Bed sores and liability of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facility Abuse
Compiled by Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. from various sources
The law imposes upon the owner of a nursing home, assisted living facility and any medical facility the duty to properly care for its residents. The owners must make the premises reasonably safe for residents. In other words, the law says that the owner of a nursing home or assisted living facility must exercise reasonable care to see to it that residents are protected from neglect. The concept of reasonable care requires the owner of nursing home, assisted living facility to take action with regard to conditions and protect residents from dangerous conditions.
What is a pressure (bed) sore?
A pressure sore is a skin wound. Pressure sores usually develop on bony parts of the body such as the tailbone, hip, ankle, or heel. They are usually caused by constant pressure on one part of the skin. Pressure sores are sometimes called bedsores. These sores can be caused from the pressure on the skin from chairs, wheelchairs, or beds. Severe pressure sores may take a long time to heal.
Why is this information important?
Pressure sores may:
• Be painful
• Take a long time to heal
• Cause other complications such as skin and bone infections
There are several things that nursing homes can do that may help to prevent or
treat pressure sores, such as frequently changing the residents position, proper
nutrition, and using soft padding to reduce pressure on the skin
If someone was injured in the nursing home, a question of negligent and proximate cause must be answered.
What is the negligence of the nursing home? If no negligence, Kenneth Vercammen's law office will not handle the case.
Was the negligence the proximate cause of the injury?
Financial Recovery if Injured Based on Neglect or Negligence of a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility
1. Kenneth Vercammen Helps Injured persons A person who is injured as a result of the negligence of another person is what we in the legal profession refer to as a personal injury claimant. In other words, they have been injured as a result of an accident, and now wish to prosecute a claim against a negligent property owner and its insurance company. As the attorney of record, we can bring on action for the injured person. Therefore, I request that all clients do as much as possible to cooperate and help in every way. The purpose of this article is to describe the procedure that we may follow and give you sufficient instructions to enable you to assist us in this undertaking. Needless to say, helping us is just another way of helping yourself.
2. Clients should provide my office with the following 1. Any bills 2. All Hospital or doctor records in your possession 3. Photos of scars, cuts, bruises 4. Photos of damage to your clothes and property 5. Photos of accident site 6. Major Med Card 7. Paystub if lost time from work
3. Attorney- Client Confidential Relationship First, I want to thank our clients for giving me the opportunity to assist them in their case. I am a legal professional and I have great pride and confidence in the legal services that I perform for clients during our relationship as attorney-client. If you have concerns about your case, please call my office. (732) 572-0500 We feel that this case is extremely important not only to you, but to this office as well. This is not simply a matter of obtaining just compensation for you, although that is very important; we take professional pride in guiding our clients carefully through difficult times to a satisfactory conclusion of their cases.
4. Submit Bills to Major Medical Immediately
5. Diary We want you to keep a diary of your experiences since your accident. In addition to this daily record, we also ask you to start describing a single day in the course of your life. In other words, describe what you do when you get up in the morning, the first thing you do after you go to work, what type of work and effort you put into your employment, what activities you engage in after work, etc. In other words, we need you to describe the changes in your working life, your playing life, your life as a husband or wife or child or parent. In your written description of your day, we would appreciate your explanation in the greatest detail possible and in your own words how the accident and subsequent injuries have affected your life, your personality, and your outlook. Remember that suffering does not entail mere physical pain; suffering can be emotional and can be transmitted to your family, friends, and co-workers. Keep a diary of all matters concerning this accident-no matter how trivial you think it may be. You should include notes on the treatments you receive, therapy, casts, appliances, hospitalization, change of doctors, change of medication, symptoms, recurrence, setbacks, disabilities and inconveniences. If you have any doubt about the propriety of including some particular information, please call the office and let us assist you.
6. Record expenses You can also begin to set up a system for recording the expenses incurred in conjunction with your claim in minute detail. Medical and legal expenses are a strong part of the value of your lawsuit, so good records of these expenses must be kept at all times. From time to time, however, there will be expenses incurred that you must keep track of yourself. We ask you to make every effort to avoid any possible error or inaccuracy as jurors have a relentless reverence for the truth. Keep your canceled checks and your list of expenses together, for we will need them at a later date. Your attorney will keep track of your legal expenses, which may include costs of filing, service of complaint, investigation, reports, depositions, witness fees, hospital/ medical records, etc.
7. Investigation and Filing of Complaint Procedurally, the following events occur in most personal injury cases. First, your attorney must complete the investigation. This will involve the collection of information from your physician and others. We will need your doctors to provide us with copies of all bills, medical records and possibly a medical report. When we feel that we have sufficient information to form an opinion as to the financial extent of your damages, we will commence negotiations with the opposition for a settlement. If the insurance company will not make an adequate offer, then a Complaint and Case Information Statement is prepared by your attorney. It is filed in the Superior Court, Law Division. Your attorney then will prepare a summons and have the defendants personally served with the Summons and Complaint. The defendant, through their insurance company, must file an Answer within 35 days.
Kenneth Vercammen's office generally does not file a Complaint until the treating doctor signs an affidavit of merit setting forth why the injury is permanent and the diagnostic tests upon which the permanent injury is based. You will need to speak with your doctor to ask if you have a permanent injury.
8. Interrogatory Questions and Discovery The Answer is followed by a request for written interrogatories. These are questions that must be answered by each party. The Superior Court has set up certain Form Interrogatory Questions which are contained in the Rules of Court to be filled out in all injury cases. Generally, written interrogatories are followed by the taking of depositions, which is recorded testimony given under oath by any person the opposition wishes to question. The deposition is just as important as the trial itself. In the event you are deposed during the course of this action, you will receive detailed instructions as to the procedure and will be required to watch a videotape. After taking depositions, the case will be set down for an Arbitration. If the parties do not settle after the Arbitration, the case will be given a trial call date. Altogether, these procedures may take from twelve months to several years, and your patience may be sorely tried during this time. However, it has been our experience that clients who are forewarned have a much higher tolerance level for the slowly turning wheels of justice.
9. Doctor/ Treatment It will help your case to tell us and your doctors about any injury or medical problems before or after your accident. Good cases can be lost by the injured person concealing or forgetting an earlier or later injury or medical problem. Insurance companies keep a record of any and all claims against any insurance company. The insurance company is sure to find out if you have ever made a previous claim. Tell your doctors all of your complaints. The doctors records can only be as complete as what you have given. Keep track of all prescriptions and medicines taken and the bills. Also save all bottles or containers of medicine.
10. Bills Retain all bills which relate to your damages, including medical expenses, hospital expenses, drugs and medicines, therapy, appliances, and anything needed to assist in your recovery. If possible, pay these bills by check or money order, so that a complete record may be kept. If this is not possible, be certain to obtain a complete receipt with the bill heading on it, to indicate where the receipt came from and the party issuing it.
11. Evidence Be certain to keep anything that comes into your possession which might be used as evidence in your case, such as shoes, damaged clothing, glasses, photographs, defective machinery, defective parts, foreign substances which may have been a factor in your accident, etc. Be sure to let the office know that you have these items in your possession.
12. Photographs Take photographs of the bed, accident site, etc.,--anything that may be connected--directly or indirectly--with your injury. Again, be sure to let the office know that you have such photographs.
13. Keep your attorney advised Keep this office advised at all times with respect to changes in address, important changes in medical treatment, termination of treatment, termination of employment, resumption of employment, or any other unusual change in your life.
14. Lost wages If the injured person was employed, keep a complete record of all lost wages.
15. New information In the event that any new information concerning the evidence in this case comes to your attention, report this to the attorney immediately. This is particularly true in the case of witnesses who have heretofore been unavailable.
Do not discuss the case The insurance company may telephone you and record the conversation or send an adjuster (investigator) who may carry a concealed tape recorder. You should not discuss your case with anyone.
The value of a case depends on the Permanent Injury, medical treatment and doctors reports Undoubtedly, you have questions as to how much your case is worth. We are going to be frank: The fact of the matter is there can be no answer to this question until we have completed the investigation in your case.
Once we complete our investigation, of course, we can make a determination as to the amount of the defendants liability, if any, and even at that we will only be at a starting point. After that, we must obtain all necessary information concerning your disability, your partial disability, your life changes, and your prognosis. You may rest assured of one thing, however, and that is the fact that your case will not be settled below its true value, that is the fair compensation for the injuries you have received. You may also rest assured that no settlement agreement will be entered into without your consent.
Conclusion We appreciate that this is a great deal of information to absorb. We also appreciate that our requests for clients assistance have been numerous. However, we are certain that our clients appreciate having this information from the outset. Each request and bit of information given here represents an important part in recovering full value for your injury. Therefore, we respectfully request your full cooperation. If you have questions or concerns regarding these instructions, we encourage you to feel free to contact the office at any time.
About the Author:
Kenneth Vercammen is an Edison, Middlesex County, NJ trial attorney who has published 125 articles in national and New Jersey publications on probate, estate planning, criminal and litigation topics. He often lectures to trial lawyers of the American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association.
Kenneth Vercammen was the NJ State Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year and past president of the Middlesex County Municipal Prosecutors Association.
He is the past chair of the NJ State Bar Association Municipal Court Section. He is the Deputy chair of the ABA Criminal Law committee, GP Division. Kenneth Vercammen was included in the 2015 Super Lawyers list published by Thompson Reuters and New Jersey Monthly. Ken Vercammen is a Certified Municipal Court Law Attorney by the NJ Supreme Court.
He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published by New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the New Jersey Municipal Court Law Review. Mr. Vercammen is a recipient of the NJSBA- YLD Service to the Bar Award.
He has served as a Special Acting Prosecutor in nine different cities and towns in New Jersey and also successfully handled over One thousand Municipal Court and Superior Court matters in the past 18 years.
In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on Criminal personal injury matters, Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings. He serves as the Editor of the popular legal website www.KennethVercammen.com