When looking for an attorney, you will find that there are many attorneys who specialize in different areas of the law. That is why it is important to research the type of attorney you need before you start contacting law firms for representation. You do not want to retain a Probate Attorney to represent you on a personal injury case no more than you want to go to a cardiologist for dental work. Each area of law is very specialized and it would be detrimental to your case to go to an attorney who does not specialize in your type of case.
A specialized area of law is elder abuse law. If you or a loved one has suffered harm in a nursing home or hospital, you want to retain an attorney who specializes in elder abuse litigation. An attorney who specializes in elder abuse law will know the following:
- Arbitration Agreements – Oftentimes, residents or their family members unknowingly signs Arbitration Agreements when they are admitted into nursing homes. Arbitration Agreements take away the right of the resident or their family to a jury trial. An elder abuse attorney will know how to oppose Arbitration Agreements in applying the laws that are very specific to nursing home Arbitration Agreements.
- Recovery of Non-Economic Damages for Decedent – Under Welfare and Institutions Code 15657(b), a plaintiff may be able to recover the decedent’s pre-death pain and suffering up to $250,000 if the plaintiff prevails on the elder abuse cause of action. If the person is alive, then there would no cap on recovery of the pain and suffering damages. An elder abuse attorney will know the law that will maximize the recovery for your loved one.
- Recovery of Attorney Fees and Costs – Under Welfare and Institutions Code 15657(a), a plaintiff may be able to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the plaintiff prevails on the elder abuse cause of action.
- Statute of Limitations – In nursing home litigation, the common causes of action that are filed are elder abuse, negligence, breach of contract, violation of Patient’s Bill of Rights pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 1430(b), willful misconduct, and wrongful death. Each cause of action has a different Statute of Limitations, which dictates when the cause of action must be filed by. An elder abuse attorney will know what are the Statute of Limitations for each cause of action.
- Knowing the Defense Firm – Since nursing home litigation is very specialized, there are a handful of defense firms that are retained by the insurance carriers to defend the nursing homes. An attorney who specializes in elder abuse law will see the same defense firms and would already have a good working relationship with these firms, or know how the defense firms practice.