star reviews. Bad reviews are almost inevitable. So, look at the corrective action, if any, the nursing home took with regard to the complaint. If management ignores negative comments from residents or visitors, that is a very bad sign.

Another part of doing your homework involves checking public records. Have state investigators cited the facility for safety violations in the past few years? Chances are, the answer is “yes.” If that’s the case, what remedial actions has the nursing home embraced? Lawsuits are also public record. They should be available on the Houston County website. These actions may or may not have merit. But the mere fact that someone filed a lawsuit usually means that person was very, very unhappy.

Finally, how does the facility respond to your inquiries? When you ask questions, does management seem defensive or give you the runaround? Or, do they seem willing to discuss the facility’s good points and bad points? No Georgia nursing home is perfect. The dangerous ones are the facilities who believe that lack of perfection is a problem.

When are bedsores a sign of neglect?

Pressure ulcers are one of the most obvious signs of nursing home neglect. They represent a number of different issues which are common in negligent nursing homes.

Unhealthy conditions at the facility, such as malnutrition and poor hygiene, often contribute to bedsore development. If the residents are not eating properly, their bodies are less able to regulate bloodflow. Furthermore, if their skin is clammy or unclean, it is more likely to develop a pressure ulcer.

There is more than just increased risk involved. Generally, bedsores only develop if the resident does not change positions in bed every two or three hours. In a Georgia nursing home, that usually means the staff is inattentive in one of the following ways:

  • The staff members who do rounds may not know how to recognize bedsores. That’s especially common if the person is a lower-qualified patient care technician instead of a higher-qualified Licensed Practical Nurse.
  • Ideally, there should be a team of people doing rounds. That could be something like one LPN and two patient care techs. Moving a patient in bed is often a two or three-person job. That’s especially true if the patient is overweight or the bed safety rails are on the highest position. If only one person does the rounds, often that person makes a note in the chart and no one follows up.
  • One of the most disturbing possibilities is that the residents are so overmedicated that they are not alert enough to turn over in bed. Understaffing often leads to overmedication. It is easier to keep a resident in a near-comatose state than it is to actively supervise the resident.

In other words, there is often a direct relationship between bedsore development and nursing home neglect.

Much like negative complaints are inevitable, low-grade bedsores are practically inevitable as well. If caught at Stage I, the staff usually just needs to turn the resident and monitor the resident more closely for a time. The problem is that this action does not always take place. So, the resident often develops Stage II, Stage III, or even Stage IV bedsores. When they reach an advanced stage, these wounds become life-threatening.

What are some nursing home neglect statistics?

Nursing home abuse is about more than numbers. It is about the dangerous, and sometimes deadly, pattern of abuse and neglect that takes place at an alarming number of Georgia facilities. Nonetheless, there are some numbers that help put this problem in perspective. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Two Million: According to most estimates, between one and two million older adults are abused and/or neglected at nursing homes each year. That includes things like physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse.
  • Seven Percent: An estimated one out of every fourteen abuse and neglect cases are reported to authorities. So, the two million figure is really more of a guess. The truth is that no one knows just how bad the problem is.
  • Ninety-Five Percent: The estimated number of nursing homes that are understaffed. Understaffing has particularly bad consequences for immobile residents. Many of these individuals are simply left unattended in their rooms for long periods of time.
  • Forty-Seven Percent: The estimated number of nursing home residents with dementia who are abused or neglected every year. Unscrupulous staff members often assume that such individuals will either not report abuse or, if they do report it, no one will believe them.

Some other noteworthy numbers include 92 percent (the proportion of facilities which employ convicted criminals), 51 percent (proportion of nursing home employees who admit they abused or neglected a resident), and 300 percent (the increased likelihood of premature death).

My loved one was hurt in a Centerville nursing home- What do I do next?

If your loved one was severely injured or passed away while a resident in a Centerville, Georgia nursing home, act quickly to protect your loved one’s rights. The quicker you respond, the stronger your claim for damages will be.

First, report the incident to the appropriate Georgia authorities

The Georgia Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation investigates claims of nursing home abuse and neglect. This agency also regulates and certifies nursing homes in Centerville, GA.

You can file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation online by clicking this link. Here is additional contact information:

Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation

2 Peachtree Street NW

Atlanta, GA 30303

Tel: (800) 878-6442

Fax: (404) 657-5731

You can file a complaint with the Georgia Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman online by clicking on this link. Here is additional contact information:

Georgia Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Middle Ombudsman Program

239 NE Park Avenue, Suite C-1

Baxley, GA 31513

Tel: (912) 367- 4866

Fax: (912) 367-3849

You may also report physical assault or abuse to local law enforcement

For abuse occurring in a Centerville, Georgia nursing home, report the crime to one of the offices below.

Centerville Police Department

300 Church St.

Centerville, GA 31028

Tel: (478) 953-4222

Houston County Sheriff’s Office

202 Carl Vinson Pkwy

Warner Robins, GA 31088

Tel: (478) 542-2125

Houston County District Attorney

201 Perry Parkway

Perry, Georgia 31069

Tel: (478) 218-4810

Find another facility for your loved one

If you suspect that abuse or neglect has occurred at the nursing home where your loved one resides, that facility is no longer safe. For your loved one’s safety, as well as for your peace of mind, relocation is almost absolutely necessary.

There are a number of options in the Houston County area. Click here to go to the Nursing Home Compare Website. This site is designed for people who want lots of information about area nursing homes in a thumbnail format. Then, you can conduct further research into the facilities which seem promising. To make things even easier, we have included some information about facilities located right in Centerville, Georgia.

Get the medical records from the hospital and the nursing home

Medical records are important because they give the doctor very good information about your loved one’s condition. Without the best records, even the best physicians are severely handicapped. Your loved one deserves better. Medical records are also important because they bolster your claim for damages. Be aware that it is not always easy to obtain these records, mostly due to privacy laws. So, be prepared to overcome some roadblocks.

Your search should not stop with the nursing home’s records. In emergency situations, most Centerville-area nursing home residents are transferred to:

Houston Medical Center(478) 922-4281, or

Perry Hospital,  (478) 987-3600

Begin the probate process if your loved one has passed away

The probate process makes the other legal processes involved in nursing home abuse cases easier to complete. Most residents have small or medium-sized estates and written wills. So, the process is often rather straightforward, if you have an experienced attorney.

Click here for the Houston County Probate Court

Houston County Probate Court

(478) 218-4710

201 Perry Parkway

Perry, GA 31069

Nursing Homes in Centerville, Georgia

Moving your loved one to a local nursing home is usually the least disruptive alternative for everyone involved. Some facilities to look at in the Centerville area include:

 Warner Robins Rehabilitation Center

(478) 922-2241

1601 Elberta Road

Warner Robins, GA 31088

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Number of Beds: 126

Number of Residents: 112

RN hours per resident per day: 26 min. (GA Avg: 24 min)

Health Inspection Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Staff Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Quality Measure Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Most Recent Health Inspection Date: 11-28-2017

Number of Health Citations: 8

Average Number of Health Citations in Georgia: 3.2

Number of Complaints in previous 3 years resulting in citation: 5

Federal fines in previous 3 years: 0

 Macon Rehabilitation And Healthcare Center, LLC

(478) 743-8687

505 Coliseum Drive

Macon, GA 31217

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Number of Beds: 100

Number of Residents: 85

RN hours per resident per day: 20 min. (GA Avg: 24 min)

Health Inspection Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Staff Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Quality Measure Rating: 1 out of 5 (much below average)

Most Recent Health Inspection Date: 11-28-2017

Number of Health Citations: 13

Average Number of Health Citations in Georgia: 3.2

Number of Complaints in previous 3 years resulting in citation: 0

Federal fines in previous 3 years: 0

Why Choose Schenk Smith as your Nursing Home Lawyers?

In nursing home abuse and neglect cases, experience matters a lot. These claim are quite complex both from a factual and legal standpoint. You need an attorney who uses proven methods to deal with these issues.

Focus is important as well. Nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Georgia usually involve input from many different professionals, like doctors, lawyers, and investigators. If these cases are not much more than a sideshow, your attorney will quickly get overwhelmed

At Schenk Smith, we have both experience and focus. We are familiar with the intricacies of these cases. We are also familiar with the procedural nuances in Houston County. Furthermore, we limit our practice to nursing home abuse and neglect. We have staked our carrer on claims just like the one which involves your loved one. We will fight for justice and compensation until the final bell rings.

Centerville Nursing Home Abuse lawyers

To learn more, take a few moments to explore our website. If you are not sure where to begin, we recommend that you start with our video FAQ page. In only a few minutes, you will learn about some of the major nuts and bolts in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Armed with this information, you can make better choices about your loved one’s well-being as well as your legal strategy.