Archives for May 2016

Task Forces Crack Down on Nursing Home Abuse

Federal officials announced last week that 10 new regional task forces have been formed to investigate nursing home neglect and abuse across the country. The task forces will combine the efforts of state, local and federal authorities and agencies in California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The combined efforts come in the aftermath of a Health and Human Services report that concluded that approximately one in three residents in American nursing homes have experienced harmful events during a stay in the last five years. Benjamin Mizer, a principal deputy assistant attorney general, pointed to the 2014 case involving Extendicare Health Care Services. That company ended up paying $38 million to settle an action under the False Claims Act alleging, among other things, that the company had failed to provide enough care to patients and didn’t follow protocols to prevent bedsores and falls.  The company admitted no wrongdoing but entered into a five-year agreement that it would use an independent quality monitor to oversee the quality of the care it provides.

Nursing Home Abuse is a serious problem that often goes unaddressed. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse contact us for a free consultation.

At the law office of Fritz & Bianculli, over 30 combined years of experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail.

Can a Parent Waive a Child’s Right to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When your child wants to play on a school sports team and school officials ask you to sign a waiver of liability, should your child be hurt, even if it’s a result of the school’s negligence? Are such releases valid? Can they be legally enforced to prevent your child from filing a lawsuit for any type of injury, even if it’s a result of the school’s carelessness?

The answer varies from state, but Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws are quite clear on the subject—a minor child generally cannot waive a right to sue and cannot have his or her right to sue waived by a parent.

Different organizations take different approaches to obtaining a waiver of liability (release and waiver are essentially interchangeable terms here). Some require the child and the parent to sign the waiver, but others only require the parent to sign. In both contexts, though, Pennsylvania and New Jersey apply long-accepted principles of contract law.

Where only the parent has signed the waiver, the parent’s right to sue may actually be waived. This waiver means that parents may not recover for medical expenses paid by them or any out of pocket expenses incurred.  However, since only the parent has signed the waiver, that does not preclude the child from suing for negligence or carelessness and recovering other damages, like pain and suffering.

In a situation where both the parent and the child sign the waiver, the child’s agreement to release or waive liability is generally not valid. One of the requirements of a valid contract is that the person entering into the contract must have the legal capacity to do so…i.e., the person must understand that he or she is entering into a contract, and must understand what that means. Someone who is mentally ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lack the capacity to understand the nature of a transaction. The same principle applies to someone who is under the age of 18.  Anyone under the age of 18 cannot enter into a contract unless it is for a necessity or they have been emancipated. Any contract signed by a minor is “voidable’ which means that the minor may choose to “disaffirm” or void a contract entered into before reaching the age of 18.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered nearly $200 million in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.