Birmingham Nursing Home Dehydration Attorneys
Have you or someone you love suffered from dehydration while under the care of a nursing home in Birmingham? Did the nursing home’s neglect cause serious injury? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses you’ve endured.
The team of Birmingham nursing home abuse attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP has been helping residents of North Central Alabama get compensation for their injuries for over 20 years, and we can do the same for you. Call us today at (205) 324-1212 for a free consultation, and we can determine whether seeking compensation through an injury claim or lawsuit is right for you.
Nursing Home Abuse and Dehydration
Dehydration is defined as not having enough water and other fluids in the body to maintain normal function. In terms of nursing home abuse, it occurs when a resident loses more water through their normal bodily functions, such as breathing, urinating, sweating, or excreting, than they take in through drinking.
Dehydration is a common problem in nursing home settings for several reasons. The residents may have disabilities that prevent them from telling the staff that they need water, such as cognitive decline, or they may have ailments that make it hard to drink water, such as dental pain or difficulty swallowing.
It’s the duty of nursing home caretakers and administrators to ensure their residents have enough to drink and make sure water is being consumed regularly. If they are negligent in this duty, dehydration can result. Dehydration in this population can end in hospitalization or the emergency room.
There can be many conditions caused or complicated by dehydration, such as:
- Kidney failure
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract infections
Symptoms and Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration can be hard to spot because there are few exterior signs. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of dehydration in the elderly:
- Dry mouth
- Dry, papery skin
- Decrease in urination frequency or volume
- Inability to sweat
- Sunken facial features
- Low blood pressure
- Increased respiration rate
If you spot any of these signs in a nursing home resident, contact staff or administrators immediately and advise them of the situation.
Causes of dehydration in nursing homes can vary widely. Allowing a resident to become dehydrated is never a good thing, but even with a well-trained staff, it can sometimes happen purely by accident with no malicious intent.
Some causes for dehydration in nursing homes include:
- Medication that is diuretic or causes increased sweating
- Increased sweat due to inability to control body temperature
- Vomiting or diarrhea from chronic illness
- Inability to request a beverage the resident prefers
How Much and What Kind of Compensation Can I Obtain?
Compensation for a nursing home abuse claim or lawsuit comes in the form of a cash settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company or award by a judge or jury. The large majority of claims are concluded with a settlement before the case ever reaches a courtroom, but in the rare case where a lawsuit is filed, the court will determine the amount to award the claimant.
Determining exactly how much you might receive in compensation for your malnutrition nursing home abuse claim is difficult because each injury is unique and has its own specific circumstances. In general, the more severe the injuries, the more you might be able to obtain in compensation, though there are exceptions to this rule.
Compensation is intended to cover certain economic and non-economic losses you or your family suffered as a result of the nursing home’s negligence. Some losses, like medical bills or property damage, are easy to identify and tally, while non-economic damages, like emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life, are intangible and will require an experienced attorney to help estimate.
You could be eligible for compensation for these types of economic losses:
- Medical bills. You may obtain compensation to help cover any and all medical expenses that were directly related to the injury caused by the responsible party’s negligence. This could be hospitalization, emergency transport, medication, rehabilitation, or therapy.
- Lost wages. If you had to take time off work to care for your dehydrated family member, your lost wages may be eligible for compensation.
- Nursing home bills. If you paid for the negligent care that caused the dehydration, you may be entitled to reimbursement, or compensation to cover the cost of moving your family member to another facility.
- Domestic services. If you were forced to move your elderly family member into your home and hire at-home health care specialists to care for them, you may be eligible for compensation to cover those costs.
- Increased living expenses. Likewise, if you were forced to make new living arrangements to make space for your elderly family member after removing them from the negligent facility, you can obtain compensation to cover the difference in living expenses.
- Medical equipment. If your elderly family member requires medical equipment such as an oxygen generator or BiPAP machine, you could be compensated for the cost of the devices.
General damages, or non-economic damages, cover the immaterial losses of a nursing home abuse case, such as:
- Pain and suffering. Injuries received from a dehydration nursing home abuse case don’t stop at the physical. Recovering compensation for pain and suffering helps make up for losses to well-being or peace of mind.
- Mental anguish. Mental anguish refers to suffering due to stress, anxiety, fright, depression, trauma, or grief.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. Serious injuries caused by dehydration can lead to loss of quality of life, or receiving less enjoyment from the things that previously brought happiness.
- Loss of consortium. This type of damages refers to the loss suffered by a family or spouse due to injuries. You can request compensation for the loss of the marital relationship suffered as a result of the injury.
- Wrongful death. If the nursing home’s negligence caused the death of a family member, you can seek compensation to make up for the loss.
Alabama law also sometimes allows claimants to request punitive damages. Punitive damages are not designed to help the claimant recover any losses or to compensate for injuries but are intended instead to punish the defendant for the conduct that caused the injury and to dissuade or deter them from ever acting in the same manner again.
According to Alabama state law, punitive damages are only awarded “where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to the plaintiff.” The law states that the court can award punitive damages up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, but they are capped at $1.5 million. There is no cap for compensatory damages.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Dehydration Nursing Home Abuse Case?
In short, yes. Hiring a lawyer can give you a distinct advantage when you pursue compensation for injuries or losses. There are several ways a lawyer can assist with your claim that you might not realize.
A good lawyer knows the trade and knows what to expect when demanding compensation and can help you avoid novice mistakes or legal pitfalls while building your claim. We will use our experience with insurance companies to help you counter the tactics they might use to try and convince you to drop your claim or accept a low settlement offer, and we will use our knowledge of previous case law to help you make sure you’re requesting compensation that will adequately cover all your losses, not just the material ones.
Building a comprehensive claim takes time and effort. We can take on the hard work of investigating the nursing home, interviewing staff or witnesses, and gathering documents and evidence to support your claim. We can become the first point of contact for anything related to your claim, so you won’t have to answer endless calls from insurance adjusters. We also take the lead in negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries, leaving you free to help your family through this traumatic experience.
The most important reason to have a lawyer by your side when you demand compensation is that if the insurance company denies your claim, they know you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the negligent party that has our reputation behind it. This changes the cost-benefit equation for them, as litigating against a claimant can very often be more expensive than a fair settlement for your loved one’s injuries.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP knows what it takes to get compensation for a nursing home abuse case, and we have the results to prove it. We’ve helped North Central Alabama residents get hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, and though we can’t guarantee a positive outcome for every case we handle, we can guarantee that we will provide compassionate, professional legal counsel and quality representation right to the very end.
Call us today at (205) 324-1212 for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us help you get a fair settlement for your injuries.