1 Billion Awarded for Elderly Negligence

Nursing homes and care centers are usually the main components ageing individuals are subjected to. At some point in our lives, we may assume the role of a caretaker.  In the majority of cases, this can involve putting aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other loved ones in care homes. We put our elderly loved ones in these homes because such centers can cater to their needs better than we personally could or even financially could.  Placing our elderly in these homes is usually heartbreaking on multiple levels, but as the caretaker it is our responsibility to give them the best care possible.  But are we really?

Elderly negligence is more of a common occurrence in our society than you would think. There are many forms of negligence the elderly can experience in such homes.  The biggest cause of negligence consistently seems to concern elderly falls. Falls can happen quite frequently due to the frailty of the occupants frames or health.  The CDC claims that elderly injury falls account for $30 billion in direct medical costs.  With such a large amount of medical bills, how do you determine if your loved one’s falls are due to negligence?  How do you determine if you should seek compensation for such falls?

First, it is important to disclaim that personal injury firms only deal with elderly cases that are negligent.  Abuse cases concerning the elderly, many times, falls under criminal cases and requires different counsels.  Negligence cases, no matter the party, fall under tort law.   Tort law is defined as a body of rights, obligations, and remedies that is applied by courts in civil proceedings to provide relief for persons who have suffered harm from the wrongful acts of others. Thus, to pursue personal injury cases they must have a fair amount of negligence in them to be eligible.

One of the best examples of a case where the care center or nursing home was negligent occurred within the last year when a jury in Florida awarded $1.1 Billion to the family of a Ms. Arelene Townsend.  The case came to verdict in 2009 after Ms. Townsend’s residence in Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center from 2004- 2007 after she suffered from complications of several tragic falls.  The plaintiff claimed the facility failed to provide proper supervision for her care which ultimately led to her death at the end of 2007, she was 69 years old.   The company which owns this health center is Trans Healthcare Inc., which has already had four other similar cases brought before the courts concerning elderly negligence.

Both parties started pursing the case until Trans Healthcare entered into a default judgement in 2o11.  The article specifically declares, “At trial, jurors were not asked to decide liability. They were asked to determine the amount of money in damages.”  Jurors ultimately decided to award the heirs of Ms. Townsend $110 million in compensatory damages and a huge $1 billion in punitive damages.  While compensatory damages seek to fund a person or heir who has suffered as the result of another, punitive damages seek to award to the injured party that which goes beyond normal care- i.e. to punish the wrong doer.   In this instant, the health care center failed to meet Ms. Townsend’s needs and were sued accordingly.

To be fair, it is incredibly difficult to process  a negligence case especially when it comes to the elderly, let alone to tell the signs of a when a nursing home is being negligent.  The case can only go forward with the right amount of proof; it becomes less of a ‘he said she said’ argument and in the end, more of a legal accreditation.  Secondly, nursing homes or care centers will try to make every effort to provide the care the residents need.  If they are poor care givers, word can easily be spread and their revenue can drastically decrease.  The best way to hold the care center accountable is to be less of a back seat provider to the situation and become more of an involved and proactive individual, that would ultimately be the best.

Elderly patients aren’t the only ones who suffer from falls. People of all ages can suffer falls from another party and may also be injured from someone else’s negligence.  Wal-mart recently paid out nearly 1 million dollars in damages to a Valerie Dantzler, fining the Big Giant eighty percent responsible for the fall of Ms. Dantzler.  This was particularly stirring to the community considering these giants usually do not pay out.  Because Ms. Dantzler was found to be 20 percent at fault she was only awarded $800,000 of the 1 million.

Most hard working people feel such slip and fall cases are a simply a witch hunt to get money. Many firms nowadays are very careful as to what cases they take since more and more slip and fall fraud cases have been coming forward.  These cases are deeply embedded in dishonesty and complete hearsay.  One website even reported  a soaring of fraud cases haven risen nearly 57 percent.  The best way to prevent this is for both parties to present the most accurate and up to date information.  It must be noted that seeking justice and compensation for pain, damages, and losses is not an unworthy pursuit.  Those who have loved ones who have been injured end up suffering a lot more than could have ever been predicted; especially financially or emotionally.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a nursing home’s negligence or a slip and fall accident you are entitled to a free consultation from Christensen & Hymas.  Our consultations are free and completely confidential.  You will be able to talk to a hardworking attorney about your situation and what money you are entitled to under Tort law.   We have offices located all over they valley and can easily come to you if you are unable to come yourself.  Give us a call at 801-506-0800 to see what your options are.  Do not wait until you are overburdened with the psychological, emotional, and physical pains brought on by a slip and fall accident.

 

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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