A nasty secret in the nursing home industry remains that a significant number of facilities have little or no liability insurance to cover situations where a patient (or visitor) suffers an injury due to neglect or abuse. Of course, no one ever goes into a nursing home with the expectation that they may be injured or exploited, so the situation rarely comes to light until after an incident has occurred.
In cases involving patient injury and neglect, the insurance situation of the financial situation really doesn’t have any bearing on the legal rights of an injured party in terms of a monetary recovery. However from a practical perspective, the insurance situation and corporate structure of the entity very much have an impact on the eventual recovery for an injured patient or their family.
With a maze of corporations and limited liability companies, most profits derived from the operation of a nursing home are funnelled off to companies and individuals— far away from the operation of the nursing home. While some states do have laws that impose personal liability on nursing home owners, an endless maze business entities that legally shelter assets typically makes these causes of action practicable.
As a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer, I frequently see very profitable nursing homes evade their legal responsibility to compensate an injured patient as their insurance coverage is grossly insufficient. In this sense, I was cautiously optimistic when Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassiday (D-Chicago) introduced a bill that would have mandated that Illinois nursing homes have at least $1 million of insurance coverage. The bill also, promised to provide revocation of nursing home licenses for facilities that did not comply with the requirement and more transparency as to each facilities insurance coverage for public viewing.
Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming need for such a law in Illinois, SB 5668 died a peaceful death in committee before the full senate could rule on it.
My two cents:
While I anxiously wait for the Illinois legislature to come to their senses and firmly take control of the nursing home industry in Illinois, both patients and families need to be aware of this issue. As consumers, patients have a right to know where there facility stands on this issue. Simply bringing the issue of insurance coverage to the attention of nursing home administrators demonstrates to facilities that this is an issue that is indeed on patient’s radars– and may inspire facilities to be more forthcoming with this information?
More more information on nursing home insurance in Illinois take a look at this article.
For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.