A good portion of my practice is focused on representing the elderly and families of the elderly in nursing home negligence cases. Over the years, I have litigated various types of matters, including cases involving the deaths of elderly patients in nursing homes.
When meeting with families, I am often asked whether I have an "age cutoff" for accepting cases. I always tell families, “ABSOLUTELY NOT.” Certainly, age is a factor in my decision to accept representation. However, I look to many other factors, such as whether there is a surviving spouse, the credibility and appearance of the surviving family, the patient’s quality of life and the patient’s overall health.
Recently, I represented the family of a patient who passed away at the age of 92 after sustaining a fractured neck when she was dropped by a nurse’s aid. This was a case of clear negligence. The issue was how to determine the value of this patient’s life given the fact that she was 92. During the discovery phase of litigation, I was able to establish that the 92 year old patient was of sound mind — cognizant, oriented and able to carry conversations about current events. Additionally, I was able to establish through the nursing home sign-in sheets that the family visited the patient nearly everyday. Although the patient had health issues, she enjoyed many activities such as reading, watching TV, chatting with other patients and spending time with her family.
We resolved the case for a significant amount of money with the nursing home’s insurance company. The reason we were able to resolve this case was due to the significant amount of time spent on showing the quality of life this 92 year old patient enjoyed prior to her injury. When handling cases involving the death of an elderly patient, it is critical that evidence of this type is developed in order to maximize the value of the case.
Joe Cullen is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Cullen.