A nursing home lawsuit can be civil or criminal in nature, where a plaintiff (victim) seeks to hold the nursing home liable for negligence or abuse.
Nursing home abuse victims are sometimes compensated without the need for a lawsuit. If there are disagreements about who is at fault or how much compensation is appropriate a lawsuit may be necessary.
Most civil lawsuits are settled before a jury delivers a verdict. Additionally, criminal trials often end before a jury can deliver a verdict through plea deals.
Most Common Reasons For Nursing Home Lawsuits
According to a report by the insurance company, CNA, the most common legal claim against nursing home facilities is falls.
In 2012 and 2013, resident falls made up 41.5% of closed liability claims against the insurance company’s non-profit skilled nursing facilities. While this percentage was actually a large decrease from the previous four years, falls still far outpaced the other causes for legal claims during both time periods.
These rankings stayed consistent among for-profit skilled nursing homes as well; with falls accounting for 38.7% and pressure ulcers coming in second.
In addition to these claims against skilled nursing home facilities, falls are a serious risk for other long-term care providers as well. Between 2007 and 2013, falls were also the top claim against assisted living and continuing care retirement communities.
Another common reason that nursing homes are sued is for improper care and lack of hygiene. As many nursing home residents are unable to care for themselves it is the staff’s responsibility to maintain clean areas where residents live and eat. A lack of proper care and hygiene can lead to serious infections, such as sepsis, and even wrongful death.
Other Reasons Nursing Homes Are Sued
Other types of abuse and negligence in nursing homes may lead to a nursing home being sued and liable for any damages.
Failing to properly monitor residents – Nursing home residents are very susceptible to falls. This type of injury is often preventable and is the largest risk that comes with a lack of supervision. Proper supervision of residents can help prevent injury, infection, and improve health outcomes.
Poor or negligent staffing decisions – Negligent hiring practices, such as understaffing, can lead to abuse and negligence in nursing homes. Understaffed nursing homes lead to stress in caretakers, which in some situations results in abuse and neglect of the residents. Hiring staff with a history of abusive behavior or criminal records can also put residents at increased risk.
Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse in nursing homes can be experienced by both male and female residents. Unfortunately, this occurs often, as it is not unusual for residents to have cognitive conditions resulting in complaints not being taken seriously. This can lead to psychological trauma, emotional withdrawal, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Physical or emotional abuse – Under no circumstances are staff allowed to physically harm or abuse residents emotionally through methods such as social isolation or humiliation.
Delays in seeking medical treatment – Many nursing home residents have medical conditions that may require swift medical attention in the event of an emergency. Failure to seek medical treatment in a timely manner that leads to injury or death of a resident may make the nursing home liable for damages in a lawsuit.
Errors in administering medicine – If a nursing home is found to have forgotten to provide necessary medication or provide improper dosages of medication they may be found liable for resulting damages.
Elder financial abuse and exploitation – Nursing home residents have the right to manage their own financial affairs. Residents with medical conditions such as dementia are often unable to manage their own finances. Unscrupulous staff may cash checks without permission, forge resident signatures, steal money, or coerce them to sign documents they do not understand. Residents are often unaware that this is happening to them, creating extra responsibility for their loved ones to pay attention to any signs of financial elder abuse.
If any of this behavior is suspected or observed in a long-term care facility it should be reported to the proper authorities.
Types of Nursing Home Lawsuits
Civil nursing home lawsuits can generally fall into two different categories:
Tort nursing home abuse lawsuits – Tort lawsuits can include abuse, medical malpractice, neglect, and death. The plaintiff will be required to prove that the defendant committed the act in question and that the act led to injury of the plaintiff.
Breach of contract lawsuits – If a nursing home is found to have failed to honor the terms agreed upon by the resident they may be found in breach of their contract. This kind of lawsuit can help residents recover the money paid to the facility. Breach of contract lawsuits are less common than tort lawsuits and compensation can be limited as nursing home liability insurance often does not cover breach of contract.
If you are seeking to file a lawsuit against a nursing home an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine which kind of lawsuit may be best for your situation.
Nursing Home Lawsuit and Settlement Statistics and Facts
- Approximately 95% of nursing home lawsuits end in a settlement and only 5% of lawsuits receive a verdict from a jury.
- Most lawsuits against nursing homes are civil suits, but criminal lawsuits may also lead to recovery of damages for victims.
- Civil lawsuits can still be pursued for negligent acts that are technically legal but cause harm to the resident.
- According to information from a Health Affairs journal, the average settlement for nursing home abuse was around $406,000.
- Wrongful death cases make up many of the highest compensation amounts.
Get Help With Your Nursing Home Lawsuit
Nursing home and long-term care for our seniors is a vitally important topic. As the CNA report suggests, “While zero falls may not be an achievable goal, decreasing resident falls and mitigating the severity of fall-related injuries remain essential to quality improvement and risk management.”
This is why we are so passionate about fighting for our nursing home negligence clients and educating the public on the signs of nursing home abuse. By holding these nursing home facilities responsible, we aim to promote higher standards of care, improve resident monitoring, and ensure a safe and caring environment for all your loved ones.
Contact Dansky|Katz|Ringold if your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse to arrange a free consultation today.