Understanding Nursing Home Abuse Case Values
Nursing home abuse litigation began gaining traction in the 1990s, and in recent years has become one of the fastest-growing areas of health care litigation.
Conservative estimates place the total amount of compensatory damages paid to victims nationwide at roughly $2.3 billion per year.
However, there can be significant variation in award amounts based on the individual facts of each nursing home abuse or wrongful death case.
What Affects Nursing Home Abuse Case Values?
The compensation amount of nursing home abuse cases can vary widely depending on the specifics of each case.
There are several factors that can affect value, including:
- History of abuse: Does the nursing facility have a history of citations for abuse and negligence?
- Location: Average claim amounts vary by state. For example, claims made in Florida and Texas consistently award higher amounts than the national average.
- Medical needs: Does the nursing home patient need additional medical care — mental or physical — as a result of the abuse?
- Proof: Documentation can make a higher reward amount more likely. This may include medical records, photographs, or videos that establish proof of abuse or neglect on the part of the nursing home staff members or the assisted living facility itself.
- Punitive damages: Additional compensation may be awarded to punish the abuser and discourage future wrongdoing. Only about 17% of compensation packages include punitive damages, although this can vary depending on location. For example, 30% of compensation packages in Texas include punitive damages.
- Severity: How much and what type of harm did the victim suffer? Were the injuries mild or severe (i.e., bedsores, broken bones, or brain injury)? Was the mistreatment intentional or the result of nursing home negligence? Did the nursing home injury lead to death?
Nursing home abuse lawsuits can be complex and are often emotionally fraught.
Working with a nursing home abuse attorney can simplify the process and reduce stress, maximizing compensation for nursing home residents and their families, while giving them the time and space they need to heal.
Average Awards From Nursing Home Abuse Cases
The highest award amounts in nursing home abuse cases tend to be the result of trial verdicts, but trials can be extremely risky. Settlements — which tend to award lower compensation — are often seen as the safer option.
The choice between taking a case to trial or settling out of court can be a difficult one, so it’s important to carefully weigh the relative risks and benefits of each type of legal action.
Nursing home settlements are considered confidential and exact award amounts are rarely reported. However, settling out of court is often considered the best option for compensation in nursing home abuse cases.
Fast facts about settlements:
- Estimates place settlement amounts between $100,000-$700,000.
- 88% of settlements result in compensation for the plaintiff, which is three times higher than general medical malpractice settlements.
Although the amount of compensation awarded may be lower than a successful trial verdict, settlements offer several advantages to plaintiffs — including privacy, speed, and peace of mind.
Once a settlement offer has been made, compensation is guaranteed as long as the plaintiff accepts. Trials offer no such reassurance.
Trial Verdict Values
The amount of compensation awarded from trial verdicts can vary widely. High award amounts are not uncommon, particularly if the jury wants to send a message that higher standards of nursing home care are expected in the future.
Fast facts about trial verdicts:
- Awards of $1-2 million are not uncommon when it comes to compensation from jury verdicts.
- According to a 2003 study, only 8% of nursing home abuse claims go to trial. Of this amount, roughly half result in compensation for the victim.
Although they offer victims the opportunity for high amounts of compensation, trials can be long and stressful, and there is no guarantee of compensation at the end.
A nursing home abuse attorney can offer expert guidance to help you make the choices that are most likely to benefit you.
How to Maximize Your Nursing Home Abuse Case Value
Working with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney is the best way to help maximize your nursing home abuse case value. An attorney can help smooth and simplify an often overwhelming legal process in a variety of ways.
How a nursing home abuse lawyer can help:
- Establish a strong attorney-client relationship with you.
- Ensure that deadlines are met and paperwork is properly filed.
- Gather the relevant details and documentation you need to submit a successful claim.
- Negotiate the best possible settlement offer.
- Offer insight about the potential for a successful trial verdict.
If you decide to work with a lawyer, tell them every detail you can remember. Even things that may seem unimportant can help you build a clearer picture and a stronger case.
It’s also important to communicate your preferences. If you know you want to seek a settlement offer rather than going to trial, let your attorney know as soon as possible so they can build a case that will encourage the defendant (in this case, the long-term care facility) to settle.
The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse cases varies from state to state, so it’s important to act quickly.
If your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, or wrongful death, get in touch with an experienced attorney who can help you get the justice and compensation your family members deserve.
If you want to explore possible legal options, get a free case review today.