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Nursing Home Brain Injuries

nursing home brain injury

When people place their vulnerable elderly relatives in a nursing home, we expect they can handle their needs. Many elderly people need help with daily activities. Generally, staff is incredibly friendly, supportive and available for all kind of help. Unfortunately, sometimes residents suffer neglect and negligence. This neglect can lead to traumatic brain injuries.

An incident took place in Bartow County, Georgia where an employee of a nursing home was convicted for forcing an elderly woman – 95 years old – to strike herself in the face. The employee had pinched the victim’s earlobe and forced the elderly women to repeatedly hit herself in the face. The employee was found guilty of the offenses.

What Head Injuries Occur at Nursing Homes

Head injuries can occur due to:

  • falls out of a bed,
  • slips in a bathroom,
  • improper bed rails,
  • wet floors,
  • transportation related injuries, and
  • weak upper bodies that cannot catch a slip or fall.

50% of deaths that occur due to falling occur after a head injury. Additionally, 32% of hospital admissions involving a head injury result from a fall. Of these head injuries, 25% occur in elderly adults who are in a nursing home facility.

How Can Nursing Homes Reduce Head Injuries

Nursing home staff must reduce hazardous situations that may result in a head injury. Therefore, the staff must stay alert and aware of the situations of their residents. Additionally, facilities must supervise the weaker residents. If a resident has certain diseases, such as dementia, additional resources may be necessary. Lastly, overmedication or undermedication neglect could result in a slip or fall.

If a significant fall occurs, the nursing home may need to dismiss the employee. If the employee remains, they need to hold them responsible for their actions or inaction.

When Your Family Member Suffers a Head Injury

First, take your relative to emergency care for evaluation and treat the any injury. Due their age, even a minor injury could result in significant pain and suffering. If your relative has declining health, they become even more susceptible to injury. If you need to discuss the injury with a lawyer, find a local experienced personal injury lawyer, such as the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. to discuss your options. Many attorneys will meet with your for a free consultation. If you desire a free consultation with our attorneys, call us today at 847-357-0403.

Generally, nursing homes do not provide specific rehabilitative therapies to address the needs of person with head brain injury. Regardless of if the brain injury occurs at the facility or not, you may need to find an outside care provider. Approximate 244,000 residents suffering from brain injuries in nursing homes without proper treatment. Luckily, some nursing homes put great efforts to get those residents with brain injuries into facilities that have the resources to care for them. Unfortunately, around 4 million people require long term care and the current brain injury facilities can only accommodate 40,000 patients.

Medicaid Rules

Medicaid is required to cover the cost of nursing home for long term care under the United States laws. The laws do not require the Medicaid to pay for specialized that those suffering from brain injuries need. Facilitates that can handle cases for brain injuries are not licensed as nursing homes which means that Medicaid would not cover the facilities for long term care. Nursing homes recognize that those with brain injuries should not be in restrictive areas therefore they refuse to take them. This leaves elderly who require nursing home care and have brain injuries to a severe disadvantage.

Additional Illinois Shoveling Tips


As another snowstorm comes to Arlington Heights, remember that shoveling your sidewalk provides you immunity from liability. But at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd., we want to provide you with the best safety advice on snowfall. The 1979 Snow and Ice Removal Act shields property owners from liability if someone gets hurt. But in a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, they clarified the requirements.

[Read more…]

Liability After an Amusement Park Accident

amusement park accident

Roller coasters, funnel cakes, and lots of laughter bring many families to amusement parks every summer. And you assume you don’t need to worry about anything. Families can have fun and stay safe. Every year families gather to go to water parks and amusement parks during the summer months all over the country. More thrilling rides attracts visitors to enter the parks with excitement and brings them back every year. Unfortunately, amusement parks can bring danger. If the rides at the parks are not maintained, they are no longer safe to ride for any age group. In fact, going on those rides could become a life-threatening event.

According to International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, approximately 375 million people visit a theme park each year in North America.  In a study done by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 92,885 children under age 18 were treated to emergency rooms due to injuries caused by rides at amusement parks. This averages to 4,423 injured per year on rides. The study also concluded that most of the injuries were head injuries due to hitting a hard floor.

Common injuries from a ride include head, neck and back injuries. Roller coasters that go in loops, backwards and sharp turns can create stress on a body which may result in the neck and back injury.

Injuries range from broken bones and concussion due to

  • Amputation
  • Electrocution
  • Paraplegia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wrongful death

[Read more…]

Wrongful Death

wrongful death

Wrongful death is a claim brought by a party against a defendant who caused the death of a close family member. A wrongful death action gives an opportunity to the estate of the deceased person to bring a lawsuit against the defendant who may have caused the death by intentional or negligent actions. The lawsuit gives the family the chance to seek compensation for their emotional and financial loss.

What is a Wrongful Death?

Claims for wrongful death are usually negligence cases. Negligence case is when the defendant was careless which caused an accident causing harm to the victim. For example, if the negligence of a party leads to the death of a loved one on a hunting trip, you may have a wrongful death suit. The party bringing the action must prove the four key elements:

  1. Negligence – the party must prove the defendant caused the death of the victim by carelessness or reckless actions
  2. Breach of duty – the party must prove that the defendant owed and then breached a duty to the deceased victim.
  3. Causation – the party must prove thatthe defendant negligence caused the death of the loved one.
  4. Damages – The death of the victim should have resulted in damages such as hospital fees, medical expenses and funeral/burial cost.

Wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action and is separate from the criminal prosecution. Therefore the burden of proof is set lower. Even without criminal charges, a family can bring a civil action against a defendant. Additionally, if a criminal court acquits a defendant of murder, the victim’s family may still have a cause of action in civil courtA court would take the two charges separately and one should not control the other.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?

Usually, survivors with a relationship to the deceased brings a wrongful death claim. The relationship to the victim construe differently from state to state.

In all states, a spouse can bring a wrongful death claim because the spouse can show a financial dependence on the deceased. Others who may be eligible to bring the claim may include parents of  unmarried children and children of the deceased. In some states sibling and grandparents may have the right to bring a lawsuit. But they would have a higher burden in proving closeness to the victim. Parents of minor children can bring a claim, but debate remains whether parents of adult children can bring a claim.
Bystanders with no relationship to the victims cannot bring a claim for wrongful death.

When to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim

Survivors can bring a wrongful death claim when a defendant kills their close relative by the harmful act of an intentional or negligent act. Some instances when a wrongful death claim can be brought includewhen then the victim dies because of

  • Intentional act
  • a criminal activity,
  • medical malpractice,
  • product defect,
  • occupational exposure and hazard,
  • supervised activities (day care, adult care, field trips) or
  • car related accidents involving negligence, including manufacturing defects.

What to Prove

To bring a wrongful death claim, one must prove that the

  1. defendant owed a duty of care to the victim,
  2. defendant breached they duty,
  3. death was caused by the breach and
  4. death caused damages that plaintiff can recover.


When calculating damages for the one who has brought a wrongful death claim, the jury looks at the victim’s earnings at the time of death and potential future earnings and losses. Some damages that can result from a wrongful death can include:

  • medical cost of the deceased victim
  • deceased person’s expected income
  • cost of services provided such as funeral and burial
  • loss of consortium
  • loss of support and income
  • lost of prospect of inheritance
  • value of services the deceased would have provided if still alive
  • loss of love and companionship

A court may award punitive damages to the victim’s family for a action. Punitive damages exceed compensation. A court or jury awards punitive damages mainly to punish the defendant for the harmful actions.

Negligence at Nursing Homes

You do not want to believe that your loved one may not receive the care you thought they would receive at their nursing home. Unfortunately, when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene, some nursing homes show signs of neglect. Nursing home neglect, unlike nursing home abuse, is a breach of duty that results in harm to the patient. If they fail to provide adequate care, your loved one may suffer from illness, injuries or distress. Some forms of neglect may include:

  • poor hygiene
  • poor sanitation
  • uncleanliness
  • medical neglect
  • neglect of basic needs

How Can I Identify Neglect at a Nursing Home?

All nursing homes must provide the basic necessity of keeping the facility clean and caring for the resident’s personal. Failure to do so can have detrimental health effects for both the staff and residents. Residents living in a negligent environment have higher risk of certain diseases, injury or illness. Neglect can also lead to serious injury or death.

While some neglect may be extremely obvious, you may not easily detect others. Physical signs may not always present themselves when negligence takes place. The best way to detect neglect remains to visit a close family member or loved one with frequent visits and notices. Even without neglect, your loved one will happily welcome you into their new home. Unfortunately, the elderly residents who don’t usually see their family may not know how to display their concerns.

Some signs of negligence may:

  • Malnutrition
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bed sores
  • Injuries
  • Dehydration
  • Alterations in appeareacne or personal hygiene
  • Environmental hazards at the facility including unsafe furniture’s and wheelchairs, bad light and slippery floors.

What Should I Expect from a Nursing Home Facility?

All residents at nursing home facilities have the right to a clean and safe environment so they can live comfortably. Staff at the nursing home facilities should be held accountable if they fail to keep the facility clean and safe for the residents. Negligence in nursing homes should not go unreported as it creates high risk of danger for the residents. The facility needs to pay close attention to the environment created for the residents and their needs.

A facility should take necessary steps to prevent injuries to elderly residents. The facility must also make sure the staff is experienced and have the skills to provide adequate care for the elderly. Facilities that are understaffed may assign more responsibilities for the individual worker to insure the resident’s safety.

What Should I Expect from a Nursing Home Staff?

The staff at a nursing home has an incredibly hard job. They care about your loved ones and want them to have the best experience at the facility. However, staff may not have the required skills or the time to ensure that they meet all of your loved one’s needs. To ensure the staff knows what your expectations are, use this list of tips:

  • Ask for ongoing communications with the staff regarding the resident’s care.
  • Make sure that the staff can always assist with your loved one’s needs, especially mobility.
  • If you believe that your loved one may have a high risk of falling, ask for close supervision and for help in ensuring their safety.
  • Pay close attention to the environment and ensure that the staff quickly resolves any sanitary issues or safety concerns for the residents.
  • The staff should regularly monitory the seniors for changes in mobile or mental ability.
  • Ask for assementments for any developing medical concerns you or your loved one may have

Research indicates that residents at the nursing home facilities who are frequently visited by family, friends or loved ones are less likely to experience the nursing home abuse, neglect or emotional distress. However, the responsibility of all nursing home facilities is to provide adequate care for the residents.

Therefore, check in on your loved one. Make sure the nursing home facility they live in remainsa safe and healthy space for residents. They a comfortable environment and to avoid any kind of nursing home neglect.

Hunting Accidents: Wrongful Death and Negligence Injuries

hunting accidents

During the last week of March of this year, an Illinois juvenile suffered non-fatal injuries after being shot in a hunting accident. The accident occurred on March 30, 2018 around 8:00 A.M. near southern Davison County in South Dakota. According to Conservation Officer Brian Humphrey of the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Departments, the Illinoisan was hunting snow goose when the gun that injured him appeared to not have its safe on and was bumped causing a round to fire at the juvenile.

While this incident occurred in South Dakota to an Illinois resident, many hunting accidents happen in the State of Illinois. According to the Department of Natural Resources, also known as the IDNR, “Hunting Incidents by Year Cumulative Report,” in 2015, a total of 308,878 hunting licenses were sold, and 41 fatal and non-fatal accidents were reported. This does not account for other accidents that were not reported to the IDNR.

[Read more…]

Dementia Treatments in Nursing Facilities

Many families delay moving a loved one into nursing care until their loved one requires more care. Dementia is a progressive brain disease and with time, the patients become able to remember and do less and less. Symptoms include:
  • memory loss,
  • becoming bedridden and/or wheelchair ridden and
  • loss of motor abilities.

As a result, not all families are able to care for their loved ones when they get to this state. When they can’t, they often decide to move their loved one into a maximum care nursing home.

[Read more…]

Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Nursing Home Fall?

nursing home fall

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 36% of hospital emergency room visits for long-term care residents are due to falls. The average assisted living facility accounts for 100 to 200 falls each year. Unfortunately, a nursing home fall can cause serious problems effecting the quality of life, disability, and reduced independence. Of course, as our population ages, the CDC estimates by 2030, nearly 3 million people will live in assisted living facilities.

About 20% of these falls can be prevented by improving controllable environmental factors. These factors include poor lighting, wet floors, and incorrect bed height. According to the CDC, only about 5% of seniors live in assisted living facilities, but they account for up to 20% of the deaths due to falls. But many times, the last nursing home fall was not the first fall. The CDC estimates that each elder citizen falls 2.6 times. In the end, about 1,800 senior citizen die each year from a fall.

[Read more…]

Is the Flu Evidence of Nursing Home Abuse?

Flu Vaccination Flu Ill Cold Vaccinate Syringe

Since the middle of December 2017, over 106 people have died from influenza. This makes this flu season the worst in recent times. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims this infectious disease affects people in 46 states. Additionally, it has caused an increase of hospitalization of people over the age of fifty.

At this time, many health experts cannot explain why this season is so horrible. They also cannot predict when it will be over. The CDC warns that this flu season will be especially hard for those in long-term care and nursing homes. Even though this season is terrible, you may want to understand if evidence of the flu could mean nursing home abuse.

Definitions of Elder Abuse

Before a person can claim neglect or abuse, understand some general definitions associated with elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.

A senior citizen has been physically abused when physical force has caused pain or injury. If a senior has suffered unwanted or nonconsensual contact with another person in a sexual nature, they may suffer from sexual abuse. If an abuser verbally attacks, humiliates, threatens, or harasses an elder victim, talk to a lawyer about the affects of emotional abuse. Financial exploitation happens when an abuser withholds or misuses the victim’s resources. Finally, neglect can be defined as when an abuser fails to provide necessary personal care items such as food, water, shelter, social interaction, medical care, etc. to the victim.

However, does an infectious disease fall into any of these categories? [Read more…]

Elder Abuse – How to Spot It

elder abuse

One of TV’s most successful dramas follows attorney Jimmy McGill in his small-time law practice. In the course of the first season of AMC’s Better Call Saul, McGill uncovers a nursing home money scam and opens an elder abuse case. While this story line makes for great television, in reality, real senior citizens do not receive the respect and care they deserve. In the state of Illinois, reports show that 76,000 elders are victims of elder abuse. But what exactly is elder abuse?

What is elder abuse?

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as any form of abuse or neglect that causes harm or loss to an elderly person. The abuse could come at the hands of family members, caregivers, or nursing home workers.

Seniors can suffer

  • loss of independence,
  • their homes,
  • financial earnings and savings,
  • through their health,
  • loss of dignity, and
  • loss of security.

Unfortunately, elders who have experienced abuse have a shorter life expectancy than elders who have not experienced abuse.

If you have noticed any neglect of a senior citizen that includes any of these effects, call the experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. Contact us to help evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

What forms of elder abuse are there?

There are six major forms of neglect:

  • physical abuse,
  • sexual abuse,
  • domestic violence,
  • psychological abuse,
  • financial abuse,
  • neglect, or
  • health care fraud or abuse.

Although each of these forms of neglecy have specific legal definitions, below are some details of each type of abuse. If any of these definitions apply to a loved one or to you, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation about the neglect or other nursing home injuries.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical abuse includes more than just hitting, pushing, or shoving an elder. Other types of abuse include improperly using drugs, restraining the elderly person, or confining the person.

An elder can suffer emotional abuse, either verbally or nonverbally. Examples of verbal abuse include the use of intimidation via yelling, humiliation, or frequent blaming or scapegoating. Nonverbal emotional abuse can occur when people ignore the elderly person, separate them from friends or regular activities, or terrorize the individual.

Elder sexual abuse occurs when a person makes any sexual contact with an elderly person without consent. Showing sexual explicit materials to elderly persons also constitutes sexual abuse.

Domestic violence occurs between the elder and an intimate partner.

Financial abuse occurs whenever a person inappropriately uses an elderly person’s funds, property, or other assets. These inappropriate uses can take the form of large withdrawals from bank accounts, changes in the elderly person’s financial stability, wills, power of attorney, titles, or policy changes that seem strange or unlikely, unpaid bills, or unreasonable and unnecessary subscriptions to services or goods.

While the first five are self-explanatory, neglect can occur when a caregiver fails to provide necessary and proper care or in the form of self-neglect, the failure to provide for one’s own essential needs.

Healthcare fraud occurs when an elderly person is put into the care of an institution. This institution acts as the elderly person’s caregiver and many times is responsible for paying the person’s bills and other basic and necessary tasks. Healthcare abuse can occur in the forms of duplicate billing for medical services, overmedicated or undermedicated, and subpar care for the elderly person. Many times healthcare providers provide inadequate care due to lack of trained workers, overcrowding of facilities, or poor follow-up and responses to questions regarding care.

What are the signs of elder abuse?

Many times, signs of elder abuse can seem like symptoms of dementia, or caregivers may state that an elder’s actions are due to dementia. While many signs of elder abuse reflect signs of dementia, the following signs of abuse should not be dismissed:

  • Regular period of tension or arguments between the elderly person and his or her caregiver
  • Changes in the personality of the elderly person
  • Changes in the behavior of the elderly person

While these signs do not always stem from cases of elder abuse, it is important to check on an elderly person when these signs are present. If you have seen any of these signs in regards to a relative or loved one, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. for a free consultation today. Experienced attorneys can help you identify the signs of elder abuse when you need information.

How do you report elder abuse?

Many people do not know who to turn to when they see their loved ones suffering abuse. First, you can contact the experienced senior citizen care and nursing home abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. Our consultations are free and confidential. Additionally, you are under no obligation to choose our law firm.

If you want other information, the state of Ilinois has several agencies to fight against elder abuse. These three agencies are

  1. the Adult Protective Services,
  2. Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, and
  3. Legal Services Development Program.

First, according to the Illinois Department on Aging, Adult Protective Services acknowledges the right for elderly people “to live in dignity and safety, free from mistreatment of any kind.” Illinois’s Adult Protect Services responds to reports of elder abuse. The program helps to represent and protect persons 60 years or older that live in a specific community.

Additionally, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program aims to promote the rights of elderly person and to protect those rights in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.t

Lastly, the Legal Services Development Program provides legal services and advice for elders.

However, there are many different ways to report elder abuse depending upon what kind of elder abuse is occurring. For example, to file a claim regarding discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights via phone or letter to either their Chicago or Springfield office. However, remember to follow the specific filing deadlines found online at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/Pages/default.aspx.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. can assist you with any of these needs.

Senior Helpline

The Adult Protective Services Program maintains a Senior Helpline that provides assistance to elders. According to the Senior Helpline website, the program follows a HELP mantra, an acronym that states the program’s mission to (1) Help elders local necessary services in their community, (2) Evaluate elders needs as well as answer questions, (3) Link elders to coordination services within their areas, and (4) Provide information.  The Helpline is not only for elders but for their caregivers as well. The organization works in coalition with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, legal services, transportation, employment, and nutrition services.

The Senior Helpline is available Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm Central Standard Time by dialing 1-800-252-8966 or emailing at [email protected]. For 24-hour assistant, dial 1-866-800-1409 for the Adult Protective Services Hotline.

About the Firm

Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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