Virginia Nursing Home Injury Attorney

If you are searching for an experienced attorney to handle a nursing home neglect or abuse matter, involving a nursing home or assisted living facility, call our office for a free initial consultation, 703-564-7318.  You’ll speak directly to attorney Jeffrey J. Downey, who has over 30 years of experience handling malpractice cases involving victims of neglect.

Hiring an attorney could be the most important decision you make in your case, so choose wisely.  You need to distinguish between clever marketing tactics and actual trial experience.  When making that decision, consider the following about the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey:

  • Our practice is focused on handling long-term care cases. We have tried numerous cases to verdict, obtaining verdicts of 58 million, 5 million and 1.5 million. Link to case results.
  • Jeffrey Downey started his career as a defense attorney representing insurance companies. Now he uses that experience to benefit his clients.
  • Downey is AV rated, was chosen as Washington’s top lawyer and is a published author of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect.
  • The firm aggressively prosecutes neglect cases to maximize recovery for the clients and also establishes important case precents that benefit this vulnerable population. Review the case precedents set by Mr. Downey here.
  • With extensive experience in the field of long-term neglect, the firm retains highly qualified experts to review and pursue your case. It’s not always easy to find well-qualified medical experts to testify against their peers, but Mr. Downey has been developing a stable of experts for many years.
  • The firm takes on limited cases each year, so Mr. Downey can focus on every case personally, giving his clients the best chance of success.
  • As a leader in this area, Mr. Downey educates other lawyers in how to successfully handle such cases.
  • Downey is an advocate for improved care. His clients have even testified before the United States Congress regarding the deplorable condition of nursing homes.

Common Types of Nursing Home and Assisted Living Injuries and claims

  1. Pressure wound or bed sores are a common indication of neglect in long term care facilities. Assisted living facilities in Virginia should not even be treating patients with significant pressure wounds. Pressure wounds, also known as decubitus ulcers, are caused by unrelieved pressure, usually on the sacrum or heels.   Once the wound is open (a Stage II pressure wound), infections and sepsis can follow.  Sometimes these infections go to the bone (osteomyelitis) and can cause death.  Downey has written extensively about pressure wounds and legal liability for such injuries.
  1. Falls causing injury or death. Falls among the elderly are a leading cause of death in the United States.  In the nursing home setting, facilities are obligated to evaluate the fall risk and put in a fall prevention plan to meet the patients needs.  While not every fall is preventable, with proper care and resident supervision, many falls can be prevented with adequate staffing and care planning.  Unfortunately, nursing homes are often understaffed, which can contribute to neglect in multiple areas.  For more information on falls in nursing homes, click here.
  1. Elopements or escape from the facility. When residents become demented, they may try and escape from the facility.  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are obligated to evaluate the risk for patient elopement and put high risk patients in a secure environment.  Where a resident escapes and suffers injury, the nursing home may be liable if they failed to properly evaluate the patient’s elopement risk or failed to put in place a proper plan of care to address the potential for elopement.
  1. Medication failures or errors. Federal regulations set standards for medication administration that set the standard of care for nursing homes.   Sometimes medication errors or other failures to monitor medical conditions (like blood sugar levels for a diabetic) can lead to serious injury or death.   However, if a medication error did not cause harm, it may have been negligent, but it is not something that can support the filing of a legal claim or lawsuit.  Every malpractice claim must establish both negligence and an injury resulting from such negligence.  However, sometimes it may not be clear without an expert medical review if a patient was injured from medications.  For example, the over prescription of opioids can cause many adverse side effects that might not be clear from a simple review of medical records.
  1. Physical abuse and Neglect. Physical abuse can take the form of hitting or rough handling of residents. It can be committed by staff or other residents.  A nursing home is required to evaluate residents for their potential to harm other residents and prevent resident on resident assaults where they are foreseeable or preventable.

Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Under both state and federal law, nursing home residents have important rights.  Assisted living facilities have a similar set of rights, but they are controlled by state law only.  A nursing home resident has the following rights.

  1. The right to receive care within the standard of care.
  2. The right to receive adequate staffing to meet his or needs.
  3. The right not to be discharged without proper notice.
  4. The right to participate in medical decisions and creating a care plan.
  5. The right to be free from mental, physical or emotional abuse.
  6. The right to access to their records and to have information remain confidential.
  7. The right to voice complaints and not to be retaliated against for making complaints.
  8. The right to dignity and privacy.
  9. The right to engage in social, religious and community activities.
  10. The right to choose their own health care providers, typically relating to doctors.

For a more detailed description of a resident’s rights under federal law, click here.

Beware of Mandatory Arbitration Provisions waiving your right to go to Court

In the last decade Virginia and other states have seen a rise in the use of mandatory arbitration provisions buried in long admission agreements.  These provisions typically waive a victim’s ability to file a claim in court, resulting in a loss of your legal rights.  Often the admissions process is confusing for residents, who are often demented and faced with signing numerous documents as part of the admissions process.

Jeff Downey has aggressively challenged the use of these agreements.   Virginia law allows a person to opt out of such agreements, but such an opt out must be done within 60 days of the termination of treatment, or in a wrongful death case, within 60 days of one’s qualification as administrator of the estate. For more information about these mandatory arbitration provisions, click this link. (

Statute of Limitations

Every legal claim is subject to a statute of limitations or period in which you must file a lawsuit.

In Virginia that period is two years, but there are various exceptions that might apply, especially where a patient in mentally incapacitated. Also the continuing treatment rule may also allow a claim to be filed within 2 years of the termination of treatment.

However, if you or a loved one wants to pursue a claim, you should do so immediately to allow your attorney to obtain evidence and information before it is potentially lost.  In most cases the Law Office of Jeffrey Downey will file an evidence preservation letter, requiring the facility to secure evidence that might be routinely destroyed after a period of time, like video and certain types of records which are not maintained in the patient record, i.e. 24 hour nursing reports, a tool used to communicate between shifts.  In addition, before any malpractice case can be filed in Virginia, a Plaintiff must obtain expert certifications supporting the claim.  As it can take months to get records and have them reviewed by qualified experts, it is never a good idea to put off contacting an attorney to investigate and pursue your case.

Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey today for a free consultation.  You pay no attorney’s fees unless there is a successful recovery.

We handle malpractice cases in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.

Contact Information:

The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey, P.C.

8300 Greensboro Drive,

Suite 500

McLean, VA 22102

Telephone: 703-564-7318

Fax: 703-556-7700