Massachusetts Rehab Facility Negligence and Wrongful Death Attorneys
When a family member enters a rehabilitation or treatment facility, we expect them to get the best care available for their condition, whether it is treatment for an addiction or mental health condition. Sadly, many facilities across Massachusetts are not up to both state and federal standards, leading to the mistreatment of residents. This can often take the form of abuse and neglect, which can lead to serious injuries, emotional trauma, and even death.
If you or someone you loved was injured in a rehabilitation or treatment facility, please reach out to the Massachusetts rehab facility attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Our legal team are staunch advocates for injured parties in Burlington, Methuen, and Boston and can thoroughly explain your rights to compensation in a free consultation. Contact us at (781) 262-3338 to learn what options are available to you after an injury at a treatment facility.
Both rehabilitation and treatment facilities can be extremely beneficial in helping an individual overcome a personal issue, such as opioid addiction, eating disorders, and depression, through medical treatment, observation, and behavioral therapy. This often leads to residents being placed into one of two types of facilities: inpatient and outpatient facilities.
Inpatients offer 24-hour care to residents and are often designed for the early stages of treatment, which can include observation, detox, and rehabilitation. These facilities should be capable of ensuring that a resident receives proper treatment for both their physical and psychological needs, from providing a safe facility for them to stay in to regulating medication to responding to a resident’s nutritional requirements. In contrast, outpatient facilities primarily handle aftercare, allowing a resident to visit the facility during select hours to receive specific treatment.
While receiving treatment from either facility, residents are protected by both state and federal laws. Within the state of Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health oversees the rules and regulations that substance abuse rehabilitation facilities must abide by, while the Department of Mental Health provides similar guidelines for mental health treatment facilities. Among these two departments, residents are granted the rights to:
- Freedom from physical and psychological abuse
- Freedom from strip searches and body cavity searches
- Control over their bodily appearances so long as an outfit does not interfere with treatment
- Receive copies of personal records
- Freedom from coercion
- Terminate treatment
- Freedom from discrimination without regard to race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability to speak English, age, or disability
- Treatment in a manner sensitive to individual needs and which promotes dignity and self-respect
- Freedom to practice his or her religion
- Drug screens that are conducted in a manner which preserves the client’s dignity
- Freedom to report abuse and neglect to the respective department
On a federal level, rehabilitation and treatment facilities must abide by the regulations of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which includes:
- 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
These acts outline specific laws regarding how residents should be cared for by rehabilitation and treatment facilities, but many facilities still fail to meet these requirements, often leading to the abuse and neglect of residents.
When a rehabilitation or treatment facility is licensed on a state and federal level, they are tasked with maximizing the safety, health, and fair treatment of all residents under their care. They often see residents at their most vulnerable and when they are most resistant to treatment. But the vast majority of residents voluntarily enter a facility for assistance and should receive proper treatment for a facility.
When these facilities break state or federal regulations with regards to resident treatment, it can lead to several types of neglect and abuse, including:
- Improper patient evaluation and substance abuse testing
- Failure to provide proper supervision
- Neglect of a resident’s medical, physical, psychiatric, or nutritional needs
- Failure to sanitize a facility or equipment
- Failure to fix safety hazards
- Negligent hiring
- Physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse
Depending on a patient’s unique conditions, abuse and neglect can lead to serious injuries, psychological trauma, and death. Neglect can also be extremely dangerous for elderly residents, such as those being rehabilitated in a nursing home. When a resident suffers an injury or dies while at a treatment facility, their family may be able to pursue a claim for damages against the negligent staff.
Any instances of abuse or neglect should be immediately reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which is required to launch an in-depth investigation into the facility and to hold any negligent staff member or administrator accountable for their actions. In addition to criminal charges that may be brought against the facility, the resident or their family member may also pursue a civil case against the facility. This is often through a personal injury claim.
In order to pursue a personal injury claim, a resident or their legal representative must demonstrate that:
- The treatment facility had a duty of care towards the resident
- The treatment facility broke that duty of care through an act of negligence or maliciousness
- That act of negligence or maliciousness injured the resident
- Those injuries resulted in some form of damages (financial or psychological)
Many residents who have been injured by a negligent staff member or administrator can pursue a personal injury claim on the basis that the facility was required to provide proper care and treatment for the injured resident. If you or someone you love was injured while receiving care at a rehabilitation or treatment facility, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. Sadly, many cases go much further than that.
Because treatment facilities often take in residents who need significant medical and psychological treatment, their care can be extensive, and any mistreatment can lead to their death. We cannot begin to imagine what it is like to lose a loved one when they only wanted to receive proper care, but the team at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. can provide proper legal representation in holding the facility accountable. Under Massachusetts state laws, if your loved one died due to treatment facility neglect or abuse, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims operate on the same principles as a personal injury claim but are filed by the deceased’s estate to recover damages that were incurred as a result of the deceased’s injury and death. This can include compensation for funeral expenses, past medical treatment, lost wages, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and the resident’s pain and suffering leading up to their passing.
The tragic reality is that many rehabilitation and treatment facilities are not held accountable for their mistreatment of residents. They may attempt to cover up instances of abuse or neglect or refuse to acknowledge any reports. In addition, many residents and their families are often not aware of their legal rights after an injury or death, and wait too long to file a claim. Generally, you have up until three years from the date of an injury or death to pursue a claim against a negligent treatment facility, but you want to start as early as possible to ensure your attorney can build a strong case for compensation.
When rehabilitation and treatment facilities fail to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their residents, it often leads to catastrophic injuries and tragic deaths. While federal and state laws are designed to prevent such events, the facilities often skirt around their legal duties. However, both residents and their families are eligible to pursue a civil case against a facility if a staff member or administrator commits an act of negligence or abuse.
If you or someone you loved was injured in a negligent rehabilitation or treatment facility, then you should contact the Burlington personal injury attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Our founding attorney is a Massachusetts Super Lawyer and has nearly two decades of experience advocating for the rights of injured plaintiffs across Methuen, Boston, and Burlington. We can thoroughly explain your legal rights and advocate for proper compensation under the law. Call us at (781) 262-3338 to learn about your options under the law.