FAQs

Click on the red links below to get valuable resources & the facts you’ll need:
NEGLECT & ABUSE | WRONGFUL DEATH | MEDICAL MALPRACTICE | PERSONAL INJURY | RESOURCES

General Questions:

Q: Is there a fee for a consultation?
A: No, the initial consultation is at no charge.

Q: Will I need to pay legal fees upfront?
A: No, as our firm works on a contingency fee basis, there are no upfront costs to clients, in most cases.

Q: Am I responsible for obtaining my family member’s records if I hire your firm?
A: No, our firm will obtain all necessary medical records.

Q: Do I have the burden of proving that a nursing home did not give my family member good care?
A: If a resident suffers from an injury, such as a bed sore, under the New York State Public Health Law, Section 2801-d, the burden is then on the nursing home to show that they cared for the resident properly.

Q: If I made a complaint to the Department of Health, do I have to wait for the findings to retain your services?
A: No, our law firm does not need a determination by the Department of Health to pursue a case.

Q: If the Department of Health investigated a complaint by the family and found no neglect or abuse, am I still able to bring a lawsuit?
A: Yes, we can bring a case even if the Department of Health does not find neglect or abuse.

Q: If I have already made a complaint to a New York State Ombudsman, can I still start a lawsuit?
A: Yes, and keep in mind that the role of the Ombudsman and the role of a law firm are different. The Ombudsman’s role is to intervene on the resident’s and/or family’s behalf to resolve problems with the nursing home. In contrast, the role of a law firm is specifically to obtain compensation for residents for the injuries they have suffered.

Q: Can I bring a legal action if my family member is still at a nursing home?
A: Yes, and the NYS Public Health Law, Section 2801-d has a provision that prohibits a nursing home from retaliating against a resident who brings a lawsuit against them. However, we might recommend that you find another facility for your loved one.

Q: If my loved one receives a recovery from a lawsuit, will they still be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits?
A: Yes, but only in a limited situation. Specifically, if a lawsuit is brought against a nursing home, under the NYS Public Health Law Section 2801-d, there is a provision that monies recovered under this statute will not be counted for future eligibility.

Q: If an autopsy was not performed on a family member who has passed away, can I still bring a case?
A: Yes, even if an autopsy was not performed, you can still bring a case. Our experts will review your family member’s medical records to determine what occurred.

Q: How much time do I have to bring a claim or lawsuit?
A: It varies depending upon the type of claim or action and who or what entity is being sued. It is therefore imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Elder Neglect & Abuse:

Q: What is elder neglect & abuse?
A: Elder neglect & abuse is the violation of a person’s rights while under the care of a facility or caregiver. Residents/patients have legal rights to quality care, being treated with dignity, and the safeguarding of their well-being. When neglect or abuse occurs, a resident/patient may be mistreated, physically or sexually abused, emotionally traumatized, injured, or even die.

Elder neglect & abuse can be caused by the intentional or negligent actions of care givers, such as:

• Pressure sores resulting from lying for hours in the same position
• Fractures due to the failure to implement fall risk procedures, such as toilet schedules or bed alarms
• Infections and disease resulting from dehydration
• Staff roughly transferring a resident
• Illnesses that are not diagnosed or treated

Q: What are the common signs of elder neglect & abuse?
A: Sadly, the elderly often are unable to communicate the circumstances of their neglect and abuse to family members or other concerned parties. In addition, elder neglect & abuse may be difficult to identify without paying attention to key indicators. Family members should learn to recognize the following possible symptoms of neglect and abuse and take immediate corrective action:

Neglect: Malnutrition, dehydration, pressure sores (also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers), poor personal hygiene, neglected injuries, falls, accidents

Medical Mistakes: Wrong medication, incorrect dosage, unnecessary medical procedures, delays in treatment

Physical Abuse: Bruises, burns, welts, restraint marks, broken bones, wounds/cuts, scratches, sprains, puffiness on the face or elsewhere, damaged possessions, visitors not being allowed to spend time alone with the resident

Emotional Abuse: Withdrawal, refusal to communicate, anxiety, agitation, emotional trauma, sudden change in behavior

Sexual Abuse: Bleeding, appearing withdrawn or traumatized, evidence of severe physical restraint, torn or stained bed clothing, bruises, scratches or welts near genitals or on chest

Q: How should I report elder neglect & abuse?
A: If you believe the elder neglect & abuse is life threatening, call the police or 911 immediately. If you believe the resident/patient is not in immediate danger but suspect that neglect and abuse has occurred, contact your local long term care ombudsman and the New York State Department of Health.

Our law firm can help you take appropriate action, as well, if injuries or death have occurred.
For the complaints below Call the New York State Department of Health:

Nursing Homes – 888-201-4563
Hospitals – 800-804-5447
Assisted Living and Adult Homes – 866-893-6772

The New York State Ombudsman can be reached at 866-893-6772 for help in finding your local long term care ombudsman.
Be prepared to provide as much information as possible about the suspected neglect and abuse including:

• Victim’s name, age, and address
• Name of the facility/health care provider
• Specific details about the neglect and abuse, why you suspect it, and what may have occurred
• Evidence of abuse such as photos of physical injury, statements by the victim,
eyewitness accounts, etc.
• The person(s) responsible for the neglect and abuse, if known
• Copies of any medical records that you have in your possession

Q: Are there steps I can take to limit elder neglect & abuse?
A: Yes, generally these steps involve planning, paying attention, and listening:

Planning: This is the first vital step to limit elder neglect & abuse. Thoroughly investigate potential long term care facilities and out-sourced caregivers before you choose a facility or caregiver agency.

Confirm the elderly person’s legal affairs are in order, such as the designation of a health care agent, the completion of a power of attorney, and last will and testament. Make sure that there has been a proper assessment regarding the person’s medical and other personal needs.

Paying Attention: Once placed in a facility, be sure to monitor the resident and make continual observations about the care received, medications prescribed, and the resident’s condition. Insist on seeing the resident’s room, and don’t just meet them in common public areas. Similarly, with caregiver agencies, visit the person at their home/apartment as often as possible.

Get to know the staff, let them know that you intend to be involved with the person’s care, and that you will be checking in on a frequent basis. Elder neglect & abuse is more likely if a person does not have regular visitors or if family members do not regularly communicate with the staff.

Listening: Even if the resident has dementia, is difficult to understand, or often makes untrue statements, listen for repeated complaints—especially if the person seems traumatized. Also observe changes in behavior such as complaints of pain, withdrawal, refusal to communicate, or sudden hostility with no apparent cause. Be a constant and active listener.

Q: What are the legal rights of nursing home residents?
A: NYS Public Health Law Section 2801-d, a statute enacted in 1975, basically defines the legal rights of nursing home residents and allows for nursing home residents to be financially compensated if their rights have been violated. It holds nursing homes accountable for their treatment of residents and provides residents with the ability to sue for injuries sustained while in the nursing home’s care.

As many nursing home residents are incapacitated by illness and cannot speak for themselves, the NYS Public Health Law shifts the burden to the facility once an injury has occurred, such as painful bed sores, fractures, malnutrition, or dehydration, to prove that they exercised all care reasonably necessary to prevent the injuries from happening.

Wrongful Death

Q: What is wrongful death?
A: Wrongful death is when a person dies as the result of negligence or misconduct by an individual, company, or facility.

Q: Who can sue for wrongful death?
A: A representative of the estate of the person who died can sue for the person’s pain and suffering, as well as for those who were being supported by that person and who suffered economic loss, or loss of guidance, care, and parental support due to the person’s death; i.e., children or a spouse.

Q: How much time do I have to bring a claim or lawsuit?
A: It varies depending upon the type of claim or action and who or what entity is being sued. It is therefore imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Q: How is the amount of damages determined?
A: Although they vary for each case, damage awards can include financial compensation for lost wages, loss of future income, other monetary losses suffered as a result of the injury/death (i.e., medical bills, burial expenses), loss of guidance, care and parental support, and the pain and suffering of the deceased person during their life.

Q: What are examples of negligence or misconduct that can lead to wrongful death?
A: Negligence or misconduct can include:

• Motor vehicle accidents caused by the negligence or deliberate misconduct of other drivers.
• Defective/hazardous products.
• Unmarked hazards around businesses or in public areas.
• Medical malpractice by a facility or medical provider.
• Neglect and abuse by a facility or caregiver.

Personal Injury

Q: What are examples of personal injury claims?
A: Personal injury claims can include:

• Auto, motorcycle and truck accidents
• Slips, trips, and falls
• Construction accidents
• Defective products
• Premises liability

Q: How much time do I have to bring a claim or lawsuit?
A: It varies depending upon the type of claim or action and who or what entity is being sued. It is therefore imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Q: What information would your firm gather to proceed with a personal injury claim?
A: Detailed information about the location, time, and cause of the accident, as well as any accident or incident reports that might exist and documentation about your injuries and medical treatment, will be needed. Accurate, detailed medical records are key evidence to show the pain and suffering endured as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

Medical Malpractice

Q: What is medical malpractice?
A: Medical malpractice occurs when the treatment rendered by a medical professional falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes harm, injury, or death to a patient.

Q: Can I still sue for damages if the mistake was made by a nurse or medical technician?
A: Yes, medical malpractice can apply to nurses and medical technicians, as well as doctors.

Q: How much time do I have to bring a claim or lawsuit?
A: It varies depending upon the type of claim or action and who or what entity is being sued. It is therefore imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Q: What are examples of medical malpractice?
A: Medical malpractice can include a mistake or omission that occurred at any time during your medical treatment, such as:

• Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of an illness
• Improper treatment or delay in treatment
• Incorrect medication or dosage
• Amputation of a wrong limb
• Brain damage after an operation
• Worsening of a medical condition after treatment

Resources

Do not underestimate the importance of the planning process when it comes to choosing a nursing home, assisted living facility, or caregiver agency, as the steps you take now can affect the future happiness, health, and physical well-being of your elderly loved ones. Here are a few resources to help in the planning process.

Nursing Home Checklist: www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html
A helpful checklist for inspecting nursing homes.

New York State Office of the Aging: www.aging.ny.gov/Caregivers/Index.cfm
Resources for caregivers, professionals and providers to find information and/or assistance.

New York State Department of Health: – Nursing Homes in New York State www.health.ny.gov/facilities/nursing
This website page lets you find and compare nursing homes and their ratings in New York State.

Nursing Home 411: www.nursinghome411.org
This website provides news, reports, and resources on nursing home quality and resident rights issues.

Assisted Living 411: www.assisted-living411.org
Offers free guides and workshop for seniors, residents, and staff to foster greater quality of life in assisted living.

The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC): www.ltccc.org
This nonprofit policy and advocacy organization works to protect the rights and welfare of those in long term care, ensuring that the elderly and disabled are cared for properly and treated with dignity.