Nursing home abuse cases are often complex—they can involve months (or years) of abuse and neglect and involve dozens of different types of care providers (CNAs, LPNs, RNs). Answering these questions are something an experienced nursing home abuse attorney Phoenix AZ trusts should do.
1. Who Are The Defendants?
Many times the license holder of the nursing home can be a shell company that is comprised of multiple other entities so follow the trial carefully. Further, knowing if a facility is part of large regional or national chain tells you the facility will have insurance to cover a judgment. Small group homes often do not even bother to purchase liability policies and are essentially judgment proof. Also, larger chains often have subsidiaries involved in the operation and management of each facility, such as a separate physician services company for the medical directors of a nursing home.
2. Was The Nursing Staff Been Disciplined By The State Nursing Board?
Obtain a list of the nursing staff at the nursing home during the relevant time period. Then take that list and go to your state’s nursing board website and see if any individuals have been disciplined for nursing home abuse. If so, this raises issues not only of competency but of the hiring facility’s due diligence and/or prior notice.
3. Who Uses Email?
Never forget to request emails in discovery. Today, all major nursing homes have internal email systems and often use that system to communicate to each other about many things: the budget, staffing issues, difficult residents (behavioral or those with complex medical issues), and hitting bonuses for the year. Experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can persuade a judge to allow them to carry out a targeted email search during discovery.
4. What Does The Nursing Home’s Survey History Look Like?
Both the state and the federal government are required to survey the facility on an almost-yearly basis, as well as to investigate complaints. While judges often only allow survey histories that correspond to a client’s residency, these surveys help to paint a picture of overall way a facility is operated. Further, although surveys reference residents anonymously (i.e., Resident #4), I have had more than one instance where my client was the referenced resident.
5. Has The Nursing Home Been Sued Before?
Chances are that if you are contemplating a lawsuit against a facility for nursing home abuse, it has been sued before. Check your county’s online docket site and the federal PACER system. Pulling the pleadings of other nursing home abuse attorneys who have waged the battle before you can save you weeks of time and effort. For example, I followed a case in federal court brought by the government against a large national nursing home corporation for fraudulent Medicare claims. The government’s pleadings were filled with beneficial information including emails at the senior management level talking about the need to upcharge residents for the maximum Medicare reimbursement regardless of care level actually needed.