Legal Options for Out-of-State Families With Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

Legal Options for Out-of-State Families With Loved Ones in Nursing HomesFor many families, the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult one. Adding an extra layer of complexity is the situation faced by out-of-state families. The miles that separate them from their loved one can create a sense of helplessness and anxiety. Concerns about monitoring care, identifying potential neglect, and pursuing legal options if necessary are all magnified by the physical distance. It is important to understand your legal options, as well as employ practical strategies for ensuring your loved one’s well-being in a nursing home.

Understanding the challenges

Out-of-state families face unique challenges when it comes to caring for loved ones in nursing homes:

  • Limited visitation: Distance makes frequent in-person visits difficult. Families may only be able to visit a few times a year, hindering their ability to monitor their loved one’s condition and care firsthand.
  • Communication barriers: Regular communication with nursing home staff is very important, but time zone differences and limited phone access can create obstacles. Out-of-state families may struggle to stay informed about their loved one’s health and well-being.
  • Delayed identification of problems: The physical distance can make it harder to identify signs of neglect or abuse. Families must rely on staff communication to pick up on subtle cues of decline or mistreatment.
  • Limited legal representation: Finding a qualified attorney familiar with nursing home negligence laws in the state where the facility is located can be challenging for out-of-state families. At Garcia & Artigliere, we represent families nationwide, so your and your loved one’s locations are not an issue.

These challenges can create a sense of powerlessness and insecurity for families who want to ensure their loved one receives the best possible care. However, there are steps out-of-state families can take to protect their loved ones and pursue legal action if necessary, with the help of the attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere.

Strategies for out-of-state families

It is important for your loved one to have a trusted local ally and support system:

  • Local contact person: Appoint a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative living closer to the nursing home to act as a local advocate. This person can visit regularly, monitor care quality, and communicate any concerns to the family.
  • Geriatric care manager: Consider hiring a geriatric care manager located near the nursing home. This professional can conduct regular visits, assess care quality, and advocate for the resident’s needs.
  • Technology: Utilize video technology like Zoom, a nanny cam, or FaceTime to facilitate regular visual communication with your loved one. This allows you to observe their physical and emotional well-being more effectively.

You should also have a plan in place for decision-making, like:

  • Durable power of attorney: Ensure your loved one has a durable power of attorney appointing someone you trust to make healthcare decisions if they become incapacitated. This allows the designated person to act on their behalf and advocate for their needs.
  • Advanced healthcare directive: Encourage your loved one to complete an advanced healthcare directive outlining their wishes for medical treatment in case they cannot communicate their decisions. This directive can guide their care and ensure their preferences are respected.
  • Research and documentation: Research nursing home regulations and resident rights in the state where the facility is located. Keep detailed records of all communication and interactions with the nursing home staff regarding your loved one’s care.

Legal options for out-of-state families

If you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse in a nursing home, here are some legal options to consider:

  • Filing a complaint with regulatory agencies: Each state has regulatory agencies that oversee nursing homes. File a formal complaint detailing your concerns about your loved one’s care.
  • Mediation: Mediation can be a less adversarial way to resolve a dispute with the nursing home. This process uses a neutral third party to facilitate communication and reach an agreement. Our attorneys can help with this process.
  • Litigation: If mediation is unsuccessful, or in more serious cases, your attorney can take action through the court system via a lawsuit.

We know how to work locally

Navigating the legal complexities of a nursing home negligence case is challenging, even for families residing in the same state as the facility. For out-of-state families, the added hurdle of finding qualified legal representation in another state or jurisdiction can seem daunting. Here’s why local expertise is so important and the steps you can take to secure the best legal representation for your loved one’s case:

  • Understanding state-specific laws: Nursing home negligence laws differ significantly from state to state. These variations encompass everything from resident rights and staffing requirements to the legal definition of neglect and the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the relevant laws and regulations in all 50 states, allowing us to build a strong case on your loved one’s behalf.
  • Experience with local courts and judges: Our attorneys have experience navigating the court system in a variety of states, including familiarity with local judges and their rulings on similar cases. This familiarity can be invaluable in presenting your case effectively and maximizing your chances of a successful outcome.
  • Access to local resources and experts: Our attorneys have a network of contacts and resources within every state, including healthcare professionals, investigators, and other experts who can provide valuable testimony or evidence to support your claim.
  • Building relationships with local stakeholders: Nursing home negligence cases often involve communication with state regulatory agencies, facility staff, and social workers. Our attorneys have established relationships with these stakeholders, facilitating smoother communication and potentially influencing the investigation process.

Building a strong case across the miles

While distance creates challenges, out-of-state families can play an important role in building a strong case:

  • Detailed information sharing: Provide your attorney with all the relevant information about your loved one’s medical history, medications, personality, and baseline physical and cognitive abilities. This helps establish a clear picture of their needs and potential for decline.
  • Communication with local contact: Maintain regular communication with your local advocate or geriatric care manager to stay updated on any changes in your loved one’s condition or potential concerns. Promptly share this information with your attorney.
  • Gathering evidence: While you may not be able to visit as frequently, you can still contribute to evidence gathering. Request copies of medical records, take detailed notes during phone conversations with staff, and encourage your local contact person to document any observations of potential neglect or abuse. Our attorneys can help with this.

Other resources

A variety of other resources are available to your family, including:

  • Elder abuse hotlines: The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) operates a website that can provide information, support, and resources.
  • Online resources: Websites like the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care offer resources and information for families navigating nursing home care.
  • Emotional support: Caring for a loved one from afar can be emotionally draining. Consider seeking support groups or online communities for out-of-state families facing similar challenges.

If you have any concerns about your loved one’s well-being in a nursing home, don’t hesitate to take action. By being proactive and seeking legal help, you can ensure your loved one receives the care they deserve and fight for the justice to which they are entitled.

Don’t let distance be a barrier to justice. At Garcia & Artigliere, our experienced team of attorneys understands the unique challenges faced by out-of-state families and has a proven track record of holding negligent facilities accountable. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options and ensure your loved one receives the care and respect they deserve. To arrange a free, no-obligation case review, fill out our contact form or call us today. We have offices in PhoenixLong BeachLos AngelesLouisville, and New Orleans.