nursing home elder abuse

Wrongfully Discharged from a Nursing Home? Read This

By JW Law

Moving a loved one or even broaching the conversation about moving to a nursing home or assisted living is an emotionally challenging process. But when nursing homes abuse or improperly evict residents, it is devastating both for residents and their families.

A recent story from National Public Radio (NPR) sheds light on the growing practice of involuntary discharge of Medicaid residents to accommodate Medicare and private pay patients to maximize reimbursements.

“This story offers an exquisite example of how the nursing home industry puts profits over people while committing fraud along the way,” said Javerbaum Wurgaft Attorney Francisco Rodriguez.

According to the available figures, in 2014 about 1.4 million people occupied 15,600 nursing homes across the country, of which 45,185 were in New Jersey and a staggering 105,390 in New York State.

While both federal Medicare and Medicaid programs pay for most of the nation’s nursing home care, roughly $75 billion in 2014, Medicare reimburses at a much higher rate for rehabilitation services than Medicaid for long-term care.

“Medicare pays for short-term rehabilitation after hospitalizations, whereas Medicaid pays for long-term care when a resident does not have assets to pay for a nursing home themselves,” explained Rodriguez.

In the article, NPR reported how a particular nursing home chain in Maryland and Illinois discharged Medicaid residents without proper discharge planning and charged Medicaid for planning services that it never provided.

“Nursing homes are required to discuss plans of an eviction with a resident and/or their loved ones, as well as prepare detailed records for the resident to give to their next facility or care provider,” he added.

However in this case, Instead of discharging the resident into an appropriate facility they were sent to homeless shelters. Some were left unattended on the sidewalk in front of their family member’s homes, even though they had dementia.

Those residents, who did not “fit the mold” or complained about the services, were inappropriately transferred to hospitals or in psychiatric wards. “…and of course, the government ends up paying more taxpayer money to take care of that resident’s unnecessary hospitalization,” said Rodriguez about this disturbing trend. “More importantly, residents end up with their health and safety in jeopardy, and family members and hospitals, end up with having to clean up the mess.”

nursing home involuntary discharge
Sadly the issue of wrongful eviction goes far beyond Maryland and Illinois. In a race for Medicare dollars, most nursing homes across the country wrongfully evict their long-term care residents.

An Associated Press analysis of federal data from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program finds complaints about discharges and evictions are up about 57 percent since 2000. It was the top-reported grievance in 2014, with 11,331 such issues logged by ombudsmen, who work to resolve problems faced by residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other adult care settings.

Know your rights:

The Federal Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Act protects occupants against unreasonable transfer or removal by specifying only six grounds for discharge:
-The facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
-The resident no longer needs nursing facility services
-The resident’s presence endangers the safety of others in the facility
-The resident’s presence endangers the health of others in the facility
-The resident has failed to pay
-The facility is closing

Even if one of the above conditions legitimizes the nursing home’s decision, there is a protocol that they must follow to ensure the patient’s safety. According to the federal law, the nursing home must fulfill proper discharge planning requirements. These include: providing a written notice 30 days before the removal/transfer unless there is emergency justification for removal on short notice. In addition to the notice, the discharge planning procedure requires the facility to prepare a report of the resident’s mental and physical health status and a post-discharge plan of care for the resident.

Sometimes these facilities toss out residents who are “undesirable” or complaint a lot. They often use the threat of discharge as a method of retaliation or obtain compliance from family and residents who may be complaining about dangerous conditions, inadequate care, or violations of state and federal regulations.

“Residents and their families need to understand that these threats of discharge and other forms of retaliation by facilities are just that, threats,” said Rodriguez. “In reality, it is the residents and family members who do not complain on behalf of their loved one to the authorities, like the state Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly, who end up putting residents at risk. If they do not complain to the state when the illegal and dangerous conduct occurs, those residents are at the greatest risk. They will be run over by the thirst for profits of the owners of these nursing homes.”

If you or your loved one resides in a nursing home, rest assured that you have protection under the law. If you know of anyone who is unfairly discharged or threatened with eviction, contact Javerbaum Wurgaft’s nursing home Lawyers. Our highly experienced lawyers will intercede to enforce the law and fight for their rights.

Read Related:

A MUST READ FOR ANYONE SELECTING A NURSING HOME

JACK WURGAFT - Partner

Javerbaum Wurgaft Attorney Jack Wurgaft Receives $1,125,000 Arbitration Award for Client

Javerbaum Wurgaft Attorney Jack Wurgaft Receives $1,125,000 Arbitration Award for Client

By JW Law

Date: May, 2017

Attorney: Jack Wurgaft and David Wikstrom

Award: $1,125,000

Javerbaum Wurgaft Attorney Jack Wurgaft recently received a $1, 125,000 arbitration award on behalf of his client in an auto accident case. In 2013 Wurgaft’s client, 53-year-old woman, was struck by a pickup truck that sped through a New Jersey Turnpike toll booth. The plaintiff, a toll plaza employee, was walking between the booths when she was hit. As a result of the accident, she suffered orthopedic and neurological injuries and financial losses.

As soon as they received the case, Wurgaft and Wikstrom started investigating causation. They enlisted top medical experts to establish the causal connection between the plaintiff’s injury and the accident. Generally in auto accident cases, insurance companies accept liability for the actual car crash but claim that the accident did not cause the damages claimed, and refuse to pay the victim’s medical bills. In this case, the truck driver did not have any insurance. The plaintiff sued her insurance company for Uninsured Motorist benefits.

JACK WURGAFT - Partner

Important lessons to take from this case:

Hire a Good Attorney: Cases such as this illustrate the importance of having an aggressive but compassionate attorney by your side, someone who is experienced, has a keen eye for detail, investigation and a team of experts.

If you are injured in an accident, call an attorney as soon as possible. Carry a good Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Uninsured motorist insurance is a component of your car insurance, which protects you, your passengers and your vehicle in the event of injury or damage when an at-fault driver has no auto insurance. Underinsured motorist insurance covers injuries sustained at the hands of a driver who has insurance, but the driver’s policy is insufficient to pay for all your injuries.

Don’t Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer Before Seeking a Professional Opinion: Often victims assume that the insurance companies offer the best that they can get, and so they settle. Insurance companies are here to save money.

They usually apply the three D tactic to protect their bottom line: delay, deny and defend. They delay handling your claim; then they deny you were hurt because of the accident and finally justify their decision in drawn-out court battles. That is why you need an experienced attorney by your side. A lawyer specializing in accident cases can give you the right advice on the value of your case and also explain all of the insurance benefits you perhaps are entitled to. usually apply the three D tactic to protect their bottom line: delay, deny and defend. They delay handling your claim; then they deny you were hurt because of the accident and finally justify their decision in drawn-out court battles.

Let Us Help You
If you or someone you know are hit by a careless driver while driving, call our top-rated attorneys at Javerbaum Wurgaft. Our attorneys can help you recover compensation from unreasonable insurance companies.

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What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Next Uber/Lyft Ride

truck side guard

Why Mandating Trailer Truck Side Underride Guards Should Matter to You?

By JW Law

Last year a driver of a Tesla Model S was tragically killed when his car rammed into the side of a tractor-trailer. The car- which was reportedly traveling at 80 MPH in an autopilot mode- was sheared off when it went underneath a truck. This high profile accident fired up a debate on self-driving car technology. However, there is another part to this horrific accident that is not addressed as much; a more pressing transportation safety issue – deaths caused by side underride collision.

According to official figures, each year roughly 200 motorists are killed when their cars plow into the sides of big-rig trailers that have high ground clearance. CBS North Carolina measured this uncovered space between the road and the bottom of a trailer to about 42 inches, which just happens to match the height where most people sit in a vehicle. In an accident, these motorists fall into the exposed area between the front and the rear wheels and suffer fatal crushing.

But many of these gruesome underride deaths can be significantly reduced, according to a new research conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an auto safety group funded by insurers.

The institute conducted crash tests on trailer trucks with and without side guards. The research showed that a well-built guard could prevent vulnerable road users -pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists from being run over by a large truck’s rear wheels in a side-impact collision.

“It prevented the car from going underneath, and consequently the airbags and seat belts were able to protect the driver dummy in those crash tests,” said David Zuby, who is the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

 

Video Courtesy: IIHS 
Side guards can work by covering the exposed area and shielding the victims from getting swept beneath the truck’s rear wheels, but as of now, they are not mandated by federal law. For years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has required large trucks to have rear underride guard, but not along the sides.

Why are side guards not mandated?

“The (trucking) industry has always argued that it would be too expensive to install side guards, but many of the same truck and trailer manufacturers are already building and installing these guards in their trucks in the UK and Europe,” explained Lawrence Simon, who heads Javerbaum Wurgaft’s Trucking Litigation Department. “This is the same industry that resisted rear underride guards for many years. The well publicized crash involving Jayne Mansfield made the public think about rear underride, and call for change. The time is now for side underride guards.”

Simon is also a frequent lecturer and contributor on trucking issues throughout the United States, and has investigated and researched side underride systems that are in place in the UK and Europe and being developed in Canada.

In the absence of a federal rule, individual cities including New York, Boston, and Seattle, have made it mandatory to outfit municipally-owned and/or contracted trucks with side guards as part of their Vision Zero initiatives to eliminate crash deaths and injuries.

If you or somebody you love was seriously injured or killed in a gruesome side underride accident, you will need help from an attorney. Our trucking accident lawyers have decades of experience in investigating the causes of truck accidents and who is responsible. We will be with you every step of the way as you go through this ordeal, to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

[Read Related: Two big steps forward for safety, and ten big steps backwards ???]

Uber/Lyft accidents

What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Next Uber/Lyft Ride

By JW Law

There’s no doubt that ride share (e-hail) companies like Uber and Lyft have helped change the way we get around. Having the ability to seamlessly request a ride right at your fingertips is a game changer. The fact that it’s cheaper and convenient has afforded these Transportation Network Companies (TNC) unprecedented popularity and growth around the world in a very short time. In New Jersey alone, ride sharing companies are generating millions of trips each year.

However, this 21st Century transportation renaissance is not without controversy. As the number of people using for-hire car service increases, so do accidents. In New York City alone crashes involving for-hire vehicles have tripled over the last two years from 534 in July 2014 to 1,672 in June 2016. The higher number is perhaps attributable to the relative lack of regulation around the ride sharing companies. To cut down auto accidents and to make e-hail rides safer, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, signed a bill regulating these companies.

The statute, known as the “Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act,” establishes statewide standards for driver eligibility, background checks, and insurance coverage.

In addition to imposing stricter background checks for prospective TNC drivers, the new law mandates ride sharing companies to carry $1.5 million of liability coverage.
The law that went into effect May 1 requires that the company or its driver or a combination of both provide insurance coverage, including at least $1.5 million in coverage for uninsured or under insured drivers. “Where there was no regulation as to how much insurance ride share vehicles were required to carry, the new law now mandates that all such vehicles, while transporting passengers or on their way to picking up a passenger, must possess enough coverage to protect those passengers, as well as the public at large.” explained attorney Jeffrey Rizika, who is chair of the Auto Committee for the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ), the largest trial lawyer organization in NJ and whose practice includes automobile, truck, and bus litigation.

Although this new law does not include coverage for direct payment of a passenger’s medical bills, “if the person does not have health insurance of their own, the $1.5 million of coverage each for liability and uninsured/under-insured motorist claims more than helps to cover any outstanding medical bills incurred as a result of another’s negligence.” said Rizika.

Uber/Lyft accidents

New York recently passed a similar legislation. The New York’s bill provides for liability and under-insured motorist coverage of $1.25 million, slightly less than New Jersey’s $1.5 million of coverage, for when a passenger is being transported. However, the $1.25 million New York coverage also applies when the Uber or Lyft driver is roaming and waiting for a call from a potential passenger, while the New Jersey statute only provides $50,000/100,000 of liability coverage in this scenario.

“The New York and New Jersey bills have taken steps to protect the safety of ride share passengers and to provide them with responsible insurance coverage if they become the victim of auto negligence” said attorney Lawrence Simon, who is the co-chair of the Ride share Litigation Group of the American Association For Justice (AAJ), the country’s largest trial lawyer organization. However, there are still areas for improvement that will hopefully be addressed in future legislation. For instance, neither state requires ride share companies to perform criminal background checks on their drivers. Additionally, coverage for pedestrians, drivers and occupants of other vehicles will only be available if the ride share vehicle can be identified as a ride share vehicle. Neither state’s new laws require the posting of Uber, Lyft or other ride share provider signage on the vehicle.

Both Rizika and Simon are partners at Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, P.C. and active members of AAJ and NJAJ, the latter of which was very active in promoting the insurance component included in the New Jersey bill.

If you are injured by a ride share vehicle or while a passenger in a ride share vehicle, please contact us as soon as possible after your accident.

[Read Related: Protect Yourself Against Hit and Run and Uninsured Drivers]