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Millions of Dollars Collected for Our Injury and Wrongful Death Clients – Car Wrecks, Nursing Home Abuse, Workers’ Comp, Med Mal and more.

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Nursing home neglect and abuse is a serious problem in all states, including Kentucky. ProPublica has developed a Nursing Home Inspect tool the public can use to view and search data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding nursing homes in all 50 states. The data shows that over the last three years Barkley Center in Paducah, Kentucky has been cited for 20 serious deficiencies, more than any other nursing home in the country. Not far behind, Pioneer Trace Group, LLC in Flemingsburg, Kentucky had 14 of the most serious deficiencies during the three-year period.

The average fine for nursing homes in Kentucky was more than $83,000, the sixth highest average in the country. Six nursing homes in Kentucky were well above the average and were each fined more than $375,000 over the last three years: Danville Centre for Health and Rehabilitation ($616,110); Signature Healthcare at North Hardin Rehab & Wellness in Radcliff ($523,868); Westport Care Center in Louisville ($508,495); Prestonsburg Health Care Center ($425,901); Mountain View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pineville ($425,705); and Stanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center ($377,738). Twin Rivers Nursing and Rehab Center in Owensboro, Kentucky has also been flagged for having a history of serious quality issues.

Many wonder how this kind of problem arises in facilities that advertise themselves as caring places. Unfortunately, nursing homes are often staffed by overworked caregivers and inadequate staff-to-resident ratios are common. When staff is overworked or exhausted, negligence becomes more likely. Additionally, residents can become isolated if they have disabilities or are perceived as “difficult.”

Sometimes there are also issues with a dishonest or dangerous staff member who commits intentional acts of abuse, but these are exceptional circumstances. Most nursing home abuse cases are cases of negligence or sometimes recklessness. For cases involving particularly egregious, reckless or intentionally abusive conduct, punitive damages may be available to punish the wrongful conduct and deter the staff member, the facility, and others from acting the same way in the future.

It is always a difficult decision to place a beloved family member in a nursing home and entrust his or her care to staff members. Most residents of nursing homes rely on staff to offer them water, food, medicines, daily hygiene help, and assistance to and from the bathroom. When a staff member withholds any of these necessary elements of care, serious medical problems can result.

Dating back to the 1980s when the media began to report on how widespread neglect and abuse are in the nursing home industry, both state and federal laws have prohibited nursing home neglect and abuse. Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are required to provide services and activities to allow a resident to attain or maintain the highest practicable degree of well-being. This includes having sufficient nursing staff, developing a comprehensive care plan, and providing necessary services to allow residents not able to take care of their daily hygiene to be able to maintain good nutrition and grooming.

All nursing homes in Kentucky are covered by state law, even those that do not participate in Medicare or Medicaid. In Kentucky, you can bring a lawsuit to enforce the rights granted under Kentucky and federal laws sometimes called the Kentucky Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. If you are able to prove your case against the nursing home, the award may include actual damages, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, depending upon the circumstances of your particular case.

The Kentucky Adult Protection Act defines abuse, neglect and exploitation. Abuse is specifically categorized as physical, psychological, and financial. Physical abuse includes uses of force that harm a senior, including sexual abuse, hitting, beating, restraining, or giving them drugs in order to incapacitate them. Psychological or emotional abuse includes threatening, shouting, humiliating or neglecting a senior. The risks of psychological abuse include depression and anxiety. Financial abuse includes theft or extortion.

How do you know that your loved one is being abused? Some signs of abuse include loss of weight, dehydration, bruises, bedsores, significant change in outlook or temperament, wounds, frequent infections, falls and fractures­. If you suspect or learn that a loved one was the victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, you can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Retain experienced Kentucky trial attorneys to reach the most favorable outcome. Attorneys with substantial trial experience are better equipped to skillfully negotiate and advocate for the highest possible compensation for your loss. Contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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Kentucky and federal laws grant important rights to residents of Kentucky nursing homes, sometimes referred to as the Kentucky Residents’ Rights Act or the Nursing Home Bill of Rights. When a resident of a nursing home has suffered abuse or neglect, the rights guaranteed by these laws can be enforced by filing a lawsuit against the responsible nursing home. The law allows for the recovery of actual damages, including pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs incurred in bringing the lawsuit.

Attorneys at Varellas & Varellas have been representing clients in cases involving nursing home neglect and abuse, personal injuries, trucking accidents, motor vehicle collisions and medical malpractice for more than 40 years and we will be happy to talk with you about your concerns regarding possible mistreatment or neglect of a loved one in a nursing home. We can help you determine whether the rights of your family member or loved one have been violated or ignored. Kentucky law requires that the following rights of nursing home residents be protected:

  • The right to be fully informed of the rules and regulations of the facility as well as the rights of the resident
  • The right to privacy, to be treated with dignity and respect and to be suitably dressed at all times
  • The right to be free from physical and mental abuse, including verbal and sexual abuse and corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion
  • The right to be free from physical or chemical restraints not required to treat medical symptoms
  • The right to confidentiality and privacy, including visual privacy in shared rooms and in tub, shower and toilet rooms
  • The right to personal possessions and to receive or refuse visitors
  • The right to participate in the resident’s own care and creation and review of an individualized treatment plan
  • The right for the resident’s responsible party or family member to be notified immediately of changes in the resident’s condition including any accident, disease, unexplained absence, sudden illness or anything unusual
  • The right to review all inspection reports regarding the facility and the right to voice grievances without repercussions and meet privately with state inspectors

Contact experienced Kentucky trial attorneys at the Louisville and Lexington offices of Varellas & Varellas to discuss your concerns regarding a loved one’s treatment and care at a nursing home. Under Kentucky law, claims for nursing home abuse and neglect and violation of a resident’s rights must be brought within specified time limits so it is important to contact attorneys as soon as possible so that those deadlines can be met and the claims will not be lost. Contact us using our online form or by telephone at 877-634-1519.

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Varellas & Varellas has settled a personal injury and wrongful death case for the full homeowner’s policy limits after the Plaintiff suffered head and brain injuries at the home of the Defendant which subsequently led to her death. The Defendant’s homeowner’s insurance company initially offered no settlement and then only offered 10% of the available insurance proceeds with a take-it-or-leave-it offer, contending it would secure a complete dismissal of the claim for insurance based on exemptions in the policy. The Plaintiff rejected the low offer and proceeded to secure a judgment of liability against the Defendant and then secured a judgment finding that the various exclusions claimed by the insurance company did not in fact apply to the Plaintiff’s claims. The full amount of insurance proceeds were then offered and recovered as compensation for the Plaintiff’s injuries and wrongful death.

Contact us locally at 859-252-4473 or 502-595-7955 or call us toll free at 877-634-1519. You can also use our online form to talk with one of our experienced trial lawyers about your potential claim involving wrongful death, dog attack, car or truck wreck, nursing home neglect or abuse, medical malpractice or other personal injury.

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Varellas & Varellas has obtained another favorable verdict for its client from a Fayette County jury. After three days of trial, the jury awarded the Plaintiff raw damages of $355,000, including her past medical expenses of $105,000, as well as an additional $250,000 for pain and suffering after she sustained injuries to her face, hand, fingers and knees as an automobile passenger at the time of the collision. The verdict was reduced by 20% due to apportionment of fault. After the collision, the Plaintiff required progressive medical treatment for her knees including injections, arthroscopic surgery and eventual knee replacements.

The driver who caused the wreck was not insured so the Plaintiff proceeded directly against her own uninsured motorist policy issued by Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Auto-Owners was permitted to argue at trial that its liability should be significantly reduced because the Plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision (despite her having a doctor’s note restricting her use of a seatbelt), but the jury only apportioned 20% of fault to the Plaintiff. William Smock, M.D., biomechanical expert, testified on behalf of the Plaintiff and Michael Voor, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Louisville, testified on behalf of Auto-Owners.

The verdict for the Plaintiff was nearly twice the limit of the Auto-Owners insurance policy and nearly 15 times the highest amount offered as settlement by Auto-Owners over the course of more than 5½ years since the claim was filed.

This Plaintiff’s verdict, along with the $2.4 million jury verdict returned in a previous case tried by Varellas & Varellas in 2015, are among the largest verdicts awarded by juries in Fayette Circuit Court in the past several years in cases involving personal injury or wrongful death. The case was tried by Sandra Varellas and Todd Varellas. Jim Varellas and Jay Varellas also assisted with the case over the course of the lengthy litigation.

Contact Varellas & Varellas to discuss your potential personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse or neglect, tractor trailer wreck, dump truck accident, and motor vehicle collision claims with one of our experienced trial attorneys. Use our online form or reach us by telephone at 877-634-1519 or locally at 859-252-4473 in Lexington or 502-595-7955 in Louisville.

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Varellas & Varellas has reached the largest settlement with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government since at least 2005 in a premises liability case on behalf of a man who fell in a construction pit that the Plaintiff alleged was improperly marked since it failed to warn of the depth of the pit or the danger to those near it. The Plaintiff suffered head and spine injuries and alleged general negligence as well as failure to adhere to various state and federal OSHA standards regarding construction around the pit itself and the failure to use fall protection measures near the pit. These included 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(1) (guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems) and 1926.502(i) (floor hole covers and railings), 29 CFR 1910(a)(8)(ii) (duty to have fall protection), 803 KAR 2:303(2)2 (floor openings railings and attendance of safety personnel), among others.

A fall safety engineer and multiple medical experts were prepared to testify at the upcoming trial before the settlement was reached. Since the Plaintiff worked for another company at the time of the injury, in addition to the injury case settled with LFUCG, the Plaintiff reached an additional workers’ compensation settlement for a lump sum and for the payment of future medical expenses in the hybrid personal injury/workers’ compensation case.

D. Todd Varellas was lead counsel working with other attorneys and another law firm in successfully litigating the case. Todd focuses his practice on civil personal injury and wrongful death cases. Todd has been successful in settling numerous cases for his clients and has recently tried multiple personal injury and wrongful death cases to a verdict. One of his recent trials resulted in a jury verdict of $2.402 million (reduced to $2.269 million after apportionment).

One of our experienced trial attorneys is available to discuss your potential claim involving personal injury, nursing home abuse or neglect, motor vehicle collision, wrongful death, medical malpractice or trucking wreck claims. Contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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After a 5-day trial, a jury in Lexington, Kentucky has awarded the Estate of adeceased man a total of more than $2.4 million, including $2 million in punitive damages, as a result of his wrongful death. After an apportionment, the verdict was reduced to a final amount of $2.269 million. The verdict was one of the largest awarded in Lexington or Fayette County in many years, and the jury was unanimous in finding that the Estate was entitled to collect compensatory and punitive damages due to the wrongful death.

The case was litigated by attorneys from Varellas & Varellas, including Sandra M. Varellas, D. Todd Varellas, and James J. Varellas (“Jay”) III.

Sandra has been selected for membership in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers as one of the top 100 civil trial lawyers in Kentucky and has been selected as one of the Top 100 Litigation Lawyers in Kentucky by the American Society of Legal Advocates, a selective membership which comprises less than 1.5% of all licensed lawyers nationwide. She has extensive litigation and trial experience and represents clients in areas including personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, tractor trailer accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death.

Todd has been selected by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys as one of the Top 10 Personal Injury Attorneys in Kentucky under the age of 40, and was previously selected by The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40, as one of the top 40 trial lawyers under the age of 40 practicing in Kentucky. Using his litigation and trial experience, Todd represents injury clients in areas including nursing home abuse and neglect, medical malpractice, wrongful death, defective products, and motor vehicle wrecks, including semi and truck accidents. Before joining Varellas & Varellas, Todd clerked on the Supreme Court of Kentucky and worked in the area of trial defense in Washington, D.C.

Jay joined Varellas & Varellas after practicing as an attorney at law firms in New York City and San Francisco. Jay has spent much of his legal career litigating large-scale class actions and other complex litigation disputes around the country. While an attorney practicing in New York, he was part of the trial team that tried a multi-billion-dollar class action to a jury verdict in a four-month trial in federal court. He also has trial experience involving claims of bad-faith denial of insurance claims and medical malpractice, and represents clients in cases involving personal injury and wrongful death, including nursing home abuse and neglect, tractor trailer and trucking accidents, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, products liability as well as other areas.  Immediately after law school, Jay clerked on the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

To discuss your potential personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse or neglect, motor vehicle wreck, medical malpractice or trucking accident claim with one of our experienced trial attorneys, contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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A two-vehicle crash on Cane Ridge Road in Bourbon County near Paris, Kentucky killed four people and injured two others on March 20, 2015. Four men, including Julio Barrios and Javier Henriquez, both of Galax, Virginia, were riding in a Hyundai passenger car when it crossed the center line into the path of a minivan before turning sideways.

Barrios and Henriquez died from their injuries at the scene. James Henry Stevens and Margaret Franklin, from Bourbon County, were riding in the minivan and were also killed. Stevens was taken from the scene to the Bourbon Community Hospital but he did not survive his injuries.

The men in the Hyundai were on their way back to work at a local farm and the accident happened at a curve on a dangerous stretch of the road. The force of the wreck threw several people out of the vehicles leading to speculation that they were not wearing seat belts. Two of the men in the Hyundai were injured and taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

Officials do not yet know what caused the car to cross the center line but believe that the vehicles were not speeding. Tests will be conducted to determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in causing the crash.

The severity of the crash caused the closing of Cane Ridge Road from Glenn Road to Steele Road for several hours.

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Even if they are minor, car accidents can ruin the day and have significant consequences later. An accident can cause you to miss work or important events, and you may have to deal with traffic citations, liability issues, vehicle repairs, and sometimes injuries or even death of a loved one. If you’re in a car accident in Kentucky, the first thing you should do is to follow safety precautions.

As soon as possible, turn on your hazard lights, setting out flares or warning cones if you carry them. You should call the police to have an accident report prepared and get assistance with finding immediate medical care. A police report can help with the insurance process, and prompt medical care can make a difference in how fast you get better and also creates a record of the extent of your injuries.

If there is an injury, call 911; otherwise, call the Police Department Administrative number for your area. Move your vehicle only if its position puts you in danger or you are instructed to move it by a police officer. However, if the accident occurs on an interstate highway or parkway or an on–ramp or off-ramp and does not involve death, injury or hazardous material, Kentucky law requires that you move the vehicle off the roadway as soon as the vehicle can be moved without the risk of further injury or damage.

After contacting the police, exchange your name, address, phone number, and insurance policy information with the other driver. Write down the driver’s name, insurance policy number, driver’s license number and license plate number. If the driver’s name is not the same name listed on the insurance card, find out what the relationship is and take down both individual’s names, addresses and phone numbers. Note the year, make and model of the car and the location of the incident.

After a car accident, you may want to make an expression of sympathy to the other driver. While you should be polite, don’t apologize. An apology could be construed as an admission of fault in legal proceedings. You should not state that the accident was your fault or your opinions about whose fault it was. Don’t get into an argument with the other driver and if the other driver tries to get into a fight with you, stay calm. Continue reading

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Sprinter limo bus

Comedian Tracy Morgan has filed suit against Walmart after he was critically injured in a multi-vehicle collision in New Jersey on June 7, 2014 that killed Morgan’s friend, James McNair, and injured several others. Police believe the truck driver, Kevin Roper of Georgia, dozed off while driving the Walmart tractor trailer, allowing his large rig to slam into the Sprinter limo bus Morgan and six others were riding in. Roper is charged with vehicular homicide and four counts of assault by auto, and the criminal complaint against Roper stated that he had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the trucking accident.

Morgan suffered multiple broken bones in the accident including broken ribs, a broken leg and a broken nose and was listed in critical condition after the accident. He has since been released from the hospital to continue his rehabilitation at home. McNair, a comedy writer, was fatally injured and three others were transported to the hospital with injuries of various severities.

Walmart truck

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the 6-car pileup caused by the driver of the Walmart tractor trailer. During its investigation, the NTSB will review the driver’s log and fuel receipts to determine the driver’s activities prior to the accident and investigate all available facts to determine whether the driver was in violation of the rules regarding hours of service. Under Federal law, drivers can work no more than 14 hours for any shift and only 11 of those hours can be spent driving. Read the preliminary report on the crash from the NTSB here.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey against Walmart by Tracy Morgan and others, Roper commuted from his home in Georgia to the Walmart facility in Delaware to begin his shift driving the Peterbilt truck-tractor and semitrailer combination vehicle. The limo bus in which Morgan and others were riding had slowed on the New Jersey Turnpike due to construction work and closed lanes on the Turnpike. The driver of the Walmart commercial truck apparently did not slow down and struck the rear of the limo bus. The lawsuit seeks damages against Walmart since Roper was an employee of Walmart and was operating the truck in the regular course of his employment.

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In our Kentucky personal injury practice, we sometimes hear the question: I’m not the type to sue someone for injuring me, so why should I? There’s a short answer: that’s what insurance is for. People purchase insurance policies specifically to guard against the risk of being sued, and insurance companies expect to have to pay for losses. While insurers are not inclined to pay out claims easily, they do anticipate paying in the event that their insured customers’ liability for your injuries are proven. Moreover, Kentucky has a built-in protection against weak claims that should alleviate any possible anxiety you may feel about bringing a lawsuit.

Kentucky is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that usually your right to sue someone for causing your injuries is already limited to those threshold instances set by statute. In order to sue in most motor vehicle cases, you must incur at least $1,000 in medical expenses or you must suffer a fractured bone, loss of a bodily function, disfigurement, loss of a body member, loss of a bodily function, a permanent injury, or death. “No fault” also means your motor vehicle policy will include coverage to pay the first $10,000 of your medical bills and lost wages in the event you are in a car accident; these benefits are available to you even if an accident is your fault. This coverage makes sure your medical bills are paid without delay and helps protect your credit rating.

The underwriting departments of insurance companies evaluate risk and rate an insurance company’s exposure to a lawsuit before an insured person pays a single premium. Insurance companies collect premiums from consumers based on their calculation of the risk of insuring that particular person. The risk analysis is somewhat similar to the analysis undertaken by a bank when it offers a homeowner a mortgage. Also, if an applicant purchases a homeowners’ policy, he or she will be asked about characteristics of the property, type of construction, square footage and more. Similarly, as you know if you’ve purchased auto insurance, an applicant is asked a variety of questions related to his or her vehicle, age, gender, the names of other drivers for the vehicle and geographic location in order to determine the premium to be charged. Continue reading

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