What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

The hardest decisions most people ever have to make concerns the care of elderly loved ones when the time comes where it’s no longer safe for them to live alone. A few people are able to take their loved ones into their own home, but most find that nursing homes offer a more realistic solution. Although most nursing home staff work hard and do a good job taking care of the residents, tragic incidents due to neglect occasionally occur.

If you have reason to believe that a loved one has been the victim of neglect while in residence at a nursing home, contact a wrongful death attorney for guidance on how to proceed with litigation.

South Carolina Supreme Court Ruling

Wrongful death suits can be tricky, and many people who believe they don’t have a case are actually wrong about that. For instance, in a recent case in South Carolina, a nursing home was ordered by the courts to litigate a wrongful death lawsuit filed against them even though a relative of the deceased signed an arbitration agreement. It was ruled by the South Carolina Court of Appeals that the party who signed the arbitration agreement didn’t have the legal power to do so. In this particular case, a niece had signed the admission papers for her uncle even though he was completely competent to do so himself — and the niece’s power of attorney designation did not grant her the authority to sign an arbitration agreement on his behalf unless and until he was deemed mentally incompetent.

The uncle passed away two weeks after entering the facility, and when the niece filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the nursing home attempted to enforce the arbitration clause in the initial admissions contract. However, the appeals court ruled that the niece wasn’t bound by the arbitration agreement.

Nursing Home Negligence and Federal Regulations

Nursing homes that accept Medicare payments are bound by law to follow specific federal regulations. For instance, the facility must take reasonable care to ensure that the property is as free as possible of hazardous conditions that can potentially result in accidents and that residents receive assistance and supervision at levels designed to keep them safe from accidents. For instance, when injuries occur as a result of falls, the facility may be liable if they failed to provide the resident with adequate supervision or if conditions on the property led to the fall.

Lawsuits involving nursing homes can be complex, so the best course of action is to contact an attorney with extensive experience in this type of litigation. Please feel free to contact us for more information.