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Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence

how-to-sue-a-nursing-home-for-negligenceWas your loved one injured or killed by the nursing home's negligent actions? Do you want to pursue justice and financial compensation to recover your damages?

Our personal injury lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, are legal advocates for all patients residing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, and rehabilitation centers. We can provide immediate legal advice on how to ensure your loved one receives adequate care.

Call an experienced negligence injury attorney today at (800) 926-7565 to speak with a representative from our firm who will answer your questions about filing a negligence claim or civil lawsuit against the nursing home. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law firm remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

The elderly population is the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. The number of nursing homes and assisted living facilities has increased to meet this demand.

Still, many caregiving homes are negligent and put their residents at risk for injury or death. If a negligent nursing home has injured you, contact us today! We'll help you get your life back on track.

Losing a loved one is devastating. It's even more heartbreaking when it happens in the place you thought was safe--the nursing home.

When an older person or someone who has medical conditions enters the nursing home, they trust that competent caregivers and nurses will meet their needs. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home negligence is defined as the failure to provide care that meets professional standards. It can take many different forms, including not providing enough staff or appropriate medical equipment.

If you are injured because of nursing home neglect, it's important to know your legal options for compensation. 

What to Do After a Nursing Home Injury

If you have been injured in a nursing home, there are a few things you should do. First, make sure that the staff knows exactly what's wrong and get medical attention as soon as possible.

You can also take note of your injuries for documentation purposes. In addition, it is helpful if you take pictures of your injuries as part of the evidence that can be used to build a compensation case.

It will also help if you talk to other residents in the facility about their experiences. Do they feel safe? Were there any complaints about the staff or the conditions of the home? Although these interviews may be hard on you, it is possible that talking with others can provide valuable information.

What Are the Different Types of Nursing Home Neglect?

There are many types of nursing home neglect. Every patient and family member must be aware of the signs to act if necessary, including making a legal claim.

It is very common for negligent actions in nursing care homes to go unrecognized by family members because elderly residents tend to suffer from dementia or other memory-related issues.

Here are some examples of nursing home neglect:

  • Failure to prevent bedsores: Bedsores are caused by pressure on the skin that cuts off circulation, preventing oxygen from reaching cells. This failure can lead to death or permanent injury if not prevented. Nursing homes should put patients on mattresses with air bubbles and give them baths with medicated soap to avoid bedsores.
  • Failure to keep the facility clean and sanitary: Nursing home-acquired infections are often caused by failure to properly disinfect equipment, floors, and other areas of the nursing home. This failure can put patients at risk for life-threatening illnesses because their immune systems are already compromised.
  • Failure to provide appropriate nutrition and hydration: Food and water are vital parts of recovery for patients in nursing homes. Especially for those recovering from surgery or another illness. However, when the care staff doesn't help residents eat, they can easily become malnourished or dehydrated, putting them at risk of serious health complications.
  • Failure to prevent accidents: Patients who move to a nursing home are often at risk for falls. It's up to the care staff to ensure the resident receives adequate supervision when using their walkers and wheelchairs to decrease the risk of injury. In addition to falls, other types of accidents in a nursing home include fractures from improperly used walkers and bruises from falling.
  • Failure to provide mental stimulation: Retired people are often lonely and bored. Nursing homes need to offer activities that will keep patients occupied, mentally alert, and stimulated. These activities can include music therapy or simply talking to caring staff members. If the home is understaffed, they may not have anyone who can talk with residents regularly.
  • Failure to report nursinghome neglect or abuse: In most cases, nursing care homes should call their state agency immediately if they suspect a patient is being abused or neglected by the family caregiver. If they don't, these patients can suffer from bruises, broken bones, and other injuries that could have been prevented.
  • Not providing proper medical care: Nursing homes should hire licensed, competent care staff and doctors who provide professional medical advice. However, an understaffed facility or staff members without appropriate training could fail to provide adequate medical care that meets professional standards, including giving medication too late or not at all.
  • Failure to change bandages or clean wounds: Wounds can get infected if trained staff do not provide proper care. Nursing care homes should have protocols to change bandages regularly and clean wounds with medications that prevent infection. If this isn't done, patients may need to be hospitalized, which is more costly.
  • Failure to assist with using the toilet or bathing: Incontinence is common in nursing home patients, so it's important for staff members to assist them with using the toilet and bathing. If they don't, these activities may cause skin irritation or infections.
  • Lack of attention or affection: Sometimes, patients only need a hug or someone to hold their hand as they take a medication. If the care staff isn't attentive to their needs, patients can feel lonely and depressed.
  • Inadequate staffing: Nursing homes need a certain number of nursing staff members for each unit to keep patient-to-staff ratios within state standards. When there aren't enough people on duty, it's common for residents to have conflicting demands with no one to help them.
  • Failure to provide appropriate safety measures: Nursing homes need to have the necessary equipment, such as a bed alarm or a call button, available always. This way, if a patient falls or needs assistance with something else, they can get help immediately. Without these devices in place, daily activities can cause serious injury or even death.
  • Failure to provide pain relief or medication when needed: Patients in pain suffer from their injury and cannot participate in daily activities. This suffering can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Therefore, caregiving homes need to make sure they always provide medication for patients who need it.
  • Failure to prevent violence involving other patients: These days, violence is more prevalent in nursing homes. People who are senile or have other types of dementia may lash out against other patients if they become agitated. Nursing homes should implement safety measures to prevent these types of attacks from occurring.
  • Failure to provide proper dietary and hydration needs: Nursing homes need to serve nutritious meals and ensure patients always have water access. If they don't, patients can become malnourished and dehydrated, affecting their health and recovery.
  • Inadequate fire protection measures: Nursing home fires are very dangerous because they often happen at night when residents are sleeping. If there aren't enough staff members to ensure that everyone is moved to a safe area, people may be injured or die in the fire.

Nursing homes are required by law and the Nursing Home Reform Act to meet certain standards of care. When these facilities fail, they become negligent and held accountable for causing injury or wrongful death.

What Are Your Rights as a Patient in a Nursing Home?

Your loved one's best interests should be a top priority for the staff in a nursing home, indicating that they need to provide proper care, including:

  • Treating residents with respect and dignity
  • Handling all personal needs, such as going to the bathroom
  • Dressing appropriately
  • Feeding patients meals that meet their dietary needs
  • Administering medications
  • Turning the nursing home resident at least every two hours to prevent skin breakdown
  • Checking the resident's skin for any changes, including sores or lacerations, and addressing these issues immediately
  • Making sure residents are clean by washing them with mild soap and water as necessary
  • Routinely changing the resident's bandages
  • Bathing patients at least once a week
  • Making sure that the patient is comfortable

If a nursing home or assisted living facility fails to meet these standards of care, it becomes negligent. It can be held accountable for any resulting injuries, and this includes liability for:

  • An elderly nursing home resident developing pressure sores from an inadequate turning schedule or lack of cleanliness
  • A loved one choking on food because they aren't fed properly

Your loved one can suffer from nursing home neglect in many ways that cause injury or death, which is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately.

How You Know Nursing Home Negligence or Abuse Is Occurring

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused, there are many warning signs to look for:

  • Sudden change in mental status
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Isolation from the rest of the nursing home's patients
  • Taking medications that cause drowsiness or altered states of consciousness
  • Frequent use of restraints
  • Bedsores, including stage three and four pressure sores
  • Unpleasant body odor
  • Not enough staff to help with the needs of every patient during mealtime or bedtime
  • Patients are not being bathed regularly or appropriately washed when they are bathed
  • Signs of physical harm, such as unexplained bruises, sprained wrists, and fractures

When you notice these types of warning signs, it's important to intervene immediately. Nursing homes that fail their patients need to be held accountable for these actions. This way, we can improve standards of care in nursing homes across the country.

How Common Is Neglect Among Nursing Home Residents?

One study found that one out of every three patients experiences some form of neglect while residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

According to the CDC, one in every ten nursing home residents suffers an injury, illness, or death because of neglect. This negligence makes it one of the leading causes of elder abuse in this country.

A National Council on Aging report indicates that nursing home residents experience pressure sores from bedridden states at a rate of about 15 percent. A lack of turning, changing the patient's position in bed, and repositioning with special equipment can increase this risk to over 60 percent.

Pressure sores are very dangerous because they often develop quickly and cause pain for patients who cannot communicate their discomfort. In addition, if pressure sores aren't treated, the patient will likely die from sepsis or pyemia due to a lack of circulation in their tissues.

The Administration on Aging (AOA) states that preventing pressure sores is one of the most important things that nursing home staff can do. They must be trained in how to monitor patients for early symptoms and risk factors, such as:

  • Being bedridden or confined to a wheelchair
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor nutrition
  • Inability to reposition themselves

Pressure sores can occur in any situation that doesn't allow for movement, such as sitting or lying down. That's why daily movements and scheduled turns are so important to maintain healthy skin in patients who reside in nursing homes.

Finally, the Illinois Department on Aging says that about one-third of nursing home residents in that state have some condition that can increase their risk for developing pressure sores. People with these conditions are at significant risk of developing pressure sores during any hospital stay, even if the care they receive is stellar.

How Can Nursing Home Residents Fight for Their Rights? Can I Sue a Nursing Home?

Private family caregivers and loved ones need to understand what they can do when their loved ones are neglected or abused by staff in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

The National Council on Aging suggests working with your loved one's case manager, attending family meetings with other families in similar situations, and asking for help from a nursing home abuse attorney. These are all great places to start if you're looking for ways to advocate for your loved one.

If elder abuse or neglect has already taken place, contact the Department of Aging immediately. You can also file a complaint with the state attorney general's office and your local ombudsman for nursing homes.

The law states that families do not have to wait until their loved one has died before filing a complaint with the state or starting a civil action in court. Instead, you can file a claim with the Department on Aging right away.

Whether you decide to take legal action against the nursing home or assisted living facility is entirely up to you and your loved one, but they have rights covered by both state and federal laws.

Defining an Improper Death in a Nursing Home

It's important to understand that many different negligence cases exist in nursing homes and assisted living communities. The most common involve falls, pressure sores, infections, and medication errors.

However, one of the most severe types of injuries is "improper death." Improper death occurs when an older person dies because they didn't receive the care they needed.

When an older person dies in a nursing home or assisted living facility because of neglect or abuse, their family could file a civil claim for damages if the following elements exist:

  • The patient required medical assistance but didn't receive care and died as a result.
  • The victim's death was likely caused by the nursing home staff's negligent actions and omissions (failure to act), who failed to provide adequate medical treatment or care.
  • The actions or omissions caused the patient's death, not something else outside of their control.

In some states, there are two types of improper death lawsuits: direct and circumstantial. A direct case is when a family can prove that a loved one died because they were denied treatment or medication. In these cases, the decedent (the patient who eventually died) remains alive or dies shortly after the lack of treatment.

However, most wrongful death lawsuits are circumstantial because there was no medical malpractice while their loved one was alive. Instead, family members bring these claims because the loved one was not given proper end-of-life care.

Circumstantial claims involve establishing a direct link between the failure to provide care and the patient's death. For example, if family members can prove that nursing home staff failed to properly "de-bed" or transfer a patient with pressure sores, this could be enough proof for a circumstantial claim.

In these cases, family members are not required to prove that the nursing home facility caused their loved one's death. Instead, they need to prove that the facility did not properly assess or treat their loved one's condition.

Nursing Home Negligence: Holding the Facility Accountable

If you suspect that a loved one has been neglected or abused by the nursing home administrators or staff, contact our experienced team of attorneys. The Nursing Home Law Center attorneys can help you determine if your allegations are strong enough to file a civil claim against the facility.

Call us at (800) 926-7565 to schedule a free legal case review to discuss your legal options. Our personal injury lawyers can file a nursing home neglect lawsuit against nursing facilities, caregiving homes, assisted living facilities, and the companies that provide medical care for them.

Our law firm has a deep understanding of the laws surrounding wrongful death claims and nursing home lawsuits. As a result, we can help you navigate the complicated process while our attorneys provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect?

The injured party harmed in a caregiving facility by another's neglect can file a nursing home neglect lawsuit against the liable party under state or federal law. A nursing home abuse lawsuit on behalf of the injured resident can seek compensation by proving liability for medical expenses, pain, and suffering, or avoidable death.

Based on the civil statute, the nursing home lawsuit cases involve the client's injury, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional distress, financial fraud, theft of property, and many more.

But what if the elderly resident died? Can the family sue the nursing home or assisted living facility? A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the patient's family members who died after being neglected or abused at a nursing home.

These civil lawsuits usually allege that one or more parties failed to provide appropriate care and this failure caused or contributed to the patient's death.

The nursing home abuse lawyer must prove the someone's negligence led to their client's injuries, damages, or preventable death. These nursing home litigation cases are often more complicated than others because of the need to prove causation.

What happens if the alleged victim enters the nursing home for rehabilitation after a fall but dies from pneumonia two weeks later due to neglect or abuse by a staff member, health care provider, or other residents?

This example is based on circumstantial evidence because the patient was in reasonably good health but then lost their life due to someone else's failure to provide proper care.

A wrongful death claim is filed because of negligent treatment while the patient was at a nursing home or other medical facility. This type of case requires proof that an injury was caused directly by another's negligence.

If the nursing home or medical facility were found to be negligent, they would be held accountable for any damages caused by their actions.

How Much Is a Nursing Home Negligence Case Worth?

Every case is different, with unique circumstances that led to the injured party's damages, meaning the value of each claim will vary. However, data shows that, on average, a nursing home negligence case is worth about $210,000.

The specific value of each claim will depend on:

  • The details of the case
  • Whether or not it goes to trial
  • What damages are sought by the plaintiff
  • How much revenue was lost because of an injury

One way to determine if you have a claim is to talk with our nursing home abuse lawyer for a free consultation, and we will explain everything you need to know.

Our nursing home abuse lawyers have decades of experience in personal injury lawsuits and can help you determine if your claim is worth filing a nursing home negligence lawsuit. If it is, we know what the most effective strategy will be in court proceedings to seek compensation for all damages that a negligent party caused.

Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Resolve a Compensation Claim

Did neglect injure your loved one in a nursing home, or did they die a wrongful death? At the Nursing Home Law Center, our elder abuse injury attorneys are dedicated to getting the compensation you are owed, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

Our affiliated attorneys have years of experience in nursing home abuse cases. They will work diligently to get the best results possible, whether filing a nursing home lawsuit or reaching a settlement. Please fill out our free case review form today or call us at 1-800-926-7565 to schedule a free legal case review.

We have the resources and knowledge necessary for helping your family get through this difficult time as quickly as possible. So let us help you now. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your experienced lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

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Client Reviews

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
★★★★★
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric