April 23, 2014

Elder Financial Exploitation in Aurora Nursing Home

by Levin & Perconti

Elder abuse is a growing problem, and may only worsen as America’s baby boomer population ages. One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial exploitation.

Elder financial exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. Some examples involve deception, such as forgery and theft. Others are the product of coercion, such as forcing an older person to sign a document that is financial in nature (e.g. wills, contracts).

How to Spot Financial Exploitation
An unexplained sudden transfer of assets is one sign of potential financial exploitation, especially when coupled with the sudden appearance of previously absent parties claiming rights to an elder’s property. Other warning signs include sudden changes in banking behavior, unexplained withdrawals of funds, and the inclusion of additional names to an elder’s debit or credit card. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there is no shortage of methods in which the unscrupulous have taken advantage of the elderly. Three recent incident are all too telling:

Aurora, IL – A 25-year-old caregiver has been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly and aggravated identity theft. Accused of stealing more than $10,000, the caregiver allegedly used her elderly employer’s credit card to buy clothing, household goods, and other items.

Tacoma, WA – A couple lost their home of 45 years and an estimated $300,000 in a case of alleged elder abuse. Only $374 remained in their bank account when the couple died within a month of each other.

Kansas City, MO – The long-time financial advisor of a 95-year-old woman is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her, depriving her children and grandchildren of their inheritances. A civil suit has been brought against the advisor.

The Cost of Elder Financial Abuse
A 2009 study estimated the financial loss from abuse to be at least $2.6 billion a year. Even that staggering figure is likely well short of the actual figure, as financial elder abuse is believed to be an incredibly under-reported problem. In Illinois, there were 6,205 reports of suspected financial abuse and exploitation of senior citizens in 2011 alone. These numbers reflect a rise, and financial exploitation accounts for nearly 60 percent of reported abuse cases against elders.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of misconduct or financial exploitation, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Links:

5 Tips for Detecting Elder Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Home Facilities

Negligent Caregiving at Hospital Results in $6 Million Levin & Perconti Settlement

April 21, 2014

Nursing Home Negligence - Wandering & Elopement

by Levin & Perconti

Elopement, often used interchangeably with wandering, is a serious problem in nursing homes. It occurs when a dependent resident in a licensed facility leaves that facility without staff knowledge or observation of their departure.

Safe vs. Unsafe Wandering
Wandering can be a safe and healthy behavior for many nursing home residents. This is especially the case when wandering simply reflects a need for exercise, activity, or to relieve stress. We all know that being active has a positive impact on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Accordingly, this behavior should be encouraged when it can be done safely. Oppositely, when wandering causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the resident or other residents, it becomes an unsafe behavior that must be addressed. For both unsafe wandering within the facility, and eloping from the nursing home, responsibility rests with the nursing home.

Risk Factors
Certain diagnoses are indicative of an elevated risk of elopement: Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. Even a history of wandering is a reliable indicator of risk.

The Consequences
Kingman, AZ – A 77-year-old man with dementia has been missing for more than two weeks. Friends have not seen the man since April 1, and northwest Arizona authorities are doing all they can to locate him.

Cocoa Beach, FL – A resident wandered away from a nursing home, fell in a drainage ditch and drowned.

Mobile, AL – After wandering away from a personal care facility, a resident fell into a watery construction pit and drowned in the mud.

Quakertown, PA – An Alzheimer’s patient wandered away from a facility and drowned in a nearby creek.

Montgomery, AL – An assisted living resident smashed a window, crawled out of his room and wandering across a parking lot into a field. He subsequently collapsed and died in freezing temperatures.

Preventing Elopement
In addition to identifying risk factors that predispose a resident to elopement, supervision is an absolute must. Indeed, it is a core responsibility of facility staff. Conducting periodic checks and documenting wandering behaviors are essential to any supervision regimen. For Alzheimer’s patients, a secured unit is wise.

Courts have been very harsh in decisions where facilities are judged to have been negligent in their duty to provide a safe environment. According to Briggs Corp., ten percent of all lawsuits involving nursing homes deal with elopements. In addition to drowning and exposure to extreme heat or cold, elopement-related deaths commonly involve being struck by a vehicle. Tragically, in eighty percent of cases, the resident was known to be a wanderer with prior elopements.

Elopement is a tremendous source of grief and anguish when it results in the injury or death of a loved one. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Links:

Understanding the Ombudsman - Prevent Nursing Home Neglect

Alzheimer’s Patient Dies in Nursing Home Fall

April 17, 2014

Nursing Home Sexual Assault Case Ends with Unique $10 Million Settlement

by Levin & Perconti

News spread last year about a horrific case of sexual assault perpetrated by a caregiver as a senior home. According to reports, the perpetrator was employed as an assistant at a nursing home. At some point on his shift, the 30 year old man snuck into the room of an 89-year old resident. The senior was allegedly showing signs of dementia at the time. After entering the room, the attacker gave the woman drugs that he knew would affect her cognitive abilities. It was then, while she was under the influence of the medication and trapped in the room with the caregiver, that he raped her.

Fortunately, the senior was aware of what happened, and reported the incident the very next morning to her daughter. The police were called and the perpetrator was soon identified. As often happens in these situations both criminal and civil cases arose from the incident.

Odd Settlement Details
On the criminal side, prosecutors pursued the matter and the caregiver eventually pled guilty to the crime. A sentence handed down in the matter earlier this year will send the man to prison for over four years.

A civil lawsuit was also filed against the caregiver, seeking compensation for the rape. A settlement was reached in the case recently. Per the released terms, the man will pay the victim slightly more than $1,000 and provide a similar payment to a local rape non-profit center. In addition, the man was ordered to pay $10 million to the resident in damages. Yet, there was a caveat to the payment of that significant sum. The man will only be required to actually pay the $10 million in damages if he commits another sexual crime. The payment would be triggered by any conviction for a sex crime or liability in any future elder abuse incident over the next ten years.

As a practical matter, it is likely that the man does not have anywhere near the resources necessary to pay the damages--even if he violates the settlement agreement. However, it is unclear if another civil lawsuit was filed against the facility itself. Nursing homes as an entity can be held responsible for the misconduct of their employees, or, similarly, for their own negligence in hiring practices that allowed intentional abuse to occur. Unlike individual wrongdoers, nursing homes often have insurance or other resources which can be use to provide actual compensation to the victims.

Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Illinois
This case is just the latest in the long list of reminders of the harm that can befall seniors in nursing homes. In fact, much of this mistreatment goes unreported. Victims are often scared of speaking up or ashamed of what happened. In other cases, seniors may have dementia or Alzheimers and are unable to fully appreciate poor care or even intentional abuse.

For this reason, it is incumbent upon friends, family members, and others to speak up whenever they suspect that a senior is being harmed. Authorities should be called, nursing home administrators need to be contact, and abuse attorneys may be needed to ensure full and complete accountability.

For help with these matters in Chicago, the suburbs, and throughout Illinois, please contact our legal team today.

Related Links:

Study Finds Nearly Half of All Alzheimer’s Patients Abused

A New Way of Thinking About Dementia Care

April 15, 2014

New Study Shows Strokes Misdiagnosed in Many Cases

by Levin & Perconti

MedPage Today reports that a new study shows that many strokes may be missed in hospital emergency departments in the days before the problems of the stroke become obvious. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose strokes can have devastating consequences.

The study was retrospective, meaning that it looked back in time at what had happened to stroke victims in the time leading up to their strokes. The study shows that of 187,188 admissions for stroke, 12.7% of the stroke patients studied visited an emergency department and received a non-stroke-related diagnosis within the thirty days leading up to the ultimately diagnosed stroke. Doctors from Johns Hopkins University say this indicates a possibly missed stroke. One in every ten of those non-stroke related discharges were for headache or dizziness. Those were likely strokes, according to the researchers. Women, members of minority groups, and people under age 45 were most at risk for experiencing one of these undiagnosed strokes.

Effects of Failure to Diagnose Strokes:
The Harvard Medical School states that early treatment of the most common type of stroke can limit brain damage and vastly improve outcomes. Delayed treatment can close the door on treatments that can substantially diminish brain damage. Those who have been turned away from an emergency room with a “headache” diagnosis may be less likely to rush to a hospital for in the case of a future, more serious, stroke, causing more serious long term damage.

Additionally, a failure to diagnose these early strokes means that the patient will not be told what to do to try to prevent future strokes. According to the National Stroke Association, these sorts of preventative measures can include medication and other medical therapies. They can also include lifestyle changes regarding diet and exercise. In some cases doctors recommend drugs to treat other conditions that lead to stroke, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. There are also medications that can diminish blood clotting that can help prevent a stroke. If the emergency department misses that first stroke, the patient will not be given any of these options, and the second more serious stroke can happen. At that point the damage will have been done.

Signs of a Stroke:
Negligence and malpractice attorneys can help try to recover for some of the losses caused by these undiagnosed strokes. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While doctors ultimately have to diagnose and treat strokes, there are signs one can watch for to try to get treatment as soon as possible. The American Stroke Association uses the acronym FAST to remind American what to watch for:

Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Is the potential stroke victim’s smile uneven?

Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? If the person raises both arms, does one drift downward?

Speech difficulty. Is the speech slurred or is the person hard to understand, even when saying simple sentences?

Time to call 9-1-1. If someone shows these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately, and check the time so you will be able to tell the doctor exactly how long the symptoms have been present.

See Related Posts:
Half of Pediatricians Admit Making Incorrect Diagnosis
Misdiagnoses: The Dangers and What You Can Do About Them

April 12, 2014

Hepatitis C Outbreak in Nursing Home

by Levin & Perconti

The first lawsuit stemming from a hepatitis C outbreak in a North Dakota nursing home has been filed, according to reports. Two victims are seeking monetary damages from ManorCare Health Services, and they may not be alone. 42 other people have identified themselves as victims of the outbreak, and they allege that the outbreak is connected to the actions of the care facility. The lawyers for the first two victims are seeking to make their lawsuit a class action in order to cover all those infected with the virus while in nursing home care.

Risk of Outbreak
Hepatitis C is a virus that tends to result in chronic illness and is also potentially fatal. It is transmitted by blood, meaning that it is normally transmitted by accidental needle sticks or if the blood of an infected person contacts the eyes, mouth, or cut on the skin of a non-infected person. Those infected with hepatitis C are at extreme risk for liver cancer and cirrhosis, among other serious complications. Although the outbreak associated with ManorCare has not yet resulted in any deaths, the outbreak has been the source of a quarter of all hepatitis C infection in the US since 2008, and all 44 victims are currently dealing with chronic problems as a result of it.

Representatives of ManorCare insist that the lawsuit does not yet have a solid factual foundation. The state health department of North Dakota has only issued a preliminary report, which states that neither they nor representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could discern exactly how these patients were infected. However, the officials have advanced the theory that the infections were the result of foot and nail care or blood services.

Legal Accountability & Nursing Home Negligence
The uncertainty in this case is not unusual – in about one-third of hepatitis C cases, exact causes are not found. At any rate, the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, and a final report on the Health Department’s findings is not expected until the summer.

Legally, it will be helpful to identify an exact cause of the outbreak, but it is not necessary. In some cases, an adverse result can itself be sufficient to show that a caregiver failed to fulfill its duty of care to the patients in its control. Further, this may be evidence of a violation of state and federal statutes regarding proper operation of a nursing home.

When an incident such as this happens, there is also normally a duty on the part of the caregiver to mitigate damages. That is, as soon as the caregiver is on notice that an accident has occurred, it will have a legal duty to take steps that will limit the damage of that accident. Thus far, ManorCare seems to have done this. Representatives of the caregiver have said that they are following their infection control process, which should stem the spread of the virus.

According to the CDC, the spread of serious infection in nursing home is quite common – 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in the facilities. If you believe that you or a loved one have received an fection while in the care of a nursing home, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Posts:

Updates on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in Illinois

Basic Illinois Nursing Home Statistics & Annual Summaries

April 9, 2014

Batavia Nursing Home Norovirus Outbreak

by Levin & Perconti

A new outbreak of the norovirus has occurred at Heritage Woods Assisted Living Facility in Batavia, IL, leaving about 40 residents ill as a result. Norovirus, often associated with cruise ships for its tendency to spread through the densely populated spaces, is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis – also known as a stomach bug – in the United States, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infection Control in Nursing Homes
Norovirus is extremely contagious. It is a tough virus that can live without a host for up to four weeks, and it can live in an infected person’s stool for more than two weeks. Touching anything that an infected person has touched risks the spread of the virus. Clothes worn by an infected person may carry the virus. Any food served without cooking or any food handled by an infected person may spread the virus. Further, even infected people who have recovered may still spread the virus up to 3 days after recovery. Once infected, a person’s stomach and/or intestines become inflamed, causing abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Because norovirus is not caused by just one virus – it is actually a group of related viruses belonging to the Calicivirdae family – a person may get norovirus many times in his or her life.

According to the CDC, norovirus causes somewhere between 19 and 21 million illnesses per year, and it contributes somewhere between 56,000 and 71,000 hospital visits to the American total each year. On average, norovirus is the cause of 570-800 deaths each year in the United States.

The best way to prevent norovirus is through hand-washing and general cleanliness. There is no medicine or vaccine currently available that specifically treats norovirus, but most people recover simply by treating their symptoms and playing the waiting game. The name of this game is hydration. Because the virus causes vomiting and diarrhea, people with the virus will need to replace the fluids they are losing. Patients who do not combat the dehydrative effects of norovirus could quickly find themselves hospitalized.

While norovirus is typically an event from which most people will recover without too much complication, in the cases of the elderly, norovirus can be extremely dangerous. The deaths estimated by the CDC are largely made up of young children and the elderly, but they are also more common in the years when new strains of the virus are going around. To combat the virus, there is simply no substitute for soap and water. Hand-washing is an imperative, especially before food preparation and after using the toilet. Less generally known is that alcohol-based hand sanitizers, such as Purell, do not kill norovirus, and, thus, will not fully substitute for soap and water. Cleanliness in the bathroom is also a must. Toilets, door handles, and light switches are particular areas for concern. Finally, clothing and bedding are often overlooked as very contaminated areas – be sure to wash linens and clothing thoroughly and in hot water, particularly if they’ve been soiled.

If you notice that these steps are not being taken around your facility or that of a loved one, there could be a considerable risk of infection. If you believe that you or a loved one has received a preventable infection while in the care of a nursing home or other assisted living facility, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Blog Posts:

Hepatitis C Outbreak in Nursing Home

Neglect Running Rampant in Alden Village North, a Chicago Nursing Home

April 4, 2014

The Toll of Alzheimer’s is Growing

by Levin & Perconti

The impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the current population is difficult to overstate. Already, there are an estimated five million people in the United States suffering from the disease, and this statistic does little to measure the true amount suffering and expense involved – family members and caregivers, too, are burdened. And the problem is just beginning. The number of Alzheimer’s patients will expand exponentially due to what officials at the National Institute on Aging are calling “an aging tsunami.” Widely accepted research has estimated that the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide will grow from the near 36 million current patients to roughly 115 million over the next 35 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that deaths attributable to Alzheimer’s in the year 2010 numbered almost 83,500 in the United States, but a recent study published by the journal Neurology has questioned this number, claiming that it underestimates the real figure by over 400,000.

Financial Challenges
If the mortality numbers are not staggering enough, there are the financial ones. In a study conducted by the RAND Corporation (with help from other institutions), researchers calculated that, in 2010, the direct cost of treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia was $109 billion. This outranked the costs of treatment for patients with heart disease ($102 billion) and cancer ($77 billion). Many people take it as a matter of course that Alzheimer’s is a serious disease requiring serious attention; they have similar opinions of it as they do of cancer and heart disease.

But the allocation of federal funds does not reflect these opinions. This year, $5.4 billion dollars will be allocated by the federal government for cancer research. This year, $1.2 billion in federal funds will go to researching heart disease. By comparison, research efforts into Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will only receive $666 million.

Tackling the Problem
To be fair, attention has significantly shifted to Alzheimer’s Disease over the last few years. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law. The Act proposed a national plan to come up with new treatments for the disease, and it beefed up funding for research efforts to the tune of $100 million in 2013. While $100 million (and, of course, $666 million) is no chump change, research into a disease like Alzheimer’s, which is as devastating as it is complicated, must be funded more aggressively.

We must be able to move beyond merely treating affected individuals to preventing the disease among at-risk individuals entirely. More money means more clinical trials and experimentation. More trials bring us closer to the answers we seek, and the sooner we can do that, the more money and lives we’ll save.

For the time being, however, many patients in the care of nursing homes will be there because they have Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as other forms of dementia. And because these patients have a disease that inhibits their ability to tell others when they are abused, they are at tremendous risk for abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home whom you suspect to have been abused, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Links:

Study Finds Nearly Half of All Alzheimer’s Patients Abused

A New Way of Thinking About Dementia Care

April 1, 2014

Office of the Inspector General: Raise the Quality of Care in Our Nursing Homes

by Levin & Perconti

In its most recent “Compendium of Priority Recommendations,” the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General has strongly emphasized that more steps are necessary to ensure a higher quality of care in nursing homes. The Compendium is released periodically with the goal of protecting the integrity of the department’s programs, and this edition makes twenty-five suggestions for the improvement of HHS programs. Among these twenty-five, the improvement of nursing home care figured prominently.

Under the topic of “Medicare Quality of Care and Safety Issues,” the Office of the Inspector General suggested the following: (1) improving care planning and discharge planning for beneficiaries in nursing home settings; (2) addressing harm to patients, questionable resident hospitalizations, and inappropriate drug use; (3) improving emergency preparedness and response. Further, under for the improvement of hospice care, the Compendium recommends ensuring better compliance with Medicare conditions of participation.

While these suggestions are generally taken from older editions of the OIG reports, the renewed focus on nursing homes is new territory for the Compendium. In the previous edition, released in December of 2012, nursing homes were not mentioned in any of the recommendations concerning quality of care and safety.

The renewed focus may have been inspired by a congressional report released last summer which reported that 30 percent of nursing homes in the United States, which totals some 5,283 locations, were cited for instances of abuse over the two year span of January 1999 to January 2001.

Among the near 9,000 instances of abuse in that period were problems such as untreated bedsores, insufficient medical treatment, malnutrition, dehydration, negligent accidents, and unsanitary conditions. In about 1,600 of the cases, the abuses were so serious as to put residents at risk for serious injury or death. In a few of the cases, nursing home staff members were accused of physical and even sexual abuse, while in others, staff members were merely cited for failing to protect residents from one another. In these incidents, residents sustained significant injuries such as bone fractures and lacerations. In one particularly shocking account, two staff members offered a brain-damaged resident cigarettes to attack another resident in order to see a fight between the two of them.

As shocking as some of the findings are, a bit of sobriety is warranted, at least according to some. Authorities in the field have said that the strict reporting regulations regarding incidents in nursing homes somewhat artificially inflate abuse statistics, being that some of the incidents that must be reported as abuse may be as innocuous as one resident slapping another.

Regardless of whether the abuse statistics are inflated, instances of abuse seem to be rising. The report found that the percentage of facilities that have been cited for abuse violations has increased each year since 1996. The abuse of our vulnerable elderly is a serious matter, particularly when it occurs in the places designed to treat and protect them. If you believe that you or a loved one has been abuse while in the care of a nursing home or other elderly care facility, you may have a claim.

See Other Posts:

Another State Seeks to Beef Up Statutory Protections for Seniors

Nursing Home Lawyers Discuss Study That Shows New Definitions for Malnutrition

March 28, 2014

Hospice & False Medicare Claims

by Levin & Perconti

Nursing home company misconduct takes various forms. Most notably,when corners are cut and employees act inappropriately then individual residents can be harmed. Nursing home neglect and abuse is an endemic problem that causes countless injuries and deaths each year.

But in recent years more and more attention has also been drawn to administration and business tactics used by companies that may violate the law. This form of misconduct often involves companies bilking the taxpayer via Medicare or Medicaid. A large portion of long-term care payments nationwide are ultimately drawn from these public programs. This means that everyone loses when long-term care companies violate rules in order to increase their billing unnecessarily. Many different state and federal rules are in place which dictate the parameters by which companies can bill these programs for provided services.

Misuse of Hospice Care
The problem flew under the radar for a significant period of time, but many advocates are now stepping forward and attempting to hold these large companies accountable for their actions.

One particular billing irregularity that caught the attention of officials involves abuse of hospice care. For example, late last year the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with one hospice center following allegations that the company enrolled patients into hospice care who did not actually need those services.

According to the United States DOJ, the company in question agreed to pay $3 million in response to claims that it ran afoul of the False Claims Act and collected money from Medicare that it was not entitled to receive. Specifically, federal government officials argue that over a five year period the company leaders pushed staff members to admit all patients who were referred to their hospice program--without any regard for whether those patients actually qualified for the program per Medicare rules. Not only that, but officials claim that some staff members actually falsified medical records in an attempt to cover up their false enrollment. Officials also suggest that untrained nurses were employed, minimized the involvement of actual physicians, and kept patients enrolled even when not necessary.

Call for Whistleblowers
The U.S. DOJ notes that the allegations themselves were first brought to light when former employees of the alleged company came forward and explained what was going on. The settlement is therefore a reminder of the importance of current or former employees speaking out when they see wrongdoing. Under the False Claims Act, those who act as a whistleblower in these cases that result in a settlement or judgment to receive a portion of the money returned. This is built into the law specifically to act as a catalyst for those with knowledge to

If you have information about misconduct at a long-term care facility, from nursing homes and assisted living facility to hospice care center, please do not stay silent. Contact our nursing home attorneys today to share your story and see how we can help.

See Other Blog Posts:

Reminder: Keep an Eye Out for Elder Financial Exploitation

Five Tips for Detecting Elder Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Home Facilities

March 26, 2014

A Jury of Your Peers? When Are You Entitled to a Trial By Jury?

by Levin & Perconti

The jury box--the place where jurors sit when hearing evidence during a trial--is such a mainstay of our legal system that many people are surprised to learn that not all trials involve juries. In fact, the right to a jury trial is not guaranteed in all circumstances. If you may file a lawsuit to ensure accountability following nursing home abuse, it is essential to know when you have a right to a jury and what may cause you to lose this right.

Determining the Fact Finder
In a legal proceeding, questions are often placed in one of two categories: questions of law and questions of fact. Questions of law are determined by a judge. Such questions may include what type of evidence is admissible in a trial and whether a certain objection raised by one of the attorneys should be sustained or overruled.

Questions of fact, however, deal more directly with a defendant’s innocence or guilt, and include questions such as whether a witness is credible. The fact finder--the person or group who decides these questions of fact--may be the judge in some instances or may be a jury in others.

A Constitutional Right to a Jury
According to the U.S. Constitution, most defendants have a right to have a jury in their criminal trial whenever their conviction may lead to an incarceration of more than six months. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution further requires that the jury be “impartial.” This means that the jury must weigh the evidence fairly and reach a conclusion based on facts and not based on bias or prejudice.

Like the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Constitution likewise grants defendants the right to a jury trial in legal proceedings.

Trials Without a Jury
There are a few, rare civil cases where a jury right may not apply, but they are unique circumstances and not those related to typical nursing home neglect issues. Alternatively, in many cases a party has the right to decide to forgo a jury and have a judge decide instead. Decisions about juries involve complex trial strategy. If you have the aid of an experienced trial attorney, he or she can explain the pros and cons of any trial decision.

In many ways, these matters are an “artform” that takes years (or decades) to hone. The decision often depends on the specific issues upon which the case will fall. When it comes to understanding the effect that various forms of mistreatment may have on an ailing senior, it is often important to have the decision reached by community members. That is because they often have elders in their own family and are able to step into your shoes to understand why you are pursuing justice following mistreatment.

Seek Out Experienced Nursing Home Lawyers
If a loved one was harmed by inadequate nursing home care, it is critical to contact a skilled Chicago abuse lawyer. Understanding your rights may be the difference between full accountability or the company getting away with poor care. For help in Chicago and throughout Illinois, please reach out to our legal professionals today to see how we can help.

See Other Blog Posts:

Reminder: Keep an Eye Out for Elder Financial Exploitation

Five Tips for Detecting Elder Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Home Facilities

March 24, 2014

Blue Line Trail Derailment at O’Hare - Dozens Injured

by Levin & Perconti

One of the top stories across the country today involves the shocking train derailment at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The photos of the event show what must have been a terrifying experience for all those on the train and in the area at the time. The affected machine looks to have virtually careened off the track and partially up an escalator leading to the airport terminal from underground.

Making matters worse, early reports indicated that just shy of three dozens people were hurt in various forms. Considering that the event just struck, the extent of the injuries remain unclear, but our thoughts are obviously with those harmed and their families.

The Blue Line Accident Details
Riding on the L is a routine, daily event for many Chicagoans. From traveling to work downtown to heading up north to catch a flight at O’Hare. But most of us take for granted the risks that are ever-present when traveling. Train accidents are not as uncommon as you might think, something that the passengers on the ill-fated Blue Line train learned harshly.

Investigations are still underway to determine exactly what went wrong. local authorities are still learning about the details, and the National Transportation Safety Board was informed.

Various possibilities exist, including improper signaling and/or equipment failures. In addition, there is a good chance that some sort of human error was involved, and a Chicago Transportation Authority Spokesperson admitted that speeding may have been involved. The CTA official explained, “It appears as though the train would have been going faster than a train normally birthing at this station would be. Normally a train pulls in at just a couple miles an hour and pulls into the state. Obviously this train did not stop so speed could be a factor here.”

Further inquiry revealed that driver exhaustion may have played a role. A union representative confirmed that the driver was “extremely tired” at the time of the accidents. That suggests that she may have falling asleep, at least momentarily

Legal Liability for Chicago Train Derailment?
It is impossible to predict how this matter will resolve itself in the upcoming weeks and months. However, as most appreciate, the civil law allows those hurt by the negligence of others to recover for their losses. Regardless of the specifics of this particular accidents, it is likely that some form of negligence contributing in whole or part to the derailment. That is obviously true if, for example, the driver fell asleep at the controls. But that is also true if equipment was not maintained properly and malfunctioned.

Needless to say, all those affected by this incident should seek out experienced legal help as soon as feasible. The train injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti are here to help. Feel free to send us a message today to learn more.

March 21, 2014

Reminder: Keep an Eye Out for Elder Financial Exploitation

by Levin & Perconti

We are in the heart of tax season, with less than a month left before the April 15th filing deadline. As you sort through your personal paperwork your head may spin while trying to understand complex rules regarding deductions, tax rates, and more. Financial matters are complex. That is exactly why professionals are involved in many transactions, because it is difficult for regular community members to figure it out on their own.

Unfortunately, it is for the very same reasons that senior financial exploitation is such a common problem. Anyone is at risk of having their money taken in various scheme, but seniors have unique vulnerabilities that make them prime targets for abuse.

Considering finances are on the mind of many Chicagoans this season, it is a perfect time to offer some reminders about the prevalence of elder financial exploitation and the signs that may indicate a senior in your life is affected.

Financial Abuse in Illinois
This sort of mistreatment can be perpetrated by anyone. However, researchers into the subject note that the most common perpetrators are family members, unscrupulous financial professionals, and, in rarer cases, strangers who “befriend’ the senior. Some common general signs of mistreatment include:

---Account figures change suddenly. Retired seniors are usually living off a nest egg, and it should only be depleted on a safe, systematic basis. Any sudden change is a huge red flag that something is amiss.

---The senior has a new, close friend. Of course there is nothing wrong with new relationships blooming in old age. However, it is important to be at least somewhat cautious of individuals who seem to grow particularly close to a senior in a short time. Those willing to cheat vulnerable, often lonely, elderly residents usually first work their way into their lives as a friend.

When the exploitation is occurring by a financial professional, there there may be unique warning signs. For example, as mentioned in a recent Forbes article on the subject:

---The financial professional (often a broker) convinces the senior to drastically alter their investment strategies. Retired individuals almost always need of of safe, secure investments to ensure they have funds to last indefinitely. Unfortunately, some brokers trick seniors into making unwise moves, often buying investments that do not make sense simply to increase the broker’s commission.

---The broker changes companies and convinces the senior to follow along. It is not uncommon for brokers who are willing to bend the rules to lose their position with respected firms. However, when they do, they may take clients with them to a new firm--particular seniors who have a sense of loyalty. The risk of exploitation of senior savings is far more likely at these times.

Don’t Wait, Act
Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost each and every year as a result of senior financial abuse. The problem continues to fly under the radar, because those with some suspicions of mistreatment remain silent. It is important not to wait until it is too late. Usually by the time any problem is uncovered, it is impossible to recover any money lost. There is little risked by at least asking about your suspicions and ensuring that your loved one is not being abused.

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Five Tips for Detecting Elder Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Home Facilities