It’s something we’d all rather not think about, but when it happens, you need to act quickly and responsibly to protect your rights and your those of your loved ones. Elder abuse and neglect amount to over 2 million cases each year, although only a small fraction of those are ever reported. The National Center on Elder Abuse states that 36% of nursing homes have been in violation of elder abuse laws at one time or another. It’s a frightening statistic.
Even when you’ve done everything possible to select a quality home for them, your loved ones still carry a roughly 1 in 10 chance of being the victim of neglect, abuse, or exploitation. If the unthinkable does occur, you need justice for them. You need accountability and consequences for those responsible. And you need a lawyer to help make that happen.
Choosing the right law firm to assist in your elder abuse lawsuit can be bewildering and complicated. Take the right steps to assist and ease your decision.
Find an Elder Abuse Specialist
You’ll want first to consider the area of expertise for a law firm or individual lawyer. You want someone with experience, knowledge, and successful litigation specifically in elder and nursing home abuse cases. A prominent lawyer in tax law, or divorce proceedings, or medical malpractice may be ill-suited for your unique requirements. Go to an expert. Seek an authority in your location.
To start, consult a directory like Martindale or Nolo Find a Lawyer (they connect 50,000 consumers with lawyers every month). You can search by name, practice area, and geography. And while finding a firm that specializes in elder abuse is crucial, you’ll also want someone in your state. This guarantees that they’ll have the keen understanding of state-specific laws, procedures, and regulations necessary.
When considering a particular law firm, examine their client base, lawsuit awards, verdicts, and settlements. Many firms list these on their website, and if not, you should be able to inquire about them. Have they won abuse lawsuits in the past?
Once you have a short list of candidates based on practice area and geography, you should next seek a referral from an individual or organization. Talk to friends and family, online reviews, forums, the local bar association, or government agencies at either the state or federal level. You can find them with a simple online search. They may be able to make a recommendation based on experience.
Another reliable resource is Super Lawyers, with detailed profiles of attorneys that exhibit excellence in their work. Each lawyer is evaluated against 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. The top 5% in each area are awarded an annual Super Lawyer designation. Compare your list to theirs.
Consider Their Personal Characteristics
With your options further reduced to just a few in your area, it’s time to reach out to each firm. Send a brief email explaining your situation, or make a quick phone call. Use this opportunity to evaluate their communication skills – do they come across as professional, are they articulate and knowledgeable? – and promptness. If they take several days to reply, they’re likely not a good match. They’re too busy or not interested.
Arrange a Consultation
With those that meet your standards up to this point, the final step is to meet with them for a formal, face-to-face consultation.
- How long have they been in practice? How many elder abuse cases have they worked on?
- Do they usually settle, or take suits to trial?
- What are their fees like? Is it a flat rate, hourly, retainer, contingency, or statutory?
- What is their opinion of your case?
Get a feel for them. Do they seem interested and invested in your case, or do they seem rushed and put-off by your meeting? Do they have the right balance of professional know-how and sympathy? Are you comfortable with them?
Ultimately, you should trust your instincts. If you feel it’s not the right firm for you, it’s probably not.
An elder abuse lawsuit is something that we hope no one ever has to navigate. But if you do, find and trust the experts. If you believe you have an elder abuse case, please consider contacting the experienced team at Duffy & Duffy. We’re on your side.