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How Much is a Nursing Home Bed Sore Case Worth?
Victims of neglect, abuse, or mistreatment can file a civil lawsuit if they develop a preventable pressure sore while residing in a nursing facility. In addition, surviving spouses, children, and grandchildren who lost a loved one from a fatal pressure ulcer can seek monetary recovery from all negligent parties.
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center serve as legal advocates for victims and family members to ensure they receive adequate compensation for damages.
Call our bedsore injury lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation to discuss how much your nursing home bed sore case is worth.The Steps to Determining a Personal Injury Case's Worth
Personal injury lawyers must determine if a particular case is worth pursuing due to the severity and complexity of the serious injuries. The lawyer will interview their client, request medical records from doctors, and calculate the need for future rehabilitation to determine how much money the case is worth.
In some cases, filing a claim is not worth pursuing monetary recovery because there is insufficient evidence or little worth. However, if the case moves forward, the attorney will begin building their case by gathering evidence, reviewing medical records, and interviewing witnesses.
According to data, possibly 95% of all personal injury cases involving nursing home bed sore injuries and fatalities settle out of court. Typically, cases that go to trial result when the defendant or their insurance company fails to make a good faith offer based on the personal injury case's worth.
Typically, these cases involve evidence where the patient was left unattended without treatment before being found with developing bedsores.A Case Study
A recent study found that nursing home bedsores are worth over $200,000 in medical costs and lost wages. The average cost of a hospital stay for an injury victim is about $50,000.
It's not surprising then to learn that these numbers add up quickly, with the average lifetime cost for victims of nursing home bedsores is $260,000. However, that number can be significantly higher, with multiple million dollars when elder abuse and permanent disabilities are involved.
It's important to note that these are the average numbers. The actual amount of compensation awarded for a nursing home bed sore case can be much higher or lower depending on the specifics of the particular case.A Never Event
Developing pressure wounds in nursing homes are completely avoidable injuries that should never happen. Yet, unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect across America are not uncommon occurrences.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), developing bedsores in caregiving facilities is considered "never events." In other words, the facility is required to contact the patient's family within one hour of discovering a pressure ulcer.
For years, Medicare has refused to pay nursing homes and assisted living facilities when billed for treatment and care for facility-acquired bedsores. As a result, federal and state surveyors often investigate many of these cases, ending in citations and monetary penalties citing the violation.
In some cases, nursing homes have been found to delay contacting the family for days or longer after a bedsore injury occurs – exposing nursing home patients to additional pain and suffering.
The victim's family can hold the nursing facility liable in a lawsuit after their loved one developed bed sores caused by negligence. Many potential plaintiffs want to know the value of a bedsore case. As with many other kinds of cases, it depends on specifics, facts, and evidence.What is a Bedsore?
A bedsore is a wound that develops from continued pressure to a part of the body. The pressure cuts off blood flow to that body part, and the skin and tissue begin to die.
Normally, healthy people avoid pressure ulcers or serious infections 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.
Skin sores (pressure wounds, also known as decubitus ulcers or bedsores) can develop quickly when people can no longer care for themselves, or a caretaker provides substandard care.
There are certain points on the body where pressure sores are most likely to form. Due to our anatomy, these are points that are most likely to bear pressure when we lie in bed or sit in a chair for long periods.
Common areas prone to bedsores tend to have little fat, which can act as a cushion to reduce the pressure. These parts include:
- Back of the head
- Lower back
One of the earliest and most frequent questions we hear from clients is, "How much is a nursing home 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. Pressure ulcers 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 pressure ulcers developed or progressed?
The circumstances of your particular pressure case will dictate how much you will be compensated. Still, 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 pressure sore case.What Kind of a Case is my Bed Sore Lawsuit?
Generally, most bedsore lawsuits are actions for negligence against a skilled nursing facility where a wound developed, indicating 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 state 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 a 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, plaintiffs (the victim who developed bed sores) must bring more to court than a tortfeasor to succeed in a negligence action. 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, the tortfeasor's breach of duty caused the plaintiffs injuries, including medical bills, pain, suffering, death, lost wages, property damage, or other losses
- Fourth, that the injury produced specific economic or non-economic damages to the plaintiffs
Because many pressure sores develop in a medical environment, plaintiffs often fashion their cases like medical negligence actions—a specific hybrid of negligence. It means that the defendants failed to act as other medical providers would have in similar circumstances.
Generally, victims allege 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 more challenging and costlier to prove because you must show that standard 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 Pressure Sore Cases?
There are four categories of damages where injured nursing home residents could win compensation when resolving bedsore lawsuits. Your legally recognizable losses are called damages, and they can include but are not limited to the following things:
- Economic damages: These are damages to your finances, whether through out-of-pocket expenses or lost wages. Medical expenses to receive proper medical care and lost income from missing work would be two prime examples.
- Non-economic damages: Physical pain and suffering can reduce your quality of life, whether temporarily or permanently. Juries can award a victim non-economic damages if they can demonstrate having suffered because of bedsores.
- 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.
- Preventable death damages: If bedsores contributed to the victim's death – serious bedsores could 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.
It is important to note that while economic damages are confined to the total, measurable 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.How Much Will the Jury Award?
There is no set amount for jury awards in a case of bedsore neglect. The economic damages will be limited to what the plaintiff can demonstrate was lost. For example, they 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 how severe the bedsore was. There are four categories of severity for bedsores:
- Stage I: In the initial stage, the skin becomes red and possibly swollen, feeling warm and hard to the touch. The process has begun but has not progressed very far.
- Stage II: The pressure sore could now display abrasions and blisters.
- Stage III: The skin has worn down, exposing the underlying tissue to possible infections, placing the patient at serious risk.
- Stage IV: The skin and tissue are gone, leaving a life-threatening deep crater where muscle and bone are exposed, typically requiring debridement to cut away the necrotic (dead) tissue.
- Unstageable: Sometimes, the amount of debris, necrotic tissue, and other particles inside an open wound make it difficult to determine if it is a stage III or stage IV pressure ulcer.
The severity of the nursing home bedsore can influence the jury 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 damages to their estates.
Various contributing factors determine jury awards bed sore lawsuits. For example, jurors tend to award more financial compensation to nursing home residents with severe injuries or preventable death.
In cases that go to trial, the bedsore settlement is typically much higher when the wound was especially severe or life-threatening and required medical attention in an emergency room.What Explains the Differences in Bedsore Case Recoveries?
Many elements factor into the outcomes of bedsore cases, but some are more predictive of successful recovery than others. Here is a quick guide to help analyze your possible compensation:
- Age: The victim's age plays a crucial role in the amount of compensation they could receive. Normally, juries will award victims or the victims' families more money if the person has a long life ahead. Additionally, the aggrieved person may have contributed to others (like their family) over that course of time. That support is recoverable and obviously will be larger if they were cut short at an early age.
- Death: Generally, death is a great predictor of a large jury award or settlement size in pressure sore cases. If you can illustrate that the bedsores 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 bedsores they sustained while in the care of their provider. For instance, many plaintiffs demonstrated that they fell while residing at a facility and either exacerbated or initiated their bed sores. However, what it inevitably shows as well is the egregious nature of the defendant's behavior.
- Neglect: Juries are particularly sensitive to pressure sore victims if the facility they stayed at neglected them for a long time, including instances where the nursing home neglect caused the growth of bedsores or their continued development. It essentially serves as a symbol of the defendant's misconduct.
- Length of Stay at the Facility: Cases where the defendant was not at the defendant facility long before they sustained bedsores, had to pay large sums of money to the bedsore victims. It is easy for the jury to discern that the defendant unreasonably cared for the plaintiff, and they usually responded in kind with significant awards.
- Medical Malpractice: Doctors, nursing staff, and healthcare providers can be guilty of medical negligence when a facility-acquired pressure ulcer develops. You might prove that your loved one's injury resulted from malpractice when the nursing home failed to provide quality care and recover a significant amount for this case.
- State of Bed Sores: The condition of the victim's bedsores upon arrival to the defendant facility is critical in ascertaining potential recovery in court. Compensation tended to be higher for those who had a lack of or early stage of bedsores 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.
Generally, you have two years from the time you were injured to bring your pressure sore case to court. Unfortunately, you must file your action before that time ends. However, some states do 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.
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).Build an Attorney-Client Relationship with a Personal Injury Attorney Specializing in Bed Sore Lawsuits
Hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in wrongful death lawsuits is beneficial to the family's case to ensure maximum compensation for damages. Typically, these attorneys offer free consultations to any potential client.
During the consultation, the lawyer will discuss the evidence, witness accounts, and the likelihood that a medical professional, the nursing facility, Administrator, or others are likely legally accountable for injuries.
During a free consultation, all confidential or sensitive information you share with your personal injury attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.Let Our Office Help You with a Bed Sore Lawsuit & Let us Maximize the Value of Your Nursing Home Abuse Case
Nursing Home Law Center LLC is committed to helping families who have a loved one with preventable facility-acquired bedsores. Our attorneys have prosecuted hundreds of claims and lawsuits related to the development of bedsores and medical malpractice at a facility such as a nursing home, hospital, or assisted living facility.
Our personal injury law firm accepts all cases on a contingency fee basis where there is never a fee charged unless there is a recovery for you.
We invite you to discuss your bedsore lawsuit with an experienced attorney without any cost or obligation. Contact our law firm at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and to schedule a free consultation.
Qualifying surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit pursuing justice and seeking financial compensation for damages. Typically, damages include hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings & familial support, loss of consortium & companionship, grief, emotional pain, and suffering.Resources: