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6 posts from November 2009

November 27, 2009

Elder Abuse in America: Videos

Frightened-woman-02
 

    Injured people have a right to legal representation.  In my practice, I fight for those that have been injured by the negligent and intentional acts of others. Elder Abuse is the egregious mistreatment of those people who depend on their caretakers to, well, care for them.  Instead, for a variety of reasons, they are mistreated by those who have been entrusted with their care.  This can be in the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or financial abuse.  Are any of these forms of Elder Abuse worse than another?  I say no, they're all horrific and need to be addressed both criminally and civilly.  

    As a plaintiff's lawyer, I represent people on the civil side -- if an elderly person has been abused, I will sue their abuser and, where appropriate, the abuser's employer (i.e., nursing home, care facility, care agency, etc.) and any and all other persons or entities that are responsible for the physical, emotional and/or financial abuse suffered by a vulnerable older person. 

    Remember, the victim could be your grandparent, your mother, your father, your aunt or uncle, your sibling, or you.

    I want to devote this posting to just a few of the many, many Elder Abuse videos that I found on the web that illustrate this American (and worldwide) epidemic.

Hidden Surveillance Elder Abuse

91 year old resident of assisted living facility assaulted by night shift care provider. Assault captured on a hidden surveillance camera. Law suit to hold care provider and owners of assisted living facility accountable for abuse of vulnerable adult. 



Break The Silence: Elder Abuse in America 

    There is a silent crisis that effects every community in America: Elder abuse. Every year an estimated 5 million of America's older adults are beaten, ignored or financially exploited. Yet, as a country, we remain silent about this growing crisis.   Elder Justice Now (.org)



Elder Abuse Commercial 

    27 seconds that will tear your heart out.


Is Someone You Know a Potential Victim of Elder Abuse? 

CALL ME NOW - WE HANDLE ELDER ABUSE MATTERS

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"


November 25, 2009

The Horrors of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse 006
 

    Hey, sometimes Elder Abuse is not so obvious.  It is reprehensible, it is outrageous, it is legally actionable but is it always apparent? 

    There are basically five types of elder abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers
  • Financial Exploitation

    In this article, I'm going to give a brief description of these types of abuse.

    Keep in mind that an elderly person can be subjected to any one of these abuses or a combination of them.  In the next article, I will discuss what you can do if you suspect, or know, that an elderly person is being abused.

Physical Abuse

Elder abuse 007

 

   Physical elder abuse is non-accidental use of force against an elderly person causing physical pain, impairment or injury.  This includes physical assaults (hitting, shoving) and/or inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement.  In California, "physical abuse" is defined in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15610.63

Emotional Abuse


Elder abuse 004

    Emotional elder abuse is the emotional or psychological abuse of an elderly person that causes him or her emotional pain or distress.  This can include intimidation through yelling, threats, humiliation, ridicule, blaming or scapegoating. 

    There are even non-verbal forms of psychological abuse such as ignoring the elderly person, isolating him or her from friends or activities or even terrorizing or menacing the elderly person.

Sexual Abuse

Elder abuse 005

     What kind of monster would sexually abuse an elder?  Well, for that matter, what kind of monster would sexually abuse anyone?  The focus here, though, is on elder abuse.  It may seem obvious but, just in case, here are some of the ways in which an elder can be sexually abused:

Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers

Elder abuse 003

     Horrifically, those charged with the care of the elderly can often neglect or abandon them, leaving them helpless and unable to fend for themselves. Here is a list of acts, or failures to act, which constitute neglect, per California Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.67(b): Failure to...

  • assist in personal hygiene, or in provision of food, clothing or shelter
  • provide medical care for physical & mental health needs
  • protect from health & safety hazards
  • prevent malnutrition or dehydration

Even more simply put (and still per the above code), neglect is defined as "the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.  Sort of a catch-all.

Financial Exploitation

Elder abuse 009

    The unauthorized use of an elderly person's funds or property by a caretaker or outside scam artist.  Blatant, and maybe not so blatant, exploitations may be as follows:

  • Misuse of elder's personal checks, credit cards or other financial accounts
  • Steal cash, income checks, or household goods
  • Forge the elder's signature
  • Engage in identity theft
  • Phony charities
  • Investment Fraud
Don't Ignore The Signs or Cries For Help!

     We all want to think that these things can't happen to someone we love.  However, it you see it happening (either to someone you love or to yourself), tell the elder's doctor, a trusted friend or family member.  You can also call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.

Is Someone You Know a Potential Victim of Elder Abuse? 

CALL ME NOW - WE HANDLE ELDER ABUSE MATTERS

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve" 

November 19, 2009

Rules of Debt Collection - Don't Let 'Em Walk All Over You!

Fdcpa cover page In this tough economy, more and more people are finding themselves with debt problems. And things gets worse when debt collectors get aggressive. Everyone should know their rights – what is considered “fair debt collection” as defined by the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA.


FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from being abusive. Note that FDCPA regulates debt collectors who work for collection agencies and does not cover debt collectors who work for the original creditor (the company that originally lent you the money).


We’d like to think that most bill collectors act professionally and follow the law when contacting you. However there are some overeager ones who go too far.


Here’s What Debt Collectors CANNOT DO


 Nasty debt collector Misinformation Debtor's prison

1.    CAN’T call you repeatedly or at an unreasonable time (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.)

2.    CAN’T use obscenity, profanity or threaten violence.

3.    CAN’T call you without identifying themselves as bill collectors.

4.    CAN’T call you at work if your employer doesn’t allow it.

5.    CAN’T claim to be an attorney if they are not!

6.    CAN’T claim you owe more money than you actually do.

7.    CAN’T tell you that you’ll go to jail or that your property will be seized.  Remember, there is no such thing as Debtor's Prison.

8.    CAN’T add unauthorized interest, fees or charges.

9.    CAN’T call third parties EXCEPT your attorney, a credit bureau or the original creditor to find your whereabouts. And unless you have asked the debt collector in writing to stop contacting you (more on this below), they can also contact your spouse, your parents (if you are a minor) and co-debtors.


If a Debt Collector Violates the FDCPA Rules, Here’s What YOU CAN DO

1.    Demand they Stop: under FDCPA rules, you can write to the collection agency to tell them to stop all Say no to debt collection calls communications with you. After that, they cannot contact you for any reasons except to tell you that collection efforts have ended or that they intend to sue you.

2.    Document their Violations: start a log; write down what happened, when and who witnessed it. It’s not a bad idea to have another person present or on the phone during future communications with the collector. Thinking about recording the phone conversations? – be careful as it is illegal in some states, such as California, to record phone conversations without the knowledge of the other person.

3.    File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: the FTC oversees collections agencies. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. Include the collection agency’s name, address, name of the collector, dates and times of conversations, names of any witnesses, include copies of all offending letters you receive, and a copy of any offending voicemails or messages.

Ftc-complaint-logo

Send the complaint to state agencies. Send a copy of your complaint to the state agency that regulates collection agencies for the state where the agency is located. To find the agency, call information in that state's capital city or check the state's website.


Send the complaint to the creditor and collection agency. Finally, send a copy of the FTC complaint to the original creditor and the collection agency. The original creditor may be concerned about its own liability and offer to cancel the debt.


Judge's gavel4.    SUE THE DEBT COLLECTOR: If there are repeated violations and you can document them, then suing may be a good idea. But if the violations were merely annoying, don’t waste your time. For example, if the collector called you three times in one day, but never again, you don’t have a case.

You can sue in Small Claims Court or hire a lawyer. If you win, the other side may be required to pay your attorney’s fees and/or court costs.

Questions? Concerns?

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!

November 14, 2009

Prenuptial Agreements: What The Heck Are They?

Wedding kiss photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are agreements between prospective spouses made in preparation of marriage. In marriage, each person has certain legals rights, such as property rights or spousal support (aka alimony). In order to modify these legal rights, the prenuptial agreement is used, which results in a person giving up certain rights which they would otherwise have acquired by reason of the marriage. Courts are increasingly recognizing prenuptial agreements due to rising incidence of divorce and remarriage.


It's A Contract Just In Case the Marriage Winds Up In Divorce

Contract 002 photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are like contracts. And like any contract, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed. It is very important to use an attorney to draw up a prenuptial agreement because problems arise when things are not specifically and carefully spelled out. For example, where a husband and wife enter into a prenuptial agreement that says: “wife agrees to waive all rights that she would otherwise be entitled to because of such marriage; and she waives any right to all property.” In this case, if the wife seeks alimony, the husband will have a problem if he tries to enforce the prenuptial agreement because it does not clearly state “no alimony,” although the prenup does clearly state a waiver of any right to property.

 
Break up photoxpress A common agreement in a prenuptial agreement is the amount of spousal support (i.e., in the event of divorce, wife gets $2,000/month alimony and medical insurance for life or until she remarries). In some states such as California, parties can even agree to a waiver of alimony, so in the event of divorce, no alimony will be paid.

Child Custody & Support Cannot Be Included in Prenup -- Ever

Sad child photoxpress Sad little girl photoxpress

One thing parties may not agree to in a prenuptial agreement is with regard to child support or child custody. Because the state has a strong interest in child welfare, the right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a prenuptial agreement and is therefore not allowed.

The Prenuptial Agreement Must Hold Up In Court - Read On!

Gavel and magnifier photoxpress

Signing a prenuptial agreement is only half of it. The other half is whether the agreement is valid. A prenuptial agreement is valid if it provides full disclosure; it is fair and reasonable; and was entered into voluntarily by both parties (no fraud, no duress). Sometimes however, courts will enforce a prenuptial agreement that may be unfair so long as there was full disclosure. Because things are NEVER black and white, it is so very important to use a lawyer to prepare your prenuptial agreement or you may find yourself fighting a losing battle in the gray areas. I also highly advise using a lawyer to review a prenuptial agreement if you have been asked to sign one.

Questions? Concerns?

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!

November 03, 2009

Give Me All You've Got (I'm Not Your Expert): A Legal Nurse Consultant Speaks Out!

AliceAdams     Thanks to Guest Blogger Alice Adams, a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) who speaks out as to the role of the LNC in a Personal Injury Case.  Pulling no punches, she tells it like it is.  

    This article clearly and succinctly spells out for both lawyers and lay people some very salient medical issues that arise in Personal Injury cases. I know you'll enjoy her perspective.

Give Me All You’ve Got (I’m not your expert)

by Alice Adams, BA, RN, LNC

    A common misconception is that legal nurse consultants double as expert witnesses. They do not, and you do not want them to.

    As an attorney, you provide medical records to experts for their review and opinion, a process that involves your selective inclusion and omission of data.  Your expert witness is limited to a field of expertise, a narrow window that allows them to render an informed opinion.  An expert witness can make or break a case, but the number needed grows with the complexity of the case and so do the expenses involved.

    By contrast, you only need one tenacious legal nurse to work a personal injury file.

    For that reason, you need to send your LNC every scrap of data in your possession.  We are bloodhounds.  If you omit information, we will know it and we will track you down.  

    I always ask for the entire file. I will actually use very little of it by the time I have scanned once for the initial sort, scanned again to remove duplicates which I now recognize, scrutinized the remaining and highlighted what catches my eye, perusing them  one more time while looking for missing data.  

Medical records hard to read     I will sort by provider to get a sense of the continuity of care and further narrow my focus.  When I actually CaseMap the events, the picture truly comes together, revealing gaps or overlaps in care, prescribing irregularities, inconsistencies in complaints to various providers, etc.

    The most relevant data will be the hardest to find. That chicken scratch that passes for cursive writing may be at odds with the typed dictation.  The casual comment to the ER nurse or EMS may not be testimonial, but is no less relevant to the case.

    By now, I know the records well enough that I cannot stop thinking about them, even in my dreams.  Still, the pleading and  interrogatory is critical to revealing the mindset of the claimant and the temerity of the attorney.  I simply must have it.

    As the defense, it is in your best interests for a complaint to include every medical mishap that has occurred in the life of the claimant. This opens the door to investigating all past medical care.  Discrediting even one specious charge will cast doubt on those that may actually be related.  It is quite difficult to arrive at adulthood in perfect health until that unwitnessed slip and fall in the drugstore.

    As a plaintiff’s lawyer, be suspicious of the client who casts a wide net of complaints. You are equally prey to a nondisclosive claimant selectively providing you data (in much the same way that attorneys provide data to the aforementioned experts).  

    Everyone tells everyone else what they think they need to know – deciding on their own to share this thing but not that thing.  This form of picking and choosing data will come back to haunt both plaintiff and defense attorneys…particularly if the opposition has a nosy LNC on the team.

Alice M. Adams, BA, RN, LNC

www.CaseConsultant.com

5555 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, NE #251

Atlanta, Georgia 30342

404.771.5155

TheLegalNurse@gmail.com

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"   

Power Windows: Danger to Children

Child power window     This morning I read a very common-sense article in the New York Times entitled Power Windows Pose Great Risk to Children, Says Consumer Group.  It piqued my interest so I decided to look a little further into the issue.

    It makes logical sense that, absent safety precautions, power windows are potentially quite dangerous.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 1,995 power window related injuries (mostly minor) and six deaths per year.  Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org disputes these numbers saying that her phone and Internet surveys indicate that there have been about 13.6 million power window related injuries over an unspecified period of time.  Read their Press_Release.

    

    The NHTSA has imposed two requirements to make power windows safer:

    1.    All passenger vehicles must have recessed power switches by October 1, 2008

    2.    All power windows may be closed only by pulling up on a switch by October 1, 2010

    So, what kinds of injuries actually occur from power-window related accidents?  According to the NHTSA, 68% of the incidents result in fractures or crushed body parts.  Other injuries include bruising, dislocation, laceration, and strain or sprain.  Most frightening, though, are the deaths among children when their head, neck, or midsection have been trapped in the window for five or more minutes and resuscitation was impossible.  When there are multiple children in a car, those witnessing the injury are more likely to panic and call for help than try to operate the power window!

    Consumer Reports published a very informative piece entitled Which Power Window Switches Are Safer?  The article contains a well-produced video discussing one family's tragedy and further depicting and discussing three different types of power-window switches.

    The Consumer Reports article tells you what you can do:

Never leave children alone in a car or the keys in the car when kids are nearby. Pay close attention to the design and location of window switches when shopping for a new car. Here’s a basic rundown for the vehicles we’ve reviewed:

Horizontal rocker switches

Saturn rocket switch
Rocker switches (inherently risky) move the glass up when you press one end of the switch, down when you press the other.  Most vehicles from Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac, and the Saturn Ion.

Horizontal toggle switches

Toggle switch power window
Toggle switches (also inherently risky) work when pushed forward or pulled back. Some vehicles from Chrysler including the Dodge Neon, Stratus, and Intrepid, and Dodge trucks.

Lever switches, the safer type

Lever switch power window
The lever switch, is safer because it makes it harder to raise the window accidentally. Lever switches must be pulled up to raise the glass. They generally have not been implicated in fatal injuries, according to KIDS AND CARS.  Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, most Isuzu models, Jaguar, Kia, Lexus, most Mazda models, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saturn L and Vue, current Saab models, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
I hope that this article has been helpful and informative.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"   

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