elderly-handsNursing home neglect is a devastating crime, for both the elderly victims and the family members who feel terrible guilt because their loved ones were mistreated in a place that should have given them loving care.

Over the years the Ziff Law Firm has handled a number of very sad cases where nursing home residents were either neglected or even actually abused by nursing home staff.

Now there is important news to report. Recent amendments to New York state’s Public Health Law have put some teeth into New York law in these cases.

Punitive = intended as punishment

The law provides for both a straight mathematical calculation of the MINIMUM damages that a jury may award as well as setting forth that a jury may award PUNITIVE damages if the jury finds that the nursing home engaged in conduct that was “willful or in reckless disregard of the lawful rights of the patient.” This is a very important amendment to New York state law and one that assists in protecting the health and safety of nursing home residents.

The Twin Tiers has a significant senior population. According to 2007 Census Bureau data, Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties all have a higher percentage of people over age 65 than the state average. The same holds true for Tioga and Bradford counties in Pennsylvania.

Geriatric health and accommodations are a big business in our area. Just consider the large number of nursing homes in this part of New York state:

In Steuben County: Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Three Rivers, Founders Pavilion, Hornell Gardens, Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital, Mcauley Manor at Mercycare and the Steuben County Infirmary.

In Chemung County, we have the Arnot-Ogden Medical Center Residential Health Care Facility, Bethany Nursing Home & Health Related Facility, Chemung County Health Center-Nursing Facility, Elcor, and the Skilled Nursing Facility at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Schuyler County: Schuyler Hospital’s Long Term Care Unit.

Yates County: Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital Extended Care Unit.

Tompkins County: Beechtree Care Center, Groton Community Health Care Center Residential Care Facility, Kendal at Ithaca, Lakeside Nursing Home and Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home.

I found all these nursing homes in a just a few minutes spent on the New York State Department of Health website, http://nursinghomes.nyhealth.gov. The Department of Health offers quality and cost comparisons of nursing homes for every New York state county; the Pennsylvania Department of Health offers a similar service at http://app2.health.state.pa.us/commonpoc/NHLocatorIE.asp.

Given that the Twin Tiers has so many facilities for elder care, the Ziff Law Firm feels that it is important for people to know about this recent change in the law. It’s a powerful new tool in finding a legal remedy if a loved one in a nursing home is subjected to neglect or abuse that results in significant injury or damage.

Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:jreed@zifflaw.com http://www.zifflaw.com