​Litigation Holds Nursing Homes and Insurance Companies Accountable For Elderly Abuse

Nursing homes are now big business. Extremely large corporations own and operate hundreds of nursing homes throughout the country. Corporate chains are anticipating a flood of baby boomers moving into their facilities over the next few years. Their main goal is to make as much money as possible.

This increased emphasis on profits has led to a distressing rise in neglected and abused nursing home residents. Between 2000 and 2008, instances of "immediate jeopardy" in nursing homes-violations of Federal and State Law likely to result in serious harm or even death-rose 22 percent in nursing homes across the country. More than 90 percent of all nursing homes were guilty of at least one violation.

There are many laws and regulations aimed at protecting seniors, both State of Ohio laws and Federal laws. Yet government agencies, non-profit watchdogs and media organizations consistently report that serious problems exist in our nation's nursing homes.

The same is true of insurance companies that mislead and defraud vulnerable seniors. Insurance industry regulators protest that they can do nothing. Even when they do raise their hands, they more often than not strike deals to keep fines to a minimum and settlements secret.

With the regulatory and legislative bodies unable to cope with a groundswell of neglect and abuse, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach. Attorneys who represent our nation's seniors, and their families, play a critical role in uncovering abuse and neglect, and are the most effective force to compel corporate nursing homes to fix their conduct.

Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans

A new report released by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) illustrates how the civil justice system is the most effective force in uncovering abuses by corporate nursing homes and insurance companies that target elderly Americans.

Large corporate chains run nursing homes where 1.5 million elderly Americans currently reside. Many of these vulnerable residents have suffered abuse by staff members and even died from dehydration or infection caused by inadequate care. The report explains how litigation has revealed this neglect and abuse and allowed residents and their families to hold offending corporations accountable.

"Corporate nursing homes and insurance companies have continually chosen to put profits ahead of the well-being of our most vulnerable population," said AAJ President Gibson Vance. "Where regulatory and legislative bodies have been unable to cope with this distressing rise of neglect and abuse of our elderly, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach."

This year the American Association for Justice has fought against hidden forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts preventing seniors from seeking justice in court. AAJ helped move proposed nursing home legislation, and other forced arbitration bills, through hearings rounding up 115 cosponsors in the House and 13 in the Senate.

Attorney Blake Dickson has fought the use of hidden arbitration clauses in trial courts and appellate courts throughout the State of Ohio. Attorney Blake Dickson is the only Plaintiff's lawyer in the country to have argued this issue to the Ohio Supreme Court. View attorney Blake Dickson's argument to the Ohio Supreme Court on this issue here. A copy of AAJ's report is available below.

Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans