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Elder Abuse: A 101 Guide to Spotting Elder Abuse

If you have an elderly loved one who is living in an assisted living community, a nursing home, or some other environment that is outside of your constant access, you probably worry about them a great deal. Not only are elderly at risk for all of the conditions and issues that can come with old age and failing health, but there are also issues of elder abuse and neglect that are cause for concern.  Whether you are worried about a neighbor, a parent or relative, or a long-time friend who is at risk, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the warning signs of elder abuse so that you can take action quickly if you see it.

The most common indications that an older person may be being victimized by an abuser include:

  • Signs of physical abuse, including unexplained bruises on their body, broken bones for which there are no good explanations, burn or abrasion marks on the skin, and pressure marks on the wrists, ankles or waist that may indicate that they have been restrained
  • Signs of emotional abuse, including changes in mood, such as depression or withdrawal and diminished interest in engagement with normal social activities and hobbies
  • Signs of sexual abuse, including bruising around the genitals or breasts, bloody underwear, pajamas or bed sheets, and evidence of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Signs of financial abuse and exploitation usually show up in credit card bills with unexplained charges for items that they are not likely to use, withdrawals from financial accounts, missing personal items and cash, and a general change in their financial situation
  • Signs of neglect include bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, unusual weight loss, and unattended hygiene and medical needs
  • Lack of cooperation or evidence of tension from the staff, including refusing to let you see your loved one without them being present in the room at the same time

It is important to keep in mind that not every negative occurrence that takes place in the life of an elderly person is an indication of abuse. The elderly person may be prone to bruising as a result of medication that they are taking, may lose their balance easily and that can result in a fall. However, if the person that you are concerned about expresses fear or tells you that they are being abused, it is important to take them seriously. It is generally a good idea to schedule visits to a nursing home or care facility at a variety of times without announcing when you can be expected.

If you do suspect elder abuse or neglect, your first step needs to be ensuring the safety of your loved one. Call the appropriate authorities, as it is better to be safe than sorry and a truly caring facility will appreciate that you are acting out of concern. If you find that your loved one has been victimized and you need legal representation in order to help pay for any medical expenses, relocation needs or damages that they have suffered, the caring attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today to set up an immediate appointment.

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Nursing Home Prescription Errors: Protect Your Loved Ones if They Are Victims of Prescription Error

The statistics regarding nursing home prescription errors are frightening. According to the National Institutes of Health there are over 50 million medication errors made in nursing homes every year, and over three million of those have the potential for having life-threatening results. Each year roughly 800,000 residents of a long-term care or nursing home setting are injured as a result of a medication mistake, and 100,000 die. The two most common medication errors that occur are delayed delivery of medication and delivering either the wrong dose or the completely wrong medication. The statistic that may be most frightening is the one that says that it’s estimated that only 1.5 percent of these mistakes are actually reported.

If you are a person who has a parent, grandparent, friend or family member residing in a nursing home then you have good cause for concern. Not only do these errors happen on a regular basis, but nursing homes have also been found to improperly medicate patients on purpose in order to keep them quiet. This “chemical restraint” happens all too frequently, with residents being given anti-psychotic drugs in order to minimize the outward expressions of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or simply frustration.  When residents are given medication incorrectly, whether purposefully or by accident, it is simply unacceptable and often dangerous. Nursing home residents are placed in care specifically because they are in a fragile state of health. A missed medication can have repercussions because what has been prescribed is often essential, and an incorrect medication can t cause harm to a system that is already in a weakened state.

There are many reasons why nursing homes make errors in the delivery of prescription medication. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) says that Americans who are 75 or older take an average of eleven medications over a one-year period. Multiplying that many medications per person by the number of residents being cared for in a single facility creates a need for high level administration of drug delivery, but nursing homes are notoriously short-staffed and undertrained.  Add to that the fact that medications can be mislabeled, or two medications with similar names can be confused, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Despite the difficulty inherent with the delivery of prescription medications in an nursing home, it is the responsibility of the home to prevent these errors from occurring. Failure to do so is negligence, and can result in serious injury or even death. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing some kind of adverse reaction to a medication error it is essential that you seek medical attention for them immediately. When dealing with somebody in compromised health, a delay can be deadly. If you find that a medication error was made and it was the fault of the nursing home that you entrusted with your loved one’s care, seek help from an attorney immediately. Nursing home prescription medication mistakes can be costly in terms of your loved one’s health and well being, as well as resulting medical costs. The attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers are here to help.

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Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers: Know The Signs Of Nursing Home Abuse

Placing a loved one into the care of a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions a family can make. No matter what the circumstances or how plain the need for skilled medical help, there is always a degree of guilt about putting the responsibility for care into somebody else’s hands and the fear of the unknown.

The news today is filled with stories of nursing home residents facing abuse at the hands of those tasked with providing their most basic needs. Nursing home workers are often underpaid, undertrained and overworked, providing a recipe for anger, frustration and apathy. At Perkins Law, we believe that no matter how reputable the facility you’ve chosen for your loved one, it is essential for you to educate yourself about the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect and remain vigilant. You cannot rely upon your loved one to tell you what is happening — in some cases they are incapable of communicating what is happening or may fear retribution, while others may remain stoic, choosing not to burden family members with their problems.

Nursing home abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, and each has its own signs and warning signals. The most critical indications include:

  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Bed sores or cuts
  • Burns or scrapes
  • Weight loss
  • Poor personal hygiene, unchanged sheets, soiled linens and clothes
  • Infections
  • Torn or stained clothing, bloody clothing or bedding

In addition to these, family members should also take note of changes in behavior, which an be an indication of intimidation, neglect, or theft:

  • Lack of responsiveness
  • Fearful behavior and apparent paranoia
  • Emotional and physical withdrawal
  • Personal items missing
  • Unusual financial transactions

The behaviors and indications listed here may represent physical abuse such as assault and battery, forced restraint either through physical means or chemical means (drugging the resident into a state of quiet), and even rape. Emotional abuses that take place in nursing homes take the form of either total neglect in which the resident is left sitting alone for hours, not fed, isolated and disregarded, or active abuse in the form of insults, threats, and humiliation.

It is incumbent upon family and friends to stay alert and on the lookout for any signs and to take quick action if you suspect that something may be wrong. If you see any of the signs listed above, or are visiting with your loved one and find that the staff is acting in an unusual way such as not leaving you alone in the room with the resident or delaying your access to them, this is neither normal nor acceptable and is cause for concern. Disregarding warning signs can put your loved one at risk. At the first inkling of a problem have a discussion with management, and if this does not dispel your worries then it may be time to seek outside help. The dedicated attorneys at Perkins Law are experienced nursing home abuse lawyers who will take immediate action.


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Someone Didn’t Shovel their Sidewalk in CT. Can I Sue?

In the state of Connecticut, the winters can be long and precipitation can be deep. Snow and ice create a real hazard, and the risk of injuries caused by slipping and falling is significant. If you have been hurt as a result of falling on a sidewalk that has not been shoveled or is covered with ice, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the injuries you’ve sustained. The important question that needs to be answered is, “Who is responsible?” The answer depends on whether the property is public or private.

The Connecticut Sidewalk Law establishes that when a sidewalk is public, such as on a commercial street, abutting landowners are not responsible for the safety of the sidewalk in front of their property. The law says that is the individual municipality that has that duty, and that if the municipality fails to keep the sidewalk clear then they are liable for damages. That being said, there are two exceptions to the rule.  One exception is if a statute or ordinance has specifically shifted that responsibility to the landowner whose property abuts the sidewalk, and the second is if the landowner has taken some kind of action that created an unsafe condition. Because Connecticut enacted legislation that permitted municipalities to shift the obligation to keep the sidewalks clear to property owners, almost all municipalities in the state have done so.

It is important to remember that the expectation that a property owner will keep their sidewalks free of snow and ice is carefully prescribed, and the ability to file suit is not automatic. Certain allowances are made, and an injured party must be able to show that the property owner had what is known as “actual or constructive notice” of the dangerous condition. This means that the ice and snow must have been present long enough that it would be reasonably expected that the property owner would have discovered it. This expectation takes into account factors such as the rigors of winter, allowing the defendant to wait til the end of a storm and for a period thereafter.  In many cases, a property owner may argue that they were not aware that their sidewalk was icy – in these cases, weather reports and meteorological data can be used to provide proof of how long a dangerous condition was present.

In addition to proving that sufficient time went by without the property owner clearing snow, you also will need to be able to prove that they actually failed to do so. If a property owner can show good reason why a specific area was not yet shoveled, their lack of action may be deemed justifiable by the courts. Additionally, you will need to prove that you did not contribute to your own accident and exercised reasonable care to avoid being injured.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident caused by an unshoveled or icy sidewalk, Perkins Law can help. Contact us today and we’ll review the specifics of your situation. We are here to help.

Slip and Fall at a Connecticut Restaurant

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common reasons why people seek legal representation from a personal injury attorney, and when a slip and fall happens at a restaurant, it provides the perfect explanation for why people pursue this type of lawsuit. When you enter a business with the idea of enjoying yourself, getting a meal and spending money within the premises, you have every reason to expect that you will not be exposed to dangerous conditions. If you fall and end up injured as a result of the negligence of those who own or are responsible for the restaurant’s operation, then it is reasonable and within your legal rights to expect them to provide you with compensation for any damages that they’ve been responsible for.

Slip and fall lawsuits fall under the category of premises liability law in the state of Connecticut. Whether your fall is a result of snow or ice on a sidewalk, a loose carpet or slippery stair, or a stray piece of debris or food that has fallen on the floor and ignored by the staff, the general principle of premises liability states that as a person who has been either expressly or implicitly invited onto the property you are owed the highest duty of care. This means that the restaurant needs to take every precaution to ensure your safety, generally by constantly inspecting the environment to ensure that no dangerous conditions are present and to repair or post warnings if they are.  When these duties aren’t met and it can be proven that there was knowledge that the dangerous or unsafe condition existed, then the restaurant owner is considered responsible.

Some restaurant owners may attempt to defend themselves against liability lawsuits by indicating that you as a visitor had a responsibility to be careful, and it is true that there is an expectation that you exercise reasonable care and don’t put yourself into a dangerous predicament.  In other situations a business owner may defend themself by saying that the dangerous condition was so new that they had no opportunity to correct it. Connecticut does allow a reasonable amount of time for corrections to be made, and proving liability in a restaurant slip and fall accidentis dependent upon a number of factors. That is why it is so essential that if you are injured in a fall that takes place in a business of any kind, you reach out to an experienced premises liability attorney for an assessment of your case and their opinion as to whether or not your rights have been violated.

Though an injury that takes place in a restaurant may seem like  a clear cut case of premises liability, every situation is different and requires a careful analysis, as well as an experienced attorney representing your case. The liability attorneys of Perkins Law are knowledgeable and compassionate. If you have been the victim of negligence we will aggressively pursue those responsible and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.


Medical Malpractice: Birth Injuries in Connecticut

If you’re a new parent, two of the most frightening words you can possibly hear are “birth injury.” After months of anticipating the day of your baby’s birth as one of the happiest experiences of your life, there is nothing that can describe the heartache, fear, and grief of learning that some sort of medical mistake was made during the pregnancy, labor or delivery that has caused harm or pain to your child.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that every year thousands of newborns are impacted healthcare personnel errors. In the best situations these mistakes are minor and the child goes on to live a normal, healthy life, but in other instances the victims are impacted forever. When this is the case, you need the help of a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney with experience representing those affected by birth injuries. The attorneys at Perkins Law can help.

There are a number of specific birth injuries that commonly occur as a result of medical malpractice. Some of these occur as a result of mistakes that are made in prenatal care or during labor and delivery, while others are neonatal injuries that occur after birth. At all times, medical professionals are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care and attention in order to prevent injuries from happening, and failure to do so often constitutes medical malpractice.

Among the birth injuries that are most frequently seen are cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy. Though many people are under the mistaken impression that cerebral palsy is a disease, it is actually a form of brain damage that is generally caused by a physical injury to the head or a lack of oxygen, and which often represents something going wrong during the birth. Erb’s palsy is also common during difficult childbirths. It is the result of an injury to the nerves of the shoulder, and results in a paralysis of the arm that, though generally temporary, can require costly and painful intervention.

When your child has been the victim of a birth injury, it is important that you have a highly skilled attorney representing you in this complex area of law. In addition to having extensive experience, your lawyer must be able to understand the medical records involved, and know what they are looking for in the evidence supporting your case against the physician, health care worker or facility responsible for the injury. At Perkins Law, our resources include an extensive network of medical experts who can not only provide us with their opinion about the injury and its causes, but who can also provide us with essential information about what your child will need in the future, and what the costs will be. With this information we are able to comprehensively present your child’s case so that all damages past, present and future will be addressed.

Jonathan Perkins Invited to Judge Yale Law School Mock Trial

The Yale Law School Thomas Swan Barristers’ Union holds an annual mock trial for students to learn trial advocacy skills. This year, Jonathan Perkins has been asked to judge this prestigious competition.

The competition takes place in March and offers students the chance to sharpen their skills in a simulated trial setting. Participation is open to all Yale Law School students and requires they prepare witnesses, write pre-trial motions, opening statements, direct and cross examinations and give closing arguments.

The winners of the mock trial will proceed to the National Trial Competition, where Yale’s competitors will face intramural mock trial participants from across the nation.

Yale Law School is known for its rich history and academic standards of excellence and is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top law schools. U.S. News’ recent list of 2014’s Best Law Schools names Yale as number one with a 2012 acceptance rate of only 8.3%.

As a judge in the competition, Jonathan Perkins will have the opportunity to help some of the legal industry’s future stars hone their trial skills and experience the excitement of bringing a case to life in the courtroom.

One in Seven Medical Errors are Reported

According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, about 98,000 patients each year die as a result of hospital medical errors, but only about 13 percent of medical negligence victims will file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The New York Times reported that only one in seven medical errors or accidents that result in the injury of Medicare patients is being reported by caretakers. Additionally, according to the same report, even after an injury has occurred, it is rare that the facility takes the necessary steps to ensure the same accident does not happen again.

The unreported accidents were found by independent doctors that reviewed patients’ medical records. Some of the most common unreported injuries include:

  • Severe bedsores
  • Hospital-acquired infections
  • Delirium from excessive painkillers
  • Excessive bleeding from improperly-used blood thinners

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that was caused by a medical error, it is important to have an experienced medical malpractice lawyer by your side. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have the ability to successfully prepare and present the facts of your case to ensure that you recover any losses incurred as a result of your injury. You could be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, physical pain and mental anguish. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.

Route 9 Motorcyclist Fatality

A Berlin man died on Route 9 near the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown when he lost control of his motorcycle and collided with a parked Toyota Prius on Tuesday, October 1. The motorcyclist was 56-year-old Mark Lemanski, who worked for aircraft giant Pratt and Whitney.

Route 9 and Harford Avenue were closed after the accident as police investigated, and any witnesses are asked to contact Officer Doug Clark at (860) 638-4064.

According to the police report, Lemanski lost control of his motorcycle and struck the vehicle of Frank Mohr, 55, who did not sustain any injuries. Lemanski was transported to Middlesex hospital and died from his injuries.

If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, contact our firm today for a free review of your case.

General Motors Recall Affects 3.16 Million Additional Vehicles

A new recall from General Motors is affecting 3.16 million additional vehicles across the country. Yesterday’s recall announcement brings the total of recalled vehicles to approximately 20 million this year alone.

The affected vehicles, model years ranging from 2000 to 2014, will need to have the ignition switches and keys replaced to correct a defect which could cause the switch to slip out of place if the vehicle is jostled by a strong bump.

Though the current recall sounds similar to the recalls which began four months ago, GM says that this switch problem is unrelated to the defect which caused its initial recalls in the Chevy Cobalt.

The makes and models of the newly recalled vehicles are:

  • Buick Lacrosse, 2005-2009
  • Chevrolet Impala, 2006-2014
  • Cadillac Deville, 2000–2005
  • Cadillac DTS, 2004–2011
  • Buick Lucerne, 2006–2011
  • Buick Regal LS & GS, 2004–2005
  • Chevy Monte Carlo, 2006–2008

The new recall comes on the heels of several other recalls plaguing the GM brand. Beginning approximately four months ago, GM began a series of recalls relating to defective ignition switches in several of its models. These vehicles had the potential to slip out of gear or turn off while driving, which led to dozens of accidents and at least 13 deaths.

General Motors, who filed bankruptcy in 2008, is currently in federal court waiting for a judge to decide if the company can avoid liability for any accidents which occurred prior to its bankruptcy filing. A decision on whether or not General Motors will have to entertain pre-bankruptcy lawsuits will likely not be made until after a lengthy bankruptcy court hearing currently scheduled in July.

In the wake of several lawsuits seeking damages totaling upwards of a billion dollars, the automaker may be issuing more recalls in an attempt to head off any further liability for accidents caused by potential defects.

If your vehicle is the subject of a recall, be sure to take it to a General Motors dealership for repairs. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident that may have been caused by a defective auto part, call the experienced auto accident and product liability attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers. Call 1-800-PERKINS today for your free initial consultation.