What types of Ashtabula Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases do You Handle?
We handle all kinds of nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Ashtabula, Ohio. These cases usually involve one or more of the following:
Elder abuse refers to intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm, regardless of whether harm is intended, to an elderly person by a caregiver. Abuse includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy an elder’s basic needs—neglect.
Bedsores shouldn’t happen. We investigate to find answers for families when a nursing home allows a bedsore to worsen or kill their loved one.
Nursing home residents should never choke or suffocate in nursing homes. Choking and suffocation deaths in nursing home are preventable. Unfortunately, they do happen. And probably much more often than most people can imagine. Choking and suffocation continue to be leading causes of death in nursing homes.
Nursing home dehydration and malnutrition are serious and deadly threats to older people. When nursing homes are understaffed or careless with resident health, dehydration can set in all too quickly.
Nursing home residents are often frail, weak, and unstable. They need help moving from place-to-place or getting in and of bed.
Unfortunately, nursing homes continue to allow residents to fall and become injured. Fractures of large bones (like hips and femurs) often lead to death in the elderly.
Nursing homes need to protect their residents. Elderly people with memory problems sometimes wander off. This is called “elopement.”
Nursing homes are required to assess residents to prevent this from happening. Nursing homes must have precautions in place to prevent residents from wandering off. This includes having the appropriate amount of staff to monitor residents. Nursing homes must also place alarms on doors and respond to those alarms to stop residents before they are injured.
If residents are permitted to wander off they can be severely injured. There have been examples of residents freezing to death in cold, being struck by cars, and falling down stairs.
It should go without saying that sexual abuse anywhere, including in nursing homes, is a crime that must be eradicated from society. Disgustingly, every year we see nursing home sexual abuse cases make headlines.
These are frequently the result of corporate greed and incompetence refusing to do required background checks.
When a nursing home’s abuse and neglect causes injury, the injured resident has a personal injury case. When that injury causes the resident’s death—whether immediately, or over time—the resident’s family has a case. It is called a “wrongful death” claim.
Medication errors are one of the leading causes of unintentional deaths in nursing homes.
Assisted Living Facilities, called Residential Care Facilities in Ohio, are not nursing homes, and are not as well-regulated as nursing homes. That doesn’t mean someone injured or killed in a residential care facility has no claim. But the types of claims, and how to pursue them, are different.
Where Do Ashtabula, Ohio Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Cases Go to Trial?
Nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Ashtabula go to trial at the Ashtabula, Ohio Courthouse.
25 W Jefferson Street
Jefferson, OH 44047
Who are the Judges who will Preside over My Ashtabula, Ohio Nursing Home Abuse Case?
How many judges are siting on the county court of Common Pleas.
Judge Thomas Harris
Judge Marianne Sezon
Judge Gary Yost
Judge Robert Wyn
Judge David Schroeder
Who will be on the Jury in My Ashtabula, Ohio Nursing Home Case?
The jury is made up of regular people who live in Ashtabula, Ohio. A large group of people will receive a letter (called a summons) telling them to come to court for jury duty.
Not everyone who receives a summons will be on the jury. The entire group that comes to court is called the “jury pool.”
The lawyers and the judge then get to ask questions to see who will be a good fit for the case. Some people will not be chosen for a number of reasons. It could be that they know one of the people involved in the case or may be biased for some reason.
A total of 8 people will be on the jury. 6 of those 8 people will need to find in your favor to win your case. To learn more about Ashtabula County jury duty click here.
Who Performs Autopsies in Ashtabula County?
Autopsies are performed under the supervision of Dr.Pamela Lancaster. Pamela Lancaster, D.O. is the Ashtabula County Coroner.
A Coroner shall be elected quadrennially in each county, who shall hold his office for a term of four years, beginning on the first Monday of January next after his election. (ORC 313.01)
Dr. Pamela Lancaster can be contacted at the following address.
W. Jefferson Street
Jefferson, OH 44047
What Does The Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office Do?
According to its website link, the Ashtabula County Coroner does all of the following.
By Ohio law, the Ashtabula County coroner is a part-time elected official. The office is a 24/7 operation. We are staffed with the coroner, 2 full-time investigators and 1 part-time administrative assistant.
The Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office is authorized by the laws of the State of Ohio to conduct independent investigations into sudden, unexpected, unnatural, suspicious, or violent death. The Ohio Legislature, by law, has chosen to separate the coroner’s office from law enforcement and has given the Coroner’s Office specific authority into the investigations of death.
The standard forensic (medical and legal) issues in a coroner’s Death Investigation Case require medical facts and often many non-medical facts that allow a conclusion to be made about the manner of death. Investigation by specially trained coroner investigators then becomes of paramount importance.
Some of the duties of the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office include:
- Determine the approximate date and time of death, as well as the cause and manner of death
- Determine the need for an autopsy and / or toxicology
- Photograph and document the scene
- Preserve, process and collect evidence at the scene, including the interview of witnesses, family members, physicians, etc.
- Removal of the body in a dignified manner with timely notification of next-of-kin
- Sign and file death certificates
- Respond and thoroughly investigate death scenes, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week
The Coroner’s Office interacts with family members, during and after the death investigation, to ensure an unbiased, accurate and thorough investigation. The Coroner’s Office also works closely with other agencies including law enforcement, governmental and health agencies, hospitals and funeral homes.
Education & Training
Training and education is an important issue with the Coroner’s Office. The office provides educational training, in the field of death investigation, to law enforcement, fire, health and community service agencies. The coroner and investigators also receive ongoing continuing education by attending death investigation, medical and forensic seminars.
Can I Report My Loved One’s Death to the Coroner?
Yes. If you believe that your loved one died under suspicious circumstances or because of abuse or neglect, you should report the death to the coroner.
You can report a death to the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office by following this link.
What Types of Deaths Should Be Reported to the Coroner’s Office?
Not all deaths have to be reported to the coroner, also called a medical examiner in some counties. However, whenever a person dies of “violent, suspicious, unusual, or sudden death,” that has to be reported to the coroner by law in Ohio.
Ohio Revised Code 313.12 says:
When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, by casualty, by suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, when any person, including a child under two years of age, dies suddenly when in apparent good health, or when any person with a developmental disability dies regardless of the circumstances, the physician called in attendance, or any member of an ambulance service, emergency squad, or law enforcement agency who obtains knowledge thereof arising from the person’s duties, shall immediately notify the office of the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner, and circumstances of the death, and any other information that is required pursuant to sections 313.01 to 313.22 of the Revised Code.
Only the coroner or medical examiner can certify a death as being anything other than “natural.” This means that only a medical examiner or coroner can determine whether a person’s death was the result of suicide, homicide, or accident.
Most nursing home deaths that result in litigation are caused by accidental death or homicide.
Unfortunately, far too many primary care and other doctors choose not to alert the coroner or medical examiner after a person has died following trauma or other unusual circumstances, including after a nursing home resident falls.
When this occurs, it is important for the family to contact the coroner or medical examiner’s office as soon as possible. This can help ensure that the proper cause of death is given.
What Does it Mean to Probate An Estate?
The deceased person cannot file his own lawsuit. Ohio law has a process where all beneficiaries are represented in a single wrongful death lawsuit through the creation of an estate. Although each surviving member of a decedent’s immediate family may be entitled to receive monetary compensation, there is only one cause of action for the recovery of that compensation under Ohio’s wrongful death statute.
Opening An Estate
The actual lawsuit is brought in the name of the representative of the estate for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse, children, parents, and other next-of-kin. The estate is created by filing certain paperwork in the probate court.
The “estate” is nothing more than a legal process where the probate court oversees the business of the deceased (including where money is being sent and how or if debts are being paid) and the wrongful death claim that belongs to the family members.
The probate court will then issue paperwork entitling a specific person to serve as the representative of the estate. The individual appointed by the probate court is the personal representative of the estate. The personal representative is then required to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the estate. The probate court must approve any wrongful death settlement.
Choosing A Personal Representative
Any competent adult person may serve as the personal representative of an estate. In order to be appointed as a personal representative of an estate in Ohio, a person must meet 4 requirements.
- Be at least 18 years of age (i.e., legally competent);
- Be mentally competent;
- Be bonded by a private insurance company; and
- Not have a criminal record (in order to be bonded).
If the deceased dies with a will, the will sometimes waives the bond requirement. Under those circumstances, in order to be appointed as the personal representative, the person must only meet the first two requirements, be over the age of 18 and be mentally competent.
Prior to appointing a personal representative of an estate, beneficiaries have the right to receive notice of the request and object to an applicant’s request to be the personal representative in a hearing. If the beneficiaries do not object to a person being named a personal representative and he or she meets the legal requirements, he or she will usually be named the personal representative by the probate court.
There is no requirement that the personal representative be a beneficiary of the wrongful death claim, be a member of the family, or even have ever known the deceased person. On certain occasions, a lawyer, bank official, or other neutral third-party may be appointed as the personal representative of the estate. This may be the most desirable outcome if, for example, no family member can be bonded or there is family conflict that prevents all beneficiaries from agreeing on a single family member to serve as personal representative.
What does A Personal Representative Do?
In many ways, the personal representative acts like plaintiff in a traditional lawsuit. The difference, however, is that the personal representative is not only making decisions that affect his or her own interests, but is making decisions that affect all beneficiaries of the wrongful death claim.
For example, the personal representative decides whether to file a lawsuit, who and when to sue, what lawyer to have represent the estate for court proceedings, and whether or not to settle the lawsuit, although the probate court must always approve the settlement before it can be finalized.
The personal representative often times has more contact with the lawyers representing the estate (although this is not always the case), is required to participate in certain stages of litigation after the lawsuit is filed called discovery, attends court hearings and pre-trials, and participates in settlement negotiations and mediations.
The personal representative is important because they have the power to choose which lawyer will protect all the beneficiaries’ interests. This is an important decision. The lawyer chosen has a tremendous impact on the final settlement or jury verdict. Picking an experienced wrongful death lawyer who has the ability and expertise to not only go to trial but secure a jury verdict is critical.
Given the amount of responsibility that goes into being the personal representative of an estate, it is important to have a personal representative who is organized, responsive, willing to vigorously pursue the claim, and make decisions that are most advantageous to all beneficiaries.
A probate court may remove the administrator of decedent’s estate when the administrator refuses to bring a wrongful death action when a legitimate wrongful death claim exists. See Toledo Bar Ass’n v. Rust, 124 Ohio St. 3d 305, 2010 Ohio 170.
Where is the Probate Court in Ashtabula, Ohio?
25 West Jefferson Street
Jefferson, Ohio 44047
What Nursing Homes Do You Investigate and Sue in Ashtabula County?
We investigate claims against all nursing homes in Ashtabula County. At an any given time, we are usually investigating multiple facilities in the area for nursing wrongful death. Those deaths may be caused by falls or drops, medication errors, dehydration, malnutrition, infection, bedsores, sexual assault or rape, and other forms of physical abuse.