11 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

By Randolph C. Lafferty and Bard L. Shober

What can we do to keep our family members safe and well-cared for?  How can we tell if nursing home patients are being treated properly?

Ideally, a family member or friend would spend extended time each day with a loved one in a nursing facility to make certain they get everything they need and deserve.  However, for most people, that is simply not an option.

The first four signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are fairly easy to recognize:

  • Inadequately explained bruises or fractures,
  • New skin breakdown – pressure ulcers / bed sores
  • Frequent falls, and
  • Rapid weight loss (a sign of malnutrition).

Other signs can be more subtle:

  • Changes in consciousness and mental status,
  • Changes in sociability, and
  • Avoidance or fear of nursing staff.

One of the best ways to make sure your parent or loved one’s nursing home is providing acceptable care is to keep in contact with the nursing staff and your loved one on a regular basis, and to be vigilant in looking for signs of abuse and neglect.  Other signs to be aware of include:

  • Infections
  • Instances of wandering or elopement,
  • Unsanitary or unclean conditions, and
  • Unusual or sudden changes in behavior.

Cooper Levenson Recognized in NJLJ Top Verdicts & Settlements 2017

Two Cooper Levenson cases were recognized in the New Jersey Law Journal’s Top Verdicts & Settlements 2017. Congratulations to Randolph C. Lafferty and Bard L. Shober.

Shober’s civil rights verdict was the largest of its type in New Jersey in 2017. Lafferty’s included case was the 17th largest motor vehicle verdict in New Jersey in 2017.

The Top NJ Verdicts & Settlements supplement is an annual publication of the New Jersey Law Journal.

Winter snow & ice means more slips & falls – know the rules about reporting accidents

by Bard Shober, Esq.

Winter means a good number of days with sub-freezing temperatures, and a fair share of snow and freezing rain storms.  And with those cold temps – and snow and ice covered roads and sidewalks – comes auto accidents and pedestrian slip and falls.

Most of the time those auto accidents and pedestrian falls involve two private individuals or organizations.  But, sometimes a municipality (local town, city or township), county or the State of New Jersey can be responsible for the accident, and the injuries that result.  When “Public Entities” are involved (a municipality, county or the State, or state county or local agency) a whole set of additional rules comes into play.

The New Jersey Tort Claims Act is the law that governs legal claims for injuries against “Public Entities”.  Perhaps the most important of those rules is the requirement that an individual who claims he or she was injured due to the negligence of a public entity must provide formal notice to the public entity of his or her potential claim within 90 days of the accident.  That formal notice is called a “Tort Claims Notice”.  And, if you miss that deadline, it is extremely difficult to get permission from the courts to file the tort claims notice after the 90 days.  Without the filing of the “Tort Claim Notice”  you cannot bring a claim for your injuries.

So, if you’ve been injured, make sure to speak with your attorney promptly to make sure your tort claim notice, if necessary, is filed within the 90 days!

Local Good Samaritan’s Family in Need

A member of the Cooper Levenson client family was recently tragically killed while acting as a Good Samaritan.

John Charlton was attempting to aid a woman who was being assaulted when the assaulter turned on him causing him to sustain fatal injuries.

The family has started a “GoFundMe” page – https://www.gofundme.com/a-hero-and-a-gentleman – to help offset John’s medical and burial expenses.

During this season of thanks and giving, please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers. John was truly a gentleman and a hero!

Celebrate with Care!

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many, whether of Irish descent or not. We here at Cooper Levenson want all of our clients, friends and family to celebrate with care.

On average, over 50 people are killed in traffic accidents over the St. Patty’s Day holiday. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over the 2013 St. Patrick’s Day holiday approximately 40% of all motor vehicle accidents resulting in fatalities involved drinking and driving.

Senseless carnage on the highway, resulting in death or serious bodily injury, can easily be avoided by following some very simple guidelines:

  • Always designate a sober and reliable driver in your party to get you home safely.
  • If you drink at all, and do not have a designated driver, use a taxi, Uber, Lyft or similar car service. The cost of a car service pales in comparison to the cost of having a serious motor vehicle accident or DWI arrest.
  • There are apps available to help you get home safely. The NHTSA has a SaferRide app. Go to https://one.nhtsa.gov/link/saferride/. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun and enjoyable holiday where we get to enjoy time with our friends. Please be sure to keep it safe for yourself, your friends and family and all of your neighbors with whom you will be sharing the highway. In this manner, all of your St. Patty’s Day holiday memories will be fond memories!

Photo provided by the NHTSA

Brain injury after a car accident

You are at risk for a car accident in New Jersey every time you get in your vehicle. While any injury you may sustain during a collision could cause serious damage, one of the most potentially debilitating is trauma to the head. Here at Cooper Levenson Attorneys at Law, we understand the devastating effects that brain injuries can have on car accident victims, and we seek fair compensation for the trauma they endure. It is important to understand the signs of brain injury, as well as your treatment options, so that you can respond correctly.

According to the Mayfield Clinic, traumatic brain injury occurs when your brain jolts against the skull, causing bruising or swelling. One common cause of this type of injury is car accidents. In more severe cases, the impact could cause a breaking of internal nerves, which may cause you to lose consciousness for an extended period of time. TBI can also develop more severe physical issues after the initial impact. The swelling that occurs afterward puts additional pressure on your brain and the surrounding nerves. While this swelling may dissipate on its own, you may require surgical intervention to relieve the pressure.

Depending on the extent of the brain injury, you may experience dizziness, nausea and brief memory loss. Mild cases may require a visit to the doctor, but most severe injuries could require in-patient care at the hospital for constant monitoring. If you suffer severe TBI, you may have life-long effects, and possibly even an altered personality. When a major brain injury occurs, rehabilitation is often necessary to relearn simple everyday tasks, and to help you adjust to your altered lifestyle. More information about car accidents is available on our web page.

How Do I Stay Alert While Driving?

Most people in New Jersey probably understand the dangers associated with drowsy driving to an certain extent. However, according to UCLA Health, driving while tired may be as dangerous as drunk driving. It has the same effect on your mind and body’s ability to respond to the surroundings in a timely manner. In fact, an estimated 100,000 accidents occur annually as a result of fatigue behind the wheel. If you are planning a long road trip in the near future, or if you sense a regular sluggishness behind the wheel, you should be aware of the causes of drowsy driving and the steps to take to prevent it.

Drowsiness while driving may affect you for several reasons. If you are driving at a time during which you are normally asleep, your body will be programmed to rest at that time, and it may be difficult to stay awake. Most people’s bodies’ circadian rhythms expect nighttime sleep. Therefore, taking a road trip throughout the night presents a higher risk than daytime driving. Additionally, most adults admit that they do not get sufficient sleep. You need at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis in order to give your body the rest it needs.

It is important to plan ahead for a long road trip, or alter your lifestyle if you find yourself fighting fatigue behind the wheel. Ask a companion to join you on your trip to help keep you awake, and relieve you of your driving responsibilities if necessary. You may also benefit from intake of caffeine periodically to give you boosts of energy. Most importantly, allow your body to rest. Get a full night’s sleep before driving, and stop for breaks when needed.

The Costs of a Car Accident

The United States does not have a healthy track record when it comes to car accidents. In fact, according to CNN, when analyzed in a group of 20 affluent countries, the U.S. had the highest traffic-related death rate. The study found that an average of 19 car accident deaths occurred every day in the United States in 2013. While deaths are the most serious consequence of an accident, there are other ramifications that affect drivers and their passengers as well. Therefore, it is important for drivers in New Jersey to know about the peripheral expenses that may arise after an accident.

CheatSheet estimates that the average person will file an accident insurance claim about four times throughout his or her driving years. While some experience more accidents, and some experience fewer, everyone should prepared for an accident at some point. One of the most obvious expenses is vehicle repair. This may vary dramatically depending on the type of insurance coverage the driver has. Another related expense is renting a vehicle while the damaged one is being fixed. Some insurance plans may not cover a rental, so it may come as a surprise out-of-pocket expense.

Perhaps the most costly expense after a more severe accident is medical bills. While the at-fault driver may be required to cover the costs, their payment may not take place immediately. In the meantime, the victim may have to pay the medical bills and wait for a reimbursement. Injuries may also result in lost work time and income. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have a little bit of savings to cover the unexpected costs of a potential car accident.

Effect of sleeping pills on drivers

There are many factors which may affect drivers’ performance on the road in New Jersey. Driving under the influence of alcohol or while distracted by mobile devices has led to many accidents and deaths. However, there is another potential source of impairment for people behind the wheel: sleeping pills. ABC News reported an experiment that was conducted in a driving simulator. The subject took a sleeping pill containing zolpidem, the most common ingredient found in these products.

The effects of the drug 30 and 90 minutes after taking the pill were dramatic, severely altering reaction time and awareness of surrounding vehicles. However, the potential danger persists even after several hours. The medication recommends seven to eight hours of sleep before operating a vehicle. In fact, it may actually take 12 hours for the drug to leave the system completely, but many people do not allow that much time to lapse before getting behind the wheel. As more people seek prescriptions for sleeping medications, more negative effects have been discovered and added to the label as disclaimers. Ultimately, users of sleeping pills should understand the potential side effects and make careful decisions about driving after use.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, an added issue is the use of extended-release pills. Releasing zolpidem into the system over a longer period of time prolongs the effects and may impact drivers more severely the next day. The FDA recommends taking a lower dose in order to minimize these effects. This warning applies especially to women, who tend to retain the drug in their system for a longer period of time, but men are also encouraged to take a lower dosage.



Beware of “Ice Missiles”

By Randolph C. Lafferty

With the winter weather upon us, those of us who live in one of the cold-weather states will be dealing with snow and ice on motor vehicles. Everyone has probably observed, if not experienced, a vehicle covered in snow and ice driving on a highway. Then, without warning, some of the snow and ice break free and hurdle towards the motorists that are behind. Each year thousands of accidents are caused by these snow or ice “missiles.”

The problem has become so pervasive that many state legislatures have enacted laws to address the issue. In 2006, Pennsylvania adopted a law requiring the clearing of snow and ice from vehicles. New Jersey adopted a similar law in 2010 and Connecticut followed suit in 2014.

The New Jersey statute is N.J.S.A. 39:4-77.1 and requires that snow and ice must be removed by the operator from all surfaces before the vehicle is operated on the highway. Although the statute imposes a fine for simply operating a vehicle in this condition, if snow and/or ice should become dislodged from a moving vehicle and strike another vehicle or pedestrian causing injury or property damage, more severe penalties can be imposed. In this case, if the offending vehicle is a non-commercial motor vehicle the operator is subject to a minimum fine of $200 and maximum fine of $1000. If the offending vehicle is a commercial vehicle, then the operator, owner, lessee or bailee is subject to a minimum fine of $500 and maximum fine of $1500. Even aside from motor vehicle fines, if snow or ice thrown from your vehicle causes someone to suffer personal injury or property damage, you could also be subject to civil liability and responsibility as well.

So, the simple rule is to “clear the snow before you go”. You will be able to not only avoid fines and penalties, but also potential civil liability. If, however, you, a family member or friend are injured as a result of snow or ice that is carelessly propelled from another vehicle, please reach out to us at the Cooper Levenson Personal Injury Practice Group and let us help you secure fair and just compensation for your injuries.