Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions

The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.

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  • What can I do if I suspect my loved one is being abused in a nursing home?

    As parents and grandparents grow older, it can be difficult to meet their unique and changing needs. Often, families rely on skilled facilities to care for elderly family members. Nursing homes have a special duty to keep the elderly safe and healthy, and family members trust that their loved ones will be protected and taken care of. Sometimes, however, that trust is violated through nursing home abuse or neglect.

    A 2010 survey found that over half of nursing home staff members admitted to mistreating older patients within the year leading up to the study. The mistreatment included physical abuse, mental abuse, and neglect. For the estimated 1.4 million older adults living in nursing homes and their families, that can be a scary statistic.

    What to Do If You Suspect Abuse

    If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, there are steps you should take immediately to end the mistreatment:

    • Take photos. Visible signs of injury such as bruises, welts, cuts, burns, and evidence of restraints may be present. Hints at neglect can include bedsores and dirty living conditions.
    • Report your suspicions to an administrator. Nursing home officials should be notified, so they can take steps to protect the abused person. Make sure to document your complaint by following up with written letter or an email.
    • Inform the proper authorities. Concerned family members can contact the Illinois Adult Protective Services or the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. Law enforcement and a state’s long-term care ombudsman program also examine elder abuse cases.
    • Consider contacting a lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can preserve evidence and help take steps to stop the abuse and hold the abuser responsible.

    Families do not have to prove that abuse is occurring. Once a complaint is made to authorities, an investigation will take place to assess the situation. Additionally, many states have laws that shield those who report the abuse from liability if no abuse is taking place.

    Safety advocacy groups encourage family members to voice their concerns about elder abuse because suspicions are correct all too often. If your loved one has been mistreated at a nursing home, we may be able to help. Contact the legal team at Tapella Law to learn more at 855-522-5291.


  • Can we recover damages if our child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a medical mistake?

    When a child is diagnosed with a disability like cerebral palsy, parents can feel overwhelmed. In addition to addressing important medical issues, parents may be worried about paying for their child’s expensive care. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the care of a person with cerebral palsy will be approximately $1 million during his lifetime.

    Cerebral Palsy From Medical Negligence

    If you feel your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical negligence by the doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff, it is possible to recover damages—money the law requires a party to pay for a breach of duty. While every case is different, it may be possible to be awarded compensation for:

    • Medical expenses. A child with cerebral palsy requires doctor or hospital visits, tests, medication, surgeries, and other medical care.
    • Medical equipment and devices. Depending on the severity of the disability, it can be necessary to modify a home or car. Children can also require special equipment fitted to their individual needs such as wheelchairs or crutches.
    • Future medical expenses. Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy will require a lifetime of care. Caregivers will need to plan for the future, as well as address current medical needs.
    • Physical therapy. A variety of physical treatments can both provide comfort and strengthen muscles.
    • Mental health support. The mental and emotional stresses of living with a disability can increase, especially as the child grows older. Mental health specialists can contribute to the child’s sense of well-being and general mental health.
    • Occupational therapy. Therapists can work with children to create and foster as much independence and self-care as possible.
    • Speech therapy. Speech therapy can help a child strengthen mouth muscles and tongue. This can both improve communication and aid in feeding. This is important as up to 35 percent of children with cerebral palsy are malnourished.
    • Punitive damages. Considered punishment for the liable party, these damages can be awarded against the doctor, hospital, or other provider responsible for the disability.

    Speak To a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

    Compensation can provide families with some relief from the stresses that accompany raising a child with a disability and be vital in helping the child live a happy, productive life. Not all cases of cerebral palsy are preventable, but it is important to determine if a medical mistake was made. If your child’s cerebral palsy was avoidable, you are entitled to compensation. Contact us at 855-522-5291 to discuss your case.


  • What can I do when I am hospitalized to protect myself from hospital negligence?

    Take aggressive steps to avoid being hurt by hospital negligenceWhen you are in the hospital, you may feel helpless. You are away from home, out of your comfort zone, and at the mercy of the people charged with taking care of you. You don’t have to take it lying down, however. Learn what questions to ask and when to speak up for your own protection.

    Be Your Own Advocate—Or Bring One With You

    If you are undergoing a non-emergency procedure or elective surgery, there are things you can do when scheduling your visit to protect yourself. Once you are in the hospital, however, it is even more important that you take steps to make sure you do not become a victim of a doctor’s or nurse’s negligence. Make a list before you go to the hospital, and include the following:

    • Take someone with you. When you are in the hospital, you need someone in your corner. Plan to have a family member or friend with you as much as possible. This person can act as your eyes and ears, especially when you are asleep or on medication that makes you foggy. The best choice is someone who is not afraid to ask questions on your behalf.
    • Bring your prescription bottles with you. While the staff should ask what medication you have been taking, having your bottles with dosage labels with you will ensure that you don’t make a mistake in relaying the information and that they don’t make a mistake when writing it down. It is also a visible reminder to staff that you are taking additional meds which may interact with hospital treatments.
    • Request a blood-clot screening. If you are at risk for blood clots—and most long-term patients are—make sure you are given compression socks or heparin therapy to prevent venous thromboembolism, the cause of death in 1 in 100 patients. Don’t wait for a doctor to offer—ask the question up front.
    • Ask for help getting around. Falls can result in serious injury, especially if they happen while you are recovering from surgery. You should be given skid-proof socks for walking around your room, but if you are at all unsteady on your feet, ask for help from the staff, who should respond quickly.

    While asking for these things may initially make you feel uncomfortable, remember that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are all there to help you. The mistakes they make are almost always unintentional, and a word or two from you could prevent an error that could end their career. If you ask nicely and don’t take an accusatory tone, they may even thank you.

    Our Experts Know What to Do

    If you suspect that you have been the victim of hospital negligence, call us toll free at 855-522-5291. Our on-staff nurse and network of medical professionals will assess your case and let you know if we can help. Don’t hesitate—call now.

  • I am scheduling an elective surgical procedure. What can I do to reduce the risk that I will be the victim of a hospital mistake?

    Take precautions to avoid being the victim of a surgical mistakeDoctor visits and hospital stays are always a little frightening. Patients get nervous about the diagnosis they may receive, whether required procedures will be painful, and whether they will have the courage to ask the right questions. One thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is whether the doctor or medical staff will make a mistake that will result in further harm or even death. Unfortunately, hospital mistakes are all too common and it is in your best interest not only to worry about it, but also to take action to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a medical mistake.

    What You Can Do Before Surgery to Protect Yourself

    If you are in a situation that requires immediate emergency care, you may not have much of a say in where and how you are treated. However, if you are scheduling a non-emergency procedure or elective surgery, keep the following tips in mind to protect yourself from common hospital errors:

    • Choose your hospital carefully. Do a little research to find the hospital in your area with the lowest rate of patient infections. Studies show that over 31,000 people die each year from infections they acquired after checking into a hospital. Ask your referring doctor, call the hospital, or do an Internet search for the most recent data.
    • Avoid Fridays. Doctors themselves recommend avoiding Fridays, particularly Friday afternoons, for elective procedures. Just like everyone else, surgeons and nurses are a little less focused and more tired at the end of the week.
    • Avoid weekends. Hospitals can be understaffed on weekends, labs are often closed, and most doctors are on call and will take time to get to the hospital. Obviously, you can’t stop a stroke or heart attack from happening on a Sunday afternoon, but if it’s not an emergency, wait until Monday.
    • Don’t take the first appointment of the day. When scheduling an elective procedure, try to get the second or third opening for the day. Staff is alert and focused and any shift-change issues will be worked out by then.

    Again, emergencies should always be taken care of immediately, but when you do have control over the situation, assert yourself and make sure you get the care you deserve.

    When Things Go Wrong, We Can Help

    If, despite your best efforts, you come out of the hospital worse than you went in, you may have a case for hospital negligence. At Tapella & Eberspacher, our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to hospital litigation. Contact us now to see if we can help you.

  • Was my baby’s cerebral palsy caused by a doctor’s mistake?

    Cerebral palsy can result from complications during labor and deliveryYou have just received a devastating diagnosis: your baby has cerebral palsy. No one seems to be able to tell you why this happened, but you have heard that a mistake during delivery could be the cause. The only way to find out could be to educate yourself and call a medical malpractice attorney.

    The Basics of Cerebral Palsy

    The term cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affect brain and nervous system functions. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by injuries to or abnormalities of the brain as the baby grows in the womb, but can also be the result of a head injury, brain infection, or bleeding on the brain during the first two years of life, when the child’s brain is still developing. Cerebral palsy can also be the result of complications during labor and delivery. Depending on the type and severity of brain damage that has occurred, children with cerebral palsy may experience the following:

    • Lack of muscle control and coordination
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Lack of bladder or bowel control
    • Difficulty eating
    • Visual impairment or blindness
    • Hearing loss
    • Food aspiration (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs)
    • Gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up)
    • Speech problems
    • Drooling
    • Tooth decay
    • Sleep disorders
    • Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
    • Behavior problems
    • Seizures
    • Intellectual disabilities

    There is no cure for cerebral palsy and treatment is focused on helping the person become as independent as possible through therapy, rehabilitation, and home health care.

    If Negligence Caused Your Baby’s Cerebral Palsy, Get Help

    While it was once believed that oxygen deprivation during delivery was the primary cause of cerebral palsy, it is now understood that this accounts for only about nine percent of cases. In the remaining cases, premature birth, complications during birth, and problems occurring immediately after birth cause the damage to the brain. In any one of these scenarios, a mistake or negligence on the part of medical staff could be to blame. Don’t face your child’s uncertain future without at least finding out if you might be able to recover damages. Fill out our online contact form now.

  • Will my baby’s brachial plexus injury cause permanent damage?

    Medical mistakes during childbirth can cause brachial plexus injuries in infantsIf you experienced a difficult vaginal delivery and later notice signs that your baby seems to be having trouble moving his arm or hand, he may have suffered an injury to the nerves around his shoulder known as the brachial plexus. Your doctor may tell you the weakness is temporary, but, in some cases, the damage is permanent and you may need the help of a medical malpractice attorney to get the financial assistance you will need to care for your baby.

    How Did This Happen?

    In a brachial plexus injury, the nerves in the shoulder area are damaged, which can cause weakness or paralysis in the baby’s arm. This can happen during difficult deliveries, including the delivery of larger-than-average babies, breech deliveries, and deliveries during which the shoulder gets stuck after the baby’s head emerges, known as shoulder dystocia. During these problematic births, any of the following can happen:

    • The infant’s shoulder is grabbed and pulled during a head-first delivery.
    • Pressure is put on the baby’s raised shoulder during a breech (bottom-first) delivery.
    • The baby’s head and neck are pulled to the side as the shoulders pass through the birth canal.

    Symptoms and Diagnosis

    Depending on the extent of the damage to the nerves, the baby may demonstrate weakness in all or just part of his arm. While weakness restricted to just the upper arm is known as a brachial plexus injury, conditions affecting more of the arm are identified as follows:

    • Erb’s paralysis. In this condition, both the upper and lower parts of the arm are affected.
    • Klumpke paralysis. Along with the upper and lower arm, this condition also affects the hand, impeding the baby’s ability to make a fist or grasp objects.

    Symptoms of the injury are usually apparent immediately after birth, but, with short hospital stays for new mothers, they frequently go unnoticed. Signs you may notice soon after bringing your baby home include:

    • No movement in the baby’s upper or lower arm or hand.
    • Absence of the Moro reflex—a movement reaction to a sudden loss of support—on the affected side.
    • Arm bent at the elbow and held against the body.
    • Weak or decreased grip on the affected side.

    Gentle massage and range-of-motion exercises may help the newborn regain use of the arm. If the condition does not improve after a few weeks, a specialist should be consulted; surgery may be necessary.

    Whose Fault Is It?

    While you may not want to place blame on the doctor or hospital for your baby’s injury, the fact is that your baby did not have a brachial plexus injury before he was delivered. The doctor’s or midwife’s actions and the decision to not perform a Caesarian section led to the injury your baby has suffered. If the damage turns out to be permanent, your child will have a lifelong disability. Call us toll free at 855-522-5291 to find out how we can help.

  • When should I contact a wrongful death attorney?

    Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible can help you determine if you may be entitled to file a claim and if so, how to proceed. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you determine who may be eligible to file a claim, what damages may be recoverable, and more.

  • Who can be held liable in a wrongful death accident?

    The individual responsible for the death of a loved one will commonly be held responsible however it may be more than one person depending on what caused the death. For example, a fatal accident caused by vehicle failure may call on the manufacturer to be held responsible as well the driver for failing to get the problem fixed before a collision occurred.

  • What is the wrongful death statute of limitations in Illinois?

    In Illinois a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of when the individual passed away. However, if a person who is entitled to recover benefits is within the age of 18 they may be permitted to file within two years of turning 18 years of age.

  • What types of wrongful death damages may we be entitled to?

    If the decedent was the primary breadwinner of a household, the financial impact is immediately felt. Those who wish to file a wrongful death claim may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of consortium, and more.