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What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect in Illinois

Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. June 14, 2024

Discovering that a loved one may be suffering from nursing home neglect is a deeply distressing experience. If you suspect neglect in an Illinois nursing home, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect their well-being and enforce their rights.  

When you're ready to discuss your case with an attorney, contact the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. Attorney Stephen C. Buser is located in Columbia, Illinois, and serves clients throughout the St. Louis Metro area and Southern Illinois.  

Read on to learn about essential steps to follow that will help keep your case on the right track and protect the best interests of your loved one. 

Recognize the Signs of Neglect 

Nursing home neglect can manifest in various forms, and being able to recognize the signs is critical to helping your loved one. Some common signs of neglect include: 

  • Poor personal hygiene, such as dirty clothes or body odor. 

  • Unexplained injuries or bruises. 

  • Malnutrition or dehydration. 

  • Lack of medical care for existing health conditions.  

  • Untreated bedsores.  

Staying observant cannot be stressed enough. Oftentimes, those in nursing homes may not be able to communicate or advocate for themselves, or they may be too scared to do so, which makes it crucial for family members to be vigilant. 

Document Your Observations 

Once you recognize potential neglect, document everything with great detail. Take notes on specific incidents, dates, and times, and if possible, take photographs of injuries or unsafe living conditions.  

Collect medical records, and if your loved one is communicating to you about the neglect, record their statements accurately. This evidence will be invaluable when presenting your case to authorities or legal representatives. 

Communicate With Nursing Home Staff 

If you notice signs of abuse or neglect, bring your concerns to the attention of the nursing home staff. Request a meeting with the administrator, nursing director, or other relevant personnel. Document their responses and any actions they promise to take. 

If the nursing home is committed to quality care (as they should be), notifying them of your concerns can help address the issue immediately and prevent it from happening again. It also creates a paper trail of your concerns, which may be useful in future legal proceedings. 

Report the Neglect 

If you suspect neglect and don't foresee your loved one's condition improving, reporting it is the next step to take. Reach out to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), which handles nursing home neglect and abuse claims. You can file a complaint online, by mail, or by calling their Nursing Home Hotline:  

Seek Medical Attention 

Neglect can lead to severe health issues, such as infections, malnutrition, and untreated injuries, which require prompt medical intervention. Transport your loved one to a healthcare provider familiar with their medical history, or if the situation is an emergency, seek medical care at the nearest hospital. Make sure to inform the medical staff about the suspected neglect, as they may need to conduct specific tests or treatments based on this information. 

Professional medical documentation of any injuries or ailments will not only help in the recovery process but also serve as crucial evidence in any subsequent investigations or legal actions. Remember to keep all medical records, receipts, and detailed notes from medical consultations.  

This documentation will add credibility to your claims and may be instrumental in holding the nursing home accountable for their negligence. 

Consult an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer 

This step was mentioned early on but is worth reiterating. As soon as you can, contact an attorney who has experience in handling nursing home neglect cases. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your loved one’s rights, and work to hold the nursing home accountable for its actions.  

The Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. has extensive experience in protecting the rights of nursing home residents. The firm offers free consultations to discuss your case with zero obligation. 

Take Legal Action 

If necessary, taking legal action may be the most effective way to ensure justice for your loved one and prevent similar neglect from happening to others. An experienced attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit against the nursing home for negligence, abuse, or wrongful death

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in cases of nursing home neglect or abuse is generally two years from the date of the injury or when you discovered that an injury occurred. Missing this deadline can result in losing your right to pursue legal action, so it's key to act swiftly and consult an attorney as soon as you suspect neglect.

An experienced nursing home neglect lawyer can help you navigate the legal framework, ensure timely filing of your claim, and work diligently to seek justice for your loved one.  

Always be mindful that certain circumstances or specific details of your case may affect the exact deadline, so obtain professional legal advice as soon as possible to ensure no critical timelines are overlooked. 

Contact the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. 

If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect in Illinois, don’t wait. Contact the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. for a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns and explore your legal options. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no attorney’s fees are charged unless there is a recovery.  

Protect your loved one’s rights and take immediate action today. Attorney Stephen C. Buser works with residents throughout Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Belleville, Fairview Heights, St. Louis City, South County, Mehlville, Oakville, Arnold, and beyond.