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How to Document a Case of Elder Abuse

Posted on May 8, 2024

A doctor with a clipboard helping an elderly woman

It’s devastating to family members when they find out that a beloved elderly loved one suffered abuse at the hands of caregivers, either at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.

Elder abuse is most common in nursing homes, where chronic understaffing leads to stressed and overworked caregivers. Elder abuse comes in many forms, including intentional physical abuse and assault, neglect, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.

About one in every six nursing home residents reports at least one case of abuse. Because many elderly residents are physically or cognitively unable to report their abuse, the numbers are substantially underreported.

If you’ve discovered your elderly loved one suffered abuse at the hands of a caregiver or due to nursing home negligence, you have legal options, including criminal charges and a nursing home abuse claim for compensation. But first, no criminal or civil case can move forward without evidence. It’s essential to document evidence of elder abuse to make a compelling legal case.

1. Seek a Thorough Medical Evaluation

If your elderly family member suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, they need prompt medical attention. Seek a thorough medical evaluation by a trusted doctor unassociated with the nursing home facility. Tell the medical provider that you suspect abuse and ask for a detailed medical report listing any findings of injuries or signs of abuse or neglect. The report should include the doctor’s treatment recommendations and the prognosis for the abuse victim’s recovery. Also ask for a copy of the elderly person’s care records from the nursing home facility, including documentation of their administration of medications.

If the elder abuse caused your family member’s death, obtain a copy of their most recent health examination and the medical examiner’s report.

2. Document Financial Abuse

If you suspect your loved one suffered financial abuse, gather appropriate records of financial transactions through bank statements, investment accounts, or credit cards records.

3. Preserve Physical and Photographic Evidence

In some cases of physical or sexual abuse, there may be physical evidence available to document the abuse. Place any torn or soiled clothing or bedding in a sealed plastic bag. Broken personal items such as eyeglasses and dentures are also evidence of abuse. Use your cell phone camera to take photos of any visible injuries to your loved one. Photograph or video any other evidence available, such as signs of neglect in their room, unhygienic living conditions, or uneaten meals. Be sure to timestamp your photos and videos.

4. Seek Eyewitnesses

In most abuse cases, no video evidence of the abuse exists. This makes eyewitness testimony of key importance. If any staff members or other residents witnessed the abuse, add their contact information to your phone to give to your attorney.

5. Keep a Log or Journal of Your Findings

As soon as you suspect abuse, it’s helpful to write down your findings and keep a log of your observations including the dates and times. Document all conversations with the loved one’s caregivers and nursing home staff. Keep copies of any written complaints you made to the nursing home administrators and their responses.

6. Document Expenditures

If your loved one requires medical care or emotional counseling due to their abuse, keep copies of all medical bills and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses related to their abuse and care. These help document your damages so you can make a compensation claim against the liable party.

What Should I Do If I Get Injured?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, get in touch with a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from Rosenbaum Injury Law today. An attorney can help you make sure that your rights are protected and that you can get the compensation that you deserve.