American Association for Justice – Trial: April 2016

Through the Haze

William S. Friedlander

From proving causation to obtaining damages, here are the most common obstacles you must overcome when representing elderly clients with cognitive disabilities – some of society’s most vulnerable members.

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Your longtime client asks you to represent his elderly mother in her negligence claims against a nursing home. The case involves a perfect storm: fractures sustained in successive unobserved falls, untreated pressure sores over the sacrum and heels, unmonitored declines in nutrition and hydration, and a dislodged feeding tube unnoticed by staff that led to long-term hospitalization. The home has a history of inadequate staffing and inattention to resident safety, nutrition, and hygiene; the mother – a retired teacher – was in good physical health and mental acuity. But when you visit the potential client, you discover definitive signs of cognitive impairment: She is withdrawn, rambling, and unable to recognize her son or engage in coherent conversation. Is this a case you’re able to take?

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