When Can You Sue A Nursing Home For Negligence?
The decision to file a lawsuit after a nursing home injury or unexplained death can be challenging. You may worry about legal fees, retaliation or simply the expenditure of time and energy at a time of personal and family stress. You may be more interested in tending to your loved one’s condition or mourning (after a fatality) than in taking legal action.
However, keep in mind that if your loved one has suffered harm because of negligence in a long-term care facility and you do nothing about it, similar problems are likely to happen to other residents. Suing a nursing home or assisted living facility can be a form of activism, protecting the wellbeing of current and future elderly and disabled people living there. It can also provide your loved one and/or the family much-needed financial relief after neglect or abuse resulted in injury, illness or exacerbated disability.
To get started exploring your legal options after you have realized your loved one was likely mistreated in a nursing home, consider the following questions or considerations.
Question No. 1: How Is “Nursing Home Negligence” Defined?
Most reasonable people acknowledge the difficulties that nursing home and other long-term care facility personnel face every day. Care giving is by nature stressful and variable from day to day. However, neglect and abuse are never acceptable. Residents are typically in these facilities because they cannot care for themselves, nor can their families. Family members may carefully choose a facility with a good reputation – but then negligence and injury can and does occur even in respected facilities.
Facilities that are understaffed or poorly managed tend to show more evidence of negligence and/or basic poor quality. To understand how quality of care is defined in a long-term care facility, we can review quality measures outlines by the nationwide Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS.gov) including:
For short-term stays, quality may be reflected by the percentage of residents who were re-hospitalized after admission, who had an outpatient emergency department visit, who got antipsychotic medication for the first time, who developed new or worsened pressure ulcers (bedsores), who have reported moderate to severe pain, who did or did not get a flu shot or pneumonia vaccine, who experienced falls and/or who were hospitalized within 30 days after discharge.
For long-term residents, quality may be measured by examining the number of hospitalizations per 1000 long-stay resident days, the number of outpatient emergency department visits per 1000 long-stay resident days; the percentage of residents who got antipsychotic medication, experienced falls, developed pressure ulcers, developed urinary tract infections, who had catheters installed and left in their bladders, whose ability to move independently worsened, who needed increased assistance with daily activities, who reported moderate to severe pain, who did or did not get flu shots or pneumonia vaccines, who were physically restrained, who lost control of their elimination systems, who lost too much weight, who developed symptoms of depression and/or who received anti-anxiety or hypnotic medication.
When acceptable, widely accepted standards of care in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are breached and injuries or deaths result, affected residents or their family members may decide to bring a legal claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties. Attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark L. Karno & Associates represent people with loved ones in nursing homes who suspect or know there has been some sort of intentional wrongdoing by the facility’s staff. Examples of breaches of the standard of care in nursing homes include injury, proof of physical abuse, evidence of sexual abuse and obvious poor treatment in general. See also our web page on nursing home negligence for discussion of specific consequences of neglect, including:
- Bed sores
- Bone fractures
- Burns caused by scalding bath water
- Cuts due to the use of physical restraints
- Wandering off
With proof of abuse or neglect, nursing home residents or family members may seek compensation for:
- Resulting hospitalizations and follow-up medical bills
- Any additional medical expenses for care that your loved one needs
- More expensive long-term care fees if a higher level of care is needed because of injuries and resulting deteriorated condition
- Related losses
- Emotional distress and/or lack of companionship
- Funeral and burial costs, in fatality cases
Question No. 2: How Do You Know Nursing Home Negligence Or Abuse Is Occurring?
Discovering or suspecting nursing home negligence or abuse is distressing for most family members. When you visit your loved one, he or she – or other nursing home residents whom you encounter – may tell you about abuse or mistreatment. You may see signs of wrongdoing when visiting your family member. You may learn through media reports of widespread abuse in a particular facility where your family member resides. There are many ways to see abuse and neglect. It is important to take action once you realize harm has taken place. You may need help to get your loved one out of the facility with a canceled contract and mitigated financial losses.
No matter how you learn of negligence and abuse, be sure to document the signs to the best of your ability to preserve potential evidence for claims you may have for compensation. Documentation may consist of photos, cellphone videos, transcribed testimony from the injured resident or eyewitnesses and doctors’ reports. With prompt legal advice, you can get an experienced personal injury lawyer’s direction as you collect signs of negligence and abuse. At the Law Offices of Mark L. Karno & Associates, we look forward to helping you through this process. We are ready to conduct our own investigation, as well as assist you in gathering evidence you have or can obtain.
Question No. 3: What Are Your Legal Rights Or Options When You Think A Loved One Is Being Abuse Or Neglected In A Nursing Home?
As soon as you suspect your loved one was harmed through negligence or abuse, talk to an attorney to learn how and when you can bring a legal action. Our attorneys can help determine whom you can bring a claim against. We can also discover what types and amounts of compensation may be available. It s crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who has handled similar case and understands what goes into making a successful claim. Intensive investigations and legwork may be required to build your case. Seek an attorney is knowledgeable about how to build a case from the ground up. You also want to know that the lawyer you choose is committed to seeing it through to the end, pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf.
Question No. 4: Why Should You Hire The Law Offices of Mark L. Karno & Associates For Your Nursing Home Neglect And Abuse Case?
Reasons past clients have chosen our firm and given us glowing reviews have included:
- Our in-depth experience
- Our skill at handling long-term care injury cases
- Our commitment to hold managers, owners and care givers responsible when their negligence has injured a nursing home resident
In addition to our recognized strengths, we understand the importance of rapport between clients and attorneys. We invite people with potential claims to consult with a nursing home abuse attorney in a free initial consultation. Whether you hire our firm or no to handle your nursing home lawsuit, you may be one step closer toward finding resolution after learning that your mother, father, spouse or disabled child was harmed through negligence and abuse in a long-term care facility: a nursing home, an assisted living complex or a rehabilitation facility in Illinois. Call us at 312-574-3362 or send an email inquiry to get the conversation started.