Long Beach Rehab Facility Negligence & Wrongful Death Attorneys
Contending with the passing of a loved one can be difficult, especially if their death was the result of a negligent rehabilitation or treatment facility. These facilities are meant to help our loved ones deal with a substance abuse problem or recover from a mental illness and must take great care to ensure they heal properly. When they fail to do so and a resident is injured or dies, they should be held accountable.
If you lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of a rehab or treatment facility, reach out to The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV. Our lead trial attorney is an aggressive advocate for victims of negligence throughout California and can thoroughly investigate your case to determine if a facility caused your loved one’s death. To learn how to hold a negligent treatment or rehab facility liable in a claim, contact our Long Beach office at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free at (888) 454-5569.
Substance abuse and mental health facilities often see residents when they are at their lowest. These facilities are often designed for inpatient care, meaning they must provide round-the-clock treatment and supervision for residents. This can mean everything from providing emergency medical treatment, mental health counseling, group therapy, medication, and even oversee individuals with suicidal tendencies. However, like nursing homes, these facilities can become breeding grounds for negligence and abuse.
Negligence can occur on many levels, from staff members abusing residents to administrators hiring poorly trained staff or withholding treatment. While no resident should ever be mistreated at a rehab or mental health facility, many suffer catastrophic injuries and even die due to abuse and neglect. This can take many forms, including:
- Sexual assaults
- Emotional abuse
- Physical attacks, shoving, or forced restraints
- Financial fraud, including healthcare and insurance fraud
- Failure to provide necessary treatments
- Failure to maintain medication dosages, often leading to overdoses
- Failure to maintain a healthy and clean facility
- Failure to follow treatment protocols
- Failure to access a resident’s condition or health
- Failure to receive state and federal certifications
- Failure to train staff
- Hiring inexperienced or dangerous staff
- Understaffing a facility
- Slip and fall hazards
Many residents voluntarily go to rehabilitation or mental health facilities to receive proper treatment for their conditions. What ever issue they are dealing with, staff and administrators should do everything within their power to protect residents from harm, including if that harm comes at the hands of a staff member. If a facility was aware that a staff member was abusive or a danger to residents, they should immediately fire that individual. Sadly, many facilities overlook these issues in the name of profits, often at the expense of their residents. However, any of the above actions, whether it involves abuse or neglect, can be a violation of both state and federal regulations.
Over the years, drug and alcohol facilities, as well as mental health facilities, have come under scrutiny for the failure to respect residents’ rights and protect them from abuse or neglect. As a result of these failures, several laws have been passed to safeguard residents and outline strict regulations that facilities must abide by.
In the state of California, there are several state departments that have oversight over treatment facilities, including:
- The Department of Mental Health, which oversees mental health facilities
- The Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, which oversees addiction recovery programs
- The Division of Juvenile Justice, which oversees mental health services for juvenile detention facilities
These departments, alongside the Department of Health Care Services, oversee the treatment of all inpatient residents who require assistance with mental health conditions, drug and alcohol dependency, and suicide. This oversight is also enforced through several laws, which apply on a state and federal level. If a facility violates any of these laws and a resident is injured or killed, then it would be liable in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
On a state level, California treatment facilities must abide by all rules and regulations as outlined by the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPSA), which guarantees a resident the:
- Right to privacy and confidentiality
- Right to medical treatment and care
- Right to refuse treatment
- Right to informed consent
- Right to medication (and to refuse medication)
- Right to dignity and humane care
- Right to be free of abuse and neglect
- Right to education
- Right to religious freedom and practices
- Right to freedom from discrimination
- Right to clothing, money, personal possessions, mail, writing materials, storage space, phone calls, and visitors (with good cause)
With regard to federal laws, drug and alcohol rehabilitation center or a mental health facility are overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This department works alongside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that all residents receive proper care and treatment for behavioral or developmental issues, including mental illnesses and addictions. Through this facility, several federal laws are enforced to protect residents from neglect or abuse, including:
- Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018
- 21st Century Cures Act
- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)
- Affordable Care Act (ACA)
- Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act
- Children’s Health Act
Despite all of these regulations and departmental oversight, many residents are still mistreated, injured, and killed due to the negligent actions of facility staff and administrators. Oftentimes, a victim’s family will not even realize there is an issue until it is too late. But that does not mean you cannot hold the facility accountable for your loved one’s death.
If you discover your loved one is being neglected or abused at a treatment facility early enough, you may be able to contact the proper authorities to have your resident moved out of the facility. In addition, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the facility if your loved one suffered a bodily injury to recover financial compensation. This may involve an in-depth investigation and either a settlement negotiation or jury trial, all of which can be handled by our lead trial attorney at The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV.
However, if the worst-case scenario has occurred, and your loved one died due to mistreatment, neglect, or abuse at a facility, then you do have the option of filing a California wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are similar to personal injury claims, as the goal of the claim is to recover compensation for both financial and personal losses related to a specific injury or negligent act. But wrongful death claims are often filed by family members of a deceased plaintiff (the individual who was injured or killed) in order to hold a facility accountable for a loved one’s death. While a claim can be filed alongside criminal charges and can be combined with punitive damages (damages designed to punish criminal acts), a wrongful death claim can be filed separately if necessary.
To begin filing a wrongful death claim against a rehab or treatment facility, you must first demonstrate that:
- The facility had a duty to care for a resident
- The facility committed an act of negligence and broke that duty
- That act of negligence led to the death of the resident
- That death led to a financial loss
A financial loss, or economic damages, can include funeral costs, medical treatment leading up to your loved one’s death, and lost future earnings. However, you can also pursue non-economic damages if your loved one suffered any pain related to a fatal injury, mental anguish leading up to their death, and loss of companionship. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one, it can ensure that you do not unfairly suffer financial costs due to a negligent facility’s actions.
Taking the necessary steps to file a wrongful death claim can be extremely draining, especially when you only want to focus on giving your loved on a proper funeral and emotionally recovering from this tragic event. But California does have a strict statute of limitations, or deadline, on wrongful death claims. If you do not file a claim within two years of your loved one’s death, you may be unable to receive compensation. In addition, the facility that injured your loved one may get away without any consequences.
As hard as it may be, a wrongful death claim may be your best chance at getting justice for your loved one. However, if you work with The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, our Long Beach personal injury attorney will do everything can to make this process as painless as possible. When we represent a client, our goal is to lift as many legal burdens off of their shoulders as possible. That means we can handle the investigation, collect evidence, calculate compensation, and handle all legal procedures so you can focus on recovering from your loss. If you lost a loved one due to a negligent rehab or mental health treatment facility in Long Beach, contact our office at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free at (888) 454-5569 to discuss your case in a free consultation.