How to Select the Best Nursing Home Lawyer for Your Case

How to Select the Best Nursing Home Lawyer for Your Case

As loved ones grow older, families are often faced with difficult decisions about their care, including choosing a nursing home.  This is a decision that should not be taken lightly, as statistics show that approximately ten percent of the elderly will be the victims of negligence, abuse, exploitation, or neglect.[1]  Sadly, these incidents can result in devastating injuries, including:

  • Physical injuries (including bruises, lacerations, dental problems, head injuries, welts, pressure sores, etc.)
  • Persistent physical pain and soreness
  • Nutrition and hydration issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • A 300% increased risk of death[2]
  • Psychological impacts (including distress and increased depression)
  • Financial exploitation
  • Social withdrawal[3]

Knowing that a loved one will receive proper care, and that a nursing home will be competent in delivering quality and compassionate oversight of the patient’s healthcare, can bring great relief during a difficult transition.  Unfortunately, for some patients and families, nursing home negligence and abuse occurs.

If your loved one has been injured or died as the result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you likely will be searching for the best nursing home lawyer possible to fight on behalf of your loved one and family in seeking accountability and justice.

I understand.

The choice of any lawyer – especially in cases involving terrible injury or death – is highly personal.  You and your family will want a lawyer whom you can confide in, and who you can trust will work tirelessly on your behalf.  The following are considerations that I believe will be helpful in seeking the best lawyer for your nursing home negligence or injury case.

Knowledge of Nursing Home Law and Experience is Key 

The best nursing home lawyers have extensive experience advocating zealously for the elderly and their loved ones.  In many ways, nursing home injury attorneys are much different than general injury lawyers because they primarily focus on the needs of older individuals, who often have needs that are different than the needs of those in the general population.

It’s also important that an attorney in a nursing home case understand the laws that may impact a client’s case. In 1986, Congress tasked the Institute of Medicine with conducting a study to evaluate the quality of care being provided in nursing homes.[4]  The results revealed widespread neglect, abuse, and inadequate care.  As a solution, the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (“NHRA”)[5] was enacted into law, establishing resident rights and quality standards for nursing homes nationwide.[6]  The NHRA provides nursing home residents with the rights to:

  • Privacy
  • Be treated with dignity
  • Be free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
  • Participate in family and resident groups
  • Communicate freely
  • Accommodation of physical, mental, and social needs
  • Voice grievances without facing ramifications
  • Participate in their own care plan

The vast majority of trial lawyers have little or no experience with nursing home abuse and injuries; further, many competent attorneys will not accept these types of cases due to the time required to “come up to speed” in gaining the necessary background to properly investigate and litigate these devastating incidents.  Unfortunately, limited knowledge of nursing home law (such as the NHRA) and inexperience create situations where abused victims and their families do not always get the justice and compensation they deserve.

My Background as a Nurse

Prior to becoming a lawyer, I practiced as a nurse, caring compassionately for the elderly and other patients.  During my time in the medical profession, I witnessed the negligent and suboptimum care that was often provided. I also saw what good nursing care looks like and how that is vital to a full recovery and overall wellbeing.  With a nursing background and practice, I am able to read and understand medical charts, and to work with medical professionals in being able to assess the level of care needed by a resident compared to the care that was provided (and which often is the cause of an injury).  I found that my career as a nurse and patient advocate was a great foundation for my next career as an attorney and client advocate.

Putting Profits Over Resident Care

Many nursing homes place a priority on profits over the care of the elderly, which lead to incidents of heartbreaking abuse and neglect.  These experiences led me to become a nursing home abuse and injury attorney, where I advocate and fight zealously on behalf of victims of these types of abuse. I have found that with few exceptions, the care that is promised is not the care that is given. These corporate owners act like corporations, caring only about the “bottom line” often at the expense of enough well trained nursing personnel.  Unlike many personal injury firms that represent a wide variety of clients, a large part of my practice is dedicated to the representation elderly victims and their families.  This intensive focus allows me to stay current on nursing home law and regulations so that my clients receive the knowledgeable representation they deserve.

Qualities in the Best Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

When looking for the right attorney for your case, it is important to not only seek a lawyer focusing on nursing home negligence and abuse cases, but also to look for the following qualities:

  • Knowledgeable. The body of law pertaining to nursing home litigation is expansive.  A lawyer must be well versed in these laws to ensure that they are taking full advantage of all protections and damages afforded by law.
  • Fully Transparent. A lawyer must be open, honest, and upfront with their clients, even when delivering unfavorable news.
  • Communicative. Many lawyers use complex legalese that may be difficult to understand.  Clearly communicating in simple terms is vitally important, as a client should have a full understanding of the details involved in their case. It is also very important to me to be able to learn and then communicate the client’s story; what was their life before they entered a nursing home, what mattered to them, what were their hobbies, their career, and their family? Telling each client and family’s story is important to me as a lawyer.
  • Detail Oriented. Nursing home abuse cases involve compiling vast amounts of documentation and evidence. Being detail oriented and organized is crucial to being able to quickly locate pertinent details from within the volumes of information.
  • Persuasive. When litigating a case, a lawyer must have the ability to paint a clear and convincing picture of the events so that juries will be persuaded to award full damages to the victim or the victim’s family.

Understand How Much Time and Resources the Lawyer Will Devote to Your Nursing Home Injury or Abuse Case

Many general personal injury firms accept a large number of cases and delegate most of the work to paralegals, clerks, or junior associates, while the senior attorney’s role during much of the litigation is confined to reviewing final documents and work product.  Unfortunately, supervising attorneys often do not gain the deep understanding that is normally acquired from being immersed daily in the details of a case.  Further, they may oversee dozens (or even hundreds) of other cases, leaving them unable to devote much time to each individual matter.

On the other hand, other senior lawyers prefer to accept fewer cases and handle each directly, with minimal staff assistance.  This approach allows attorneys to devote more time and resources to each client so that they can meticulously build their case.

Because I value providing quality representation to clients, I follow the second approach and choose to limit the number of cases I accept so I can provide each and every client with the time, attention, and quality they deserve.

The Best Nursing Home Lawyers Focus on Case Development

Of the thousands of nursing home abuse and injury lawsuits filed each year, studies have shown that approximately 92% are settled out of court before the trial process is complete.[7]  These cases will be resolved through mediation and settlement negotiations in which the victim and the defendant(s) agree to the compensation that will be awarded to the victim to cover expenses resulting from their injury.

If a case is likely to be settled, many attorneys will not approach it with the same vigor that they would if instead they expect that the case will go to trial.  I believe strongly in approaching mediations and settlement negotiations with the same tenacity, dedication, and drive as a trial.  I invest the time necessary to build a strong case that clearly establishes fault, so my clients can strategically negotiate from a strong position.

Top Nursing Home Injury Attorneys Have Trial Experience

Because less than 8% of all cases involving nursing home injuries go to trial, many personal injury attorneys have never tried a case before a jury.[8]  For three decades, I have been litigating cases involving nursing home and personal injuries, and I also serve as a faculty member at the prestigious Trial Lawyers College[9] founded by renowned trial attorney Gerry Spence.  I have represented clients in nursing home injury cases involving:

  • Slip and falls
  • Wandering or elopement
  • Choking
  • Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, welts, or wounds
  • Wrongful Death
  • Bedsores and pressure ulcers
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Physical assault or abuse
  • Sepsis
  • Severe Infections
  • Head injuries or fractures
  • Asphyxiation

As an experienced trial litigator, I will not hesitate to take your case to trial if a fair and full settlement is not reached.

Contingency Fee Representation and Cost Advancement

All too often, clients hire an attorney before fully understanding the fees associated with the representation.  As a result, they may be billed for fees or services that they were unaware of or don’t comprehend.  I believe that clients should have a full understanding of all fees and expenses relating to the engagement prior to commencing work.  I provide a fee agreement outlining the terms of the engagement including all costs and fees so that you can make a fully informed decision prior to proceeding.

If you or a loved one has sustained a nursing home injury, one of the last things that you should be worried about are legal fees.

I represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no fee for my services unless compensation is recovered.  My firm also advances all litigation costs, such as expert witness fees, court costs, and deposition costs (these costs are normally repaid from a settlement or trial award).  If you or a loved one has sustained a nursing home injury or abuse, I would invite you to call my office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can use my extensive experience to help you.

[1] Statistics and Data, National Center on Elder Abuse, (referencing Lachs, M., & Pillemer, K. (2015). Elder abuse. New England Journal of Medicine, 373, 1947–56. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1404688).

[2] Dong, X, Simon, M., Mendes de Leon, C., Fulmer, T., Beck, T., Hebert, L. (2009). Elder self-neglect and abuse and mortality risk in a community-dwelling population. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(5), 517–526. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.1109.

[3] Statistics and Data, National Center on Elder Abuse, (referencing Lachs, M., & Pillemer, K. (2015). Elder abuse. New England Journal of Medicine, 373, 1947–56. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1404688).

[4] Nursing home regulation: History and expectations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,

[5] 42 CFR § 483.2.

[6] Nursing home regulation: History and expectations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, (the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987).

[7] David G. Stevenson & David M. Studdert, The Rise of Nursing Home Litigation: Findings From A National Survey Of Attorneys, Health Affairs (Mar./Apr. 2003),

[8] David G. Stevenson & David M. Studdert, The Rise of Nursing Home Litigation: Findings From A National Survey Of Attorneys, Health Affairs (Mar./Apr. 2003),


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