legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Settlements
Nursing home abuse settlements are legal agreements between those bringing forth a lawsuit (plaintiffs) and those being sued (defendants). These involve negotiating financial compensation for victims and their families to pay for economic and non-economic damages.
If parties cannot reach a settlement, the nursing home abuse lawsuit may go to trial in civil court, where a judge or jury decides the verdict.
Nursing home abuse lawsuits seek justice for victims of physical, sexual, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect in nursing facilities. Plaintiffs can bring these cases against nursing home employees, residents, and administrators.
Did you or a loved one suffer nursing home abuse or neglect? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, can help you file a claim or lawsuit against all responsible parties.
Call our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) for a free legal case review.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is any intentional or unintentional act that causes pain, injury, or harm to a resident. It includes:
- Physical Abuse: Any act that causes bodily injury or harm to a nursing home resident, such as slapping, kicking, pinching, or pushing. It can also be restraining a patient without a medical reason.
- Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual sexual act against a resident, including unwanted touching, coerced explicit photography, verbal sexual harassment, and rape.
- Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Any verbal or non-verbal act that causes psychological harm to a nursing home resident, such as humiliation, intimidation, and gaslighting.
- Financial Abuse: Any illegal or unauthorized use or manipulation of a resident's assets (money, personal belongings, benefits), such as stealing valuables, forging checks, and transferring money without permission.
- Neglect: The failure to provide a resident's basic needs (food, water, clothing, hygiene), causing or creating a risk of harm to that resident. Intentional or unintentional neglect is considered nursing home abuse.
Elder abuse is any act that causes harm to an nursing home resident aged 65 and beyond. Many states have specific laws regarding the abuse of senior citizens.
Common Injuries and Conditions Caused by Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse cases often involve serious injuries or health conditions, such as:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI is caused by a significant blow to the head, such as in physical assault or fall accidents. TBIs include concussions, contusions, brain hemorrhaging, and intracranial hematomas. These injuries can be severe enough to cause life-altering complications or death.
- Fractures: Elder abuse and neglect can lead to broken bones, such as when a resident falls down the stairs or is physically assaulted by a staff member. Fractures are particularly dangerous for elderly residents due to their reduced healing capabilities.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: A spinal cord injury occurs due to damage to the spinal cord. Complications may include partial or total paralysis. Spinal cord injuries in nursing homes are often caused by falls.
- Pressure Sores: A pressure sore is an injury to the skin and soft tissue caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. It often affects people with limited mobility or immobile (e.g., paralyzed patients, wheelchair users). When a person stays in one position for too long, pressure accumulates in certain body parts and cuts off circulation, causing the skin to die. These injuries are usually caused by neglect.
- Infections: Lack of proper medical care can lead to infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, and cellulitis. In nursing homes, infections usually result from neglect and medical negligence.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration: Elder abuse and neglect can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, which increase a patient's risk of injury and illness (e.g., bedsores, infection, vitamin and mineral deficiencies).
- Death: Nursing home neglect and abuse can lead to fatal injuries or illnesses.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect Against a Nursing Home Resident
The following signs and symptoms may indicate that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect in their nursing facility:
- Broken bones
- Bruises, welts, black eyes, cuts
- Rope or grip marks around wrists and ankles
- Broken eyeglasses, torn clothing
- Sudden change in behavior
- Fearfulness around certain nursing home employees
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area
- Torn or bloody underclothing
- Unexplained genital infections or venereal disease
- Sudden change in behavior
Emotional or Mental Abuse
- Social withdrawal
- Bouts of anger
- Unusual behavior usually associated with dementia (e.g., biting, rocking)
Financial Abuse or Exploitation
- Sudden changes in bank accounts, e.g., unexplained withdrawals
- Suspicious signatures on financial documents
- The disappearance of personal belongings
- Provision of unnecessary services
- Missing ATM or credit cards
- Signs of malnutrition or dehydration, e.g., unexplained weight loss
- Untreated bedsores
- Poor hygiene and unkempt appearance
- Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
- Recurring infections
If you notice these signs in your loved one, it's imperative that you investigate the situation further.
You can report known or suspected abuse to the local police or agencies governing the local nursing home or the assisted living facility in your area. Call 911 if your think your loved one or other nursing home residents are in immediate danger.
Some signs mimic dementia or mental illness and may therefore be difficult to distinguish. If you are unsure whether your loved one is suffering from abuse or a medical condition, seek professional medical advice.
What is a Nursing Home Abuse Settlement?
A nursing home abuse settlement occurs after a plaintiff files a lawsuit against the defendant. It is a legal agreement wherein the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff for the injuries and other losses. After both parties settle, the case is dismissed.
Nursing home settlements award plaintiffs financial compensation for:
- Medical Bills: Medical treatment costs for the plaintiff's injuries or illnesses caused by the defendant, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Related expenses if the plaintiff becomes disabled from the nursing home abuse, e.g., mobility aids, physical rehabilitation, appropriate medical treatment, etc.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional harm, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental trauma, etc.
- Lost Wages: Income, wages, and benefits lost by family members while caring for their injured loved one.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation for quality of life lost, emotional pain, and other related damages if the plaintiff suffers permanent scarring or disfigurement from the abuse.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost due to nursing home abuse, such as reduced independence, social withdrawal, etc.
- Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, grief, loss of consortium or companionship, and other wrongful death-related damages if the victim dies due to nursing home abuse. A wrongful death settlement may also award the plaintiff compensation for loss of future inheritance.
The extent of these damages influences nursing home negligence settlements. Your lawyer will discuss the potential value of your case based on these factors during your free legal consultation.
Why Settle a Nursing Home Abuse Case?
Many nursing home abuse cases end in settlements, helping victims and families avoid the stress of going to court. The following are other reasons why you should settle a nursing home abuse lawsuit:
- Fewer Expenses: Nursing home litigation can result in additional legal fees, possibly reducing how much the plaintiff receives in compensation. Nursing home settlements help keep expenses to a minimum.
- Faster Process: Settling a nursing home abuse case is more immediate than taking it to court. Lawsuits typically take a few months to a few years to close, while nursing home settlements generally take a few weeks to a months, depending on the circumstances. Elderly residents may not have enough time to wait for a lawsuit to reach a verdict, and many families need the money as soon as possible.
- Less Uncertainty: In a nursing home abuse settlement, both parties agree to the terms, including the exact dollar amount of financial compensation. In a lawsuit, there is no guarantee that the plaintiff will receive any compensation as it is to be decided by the judge or jury. Nursing homes typically hire highly experienced defense attorneys to avoid paying compensation, and victims may receive no money if they lose the case.
- More Privacy: The case's details remain between the involved parties if they settle it out of court. This benefit is often crucial for nursing home wrongful death cases.
- Flexibility: Nursing home settlements give plaintiffs more flexibility to negotiate terms. The process of a nursing home lawsuit settlement is also less formal.
- Punitive Damages: In some nursing home lawsuit settlements, plaintiffs receive punitive damages on top of compensatory damages, which juries award to punish defendants for egregious behavior.
Average Nursing Home Settlement Amounts
According to the Journal of Health Affairs, the average nursing home settlement in the US is $406,000. In addition to the extent of the victim's damages, nursing home settlement amounts depend on several factors, including:
The case's circumstances may affect how much you receive in compensation. Generally, the more severe the abuse and resulting injuries are, the higher the compensation. For instance, a wrongful death claim may award more than a case where the victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Wrongful death settlements may award millions of dollars in some cases. Victims may also receive millions in compensation if they suffer serious injuries that cause permanent disability or impairment.
In some cases, the victim's age influences the nursing home settlement. For instance, monetary compensation for a disabled child may be higher than for an elderly woman who suffered the same abuse. Some juries consider the remaining lifespan of the victim affected or reduced by abuse or neglect.
Lawyers may refer to average nursing home abuse settlements for previous cases in your area to determine fair compensation.
Jurisdiction is the government's power or right to interpret and apply the law. Most nursing home abuse cases fall under local state laws. Penalties for abusing or neglecting nursing home residents vary from state to state and may affect the average settlement for that area.
The strength of a nursing home lawsuit may affect the defendant's actions. For instance, a defendant may make a low settlement offer if they believe the plaintiff has a poor chance of winning the case in court. Lawyers build strong claims with substantial evidence to ensure victims receive fair nursing home settlements.
Elements of a Nursing Home Lawsuit Settlement
To file a nursing home abuse lawsuit against liable parties, you must prove that the following are true:
- The defendant owed a legal duty of care to you. Every nursing home and skilled nursing facility is legally obligated to protect residents from preventable harm, including elder abuse and neglect.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. A "breach" can be an act or failure to act that caused you harm.
- You suffered an injury. You must prove that you suffered a physical or otherwise injury from the defendant's negligence.
- The defendant's negligence directly led to your injuries and other losses. You must prove that the defendant's actions or inaction caused your injuries, financial losses, mental trauma, and other damages.
A free legal case review with one of our attorneys will determine if you have grounds for seeking a nursing home settlement.
Who Can Pursue Nursing Home Lawsuit Settlements?
A victim may not be able to pursue a nursing home neglect settlement due to physical or mental limitations, or they may have passed away from their injuries or illnesses. In that case, the following can seek a nursing home negligence or wrongful death settlement on the victim's behalf:
- The victim's spouse
- The victim's children, parents, or siblings
- The legal representative of the victim's estate
Surviving victims can take legal action with the help of family members. The victim's testimony is often crucial in seeking nursing home lawsuit settlements.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Process
Filing a nursing home abuse case is relatively simple with the help of a lawyer. Nursing home lawyers gather the case's details, file the lawsuit on your behalf, and negotiate with the defendant's party.
The length of a nursing home lawsuit settlement process depends on the defendant's willingness to cooperate and compromise.
The general process of nursing home lawsuit settlements is as follows:
Contacting a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
You can file a nursing home abuse or wrongful death lawsuit on your own, but doing so may make it harder to recover fair compensation. The best way to handle any legal case is to enlist the services of an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Once you hire a lawyer, they will gather the facts of your nursing home abuse case, including:
- What injuries or illnesses the victim suffered
- Where the abuse occurred
- Who may be responsible for the abuse or neglect
- How the victim died, in case of a wrongful death lawsuit
To build your case, your lawyer will ask you for relevant documents, such as medical records, photos, and videos, before pursuing a lawsuit settlement.
Filing a Civil Suit
Upon collecting the details of your nursing home abuse claim, your lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Often, the suit is filed against the nursing home administrator, regardless of who is directly at fault.
Sending a Demand Letter
Your attorney will send a demand letter to the defendant, explaining why and how much compensation you should receive. If the defendant's attorney accepts the terms of the demand letter, you can receive compensation immediately. However, this rarely happens. Defense attorneys usually respond with a counteroffer or a rejection.
Conducting a Pretrial Investigation (Discovery)
The discovery phase consists of two parts: the written discovery, wherein parties exchange interrogatory questions, and the oral discovery, where parties undergo deposition. A deposition is an out-of-court testimony performed under oath.
Parties will also collect evidence to support their sides. Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove the nursing home failed to meet its obligations for care through:
- Medical records
- Photos of injuries
- Surveillance videos of abuse or assault if available
- Witness accounts from nursing home staff members, visitors, and residents
- Expert testimony
- Autopsy reports, in case of wrongful death
Your lawyer will also collect documents to show the extent of your losses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial bills
These processes allow parties to build their arguments.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the defendant's party to reach a nursing home neglect settlement. This process can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. If the lawyers of both parties cannot settle on their own, mediation may occur.
Mediation is an informal and structured process where a neutral third party (mediator) assists two disputing parties in reaching a mutual agreement.
Accepting a Settlement Offer
The defendant will make a nursing home settlement offer that you can accept or reject. If you take the offer, you will receive compensation according to the agreed amount. The decision is final, and you can no longer sue for additional damages.
If you reject the offer, your nursing home lawsuit may go to trial, where a judge or jury decides the verdict. Nursing home litigation may take several months or years to conclude. Furthermore, the jury verdict may be lower than you would have received in a nursing home lawsuit settlement.
Your lawyer will discuss this process further during your free consultation.
Statutes of Limitations
Each state has laws called statutes of limitations that dictate how much time a plaintiff has to file a nursing home lawsuit against the defendant. Most states require plaintiffs to file lawsuits within three years or less. The deadline for a wrongful death case may be longer in some states.
Once you seek legal help, your lawyer can tell you how much time you have to file a suit in civil court. Our personal injury lawyers recommend starting the legal process as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline.
If too much time has passed since the underlying incident, the court may refuse to hear your case.
Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit the Same as a Criminal Case?
No, personal injury lawsuits are civil cases against people whose negligence causes harm to others. The purpose of a personal injury case is to require negligent parties to pay for the damages they cause to victims.
A criminal case is filed against someone who violates federal or state criminal laws. Someone who commits nursing home neglect or abuse may face both criminal charges and a nursing home abuse claim. However, a criminal case does not compensate the victim for their losses.
A nursing home lawsuit can coincide with a criminal case. If the court prosecutes the defendant, you can use the prosecution as proof.
Why You Need Legal Help
Filing a nursing home lawsuit on your own is possible but often challenging. Personal injury laws are complex and may be difficult to understand for a layperson. Furthermore, nursing homes and assisted living facilities usually hire defense attorneys that can shut down cases quickly.
Legal help is often necessary to ensure victims receive fair nursing home lawsuit settlements. From collecting evidence to negotiating compensation, nursing home abuse attorneys handle every step of the way, taking the burden from victims.
Hence, having an experienced attorney will help maximize your nursing home settlement.
Schedule a Free Case Review With an Experienced Attorney
Nursing home lawsuit settlements vary from case to case. Nevertheless, having an experienced lawyer will help ensure you receive fair compensation.
Did you or a loved one suffer injuries caused by nursing home negligence? If so, the attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, can help you obtain justice from the negligent nursing home or assisted living facility. Our team defends the legal rights of victims of nursing home wrongful death, medical malpractice, neglect, and more.
Contact our lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form for a free case review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
We handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. It ensures you don't have to pay for our legal services unless we recover a nursing home lawsuit settlement for you.