Articles Posted in Nursing Home Negligence

elderly womanA development in a Massachusetts nursing home negligence case serves as an important reminder of many things, but one in particular. That one particular thing is just how incredibly important it is to be ready to oppose, and defeat, a facility owner’s motion to derail your case via arbitration. Failure to avoid arbitration at this stage means never getting to argue your case in front of a jury, and having to present your case in a setting where it may be harder to get the full amount you deserve. A success at this stage opens up a variety of opportunities for obtaining the compensation your family needs. To ensure you are equipped to take on the other side and succeed, be sure you have experienced Massachusetts injury counsel in your corner, advocating for your needs.

An example of this type of situation played out in a Massachusetts wrongful death action, with the plaintiff receiving a $500,000 settlement recently. The case involved a 100-year-old resident of a Bristol County nursing home, whom her 98-year-old roommate allegedly suffocated with a plastic bag. After the resident’s death, the deceased woman’s son filed a wrongful death claim against the nursing home.

There are many possible ways that a nursing home can be liable for the injury to, or death of, a resident. One way, of course, is through neglect of the resident. Neglect can manifest through untreated bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration. Another way, however, is inadequately providing for resident safety. For residents with memory/cognitive issues, this can involve inadequate systems to prevent residents from wandering away.

agreementFor many people, the decision to enter (or to place a loved one in) a nursing home is a difficult and stressful one. The time when the patient first goes into the facility is one filled with many changes and many necessary things to consider. One thing that may be easy to overlook is the paperwork that must be signed as part of the admissions process. Don’t make the mistake of just “glossing over” this step and automatically signing everything put in front of you without legal counsel. Some of these documents may be optional, and signing them may not be in your family’s best interests in the event that you or your loved one is harmed as a result of negligence by the facility staff. Instead, make sure you are armed with knowledge before you sign by relying on the representation of a knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney.

Knowing before you sign is important because, once you sign, you may not be able to “take it back,” and that signature could be a significant negative for your family. For example, take the federal case involving Emma, an elderly woman who entered a Chestnut Hill nursing home in early February 2013. Later that month, Emma’s daughter Jackalyn signed several documents related to the nursing home admissions process. Over the course of the month, the daughter signed in excess of a dozen documents, ranging from DNR to an authorization for assignment of insurance benefits. Among the numerous other documents Jackalyn signed, one was something called an “Arbitration Agreement,” which the daughter signed but didn’t date.

Early the following December, Emma died. Jackalyn subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. According to the daughter’s complaint, Emma died due to an extreme sepsis infection brought on by the pressure sores (or bedsores) on the woman’s body.

signatureWhen a loved one has been hurt, or has died, while in the care of a nursing home, it is a stressful time, and you very likely have a lot on your mind. Worrying about whether or not that arbitration agreement document you or your sibling signed when your mom or dad was admitted to the nursing home is valid is probably not at the top of your list of immediate concerns. However, it can make all of the difference when it comes to getting compensation for the nursing home’s negligence. Whether it is overcoming an arbitration agreement or defeating some other challenge in your negligence or wrongful death action, contact an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney about your options in your case.

Last summer, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in a case in which a daughter sought to sue her late mother’s nursing home for negligence. In that case, a daughter named Carol signed several papers on behalf of her mother when the mother was first admitted to the nursing home in 2013. Among those documents was an agreement stating that all disputes between the resident and the home would be resolved through arbitration instead of litigation. Carol did not have authority under any legal documents to sign on behalf of her mother. Her mother was not present when Carol signed, and the daughter did not discuss the document with the mother before the signature was made.

In early 2015, the mother died. A few months later, another daughter, Jeannette, who was also the administrator of the mother’s probate estate, sued the nursing home for negligence and wrongful death. The nursing home tried to invoke the arbitration agreement and get the judge to compel arbitration, but the court refused. The appeals court upheld that decision, concluding that there was no proof that Carol had any kind of authority to sign binding documents on behalf of her mother, and the absence of the mother’s signature, or the signature of someone legally empowered to act on her behalf, made the agreement unenforceable.

nurseWhen you entrust a loved one to a nursing home, you are entrusting them with one of the most important parts of your life. Sometimes, accidents are inevitable, even when proper care is provided. Other times, though, injuries happen (or are made worse) because nursing home staff don’t provide proper care, including sometimes not even following the facility’s own protocols. When that happens, you may be entitled to sue and obtain an award of compensation. Proof of things like a past history of similar problems or citations and fines following federal agencies’ investigations may help to strengthen your case further. Talk to an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney about your situation and your options.

One recent case involved an accident with a tragic end. Walter was a highly accomplished accountant with many achievements, including helping to found a nursing home in Worcester. In 2016, after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Walter moved into the nursing home that he helped to get started, according to a McKnights.com report.

In early August 2016, Walter got up in the night to go to the bathroom, but he fell and hit his head on a nightstand. A certified nursing assistant and a licensed practical nurse found Walter on the floor of his room. The pair helped Walter up, helped him to the bathroom, and then helped him back into bed.

elderly ladyWhen a family makes the often difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, they are entrusting that facility with one of their most precious commodities:  a loved one. Nursing homes are supposed to be places where those requiring care and attention get what they need. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t happen, and the resident’s safety becomes compromised. When that happens, injuries or even death may be the result. In the case of an injury or death, knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorneys are available to help that family navigate the legal system.

A Massachusetts newspaper recently reported on the deaths of two residents of a Westboro nursing home and the legal actions that followed. The first of the two seniors to die at the Westboro facility was 89-year-old Betsy. Betsy had dementia and a history of falling. Betsy’s personal recliner had a chair alarm that would notify staff when she exited the recliner. One day in late July 2015, a certified nursing assistant at the nursing home helped Betsy get into the recliner but forgot to turn on the chair alarm, according to information the CNA provided to authorities. Betsy was discovered an hour later, face down on the floor, according to the Worcester Telegram.

According to the Telegram report, the staff at the nursing home knew Betsy had a head injury but, allegedly, did not notify a doctor or a nurse practitioner about her, even though the woman complained of head pain and had problems keeping food, liquid, or medications down. Two days after the accident, Betsy arrived at the emergency department of a nearby hospital. A radiology scan identified that she had a brain bleed. She died a week later.

wheelchairsAccording to research by the Urban Institute, nearly 70% of people age 65 and older will develop disabilities during their lifetimes, and more than one-third (35%) of people in that age group will need nursing home care at some point. When we entrust a cherished loved one to the care of a skilled nursing facility, we are placing the highest level of trust in them. Unfortunately, sometimes, those facilities fail to meet the standard of care the law requires of them. When they do, and that neglect leads to harm (or even death), you are entitled to hold them accountable, which involves retaining an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney and pursuing legal action.

When an injury or death happens, you may have to deal with multiple entities, including the facility, insurance companies, and outside entities hired by the insurers. In some situations, the mistreatment doesn’t end with the substandard care your loved one received in the nursing home. Sometimes, the facility’s insurers can continue the mistreatment by the way they interact with you after the injury or death has taken place. When that happens, your case may involve more than just pursuing a nursing home negligence action against the facility alone; it may also mean taking on the insurance companies. That was the case for one man, Garrick, who sued following the 2008 death of his elderly mother in a nursing home in Danvers.

Reports of the events leading up to Garrick’s mother’s death were horrific. The 92-year-old Genevieve was rushed to the hospital after she fell from her wheelchair. Hospital staff discovered that Genevieve had “a festering pressure sore on her back, acute appendicitis, a urinary tract infection so severe it had invaded her blood stream, kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and severe dehydration,” according to a Boston Globe report.