July 2010 Archives

July 20, 2010

Erie, Pennsylvania Man's Family Recovers $6.5 mil in Fatal Resort Accident

A popular Jamaican resort has settled a fatal personal injury accident case, agreeing to pay the family of Jarred Smith $6.5 million. Smith of Erie, Pennsylvania was killed in July 2006 while playing on an Aqua Jump water trampoline at the Beaches Sandy Bay hotel in Negril, Jamaica. Smith and his family were at the hotel to attend a wedding.

According to Ceola Smith, the young man's mother, Jarred was jumping on the water trampoline when he dove headfirst into the surrounding water. Although Aqua Jump instructions require 10 feet of water for safe use, the resort had situated the water trampoline in water that was only four to five feet deep. Jarred struck his head on the bottom of the seafloor which rendered him quadriplegic. Unable to move, the young man drowned.

Personal injury attorneys arguing wrongful death on behalf of Jarred's family argued that the resort had been negligent in failing to locate the water trampoline in accordance with safety instructions, failing to provide written instructions to guests concerning safe use of the water trampoline and failing to provide an appropriate flotation device which Jarred's mother believed would have saved her son's life. Attorneys for Sandals Resorts International countered by questioning whether the young man had actually struck his head on the seafloor and arguing that the trampoline was designed defectively.

This case points out the complex arguments involved when serious personal injury accidents occur and responsibility for horrendous injuries or death must be assigned. Striving to decrease their client's liability, attorneys for the resort questioned whether the young man's injuries and subsequent death were indeed caused by his dive off the trampoline. They also sought to defuse liability by charging the maker of the trampoline with defective design. As a Philadelphia Injury lawyer it is important to explore all possible avenues of recovery to make the victim whole.

Personal injury accidents demand experienced and aggressive representation by skilled Philadelphia personal injury attorneys to ensure that personal injury accident victims and their families are compensated for their losses.

July 20, 2010

Budget Cuts Mean Pennsylvania Families Must Watch for Nursing Home Negligence

As Pennsylvania nursing home neglect attorneys, we pay attention to news about investigations of nursing homes that neglect or abuse patients. In Kentucky, there has been an uproar over how long it takes for the state to investigate reports of abuse and neglect. Families of nursing home patients in Pennsylvania should take note of this conflict in Kentucky, because state budget cuts in Pennsylvania could lead to similar problems here. With state agencies increasingly trying to do more with less, nursing home patients' families should not depend entirely on the state to make sure nursing homes live up to their responsibilities to care for patients properly.

Because of the current recession, it's especially important for families to watch carefully to make sure that their loved ones are receiving proper care in nursing homes. State agencies are severely underfunded and have a limited ability to enforce their own rules. Pennsylvania's 2010-2011 budget will require layoffs from every state agency. More state employees will be laid off if the state does not receive $850 million for Medicaid, which helps to pay for many nursing home patients' care, from the federal government. Even though there are laws and regulations governing how nursing homes should treat their patients, state regulators will be trying to do their jobs with less money and fewer people. Inspections may not happen as often as they should, and follow-up after those inspections to make sure violations are corrected may take longer, or not happen at all. Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers play an important role in continuing to fight for residents' rights. Politicians, possibly looking for donations from nursing home companies, sometimes pressure state regulatory agencies to overlook nursing homes' negligence. Then, poorly run homes can get away with hurting people longer, sometimes until someone dies.

As Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers, we have seen many cases of neglectful and abusive treatment of nursing home patients, including theft and financial exploitation; life-threatening bedsores caused by staff members' poor training, lack of caring, or understaffing; and infections caused by poor hygiene. Unfortunately, government regulators are unlikely to catch and correct all of these violations given their own underfunded circumstances. Sadly, families simply can't afford to trust regulators to make sure that their loved ones are being treated properly in nursing homes.

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July 9, 2010

Pennsylvania Families Should Look Carefully at Nursing Home Staffing Levels

A judgment of more than $670 million against nursing home company Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. in California underscores a message I hope that all nursing home operators will hear: Staffing levels matter. Patients and family members had brought a class-action lawsuit against the company, and the Los Angeles Times recently reported that a Humboldt County, CA, jury ordered Skilled Healthcare to pay damages for having understaffed 22 assisted living facilities. The jury imposed the maximum damages for violating California health and safety codes requiring 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day, along with $58 million in restitution. The jury has not yet decided whether to require Skilled Healthcare to pay punitive damages as well. The company, which also operates nursing homes in seven other states, vowed to appeal the jury's decision. As a Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney, I'm glad that the patients and family members stood up for themselves and that the jury found in their favor.

As I wrote several months ago, staffing levels are extremely important to the quality of care a nursing home patient receives, and ultimately to their quality of life. Low staffing levels can result in serious, negative consequences for patients. Staff members can forget to administer medication or read a patient's treatment plan. They can be delayed in responding to call buttons because they're busy with other patients. Over time, bedsores or dehydration could develop without busy staff members noticing. Some staff members feel so stressed and overworked that they take out their anger and resentment on patients. Others might see opportunities to steal from nursing home residents -- opportunities that they wouldn't act on if there were other staffers around.

We have written about many situations like these from our perspective as Pennsylvania nursing home abuse lawyers. Studies show that understaffing at nursing homes is a real problem, depriving staff members of the time they need to provide the best care. As Philadelphia nursing home neglect attorneys, we hope that nursing homes will live up to their obligation to provide appropriate staffing levels.

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