(985) 851-3311
How can we help?

    Representing Developmentally Disabled Adults Who Suffer Injuries at Licensed Community Homes

    Years ago, individuals with limited intellectual abilities were confined to institutions.  Beginning in the 1960s the Federal Government established a program where these developmentally disabled adults could live in a community home and at the same time participate in a work environment.

    In Louisiana there exist numerous community homes for developmentally disabled adults and are financed through the Louisiana Department of Hospitals by the United States Government. Community homes licensed through the Louisiana Department of Hospitals must follow rigorous State and Federal guidelines.

    Depending on the number of residents who reside in the community home as well as levels of functionality,  there are minimum requirements for the number of direct care workers that must be present at all times.  The regulations provide that the direct care staff must be adequately trained and have individualized training for their particular residents.

    In 2017 a 42-year-old man who was a known fall risk and who had diminished mental capacity suffered an unwitnessed fall at a community home.  The evidence revealed that the responsible direct care worker was by herself alone and unable to adequately attend to  8 residents.  The community home policies and procedures provided that the direct care worker was required to contact the on-call nurse to receive assistance in assessing the resident who had suffered a fall.  Rather than doing the same, the direct care worker assisted the resident to his feet but again left him unattended.  As a consequence, the resident received no assistance and subsequently fell again.

    Following his fall, the resident was nonresponsive and blood was pouring from his head.  An ambulance was called and the resident was brought to a local hospital where his Glasgow Coma Scale was measured at 8 where a score of 15 is normal.  The resident was discharged from the local hospital emergency room but he remained obtunded (semi-comatose) and was re-admitted within days where he remained hospitalized for over 30 days.  Radiological studies indicated that the resident suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and was diagnosed with a severe concussion and diffuse brain injury.  The resident remained nonresponsive and incommunicative and unable to make his wants and needs known.  His condition did not improve and he had to be fed nasogastrically and followed by a PEG Tube procedure.

    Because of his condition, he was unable to return to the community home and was discharged to a nursing home.  After approximately 100 days of skilled nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy the resident had improved from his obtunded state where he was awake but he remained incommunicative, unable to walk, unable to feed himself, and incontinent of bowel and bladder requiring the use of diapers.  He remained unable to make his wants or needs known and could not respond to simple questions.  He continued to receive nutrition through his PEG Tube.

    Prior to the two (2) falls at the community home the adult resident had the ability to:

    • Ambulate,
    • Communicate,
    • Feed himself,
    • Use the restroom by himself,
    • Make his wants and needs known,
    • Enjoy outings,
    • To count and make change,
    • Make telephone calls,
    • Celebrate special days and visit with relatives during holidays.

    All of these activities of daily living were lost as a result of the brain injury.

    The matter had been reported to the Louisiana Department of Hospitals. An investigation determined that:

    • The community home did not have sufficient direct care workers,
    • The only direct care worker present did not have individualized training for the adult resident and
    • The direct care worker was additionally negligent in failing to contact the on-duty nurse after the first fall of the adult resident.

    A civil action was instituted by Kopfler & Hermann as against the company licensed to operate the community home and after intense pretrial litigation, the claim concluded successfully.  As a result, the adult resident was fully compensated. He received a Special Needs Trust that provided extensive care and medical attention for the remainder of his life while at the same time preserving any and all government benefits he was otherwise entitled to.

    If anyone in your family has suffered personal injury, abuse, or death in a community home for developmentally disabled adults, Kopfler & Hermann is experienced in handling these matters and would be glad to assist you. Call today to learn more.