Building Your Nursing Home Abuse Case
Your parents are an incredibly important part of your life. You have always had a close relationship, full of love and mutual respect. When everyone began to realize that the everyday demands of life were becoming overwhelming for your parents as they aged, you began to investigate alternative forms of assistance and additional care. It was with great consideration and emotional soul-searching that everyone decided a nursing home was the best option for your parents. The process of selecting the right one was done with a focus on finding a new home where your parents would be happy. The move went well, but then something went very wrong. Your loved one was seriously harmed and now you are not sure what to do. Finding the right resources to start you on the path to understanding is a good beginning. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Stern Law, PLLC can help you with the next step.
Constructing a case against a nursing home requires skilled professionals who know how to anticipate the obstacles that will be placed in front of them. It is imperative to take immediate action as soon as you discover that your parent has suffered harm. There is high turnover among staff members at many nursing homes and elderly residents who may knowledge of what happened may transfer to other facilities, become incapacitated, or die. However, creating a strong nursing home neglect or abuse case is very possible, if you have the right team of professionals to help you get justice.
Putting Together a Strong Case
There are several steps to bringing a successful legal action against a nursing home. The first obstacle will be demonstrating that the harm suffered by your loved one was the result of neglect or abuse rather than the physical condition that results from the aging process. Then, it is necessary to establish the correct standard of care, demonstrate that the standard was breached, and establish the value of the harm that was done to your loved one. The determination of a monetary award is a difficult matter because of the age of the victim and the possible ongoing health problems that may or may not be related to the negligence at the nursing home.
In order to bring a successful lawsuit, you need attorneys who have the expertise to anticipate and counter the nursing home’s arguments about why the harm was not the result of any wrongdoing on their part. This requires:
- Knowledge and understanding of the nursing home industry, the relevant state and federal regulations, and the applicable standards of care;
- A law firm with experts who can compile and analyze the large volume of medical and financial records that play a significant role in this type of case;
- Professional affiliations with appropriate expert witnesses who will need to testify about the nature and extent of the injuries and the causes of those injuries; and
- Extensive experience in knowing how to develop and present a nursing home neglect or abuse case to a jury.
Step One: Investigation
The first step to litigation is to investigate all of the facts before starting the formal process of commencing a case. There are many different regulations that apply to the management of a nursing home and the investigation will have to lead to information and evidence that falls within the regulatory mandate. This could mean obtaining the victim’s medical records going back five or ten years. In addition, extensive research will have to be done into the nursing home and its past, including other lawsuits filed against it, reported violations, and administrative records relating to the resident who was harmed. A nursing home litigation matter may involve thousands of pages of documents. Frequently, these are not straight-forward and require a medical professional to interpret abbreviations and short-hand, as well as careful analysis to find the relevant details.
Information gathering will include many sources, including:
- The victim of the nursing home negligence, as well as his or her family, friends, and service providers;
- People who have a long history with the victim, including past co-workers, fellow church members, and volunteers who have spent a lot of time with the nursing home resident;
- Nursing home staff members, administrators, social workers, and former employees or affiliated personnel;
- Medical records both from the time spent in the nursing home as well as prior to moving into the facility; and
- Research from a broad variety of general knowledge sources.
Step Two: Commencement of the Legal Action
After the investigation has led to a conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to support a case, a complaint will be filed. This legal document sets forth the charges against the nursing home and begins the process related to getting the case into a courtroom. The attorneys at Stern Law, PLLC will determine the best venue for the filing of the case after discussing all of the details with you. We have carefully selected affiliated law firms throughout the United States to be certain that we can pursue the matter in the appropriate venue. It is important to pay attention to the statute of limitations when going through the pre-investigation stage. If the injured party waits too long to begin the process, he or she may lose the ability to file an action.
Step Three: Discovery and Trial Preparation
Once the case has been filed in the legal system, all parties may engage in discovery, which is the means of obtaining documents and other information solely in the possession of adverse parties or third-parties. This means getting all documents from the nursing home that detail operational policies, hiring practices, staff background checks, and financial records. Medical records relating to treatment at the nursing home, as well as instances where the resident was transferred to another medical facility for care will be turned over. The discovery process involves analyzing all of the information and compiling the facts that will support the elements of the claims. A review of documents, witness and party depositions, and expert reports also will lead to additional avenues of investigation before going to trial and getting the victim the compensation that he or she deserves.
Trial preparation is a critical step. There is simply too much information to present to a jury, so an experienced attorney knows how to use the most compelling facts and details of the case to present a dynamic portrayal of what happened to the victim and how terrible the consequences were. In addition, the case will need to involve expert witnesses who will explain the medical trauma that the victim suffered, as well as the long-term impact that these injuries will have on the person’s life. The legal experts will need to explain the information in a way that makes sense to laypeople, so the personality and communication skills of the expert are as important as the expertise. Having a strong network of experienced and personable expert witnesses is crucial to a successful case.
Step Four: Trial and Resolution
The trial itself involves a presentation of the evidence and testimony in a clear and concise manner, taking the jury on the journey from the beginning when your loved one first moved into the nursing home to the events that led to the harm suffered. It is critical to convince the jury that the resident would not have suffered from this harm but for the negligence of the nursing home. Despite the fact that nursing home neglect and abuse is prevalent throughout the country, many jurors are reluctant to accept that the harm suffered was the result of anything other than the changing health of the resident.
It is possible that despite the thorough preparation, there may be a settlement of the case before trial. If settlement is a possibility, Stern Law, PLLC will ensure that you understand the offer, the pros and cons of accepting the settlement offer, and the potential outcomes if you proceed to trial. We will make certain that you have all the information necessary to make an informed decision.
If there is a settlement agreement, it often is the means of creating a customized solution to meet the unique needs of the injured party and also frequently results in a much faster payment of compensation than pursuing the matter to trial.
Stern Law, PLLC: Our Lawyers Make a Difference
When you and your parents sat down to discuss nursing homes and the benefits that they offered to people who were facing increasing challenges on a daily basis. Never did it occur to you or your loved ones that you would be facing a situation where a lawsuit might be necessary to get compensation for the serious harms that were done to your mother or father. However, the injuries have led to increased medical costs and long-term consequences that will require specialized care and accommodations that would not have been necessary but for the actions of the nursing home staff and administrators. The first task that you faced was getting your parent into a safer situation, but now you are seeking answers about how this could have happened in the first place. In trying to find out the truth, you quickly realized that the nursing home was not going to be forthcoming. This is where Stern Law, PLLC can help you. Our attorneys understand the process of nursing home litigation and we know how to get the answers that you need. We will evaluate your case with you and determine the best way to get justice for your parent.
Watching the suffering of children, the elderly, and other vulnerable individuals is what prompted me, Ken Stern, to start Stern Law, PLLC. I wanted to provide a place where people suffering through tragic events could find answers, resources for further investigation, and other people who were suffering through similar events. I know that you are dealing with a lot right now and I want to ease some of that burden by helping you to understand that there are solutions. I am available to discuss what you and your loved one are going through at any time, without charge. Please call our team at 1-877-469-7273 (1-877-4MYPARENT) and we can find the best strategy to hold the people accountable for the harm done to your parent.