Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bipartisan bill that will create additional protections for nursing home residents by ensuring that law enforcement receives expedited notifications regarding criminal abuse cases. Workers at over 900 state-regulated facilities that provide housing to the elderly must contact police within 24 hours if abuse, exploitation, or other criminal acts are suspected, and within two hours if a personal injury occurs. If a call is not made within the designated amount of time, both the staff and facility will be held accountable.
Moreover, facilities must educate their staff on new mandates each year, and ensure the information is included in their outreach programs and materials. Additionally, a 24-hour hotline must be created to manage complaints. Staff and facility penalties will be adjusted by instituting a $500 fine for violations instead of $5,000 under the current law, and individual workers may be charged $2,500 if they fail to report an incident, which is a new component of the proposed law.
Peggy’s Law was named for 93-year-old Peggy Marzolla who succumbed to fatal injuries she incurred while residing at a nursing home in Brick, New Jersey in 2010. Since then, her daughter has been lobbying lawmakers to create better laws that provide more protection to elderly nursing home residents. The new law, which goes into effect in October 2017, will expedite reporting of incidents of potential nursing home negligence and abuse cases, act as a deterrent, and provide swifter justice and care for the afflicted elderly patients.
We at Davis & Brusca applaud the passage of this important law, and hope it will motivate facilities and care providers to take action to improve the quality of life and care our seniors receive. It will, however, remain important to take action if signs of neglect or abuse are seen as, sadly, not all facilities will respond to or honor the duties under the law.
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing nursing home negligence or abuse, contact our New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC at 609-786-2540 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.