Potential Drug Rehab Legal Claims

Drug rehab facilities are supposed to be a safe haven for individuals battling addiction, but all to often we see instances where the facility that is supposed to care for our loved ones, does not provide the adequate support for the patients in need.  With regards to potential legal claims that arise out of these facilities, below are three of the potential issues that occur to patients at drug rehab centers.

Dependent Adult Abuse Act

Over 225,000 Californian elders and dependent adults become victims of abuse each year. California’s Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, often abbreviated as the “Elder Abuse Act,” or the “Dependent Adult Abuse Act” provides a series of protections for both the elderly and “dependent adults.”  The legislature passed the Act in recognition that elders and dependent adults may be subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and that the state has a responsibility to protect these individuals. While it is now fairly common to see legal claims brought under the Act on behalf of the elderly who live in nursing homes, few have taken advantage of the provisions of the Act that protect dependent adults, perhaps because the term may be somewhat misleading.

The definition of dependent adult is not limited to those with physical or mental limitations but broadly includes any person between the age of 18 and 64 who is admitted as in inpatient to a 24-hour facility.  As many drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities provide 24-hour inpatient care, those admitted into these facilities are entitled to the protections of the Dependent Adult Abuse Act.

The Act may be useful to address a variety of problems associated with drug and alcohol treatment centers because it provides redress for both abuse and neglect.  The Act defines “neglect” as the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.  The definition specifies that this includes the failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs and failure to protect from health and safety hazards.   The Act provides enhanced remedies for victims of abuse or neglect including punitive damages and the payment of attorney’s fees and costs.  Common issues of neglect in substance abuse treatment facilities include failure to provide 24-hour supervision, failure to provide a safe environment free from drugs and alcohol, and failure to address the medical and mental health needs of patients.

If you feel your family member or loved one may have been abused or neglected in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility please seek the advice of an attorney experienced in this area.

Negligence and Wrongful Death

Drug and Alcohol treatment and recovery facilities and their employees have legal duty to provide ordinary and reasonable care.  If one of these facilities breaches this duty you may be entitled to damages.  If this breach leads to death, then the survivors or heirs (spouses, parents, siblings, and children) may be entitled to damages for both financial support and damages for loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support.

The definition of ordinary and reasonable care is broad and open to interpretation based on the circumstances.  At a minimum, the facilities should provide adequate medical support, treatment by experts in their fields, 24-hour supervision, and safe-guards to prevent a patient from relapsing while in inpatient care. The failure of these facilities to provide these services has led to tragic consequences in some cases.  It is all too common that patients relapse while in an addiction treatment center or directly after leaving a program.  Additionally, due to Lack of proper mental health treatment and supervision, patients become very vulnerable to suicide.

Breach of Contact, Negligent Misrepresentation, and Fraud

Often drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment programs often promises and guarantees about the effectiveness of their services and the types of services provided.  These promises are intended to attract new patients and justify the tremendous fees charged for a relatively short period of time.   Common guarantees include “24-hour supervision” and a “safe and healthy environment.”  A new trend is to promise care often termed “dual-diagnosis treatment” which is designed to treat both addiction and mental disorders associated with the addiction.

Programs boast the ability to treat an array of mental health disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and personality disorders while simultaneously treating substance dependency.  This promise to provide dual diagnoses treatment attracts many patients and their families who feel that mental health is a big part of substance abuse.  In reality, many drug treatment facilities fail to provide even basic treatment of mental health disorders after inducing patients to join their programs.  They commonly fail to have any psychiatrists or psychologists on staff relying instead on “therapists” and often case workers with no medical training whatsoever.

Therapy sessions are infrequent and often devoid of meaningful substance.  Patients are often unsupervised for substantial periods of time, allowing them the freedom to acquire and use the substances they are trying to overcome or even worse giving them the opportunity to take their own lives.  If an addiction treatment facility has broken its promises to you regarding treatment or any service, you may have a claim for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and/or fraud.

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