Revised Nursing Home Regulations on Admissions

Late last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued revised nursing facility regulations. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, and Justice in Aging collaborated to create a document summarizing the highlights of these revised regulations. The changes primarily deal with admissions to nursing facilities and liability for nursing facility bills.

First, nursing facilities cannot require residents to enter into agreements or sign other documents that waive important rights. For instance, a resident cannot waive the protections of any federal, state, or local nursing home laws. Likewise, a resident cannot waive rights to Medicare or Medicaid coverage, or any responsibility of the facility to safeguard his or her personal property. A facility also must give notice to residents prior to admission of any service limitations or special characteristics.

Next, the revised regulations deal with responsibility for a resident’s nursing facility bill. A nursing home cannot compel a family member or friend of the resident to be financially responsible for a resident’s bill. However, a nursing home can require the resident’s agent to agree to pay the resident’s money toward his or her nursing facility costs.

Finally, the revised nursing facility regulations prohibit pre-dispute arbitration agreements, but this important consumer protection is currently blocked in litigation. It will be important to monitor this litigation in order to determine the continued legality of such arbitration agreements, which take away significant rights from residents who have disputes with nursing facilities.

Boller & Vaughan knows the devastation that can occur when nursing homes and other long-term care facilities breach regulations concerning health, safety, and admissions. Fortunately, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you through any type of elder abuse or neglect claim, particularly when injury results from a wholly preventable issue. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we can help. All too often, residents and their families are reluctant to demand justice for situations that occurred in the resident’s care. In this situation, you can count on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process.

What Can I Do if I Lose My Personal Injury Case?

Many personal injury claims settle before a lawsuit is ever filed in court. Even after it comes time to file a personal injury lawsuit, you still may be able to settle your case for a reasonable amount prior to going to trial. If you go to trial on your personal injury claim, however, there is some level of risk involved. Under Wisconsin law, if you lose your personal injury suit, in that you do not receive a damages award, you will be responsible for paying your opponent’s trial costs. These costs involve things like copy expenses, deposition costs, and fees for subpoenaing witnesses.

If you lose your personal injury case at trial, you do have the opportunity to appeal your case. The appeals process is not quick, and is likely to draw the process out for at least another year or longer. There typically must be a mistake of law or some other evidentiary issue in order for a higher court to overturn a decision in your personal injury case. An appellate court does not consider new evidence or reweigh the evidence that you presented during trial. Rather, that type of court tends to focus on the legal analysis involved in your case.

Other than an appeal, there is really no other recourse for an individual who loses his or her personal injury case at trial. Wisconsin law bars an individual from refiling a second or subsequent time after losing. In other words, there are no second chances if you lose your case. Even if you later discover new evidence about your personal injury claim, you cannot refile your case after losing.

One thing that you typically do not have to worry about if you do not recover any damages from your personal injury case is attorneys’ fees. Most personal injury attorneys handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay a retainer or any attorneys’ fees up front in order to have a personal injury attorney represent you. If you do not receive compensation in your personal injury case, then you still do not have to pay attorneys’ fees. You only pay for attorneys’ fees if you receive a settlement or damages award in your case.

As this post illustrates, you do have options even if you initially lose your personal injury case. However, you need advice and counsel from an experienced lawyer who can determine your options, based on your situation, and help you make the decisions in your case that are best for you and your family. The Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan handle personal injury cases on a daily basis, and we know what it takes to get the compensation that you need. Take the first step and call our office today to set up your free consultation with one of our Wisconsin auto accident lawyers.

Administration on Aging Releases 2016 Profile of Older Americans

The Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released its 2016 Profile of Older Americans, which describes typical characteristics of older Americans as of 2016. The population aged 65 and older increased by 30% between 2005 and 2015, which this population expected to more than double to 98 million by the year 2060. Likewise, the population aged 60 and older increased by 34% during that same timeframe. By 2040, the 2015 population of Americans aged 85 and older will triple to a high of 14.6 million.

Racial and ethnic minorities, which comprised 22% of the older adult population in 2015, will comprise 28% of the older adult population in 2030. Individuals who reach the age of 65 have an additional life expectancy of about 19 years, which is slightly higher for women than for men. As a result, older women (26.7 million) outnumber older men (21.1 million). Older men (70%) are much more likely to be married than older women (45%). About 29% of older Americans who do not live in institutions live by themselves.

The median income for older Americans is about $31,000 for men and $18,000 for women. As of 2014, the most common source of income for older Americans is Social Security benefits, followed by income from assets, earnings, private pensions, and government pensions. Over 4.2 million older adults, or 8.8% of older adults, were below the poverty level in 2015.

There are many different types of abuse or neglect that can occur to residents in nursing home or residential care facilities. The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have handled countless claims on behalf of nursing home residents who have suffered serious injuries and even death due to the negligent behavior of nursing home staff and facilities, regardless of the type of abuse or neglect involved. When a serious injury or death of a loved one occurs, we know just how devastating it can be, and how powerless you are likely to feel as a result. Allow your family to begin the healing process from this traumatic event by holding the wrongdoers responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact our office today and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys.

Can I Have Simultaneous Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims?

Individuals who have suffered a significant workplace injury often ask whether they can pursue a personal injury claim against their employer, as well as a workers’ compensation claim. Because the workers’ compensation program provides an exclusive remedy for injured employees, they typically cannot pursue both types of claims following a workplace injury.

Workers’ compensation does provide coverage for employees injured at work in terms of lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for permanent disabilities. However, unlike personal injury claims, the workers’ compensation program does not allow the injured employee to seek compensation for pain and suffering.

If the employer acts intentionally, recklessly, or illegally in causing the employee’s injury, the employer is responsible for an additional 15% increase in overall compensation for the victim. In order for an employee to be entitled to this additional compensation in a workers’ compensation claim, the employer must have either violated a safety order or statute, failed to use safety devices, or disobeyed an established safety rule. Wisconsin law caps this 15% increase to a total of $15,000 in additional benefits.

Although you generally cannot maintain both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim against your employer, you may have a personal injury claim against a third party who causes your injury. Third party personal injury claims can provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. For instance, if an employee delivering or picking up materials is injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver, the employee theoretically could have a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer and a personal injury action against the third party driver who caused the accident.

The intersection between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims is very complex, and you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through the claims process as appropriate. Each type of claim has strict requirements and deadlines that a claimant must meet in order to maintain a successful claim. Boller & Vaughan are Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of the injured and their families. Contact our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what options are available to you.

Dynamics of Abuse Later in Life

According to the National Clearinghouse on Abuse Later in Life (NCALL), abuse later in life involves a situation in which a person in a position of trust, such as a relative or caregiver, abuses, neglects, abandons, or financially exploits an individual who is aged 50 or older. The perpetrator targets the victim due to his or her age or disability.

Abuse can occur to both men and women later in life, although about two-thirds of victims are female. While a significant amount of abuse later in life is inflicted by a spouse or intimate partner, it also tends to be inflicted by other people charged with caring for the victim, such as family members, caregivers, or fiduciaries. Although some strangers do abuse elderly victims, the far more common scenario involves someone known to the victim.

Similar to abuse cases involving younger victims, there often is a dynamic of power and control between the abuser and his or her victim. The abuser will use coercive tactics, such as intimidation and manipulation, in order to gain some sort of benefit from the victim, financial or otherwise. While caregiver stress may lead to some abusive situations, an individual with a thinking pattern of entitlement and desire for power and control over another more typically leads to abuse of victims in their later lives.

No one is sure how many cases of elder abuse actually occur each year, simply because they are vastly unreported. Victims typically do not report these crimes out of shame and embarrassment. As a result, cases of elder abuse continue to appear.

As the nursing home industry continues to grow with America’s steadily aging population, the quality of care and staff members continues to become of greater concern. All too often, nursing home staff members do not properly care for their residents, which can lead directly to their injuries resulting from abuse or neglect. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of caregivers at nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

Reasons for Increasing Traffic Deaths Remain Unclear

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that the number of traffic deaths continued to rise in 2016, but the reasons behind this increase remain unclear. While 2015 was a record-breaking year for traffic fatalities, 2016 has proved to be even worse. Traffic deaths in 2015 rose 7.2% from those in 2014, which was the largest percentage increase in 50 years. The number of traffic deaths in 2016, however, has risen by about 8%, which is an even larger percentage increase.

During the first nine months of 2016, almost 28,000 people died on American roadways due to motor vehicle crashes, as compared with under 26,000 deaths in 2015. Plus, traffic-related deaths spiked in some areas of the country, but not in others. While states in Region 1 – Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont – saw a 20% increase in fatalities in 2016, but states in Region 8 – Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming – saw only a 1% increase during the same time period. Other large increases in 2016 traffic fatalities occurred in Region 4 – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee – at 15%, Region 7 – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska – at 12%, and Region 6 – Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas – 11%. In all other regions in the U.S., traffic fatalities only rose by 5% or less.

In an attempt to understand the reasons for this significant increase in traffic fatalities, NHTSA has convened over 100 representatives from the private sector, education institutions, and safety groups. To date, however, the reasons have remained unclear. Common reasons for increased traffic accidents, such as an improved economy, more miles traveled, and lower gas prices do not fully explain the increases. One private company is looking at locational data taken from mobile devices and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been studying marijuana and driving behaviors in teenagers. However, there are no clear answers that have come from this data thus far.

When an accident causes serious injuries to you or a loved one, the impact can be devastating. Although some accidents are just that – accidents – others are caused by the negligence of another, such as an inattentive or distracted driver. If you are in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys can advocate on your behalf.

Woman Who Wandered Outside WI Nursing Home Found Dead

An 88-year-old woman was found dead earlier this year near the Rice Lake Convalescent Center after apparently wandering outside the facility in the middle of the night. Rice Lake is an 85-bed private for-profit facility. The woman was outside a door to the building and apparently had been outside the building for at a least a few hours. Multiple employees reported that they had seen the woman wandering the hallways of the center in the past. Facility representatives declined to comment on the woman’s mental status or the reasons for her residence in the facility.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, a nursing home houses five or more persons unrelated to the operator or administrator. These individuals receive care and treatment at the home, but because of their physical or mental condition, need access to some level of 24-hour nursing services. All too often, understaffed, underfunded, and overcrowded nursing homes cause residents to go neglected and untreated. This so-called “passive” neglect occurs when any type of caregiver fails to provide an older individual with the necessities of life, including food, water, clothing, or shelter.

Older Americans with dementia often end up experiencing abuse and neglect, usually at the hands of their caregivers. Family members and friends with elderly loved ones who are dependent on home health care providers or assisted living facility care, or nursing home care, should be aware of the signs of potential neglect and abuse. Some common signs of neglect include bedsores that never heal, unexplained bruising and other injuries, poor hygiene, missed doctor appointments, unusual weight loss, lack of appetite, and depression.

The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who suffer injuries at the hands of their caregivers, no matter whether those injuries from result from abuse or neglect in a nursing home or in any type of long-term care facility. We can seek compensation for you through the legal system, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you might have experienced, and moving on with your life. Don’t hesitate to call our office today and learn how we can help.

Be Aware of Motorcycles as Summer Weather Arrives

After the snow, ice, and cold weather of winter, motorcyclists can’t wait to get on the roads when summer weather hits. Given this guaranteed increase of motorcycles on Wisconsin roadways at this time of year, both motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles should take time to review some basic safety tips. Following these tips can make the roads safer for everyone involved.

Motorcyclists should consider taking a motorcycle safety class, even if they are veteran riders. Being reminded of basic safety rules and strategies can make you a better and safer motorcyclist. Wearing a DOT-approved helmet, fastened properly, at all times, is one the best ways for motorcyclists to protect themselves, as well as by requiring their passengers to wear helmets. Tune up your bike before summer and make sure that it is in good working order. Wearing brightly-colored clothing also can make you more visible on the roadways. You should communicate with other drivers and motorcyclists by using hand gestures and turn signals as needed. Be aware of your fellow drivers and motorcyclists, in addition to any conditions on the roads that might be hazardous for a motorcycle or vehicle.

Drivers of cars, trucks, and other vehicles should abide by certain safety rules, as well. They should give motorcycles plenty of room by not following too closely, allowing extra space when passing, and signaling turns well before you make them. Drivers may not spot motorcycles as clearly or easily as other vehicles, simply because they are much smaller in size. Therefore, drivers should double-check their mirrors and be sure to check any blind spots by looking over your shoulder before changing lanes or turning.

At Boller & Vaughan, we know that suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, auto accident, or any other type of traffic accident can be a stressful, emotional, physically painful, and financially draining event. Allow us to take some of the burden of this situation from you and your family by handling your personal injury claim, which will allow us to work toward getting you the compensation that you need and deserve. As skilled Madison personal injury lawyers, we are here to help you through this ordeal from a legal perspective, while you concentrate on healing from your injuries and recovering from the financial impact of the accident.

Elder Abuse and Prevention Act May Become Law in 2017

According to Financial Advisor’s recent article by Ted Knutson, the Elder Abuse and Prevention Act has a good chance of becoming a law in 2017. The key sponsor of this bill is Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, who fully believes that the law will pass in the near future. One reason that Grassley gave for the bill’s likelihood of passing was the fact that a very similar version was very close to passing last year, but Congress simply ran out of time during that legislative session. Susan Collins, Aging Committee Chair, is co-sponsoring this legislation with Grassley. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, 2017; the goal is for the bill to come before the full Senate for a vote before the end of the legislative session.

The Elder Abuse and Prevention Act is designed to make society a safer place for seniors. The bill targets senior financial exploitation and abuse by increasing penalties for telemarketing and email marketing fraud against seniors. Likewise, the bill would provide that at least one Justice Department attorney in each federal judicial district would focus his or her efforts on prosecuting elder fraud. The bill also would require that multiple parties maintain much more detailed and expansive data relating to elder abuse, with the goal of making prosecutions of elder abuse a much more common occurrence. The Justice Department also would initiate more training for state and local governments dealing with elder abuse and fraud.

The community based residential facility (CBRF) lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities live up to reasonable standards in caring for their residents. When a nursing home or other type of facility fails to do so, and injury to a resident occurs, the facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

Fatal Traffic Accident Update from Wisconsin DOT

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), 41 traffic deaths occurred during the month of April 2017 which, coincidentally, is identical to the number of deaths that occurred during the month of April in 2016. This figure is up slightly from the average number of April travel deaths over the last five years, which is 38. April 2014 was the safest April in history in Wisconsin, with only 25 traffic fatalities. As of April 30, 2017, the total number of traffic deaths is 143, which is slightly down from the number of deaths as of this date last year. The deaths so far this year include six motorcyclists and 17 pedestrians.

David Pabst, Director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety, warns that with warmer weather and children out of school for the summer, traffic will definitely increase on Wisconsin roadways. Therefore, drivers should be particularly careful to avoid traffic violations and accident during this time of year. Likewise, Pabst stresses the importance of always requiring everyone in the car to wear seatbelts, as over half of the traffic fatalities last year involved individuals in vehicles who were not wearing seatbelts. Unrestrained drivers were most likely to suffer fatal injuries in traffic accidents, by far, followed by unrestrained passengers.

With the beginning of warmer weather, WisDOT officials also note that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. According to WisDOT, over 550,000 Wisconsin residents have a motorcycle license or permit. WisDOT is reminding drivers to look twice for motorcyclists, as there are likely to be many more bikes on Wisconsin roads, especially starting this month. Since motorcyclists are much smaller than typical vehicles, they are often easy to overlook or end up in your blind spot. Take extra care, especially when changing lanes, to make sure there are no motorcyclists in your path.

Boller & Vaughan are experienced Madison personal injury lawyers who know Wisconsin law and know how to effectively represent your interests in any personal injury claim stemming from a traffic accident, whether it involves a motorcycle, semi-truck, or a passenger vehicle. Contact our office today and learn how our attorneys can help ensure that you receive the compensation in your case to which you are entitled.

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