Nursing Home Lawyer

Nursing home professionals have a duty to their patients to provide a certain standard of care and quality of life. When they fail to do so it is a betrayal of trust to you and your loved one. The result of such betrayal, unfortunately, is often times injury and/or death. This substandard care should not be tolerated.

Washington State is at the forefront in protecting the elderly. The Vulnerable Adult Statute (VAS) is a very powerful law that protects the elderly who have been neglected or abused in nursing homes.

The Vulnerable Adult Statute (VAS)

Chapter 74.34 of the Revised Code of Washington addresses abuse of vulnerable adults.

The statute recognizes that there are some adults who are more vulnerable to being victims of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or abandonment by a family member or health care provider. The statute provides authority for legal remedies when a vulnerable adult is found to have been abandoned, abused, financially exploited, or neglected as defined by statute. Legal remedies to prevailing plaintiffs include actual damages, costs of suit, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Who qualifies as a vulnerable adult?

In order to be protected under the Vulnerable Adult Statute the adult will generally be a resident in a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) licensed home or facility, or receiving health care from those DSHS licensed individuals. The vulnerable adult must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • The adult must be at least 60 years-old and have a functional, mental, or physical inability to care for themselves; or
  • The adult is found to be incapacitated under RCW 11.88; or
  • The adult is found to be developmentally disabled according to RCW 71A.10.020 or who DSHS reasonably believes to be disabled; or
  • The adult was admitted to a DSHS licensed facility, or
  • The adult was receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies licensed or required to be licensed under RCW 70.127; or
  • The adult was receiving services from an individual provider who is under contract by DSHS under RCW 74.09 or 74.39A, or
  • An adult who self-directs his or her own care and receives services from a personal aide under RCW 74.39.

Examples of Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect:

  • Death
  • Bed Sores
  • Broken or Fractured Bones
  • Improper Restraints
  • Physical Abuse
  • Over Medication
  • Failure to Bathe Patients
  • Stealing Money/Property
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Medication Errors
  • Burns
  • Failure to Clean Bedding
  • Decubitus Ulcers
  • Injuries from Falling
  • Undue Influence Concerning Property and/or Wills

Reporting Suspected Abandonment, Abuse, Financial Exploitation, or Neglect

Oftentimes victims do not report abuse and neglect because their mental state, physical state, and/or fear of retaliation, prevents them from seeking the help they need.

The Revised Code of Washington §74.34.180 protects individuals who, in good faith, report abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of vulnerable adults. If you have made a report, this statute provides certain protections from an employer taking workplace reprisal or retaliatory action against you.

GLP Attorneys Representative Cases

  • Bradley v. Sunhealth Group

This case resulted in a $3.5 million settlement for a 97 year old man who was neglected in a nursing home. The neglect was so severe that his genetalia fell off. This is one of the largest recoveries for a nursing home abuse case ever in the State of Washington.

  • Bae v. Lakeside Adult Family Home

This case resulted in a $1.5 million settlement for an elderly nursing home resident who was given the wrong medication (Morphine), causing her death. The nursing home hid their $1M and $500K insurance policies for over four years before finally being forced to pay.

GLP Attorneys Scott Lundberg, James Gooding and Alex French achieved an important victory for our client in the Bae case that changed Washington State law and expanded protection for nursing home residents in Washington. In Bae v. Lakeside Adult Family Home, 185 Wn. 2d 532, 374 P.3d 121 (2016), a unanimous Washington State Supreme Court held the vulnerable adult statute, R.C.W. 74.34, creates an implied cause of action against mandated reporters who fail to report suspected abuse or neglect.  Before this decision, the only penalty for not reporting suspected abuse was a possible misdemeanor charge, which was rare. This decision creates new law in that there is now a civil cause of action against mandatory reporters who fail to report suspected abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. That means that nursing home owners and employees, all health care providers under R.C.W. 18, DSHS employees, social workers, professional school personnel, and others, can be subject to a civil suit should they not report. 

 

The New York Times recently published an article on nursing homes, “In Race for Medicare Dollars, Nursing Home Care May Lag”. Read the full article, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/business/as-nursing-homes-chase-lucrative-patients-quality-of-care-is-said-to-lag.html?_r=0

If you have a nursing home abuse and neglect case, please call 800.273.5005 or email our attorneys at attorneys@glpattorneys.com