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
There are four categories of damages for which a victim or his or her heirs can earn compensation.
- 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.
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.