On Wednesday the Des Moines Register published a story explaining how certain brain injury advocates in Iowa are considering a lawsuit to force better treatment for those with head injuries. The potential civil rights lawsuit would be filed in federal court and demand improved care for certain residents who rely on the state for support. The paperwork necessary to initiate the lawsuit has apparently already been crafted. However advocates remain unsure if they will file the suit. Instead, the group is likely to file suit only if they cannot arrange for better treatment by working directly with state officials.
Our Illinois brain injury lawyers know that the claims of the suit would likely be based on an important U.S. Supreme Court ruling which found that Americans with disabilities have the right to live outside of the institutional setting if they are capable-this 1999 case is known as the Olmstead decision. A similar argument was made by Illinois residents with certain mental impairments in a recent high profile lawsuit. That Illinois case ended in a settlement whereby those individuals capable and interested in living more independently would be given basic resources and accommodations to do so.
Advocates in our neighboring state are calling for better options for those with brain injuries because, they argue, too many end up in nursing homes, jails, or psychiatric institutions. If these individuals were provided better services to help account for their vulnerabilities, then many would be able to live independently in better situations, such as in small group homes.
Officials in the state suggest that they are working to address the concerns without the need to head to court. Major mental health reform bills are being discussed. However, there is a big different between “discussing” bills to enact important changes for this community and actually taking action. In many ways the court is one area where advocates can force action when legislators engage in to too much talk and too little action.
The brain advocacy group considering the lawsuit notes that they have proposed many different ways that the state can raise the necessary funds to improve care for this community. For example, they note that many TBIs are caused by car accidents. Therefore changes in vehicle registration charges or licensure reinstatement fees for drunk drivers might be logical to pay for improved care for brain injury victims.
Each Chicago traumatic brain injury lawyer at our firm appreciates that this issue speaks to the related concern of ensuring that those experiencing these injuries have access to resources they need to live as productively as possible. In many cases the underlying brain injury might have been caused by the misconduct of another. If that is the case it is only fair-and in the best interest of society at large-to ensure that the wrongdoer is held accountable for the harm caused. Otherwise, the costs get shifted from the one who acted irresponsibly to all of us via taxpayer supported programs for these individuals. Many brain injuries are not caused by third parties, and so these programs are important to support victims in those situations. However, that does not mean that the public should pick up the slack for all consequences of negligent community members who hurt others.
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