Lawsuits help protect nation’s elderly from nursing homes and insurance companies

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by Jay Pate

Nursing homes are big business. Corporate chains are anticipating a flood of baby boomers moving into their facilities over the next few years. Unfortunately, a study published by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) notes that an increased emphasis on profits by these corporate chains has led to a distressing rise in neglected and abused seniors. The AAJ report concludes that lawsuits brought by elderly victims or their loved ones is the most effective force in uncovering abuses by corporate nursing homes and insurance companies that target elderly Americans.

“Corporate nursing homes and insurance companies have continually chosen to put profits ahead of the well-being of our most vulnerable population,” said AAJ President Gibson Vance. “Where regulatory and legislative bodies have been unable to cope with this distressing rise of neglect and abuse of our elderly, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach.”

There are 1.5 million elderly Americans currently residing in nursing homes. The numbers will rise dramatically with the upcoming influx of baby boomers. According to the report, between 2000 and 2008, instances of “immediate jeopardy”—violations likely to result in serious harm or even death—rose 22 percent. More than 90 percent of all nursing homes were guilty of at least one violation.

The business of nursing homes has never been more corporate. The vast majority of nursing homes are for-profit and more than half are part of chains. The AAJ report found that the for-profit nursing homes have, on average, 32% fewer nurses and 47% higher deficiencies than their non-profit counterparts. According to the AAJ, the facts suggest that corporate nursing homes are putting profits ahead of their residents.

A common theme in the report is abuse by insurance companies taking advantage of senior citizens. For example, the report highlights the story of a South Dakota farmer named Rudy who was one of a flood of patients that companies signed up for long-term care insurance in the 1990s. Rudy moved into a nursing home at his doctor’s suggestion, only to have his benefits cut after three years when the company declared his care was no longer “medically necessary,” despite faithfully paying his monthly premium. The report explains that trial attorneys across the country eventually found evidence of corporate programs aimed at terminating seniors’ benefits, and helped stop these deplorable practices.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and expertise to assist injured patients with their medical malpractice claims. Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Among our attorneys’ recent verdicts, settlements and results are the following:

Jim Orr negotiated a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8 year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors occurring at a VA hospital.

Michael Heygood achieved a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.

Eric Pearson argued the appeal in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, 271 S.W.3d 238 (Tex. 2009), in which the Texas Supreme Court upheld a gross negligence finding against the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case and affirmed the jury’s $9 million verdict on behalf of his clients.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the knowledge, experience and financial resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex medical negligence case. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.