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Nursing Home Bed Sore Case Values FAQs
If a hospital or nursing home, through negligence, allows a patient to develop bed sores, the patient or his or her family can hold the nursing home liable in a lawsuit.
Many potential plaintiffs want to know the settlement value of a bedsore case. As with many other kinds of cases, it depends on the specifics of the case.What is a Bedsore?
A bedsore is a wound that develops from continued pressure to a part of the body. The pressure cuts off the flow of blood to that body part and the skin and tissue begin to die.
Normal, healthy people avoid bed sores because they move around and no single part of their body is subject to such pressure for very long. Even when we sleep at night, we turn and roll over, preventing any one part of our body from bearing the brunt of the pressure.
When we can no longer take such measures for ourselves, and when a trusted caretaker does not take them for us, we can develop a bedsore, also known as a pressure sore or a decubitus ulcer. This may result in damages awarded by a jury.
There are certain points on the body where pressure sores are most likely to form. These are points that, due to our anatomy, are most likely to bear pressure when we lie in bed or when we sit in a chair for long periods of time. They also tend to have little fat, which can act as a cushion to reduce the pressure. These parts include:
- Back of head
- Lower back
One of the earliest and most frequent questions we hear from clients is, “What is my bed sore case worth?” This concern is understandable.
Most of the people we meet and work with only seek us out after they -or one of their loved ones- has been involved in a traumatic and costly experience.
Bed sores are not the exception to this rule. They induce significant amounts of pain and suffering not to mention medical and other expenses. Therefore, lawsuits are a means to an end for victims. They are a chance to recover for what was unjustly taken from them.
Thus, the question initially and often arises: how much will they recover from the nursing home or hospital where the bed sore developed or progressed? To be frank, the circumstances of your particular bed sore case will dictate how much you will be compensated.
However, before discerning various factors that might produce substantial monetary recovery from a negligent medical facility, it is important to illuminate the specific nature of a bed sore case. We will do that now by answering a series of questions.What Kind of a Case is My Bedsore Lawsuit?
Generally, most bed sore lawsuits are actions for negligence against a skilled nursing facility where a wound developed.
This means that plaintiffs are alleging that the defendant or defendants did not act as a reasonable person or entity would have acted in similar circumstances.
The latter is known as tortfeasors and the law has a special definition for them:
Any person, excluding the injured person, whose fault is a proximate cause of the death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought, regardless of whether that person is the plaintiff’s employer, regardless of whether that person is joined as a party to the action, and regardless of whether that person may have settled with the plaintiff.
However, to succeed on a negligence action, plaintiffs must bring more to court than a tortfeasor. They must allege and prove four particular points of law.
First, that the tortfeasor owed them a duty such as to avoid harming them.
Second, that the tortfeasor broke that duty by, for example, harming them.
Third, that the tortfeasor’s breach of duty caused the plaintiffs injuries including medical bills, pain and suffering, death, lost wages, property damage, or other losses.
Fourth, that the injury produced specific economic or non-economic damages to the plaintiffs.
Quick Links to Specific State Case Value Analyses
Because many bed sore situations occur in a medical environment, plaintiffs often fashion their cases as medical malpractice actions. This is a specific hybrid of negligence. It means that the defendants failed to act as other medical providers would have in similar circumstances.
Generally, you are alleging that the wrongdoer should be held to a higher standard as a health care practitioner and that that person or entity did not meet that standard.
These cases are harder and costlier to prove because you must show what that standard is with expert evidence. Also, the defendants are typically large organizations with lots of resources. However, as you will see below in our case summary and statistics sections, plaintiffs often succeed and recover vast sums of money.What Sort of Damages is Recoverable in Bedsore Cases?
There are four categories of damages for which a victim or his or her heirs can earn compensation. Your legally recognizable losses are called damages and they can include but are not limited to the following things:
- Economic damages. These financial losses might involve out-of-pocket expenses or lost wages. Medical bills and lost income from missing work would be two prime examples.
- Non-economic damages. Pain and suffering can reduce your quality of life, whether temporarily or permanently. Juries can award a victim non-economic damages if he or she can demonstrate having suffered because of the bedsore.
- Punitive damages. If the jury believes the defendant was particularly malicious, they may choose to award punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant as well as a deterrent for everyone else.
- Wrongful death damages. If bedsores contributed to the victim’s death – serious bedsores can be lethal – then the victim’s heirs or estate may receive damages for the loss of that person, as well as for things like funeral expenses.
Economic damages are basically confined to the total, measurable out of expenses plaintiffs suffered, the other categories of compensation hold no such limits. Juries are afforded great flexibility in awarding recovery and they often give amounts far beyond the value of the economic loss.
In some cases, the jury will award the nursing home resident punitive damages, punishing the defendant (nursing home) for some egregious act of negligence or abuse. Punitive damages cannot be negotiated during a bedsore settlement meeting or paid by insurance companies resolving cases out of court.How Much Will the Jury Award in a Nursing Home Bedsore Lawsuit?
There is no set amount for jury awards in a case of bedsore neglect involving nursing homes and hospitals. The economic damages will be limited to what the plaintiff can demonstrate was lost.
For example, he or she can produce bills and past paychecks to demonstrate lost income. However, there is no definite limit for non-economic and punitive damages, except where the law indicates.
Part of the award will depend on the bedsore's severity and contributing factors. There are four categories of severity for bedsores:
- Stage I. The skin appears red and swollen, feeling warm and hard to the touch. At this stage, there is minimal nerve damage and little pain.
- Stage II. A progressive bedsore will reveal skin loss, abrasions, and blisters.
- Stage III. The pressure ulcer's skin has worn down and exposed the tissue underneath with minimal. The bedsore has damaged the underlying tissue, and infection is a serious risk. Muscle tissue loss, pain, and suffering
- Stage IV. The most advanced stage reveals lost tissue and skin, appearing as a deep crater where muscle and bone are exposed. Stage IV is life-threatening when bone degeneration is present in the injury
The severity of the nursing home patients' bedsores can influence court jurors when they try to decide how much suffering the plaintiff has endured. In a wrongful death suit, the age of the victim plays a role. Victims who lost more years of life will receive more compensation to their estates.
Various contributing factors can determine jury awards in relation to suits brought because of bedsores. The more severe the nursing home bedsore case, the more the award tends to be.Can a Family Member file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Care Facilities after Losing a Loved One?
Did you lose a loved one in a nursing home or hospital who acquired preventable injuries? Were they the victim of nursing home abuse leading the bedsores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers?
In most states, nearly every family member can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking financial compensation from the defendant’s (care facilities) insurance company. Potential plaintiffs seeking compensation in a bedsore settlement could include spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings.
Most of these cases involve victims who died from a stage IV pressure ulcer that could have been prevented had the nursing staff followed the established protocols and provided appropriate treatment for infection.
Individuals of a loved one should contact the personal injury attorneys’ network at Nursing Home Law Center at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation. Your lawyer can ensure that all those responsible for causing your loved one harm are held legally and financially accountable in a pressure ulcer lawsuit.What Explains the Differences in Bed Sore Case Recoveries?
Many elements factor into the outcomes of bed sore cases but there are some that are more predictive of successful recovery than others.
Here is a quick guide to help analyze your possible compensation:
- Age: How old was the victim? Normally, juries will award victims, or the families of victims, more money if the person had a long life ahead of him or her. Additionally, the aggrieved person may have contributed to others (like his or her family) over that course of time, and that support is definitely recoverable as well and obviously will be larger if he or she was cut short at an early age.
- Death: Generally, a great predictor of a large jury award or settlement size in bed sore cases is death. If you can illustrate that the bed sores caused the death of your loved one, then you might be able to accomplish a lot of compensation. Many of the cases that had large recoveries also included wrongful death claims.
- Additional Injuries: Plaintiffs received substantial sums of money when they claimed additional injuries coincided with the bed sores they sustained while in the care of their provider. For instance, many plaintiffs demonstrated that they fell while residing at a nursing home and that either exacerbated or initiated their bed sores. What it inevitably shows as well is the egregious nature of the defendant’s behavior.
- Neglect: Juries are particularly sensitive to bed sore victims if the nursing home they were staying at neglected them for a long time. This includes instances where the neglect caused the growth of pressure ulcers or their continued development. It essentially serves as a symbol of the defendant’s misconduct.
- Length of Stay at the Nursing Home: Cases where the plaintiff was not at the defendant's nursing home long before he or she sustained bed sores had to pay large sums of money to the bedsore victims. This is an easy way for the jury to discern that the defendant unreasonably cared for the plaintiff and they normally responded in kind with significant awards.
- State of Bed Sores: The condition of the victim’s bed sores upon arrival to the defendant's nursing home is critical in ascertaining potential recovery in court. Compensation tended to be higher for those who had a lack of or early stage of bed sores upon arriving into the defendant’s care. The logic is that any complication or advancement of the disease is the defendant’s and the defendant should pay for that.
Any nursing home resident who develops a facility-acquired bedsore leading to severe injuries has a legal right to file a compensation case against the home care facility to recover losses.
However, nursing home residents or their attorneys must prove the case by showing a direct or indirect responsibility where the nursing home and employees failed to provide the plaintiff a safe environment.
The primary elements that successfully resolved bed sore settlements include:
- The nursing facility had a duty of care to provide all nursing home residents optimal care
- The nursing home breached its duty
- That failure led to the egregious, neglectful, or abusive behavior of the nursing home staff
- The nursing home staff behavior led to the victim’s losses that might include nerve damage, pressure sores, bone degeneration, skin loss, restricted blood flow, muscle tissue damage, buttock bed sores, skin breakdown, pain, and suffering.
Most personal injury lawsuits take many months to resolve through a negotiated bedsore settlement agreement. If the defendant refuses to offer an acceptable settlement amount, the plaintiff (patient with injuries)usually has no other option than to take their lawsuit to trial.
Building a nursing home abuse case is complicated, requiring expert testimony from medical professionals and financial advisors to identify and clarify the victim’s extensive losses. The plaintiff’s attorneys are typically ready to present their evidence in front of jurors within two years from when the case was filed.
The defendant (nursing Home) might not be the only party listed as a defendant, which could include outside nursing home vendors, employees, nurses, doctors, and others. These contributing factors to the evidence against the defendants at trial might lead to a mid-trial settlement offer to avoid a verdict with punitive damages.
Are you the victim of pressure ulcers and suffered significant skin loss that could have been prevented? Contact a personal injury attorney at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation to discuss filing a lawsuit against those who failed to provide you appropriate care.What are the Average Bedsore Settlements for Nursing Home Neglect Cases?
The value of any nursing home neglect lawsuit is based on circumstances and contributing factors unique to the case. However, statistically, the average settlement amount negotiated out-of-court by the defendant and the plaintiff's lawyers is approximately $400,000.
A bedsore injury case heard in front of a judge and jury could be resolved for higher amounts. Data shows that approximately 17% (1-6) of all nursing home abuse lawsuits result in punitive damages, where the defendant is punished for their egregious behavior.
However, the uncertainty of how the jury will respond to the evidence might be too stressful for the defendant, whose insurance policy limits the amount billed, and the plaintiff who might not receive adequate funds in a jury verdict to pay all of their expenses.
Because of that, personal injury attorneys representing plaintiffs will often recommend accepting the best-negotiated bedsore settlements to avoid trial.How Long Do I Have to Bring My Bedsore Case?
Generally, you have two years from the time that you were injured to bring your bed sore case to court. The limitation means that you must file your action before that time period ends.
However, Illinois does have an exception if you reasonably do not discover that you have a case. In these circumstances, your two-year time window begins when you discover that you were injured and have a case or when you reasonably should have discovered that you had a case.
Any victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against nursing homes if the statute of limitations has yet to expire to hold employees in the facility financially accountable for their failure to provide needed treatment to care for pressure ulcers. These cases are typically based on negligence or abuse.
Nearly all nursing home abuse cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement where the patient receives financial compensation for economic losses (hospital costs, medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic losses including pain-and-suffering.
For more information, see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202 (2010); Del Bianco v. American Motorists Ins. Co., 73 Ill. App. 3d 743, 747 (Ill. App Ct. 1979).