Articles Posted in Top Attorneys in San Diego

If you believe that an elder has been the victim of any form of elder abuse, including neglect, while in the care of a California nursing home, your first responsibility is to report your suspicions. It is also advisable that you also speak with an experienced California nursing home abuse attorney. At Walton Law, APC, we offer free consultations, where we will discuss your claim with you, answer all of your questions, and prepare preliminary action to take, to determine whether or not filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.

If we decide to pursue a claim on your behalf, rest assured, there is no out of pocket expense to you. We work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that Walton Law, APC defers fees and payments until we have successfully resolved your case. This contingency basis enables those who would otherwise shy away from pursuing a valid claim (for fear that it will be too expensive to receive justice). There is simply no out of pocket expense, no monthly fee, nor hidden charges to Walton Law, APC clients until we have reached a resolution for you.

contingencyContingency fees and costs are based on a percentage of the verdict or settlement received when all is said and done. That means that if we do not win your case, we do not collect money from you. At Walton Law, APC, we are honored to provide our services to you on a contingency fee, so that you are not priced out of the legal system.

Orlando-Nursing-Home-Abuse-Attorney.jpgAccording to a recent study conducted by Cornell University, 1 in 5 nursing home residents suffer abuse at the hands of their fellow residents. The study is the first of its kind in collecting data on resident-to-resident abuse. The behaviors observed in the study include physical and sexual violence, verbal aggression and hostility, invasions of privacy, and other negative and inappropriate interactions.

Using data gathered from more than 2000 nursing home residents across ten different facilities, researchers determined that those that perpetrated these abusive behaviors were often cognitively impaired, but more mobile than their fellow residents. Over a four-week period, Cornell researchers observed and interviewed elder residents, and distilled statistical data from reports and questionnaires completed by staff:

• 16% of nursing home residents have been victims of verbal abuse from other residents, including instances of swearing and yelling.
• 10.5% of elderly nursing home patients report invasive behavior from other residents, such as un-permitted room entry and rifling through the personal possessions of others.
• 6% have suffered from physical abuse, like hitting, kicking, and/or biting.
• 1.3% reported sexual abuse, including indecent exposure, inappropriate contact, and efforts to exact sexual favors.

Presenting at the Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2014, Dr. Karl Pillemer noted that resident-on-resident abuse is “widespread and common in everyday nursing home life,” and that elderly residents suffering from conditions like dementia may act out with “verbally or physically aggressive behavior,” resulting in “arguments, shouting matches, and pushing and shoving, particularly in such close, crowded quarters.”

A particularly troubling aspect of this study is the lack of action on the part of nursing home staff. Across the country, including in San Diego and the surrounding Southern California area, elders suffer frequent abuse of all kinds from their fellow nursing home residents, and staff reports only a fraction of these altercations. Police are sometimes called to handle instances of theft or assault between residents, but many elderly nursing home residents lack a personal advocate to ensure that justice is delivered and their best interests are served.

If you suspect that your loved one in the San Diego or Southern California area is suffering from elder abuse, either from fellow residents in his/her nursing home or from nursing home staff, take action. Get in contact with a trusted professional who can assess your case and ensure that no abuse is ever repeated. Have your concerns addressed and resolved by a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney.
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Counting Money.jpgAccording to a recent article by Wells Fargo Advisors, “Older Americans are losing about $2.9 billion every year to people who take advantage of their vulnerabilities – and that’s only for the cases that are actually reported…it’s occurring more frequently every year.” Additionally, it is reported that 34% of the perpetrators are family, friends, and neighbors of the elderly person.

That’s a scary statistic, and it’s our responsibility to try to protect our elderly parents and grandparents from becoming victims of financial elder abuse. The abuse often times starts out small, infrequent, and can happen over a long period of time. The culprit is attempting to go under the radar. Other times, the abuse is out of the blue, quick, wiping the victim’s account clean. Both methods are devastating.

Does that mean we should suspect all friends and family? Not necessarily, but there are some warning signs to be on the look out for:

• Your loved one’s caregiver or friend is taking a special interest in their financial paperwork, including accessing bank statements, insurance policies, and passwords.
• Increased account activity like large or unusual cash withdrawals, transfers, or loans.
• Changes in trusts, wills, or fiduciary accounts, including transferring title or assets to another person.
• Your loved one’s sudden increase, or decrease, in desire to spend time with family and friends.
• A reluctance to talk about finances at all or a fear regarding his/her finances.
• The elderly person starts having valuable personal items come up “missing”.
• Negative changes in your loved one’s behavior, mood, appearance, or mental and/or physical ability.

Many people are able to manage their finances themselves without outside help from a fiduciary or another person acting on their behalf. Sometimes appointing a fiduciary is necessary when a person becomes unable to financially take care of him/herself. The fiduciary can be anyone from a trusted family member or friend to a neutral, knowledgeable party like an attorney or other expert.
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An investigation by ABC 10 in Sacramento has unveiled that powerful tranquilizers are being over prescribed to nursing home residents who are diagnosed with dementia. In fact, studies by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in conjunction with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) show that 33% of elders in nursing homes, who are diagnosed with dementia are actually prescribed antipsychotic medication, in spite of the fact that the FDA has warned that certain types of these drugs can prove fatal to elders. Death is most often the result of heart failure/cardiac disorders.

All the same, the data from those studies shows that these powerful drugs are far too often prescribed when they are not warranted. This practice, known as chemical restraint, or over-drugging of elders in nursing homes in California is a form of abuse, and is illegal.
Chemical restraining of elders is most often done to sedate residents, but in worst cases has been utilized as a means of punishing and/or intentionally abusing elders.

pills.jpgSymptoms that an elder is being over-drugged, or prescribed an anti-psychotic inside a California nursing home include:

*Extreme lethargy, sleepiness, and/or confusion.

*Noticeable and extreme behavioral changes.

*Sudden unexplained changes in overall health.

Elder abuse in California is both a criminal and civil offense. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect, or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.
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According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s Open Payments Website:

money and pills 2.jpg“Sometimes, doctors and hospitals have financial relationships with health care manufacturing companies. These relationships can include money for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, or travel. The Affordable Care Act requires CMS to collect information from applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) in order to report information about their financial relationships with physicians and hospitals. Open Payments is the federally run program that collects the information about these financial relationships and makes it available to you.”

In other words, if you’ve ever wondered whether or not a physician caring for your loved elder is the recipient of payments from a specific type of medical device, or a specific medication, you can now research that information online through the Open Payment website.

In addition to the Open Payments website, ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom has created Dollars for Docs (which incidentally shows that 3 of the top 20 highest paid physicians are based in San Diego.)

Consumer advocates who fought for such public disclosures had argued that physicians’ relationships with various drug companies affected their prescribing practices. If you’re interested to find out what payments your physician or a physician caring for a loved elder in California has received from various companies, you may search for this data by clicking here.
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Chris Walton.jpgWe’re proud to announce that Chris Walton, Founder of Walton Law, APC, was recently named to the San Diego Daily Transcript’s 2014 list of Top Attorneys. Chris was recognized for his work in the exclusive representation of plaintiffs, including victims of elder abuse and those who have suffered personal injury.

It’s been a year of tremendous growth for Walton Law, as well as a humbling one for founder Chris Walton. In addition to being named a Top Attorney by the San Diego Daily Transcript, Chris was also named 2014 Top 40 Under 40 California Litigator by the American Society of Legal Advocates. In January of this year, Chris Walton was also included in the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list.

Walton Law, APC strives to provide clients with compassionate, expert legal counsel in the areas of elder neglect and personal injury throughout Southern California. Representing the families of victims of wrongful death in nursing homes, to acting as an advocate for elders suffering from neglect and/or physical abuse, Chris Walton fights passionately for the rights of those who have been victimized in nursing homes, or who have been victims of financial abuse or personal injury.

For more information about Chris Walton’s 2014 Top Attorney award presented by the San Diego Daily Transcript, click here.
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