Patients Injured During Transit by Nursing Homes and Louisiana’s Medical Malpractice Act

When you’ve been injured by the negligent actions, or inaction, of others, you likely have a lot of things on your mind. If your injuries are the result of negligence committed by a health care provider, it is very important to understand exactly what requirements the law imposes on you in order to sue that provider. In some cases, you may have to appear before a review panel before you can sue in court. Failing to follow this step can lead to the dismissal of your case, as happened to one Lafayette-area woman, whose unfavorable ruling was recently affirmed by the Louisiana Court of Appeal.

In this recent case, Veronica Thomas, a woman confined to a wheelchair, was being transported from a hospital to a nursing home in Lafayette. An employee of the nursing home drove the van that carried the patient. According to Thomas, she was injured during that trip when she fell backwards.

Thomas sued the company that owned the nursing home, Nexion Health at Lafayette, Inc., arguing that the nursing home employee operated the van recklessly and unsafely because the employee did not use a motor vehicle restraint to secure her inside the van. The nursing home asked the trial court to dismiss the patient’s case, and the trial court granted the request. The appeals court later upheld this ruling as proper.

So, what went wrong for Thomas that prevented her case from going forward? In essence, the courts decided that the patient did not follow the correct procedural steps before filing a civil suit. Specifically, the nursing home successfully persuaded the courts that, since it was a “qualified health care provider” and since Thomas’ case was a malpractice action, the terms of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act applied and required the patient to bring her dispute before a medical review panel first.

The patient argued, to no avail, that the statute did not apply to her case because it did not extend to situations involving auto accidents, “nor claims of driver negligence and/or the failure to use a seat belt to secure a patient during transport.” The patient acknowledged that the statute applied in cases where an injury occurred during the loading or unloading processes, but she contended that since her injuries happened during transit, her case was outside the statute.

The trial court decided, and the appeals court affirmed, that Thomas’ argument overlooked another part of the law. Immediately preceding the language that included unloading and loading injuries within the statute’s confines was the phrase “handling of a patient.” In Thomas’ circumstance, her injuries allegedly happened due to the failures of a certified nursing assistant who was employed by the nursing home and tasked with transporting the woman from the hospital to the nursing home. This plainly was an injury that occurred in the “handling of a patient,” in the courts’ opinions.

Recovering compensation for your injuries from those responsible as a result of their negligence involves many steps. Each of these steps must be completed in a precise order. That’s why it is so important to work with legal counsel familiar and experienced with these types of cases. For answers to your questions about your situation, contact the Louisiana nursing home negligence attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. Our malpractice attorneys have a long track record of helping people injured by nursing homes and can provide you with the representation you need.

For a confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.

More Blog Posts:

Lack of Information in Jury Verdict Form’s Dooms Award of Court Costs and Attorneys’ Fees, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Jan. 5, 2015

Nursing Home Patient’s Choking Death Case Must Go to Medical Malpractice Panel Before Going to Trial, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, nov. 20, 2014

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