‘Damages’ refer to losses sustained do to physical or psychological injury for which you can be compensated. In cases involving injury or death, damages are assessed in terms of money compensation. In order to recover damages, you first must establish that an employee of a nursing home or the facility itself did something wrong or negligent. There are three elements in proving fault in nursing home accident cases:
- Duty: The nursing home had a ‘duty’ to act as a reasonably safe facility. In nursing home cases, the facilities must follow strict Federal and State Regulations setting forth both the type of care that needs to be provided and how the care is to be implemented.
- Breach of Duty: This refers to the nursing home not following physician orders, general nursing home policy or Federal or State Regulations.
- Proximate Cause: It is not enough that a nursing home acted improperly. In order to address damages you are required to prove that the nursing homes improper actions caused your injuries.
After you have proved the three elements of liability on the part of a nursing home, you may address damages. There are several components to damages relating to nursing home cases:
- Medical Bills: You are entitled to recover the value of past and future medical expenses. This may include past or future surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, visits with physician specialists, medication and special medical equipment
- Pain and Suffering: Both past and future pain and suffering is an element of damages
- Disfigurement: Any type of physical change on the outside of your body
- Disability: Things you are unable to to do after the incident that you were capable of doing before
Assessing damages in nursing home cases can be difficult. Because many elderly suffer from various ailments before an incident occurred, it is important to distinguish what injuries are directly related to the incident. Only damages related to the conduct of the nursing home may receive compensation. The amount of damages may be determined by a jury, judge, mediator or through negotiation between the injured party and the insurance company for the nursing home.
Punitive damages may be awarded if the nursing home’s conduct is reckless or rises to a level of willful and wanton conduct. Unlike damages designed to compensate the injury victim, punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer.
Further complicating the assessment of damages in nursing home cases is that many nursing homes are uninsured or under-insured. The insurance coverage issues must be factored in when making decisions about nursing home case resolution.
Nursing Home Injury Laws