Articles Posted in Elder Law Attorneys News

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For decades the Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti have aided local seniors and their families following nursing home neglect. While there is slowly a growing awareness of the real need to address the rampant nature of nursing home mistreatment (thanks largely to demographic changes), we still have a long way to go before nursing home residents are treated as well as possible in all locations.

Legal accountability following preventable harm is one of the key ways to improve overall care. If poor care is a financial negative for these owners and operators, then they are far more likely to do what it takes to raise standards. It is partially with that idea in mind that the state of Illinois has a law known as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The statute outlines how private community member can hold nursing home accountable for their poor care–it is a critical legal protection for all Illinoisans. Our attorneys frequent protect resident rights based on the provisions in this law.

Recently, two of our attorneys contributed to an article published in the Law Bulletin’s “Law Day” publication discussing the nature of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. You can download the full article in .pdf form by clicking here.

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The vast majority of community members would prefer to “age in place” instead of moving into a long-term care facility or nursing home. Living in one’s own home comes with clear benefits regarding individual comfort, freedom, and familiarity. However, there are obviously times when living at home is impossible and skilled nursing care is a necessity. The line between when the close care is mandatory and when it is not can sometimes be tricky to delineate. Many families have likely battled with one another over these issues. Does a loved one need to move into a different living environment?

Fortunately, advances in medicine and technology have made great strides in allowing more care than ever before to be received at home, without the need to move into a skilled nursing facility or a hospital. This often means that more elderly and individuals with disabilities than ever before might be able to live longer in their own homes. However, there is one complication to this extended at-home care: how is it getting paid for?

A few families have significant means and might be able to provide all the necessary care out of pocket. But the reality is that many families rely on Medicare and Medicaid support for these long-term caregiving issues. That means that specific rules created by these programs regarding what will be covered and when have very real implicatons on the lives of the hundreds of thousands of families in this situation. At times, advocates for seniors and those with disabiltiies are forced to engage in legal battles with these government entities if they feel that rules are not applied correctly or fairly to the detriment of community members.

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The changing demographics of the United States are well-known: the country is getting older. This certainly holds true in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The aging of the Baby Boomer generation and increasing longevity (due to advances in medicine) have made individuals in their 70s and 80s the fastest growing group of community members. It is incumbent upon society to take these demographics into account–particularly policymakers. Understanding the best course of action on any number of fronts–health care, taxes, transportation, accessibility, and more–requires an understanding of the actual make-up of the country.

It is from that perspective that the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently published its annual report- Across the States 2012: Profiles of Long Term Services and Supports.

The full report can be accessed here.

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On March 13, 2009, Steven Levin of Levin & Perconti will speak at the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Illinois Chapter Meeting on Protecting the Rights of Elderly Clients in Personal Injury Matters. The presentation will take place at the law offices of D. Rebecca Mitchell in Chicago. Steve will discuss how elder law attorneys and personal injury lawyers can work together to assure that the rights of elderly clients are protected. This discussion will include how to recognize the need for a personal injury attorney, how to make referrals and work with the personal injury attorney.

For questions regarding this presentation, please click here. Registration is required for this event and space is limited to NAELA members only.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may increase the number of events they refuse to reimburse nursing homes and negligent hospitals for carrying out. Currently nursing home residents who develop pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections are not able to have Medicare and Medicaid cover their treatment costs. This is an effort to require adequate nursing home care and to prevent nursing home abuse on elder patients. Currently, CMS is discussing the addition of hospital errors and surgical errors to the list of events that are not redeemable via insurance. If this passes nursing home residents may be impacted since many undergo pressure sore debridement in hospitals relating to the poor elder care they receive in nursing homes. To read more about the possible changes to be implemented by CMS, click here.

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A constitutional amendment has been interpreted in a way to prevent nursing home residents and their families from the ability to check nursing home records for medical mistakes and physician misconduct. The interpretation occurred after a nursing home death occurred when a resident of a nursing home choked to death while eating in the facility. Advocates against elder abuse and the decedent’s family were shocked that a court ruled they were unable to access the nursing home records that revealed the nursing home misconduct. To read more about the limitation on the ability to access records relating to elder abuse misconduct in nursing homes click here.

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An Illinois funeral home has come under scrutiny after mistreatment of an elderly individual. In this case the elderly deceased was wrongfully buried. The family of the deceased went to the funeral home but was shown another deceased individual. The family had obtained legal help to get a court order for the funeral home to undo this tragic mistake: exhume the wrongfully buried grandmother. It is unknown if the family will file a negligence suit for the emotional distress, pain and suffering and anxiety the incident caused them. Although negligent care, negligent abuse and neglect are common at nursing homes in Illinois it is rare to see such negligence continue to affect an individual in the afterlife. To read about this devastating mix-up click here.

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Elder crimes have risen drastically across the nation. Senior abuse, senior neglect and crimes against the elderly have even caused some states to create a specific division to prosecute such crimes. Many senior victims are actually hurt by those they know. It is important for communities to stay knowledgeable about the signs to look for to determine if elder abuse is occurring, whether an abused senior is in a nursing home or not. To learn more about this growing problem which in recent years has lead to a flood of nursing home lawsuits click here.

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Levin & Perconti Founder and Senior Partner John Perconti was interviewed Chicago’s ABC affiliate about the dangers of uninsured nursing homes. The report focused on Rosewood Nursing Homes, specifically the Rosewood Inverness nursing home where a resident died after falling while abandoned in a washroom for an extended period of time. According to Perconti, the nursing home has now taken a defensive position. This case highlights the dangers of uninsured nursing homes: when a nursing home is at fault for a resident’s nursing home abuse and neglect, the victim deserves just and reasonable compensation for their injuries. An uninsured nursing home can attempt to escape responsibility. In fact, some Rosewood Nursing Homes are insured by foreign corporations that do not follow US laws and are not subject to jurisdiction in US courts.

See the video here.

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Today great progress was made in advancing the rights of Illinois nursing home residents and their families. The good news comes in the form of House Bill #5213, which has the potential to improve nursing home care in Illinois by demanding accountability from Illinois nursing homes and long-term care facilities as a prerequisite to obtaining and retaining a license.

Currently, 20% of Illinois nursing homes don’t carry liability insurance. This means many Illinois nursing home residents who are abused and neglected in nursing homes cannot be compensated for injuries they suffer from a nursing home’s wrongdoing. Furthermore, facilities are not even required to notify residents and their families that they are uninsured.

Today, the House Human Services committee passed HB 5213 sponsored by Representative David Miller. HB 5213 provides that no person may establish, operate, maintain, offer, or advertise a long-term care facility unless they provide the Department of Public Health with proof of liability insurance in an amount not less than $1 million. HB 5213 also reinstates a provision that was removed from the statutes in 1995 that provides that a licensee shall pay treble damages (the greater of three times the actual amount of damages or $500) in addition to costs and attorney’s fees when the rights of a resident are violated.