Deciding whether to take any case is a very serious matter for our firm. We turn down many more cases than we take. This is especially true in potential nursing home abuse cases. Often the resident has died and family members are in our office trying to get an explanation. They went to the nursing home and did not get answers. What happened to dad? He was there for rehabilitation and now he is dead. These family members cannot tell us what happened. We have to get the records to know.

There are some key factors to look for in determining whether we can take a case for the injury, abuse or death of a nursing home resident. What was the resident’s condition when she went in? Why did she get worse? What kind of staff did the nursing home provide? Physical deterioration with pressure ulcers, dehydration, malnourishment, contractures, frequent falls, over sedation and infections are words we often hear from the family. Did the resident express concerns about how she was being treated? Were there unusual emotional or psychiatric changes?

Nobody outside the nursing home sees the injuries occur like they do in a car wreck. How the injury occurred has to be found in the medical records. Medical and nursing experts need to review those records to determine if there was a violation of the standard of care that caused the injury or death. We have on staff a physician and a nurse who know the issues to look for to determine if the injury, abuse or death was caused by the nursing home or was a natural event.

We always look for arbitration agreements because that may keep the resident and/or family from pursuing a lawsuit in court. Everyone should have a power of attorney that specifically states that your attorney in fact does not have the power to enter into any agreement with an arbitration clause in it If there is an arbitration agreement in the admissions contract, a determination has to be made whether it can be enforced and if so, whether the arbitration forum will provide a fair panel or arbitrator to hear the case.

In Alabama and Mississippi there are time limitations to bring a lawsuit. The sooner after an incident occurs that the records can be reviewed and witnesses contacted, the better it is for us and our experts to make a decision whether a lawsuit is proper.

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