Bakersfield Nursing Home Negligence Attorney

img
Robert May

Founding Partner

 
  • 25 + Years of Experience

    When you hire us, you’re adding unmatched experience to your team, ensuring you get the best possible outcome.

  • 99% Win Rate

    Our firm maintains an impressive 99% win rate, even while accepting difficult cases other law firms have turned away.

  • No Upfront Fees

    We are not afraid of trial, and insurance companies know this. If it’s in your best interest, we are always trial ready.

According to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Nursing Homes feature, the Bakersfield metropolitan area has 18 skilled nursing facilities. Individuals place tremendous trust in these facilities to provide them or their loved ones with quality services and care. Unfortunately, elderly and vulnerable adults become injured or die each year in nursing homes across the U.S. from negligence.

If your loved one suffered an injury or death because of a nursing home’s negligence, an experienced nursing home negligence attorney from the May Firm can help you understand the process of seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of the injury or loss through a free case evaluation. Our firm was founded on the notion of providing a family-like atmosphere in which our clients trust that they will receive compassionate care and the high-quality legal services that have earned our attorneys local and national recognition.

Community Involvement

At The May Firm we strive to be involved and connected to our local community. For example, this past holiday season we had bicycle and Christmas tree giveaway’s dedicated for individuals in our community. Our goal is to be a positive force for good in the local community and give back in some small measure to those we can serve. We receive satisfaction and joy from serving our clients and will continue to look for ways to be of assistance to the community as a whole. We receive positive energy from the community when we are involved.

We have listed a few of the local organizations we support and look forward to growing our outreach in the future. If you have any suggestions for ways we can be of service or support, please reach out to us.

  • Memorial Golf Classic
  • Rodeo
  • Hope
  • Logo
  • CASA

Nursing Home Negligence Attorney

What Is Nursing Home Negligence?

Nursing home negligence involves the failure to uphold the standard of care for elderly and vulnerable residents that a reasonable provider of skilled nursing services should provide.

Skilled nursing facilities face legal liability for injuries and deaths caused by the negligence of their staff members, as the law requires such facilities to:

  • Properly vet potential staff members, ensuring that they have the proper certifications and training for the position and that nothing in their criminal background check would preclude them from working with residents.
  • Ensure that there is enough staff on duty at all times to meet the needs of residents.
  • Providing training of all staff on facility policies and procedures.
  • Upholding all state and federal nursing home laws, including those granted as nursing home resident rights.
  • Medication errors, such as providing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage to the resident.

What Causes Nursing Home Negligence?

Understaffing and improper training constitute two of the most common causes of nursing home negligence. Inadequate staff on duty means may stretch staff thin, making it difficult to provide proper supervision of residents. Residents face the risk of falls, wandering away from the facility, or developing new or worsening bedsores. High staff turnover can result in facilities placing employees in positions or requiring them to perform tasks outside their level of training.

According to an analysis of nursing home staffing levels, around three-quarters of all the nursing homes in the U.S. were understaffed before the COVID-19 pandemic. While the federal government suspended staff reporting requirements during the pandemic, the staffing shortage at nursing homes particularly as it pertains to the 4.1 hours of care provided to each resident by a registered nurse and one certified nursing assistant for every seven residents that experts recommend has become even worse. Many nursing assistants now must care for 10 to 15 residents each shift.

The Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Federal nursing home laws grant these rights to residents:

  • To receive care with dignity and respect.
  • To remain free of physical or chemical restraints.
  • To remain free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion.
  • To remain free from verbal, mental, and physical abuse.
  • To complain about staff or the facility without fear of retribution.
  • To obtain proper medical care, to participate in decisions made about care, to have access to their health records, and to choose their own physician.
  • To have their personal representative notified of any changes to their physical or psychological health, needed modifications to treatment, or of any transfer to another facility.
  • To obtain information on the services at the facility and the cost of those services.
  • To manage their own money and have their own belongings at the facility.
  • To have visitors any time they wish, as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other residents.
  • To have privacy.
  • To obtain social services, such as mental health counseling or assistance contacting legal or financial professionals.
  • To participate in activities and to leave the nursing home for visits.
  • To have protection against an unfair transfer or discharge.
  • To form or participate in resident groups.
  • To have family and friends involved in their care.

California’s Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities

In addition to the federal nursing home laws, Bakersfield nursing homes must also uphold the requirements of the state, which include:

  • All California nursing homes must use a standard admission contract developed by the state Department of Public Health, and make a reasonable effort to communicate all of the contract’s provisions to the resident before admission.
  • The contract for nursing home services cannot include any waivers of liability for health, rights, personal safety, or property of residents.
  • Residents must receive monthly statements of all charges for services that they have incurred.
  • Nursing home contracts cannot list any ground for discharge or involuntary transfer except those provided by law.
  • All California nursing home residents must receive a copy of their federal and state rights included with the contract for services.
  • Nursing homes cannot require residents to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of medical treatment.
  • The resident will not have to pay for any time at the facility for which the resident has received Medi-Cal approval.
  • A Medicaid-certified nursing home in California cannot transfer or seek to evict a private paying resident for changing their pay status to Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Facilities must hold the bed for residents who were admitted to the hospital for at least 18 days.

Despite Protections, Nursing Home Negligence Still Occurs in Bakersfield

Despite the protections afforded to nursing home residents in Bakersfield by both the federal and state government, nursing home negligence still occurs. In fact, one of Bakersfield’s nursing homes Parkview Healthcare Center had so many safety violations on its annual inspections that the public health department designated it as a “special focus facility” for 15 months while it had to address its lapses in resident care under increased inspections. This constitutes one of the strictest forms of federal oversight and generally represents a facility’s last chance to improve before losing Medicare/Medicaid funding.

Just months after coming off of the special focus facility designation, the facility faced scrutiny again after failing to provide a non-skid pad on the wheelchair of a resident who had suffered a stroke and could no longer use her legs. The resident had already fallen from the chair once before the facility promised to provide the pad. Inspectors discovered that she fell twice more after the facility had stated it would address the problem, with the last fall resulting in a broken hip.

According to federal health inspection data, more than half of the nursing homes that graduated out of the special focus facility designation had serious deficiencies in care that led to resident injuries or placed residents in jeopardy of an injury after authorities lifted the designation.

Types of Nursing Home Negligence Occurring in Bakersfield

Nursing home negligence includes many failures to uphold the standard of care that state and federal laws mandate for nursing homes. Most of these issues fall under the categories of neglect or abuse.

Neglect

Neglect refers to the inability to meet the basic needs of the resident.

Some types of neglect that can occur in Bakersfield nursing homes include:

  • Medical neglect: Nursing home staff fails to provide the proper medication or medical treatment for the resident, including taking measures to control an infectious disease, providing assistance as required by the resident’s care plan, ensuring that the resident does not develop new or worsening bedsores, and seeking timely medical treatment for new injuries or illnesses.
  • Failing to make basic provisions for survival, such as food and water. Many residents have special dietary needs in their care plans, which the facility must follow.
  • Failing to adequately supervise the resident, which can result in residents experiencing falls when attempting to manage personal care tasks, such as toileting or showering independently. Lack of supervision can also lead to elopement (the resident wandered away from the facility) and the risk of residents getting into physical altercations with each other.

What Signs May Indicate Nursing Home Neglect?

Some signs of nursing home neglect include:

  • A resident who appears under-medicated or over-medicated.
  • Residents who appear as though they have not showered or changed their clothing in a while.
  • A resident who has experienced unexplained weight loss or dehydration.
  • A resident who has wandered away from the facility or has been left somewhere by the facility.

Abuse

Residents of nursing facilities can face abuse from staff members, other residents, or even visitors.

Abuse in nursing homes generally falls into three categories:

  1. Physical abuse, which includes physically assaulting a resident, such as slapping, punching, or shoving. Physically or chemically restraining a resident for any reason with very limited exceptions can also constitute a form of physical abuse. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained physical injuries, such as broken bones, lacerations, and bruises. Physically restrained residents will often have bruises on their wrists. Chemically restrained residents can appear overly medicated.
  2. Mental abuse, which can include intimidating or threatening a resident, isolating a resident, or belittling them. Signs of mental abuse can include withdrawal from activities that the resident previously enjoyed, self-isolation, or an unexplained dislike for a staff member or another resident.
  3. Sexual abuse, which refers to any sexual contact that occurs without the resident’s consent, including sexual penetration, unwanted touching, unwanted conversations of a sexual nature, or forcing the resident to view pornography. Signs of sexual abuse can include bruising on the breasts or genitalia, torn or bloody undergarments or bedding, and the presence of new sexually transmitted diseases.

How Do You Report Nursing Home Negligence?

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home in Bakersfield, you can report your suspicions in different ways:

  • If you have reason to believe that the resident faces imminent danger of injury or death, call 911.
  • You can also report suspected nursing home abuse and neglect in Kern County to the Long Term Care Ombudsman at (661) 323-7884.

What Is a Long Term Care Ombudsman?

A state’s long-term care ombudsman program resolves problems relating to the health, safety, and welfare of residents of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other communities providing long-term residential care.

These responsibilities include:

  • Identifying, investigating, and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents.
  • Providing information to residents and their families about the services they can receive in a long-term care facility.
  • Representing the interests of residents over government agencies to seek legal and administrative solutions to the issues they are having with their long-term care.
  • Recommend changes to the law to provide increased protections for nursing home residents.

At the May Firm, we can help you file your report with the Ombudsman.

Seeking Compensation for Nursing Home Negligence

If you or your loved one suffered nursing home negligence, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of the injury through a personal injury claim. This involves first seeking the value of your claim directly from the facility’s insurance provider. If the insurance provider fails to pay on the claim or make a fair settlement offer, you can then file the claim in civil court as a personal injury lawsuit.

Read on for answers to the questions that we hear most commonly about nursing home negligence in Bakersfield. While these are general questions about the legal process of seeking compensation, we will happily answer questions that you have about your situation during a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bakersfield Nursing Home Negligence

According to the California Association of Health Facilities, more than 400,000 residents receive care each yearin one of the more than 1,200 long-term care facilities located throughout the state, and these facilities currently have an occupancy rate of 87 percent. Unfortunately, many facilities were understaffed before the COVID-19 pandemic, and staffing shortages have worsened since. Understaffing constitutes the leading cause of nursing home negligence.

If you or your loved one sustained injuries or died from careless or reckless care provided at a Bakersfield long-term care facility, below we provide some answers about how to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts of those injuries.

If your father faces immediate danger, you should call 911. Otherwise, you should report your suspicions to the Long Term Care Ombudsman. That office must investigate the report within 10 days. Investigations involve speaking with the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator, as well as others whose observations will determine what happened.

Investigators will not tell the victim who made the report unless the reporting party gives consent for that. Additionally, your father has the right to make a complaint without fear of retribution. If his reluctance to make a report stems from a fear of retaliation, doing so would constitute a violation of his federal rights and a further complaint against the facility.

No, you do not have to prove that abuse in a Bakersfield nursing home has occurred before reporting your suspicions, and if it turns out that abuse did not occur, you will face no penalty for making the report.

No. Kern County Adult Protective Services investigates elder abuse in community or home settings, while the Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office handles the investigation of reported abuse or neglect in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term residential care facilities.

Individuals who have sustained nursing home negligence injuries can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injuries through the personal injury claims process. This process typically begins when the claimant’s attorney sends a demand package to the facility’s insurance provider. The package includes details of the incident that resulted in injury, documentation of expenses, and a demand for payment of the claim’s value.

After the insurance provider reviews the demand package, he or she will have three options:

  • Admit to the liability of their insured and process the claim for payment.
  • Deny the insured’s liability and provide written notice to the claimant of the reason for the denial.
  • Admit to some liability, but offer to settle the claim for a lesser amount than the value stated in the demand.

If the insurance provider offers a settlement much lower than the claim’s value, do not despair. Your attorney will enter negotiations to increase that amount to a level that will fairly compensate your mother for her injuries. If the insurance provider fails to make a fair settlement offer, you and your attorney will decide whether to file your nursing home lawsuit.

We should note, however, that settlement negotiations can continue after filing a lawsuit. Your attorney will continue negotiating with the insurance provider even as he or she begins organizing the evidence and witness testimony that will prove your claim in court. In fact, as long as a court has not yet rendered a judgment on your case, settlement negotiations can continue even after the trial begins.

In California, personal injury claimants have two years from when their injury occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. This does not mean that you must resolve the case within two years, only that you file it within that deadline.

Staff members can face criminal liability for their actions, but civil liability often lies with the facility that employs the staff members. Employers may face liability for employee actions during the normal scope of work, as the facility must ensure that the employee has the proper credentials to provide services as a representative of the company, the proper training for the position, and adequate supervision to ensure that the facility follows all required policies, procedures, and state and federal laws.

Companies including Medicaid-certified nursing homes pay for liability insurance to pay for incidents resulting in injuries. These liability insurance policies pay most nursing home claims.

Bakersfield nursing home negligence claimants can seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages.

In nursing home cases, damages refer to a payment that one receives in compensation for harm.

  • Economic damages refer to a payment made in compensation for the expenses of the nursing home resident’s injury, such as medical expenses, the provision of assistive devices—such as a wheelchair or crutches needed to accommodate the injury, placement at a different nursing home facility, and other expenses.
  • Non-economic damages refer to a payment intended to compensate for the psychological impacts of the injury, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.

To prove that the nursing home bears liability for the injury that occurred, you must show:

  • The nursing home owed the resident a duty of care. The standard of care refers to the reasonable actions that similarly positioned and educated nursing home staff would take to protect the health and well-being of the resident. The standard of care includes obeying all federal and state nursing home laws and upholding the rights of nursing home residents.
  • The facility breached that duty of care when a staff member took an action that contradicted the goal of protecting the health and well-being of the resident.
  • This breach caused the resident to sustain an injury, resulting in expenses and psychological impacts.

This is not something you can do on your own. You will need the help of a nursing home lawyer. Call the May Firm to determine if you have a case. If so, we can pursue your claim.

You would seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Like personal injury lawsuits, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date on which the death occurred.

The individuals who can seek compensation through this claim include:

  • The deceased’s spouse, putative spouse, or domestic partner.
  • Surviving children or grandchildren of the deceased.

The type of compensation you can seek in a nursing home negligence wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • The loss of gifts and benefits family members received from the deceased;
  • The loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, nurturing, guidance, and support; and
  • The deceased’s spouse’s loss of physical intimacy with the deceased.

Use caution when speaking with employees or administrators at the facility about your suspicions of abuse or neglect. Report issues with the quality of care directly to the nursing home, but avoid mentioning the word lawsuitbecause it not only can close doors of communication between yourself and the person responsible for providing your care or your loved one’s care. It can also make it harder to collect evidence for your claim if the facility goes into cover-up mode.

The problem with discussing average nursing home settlements is that each case is unique. Likewise, the settlements themselves reflect the unique injuries, expenses, and impacts suffered by the claimant and the willingness of both parties to negotiate a settlement agreement. In other words, we can’t provide you with an average settlement amount in a nursing home negligence claim.

Many factors, however, will affect the value of the claim, including:

  • The severity of the injury.
  • The level of negligence that resulted in the injury. California allows personal injury claimants to seek punitive damages in cases involving extreme recklessness or even intentional acts. Punitive damages include damages that don’t relate to the expenses of the injury. A court instead orders them to financially punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior.
  • The claimant’s desire for a quick resolution to the claim.

Yes, certain pieces of evidence will prove helpful to have, such as:

  • Photos of injuries that your loved one sustained.
  • Photos of dangerous conditions at the facility, if your claim pertains to an injury that occurred as a result of a hazard on the premises.
  • Documentation from the nursing facility regarding injuries to your loved one.
  • Bills and documentation provided by your loved one’s physician regarding the injury and the medical treatment it required.
  • Contact information for anyone who witnessed the negligence taking place.

Nursing home negligence claims often prove complex. You and your attorney may struggle to engage in a thorough investigation, obtaining evidence may become confusing, the victim may be unable to explain what happened, and the legal process can prove intimidating. One of the most important things an attorney provides to your claim is experience, not only with the legal process but also with the impacts these injuries can have on elderly people.

The experienced accident attorneys at the May Firm believe that along with experience, another important quality that we can bring to your case is trustworthiness. We provide our clients with a family atmosphere at our firm, compassion, and a belief that our clients deserve the best legal representation available. Our clients place their trust in us, and we never take this trust for granted.

Some of the services that our Bakersfield nursing home negligence clients can expect from the May Firm include:

  • A free case evaluation, which is a conversation you have with one of our attorneys during which you can obtain information about the legal process, get answers to questions about your case, and find out more about our firm.
  • Establishing that the injuries you or your loved one suffered resulted from nursing home negligence.
  • Helping you determine the insurance resources available to compensate you.
  • Engaging the insurance provider in settlement negotiations.
  • Filing a claim in court within the statute of limitations for your case.
  • Obtaining the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim in court.
  • Guidance throughout the settlement negotiations process so that you can make your own informed decisions as to whether to accept or reject an offered settlement.
  • Litigation services.
  • Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
  • A contingent-fee billing method, which enables you to withhold payment for our services unless we achieve a positive outcome in your claim.

Let the experienced nursing home negligence attorneys at the May Firm help you understand the process of obtaining compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death claim. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (661) 244-9712.

Don’t delay in reaching out, as the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get started building your case, and the more likely you will succeed in recovering compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Reach out today for your free consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.

BG Image
Logo

Do I Have A CASE?

Find out, it’s free
Free Case Review

No recovery, no fees!

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS
  • Fresno CA Super Lawyers The May Firm
  • Highly Rated Fresno Injury Lawyers
  • Fresno CA Injury Law Firm
  • The May FIrm Top 40 Trial Attorneys
  • Accident and Injury Law Firm Fresno
Maximizing Your Compensation
Testimonials