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Nursing Home Bedsore 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 facility liable in a lawsuit. Many potential plaintiffs want to know the 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
Bed Sore Case Values for Settlements and Verdicts
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, but 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 Bed Sore 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 are known as tortfeasors and Illinois 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
I Thought That These Were Actions for Medical Malpractice?
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 are 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 are damages to your finances, whether through 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.
It is important to note that while 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 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, 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 law indicates.
Part of the award will depend on how severe the bedsore was. There are four categories of severity for bedsores:
- Stage I. Here the skin is red and perhaps swollen. It might feel warm and hard to the touch. The process has begun but not progressed very far.
- Stage II. The bedsore may now have abrasions and/or blisters.
- Stage III. The skin has worn down and exposed the tissue underneath. The bedsore has damaged the underlying tissue, and infection is a serious risk.
- Stage IV. The skin and tissue are gone, leaving a deep crater where muscle and bone are exposed. Stage IV is life-threatening.
The severity of the bedsore can influence the jury 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 damages to their estates.
There are a variety of factors that determine jury awards in relation to suits brought because of bedsores. The more severe the case, the more the award tends to be.
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 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 facility 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 facility they were staying at neglected them for a long. This includes instances where the neglect caused the growth of bed sores 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 he or she sustained bed sores had to pay large sums of money to the bed sore 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 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 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.
How Long do I Have to Bring my Bed Sore Case?
Generally, you have two years from the time that you were injured to bring your bed sore case to court. This you 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. 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).
Links to Specific State Case Value Analyses
Let Our Office Help You with a Bed Sore Lawsuit & Let us Maximize the Value of Your Bed Sore Case
Nursing Home Law Center LLC is committed to helping families who have a loved one with a bed sore. Our attorneys have prosecuted hundred of claims and lawsuits related to the development of bed sores at a facility such as a nursing home, hospital or assisted living facility.
When it comes to investigating and prosecuting these cases, our interest are completely aligned with yours as we handle these 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 bed sore case with an experienced attorney without any cost or obligation. Contact our office here for a free consultation.