What Is a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
A civil nursing home abuse lawsuit allows older Americans and their family members to pursue justice if they’ve been harmed in an assisted living facility. Through these lawsuits, victims of nursing home negligence and abuse seek compensation from the facility and/or staff responsible.
Most nursing home abuse lawsuits award victims money through settlements. Settlements are legal agreements that require the nursing home to pay the victim a lump sum of money for their injuries.
A small number of nursing home lawsuits may go to trial where a judge or jury decides the outcome of the case.
Connect with a dedicated nursing home abuse lawyer to learn if you are eligible to file a lawsuit and get compensation.
Why File Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes?
You can file a personal injury lawsuit to get monetary compensation for the pain and suffering that the nursing home resident endured. You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one died from mistreatment or neglect.
Compensation can cover:
- Costs associated with changing nursing homes or caregivers
- Medical bills
- Mental health counseling
- Physical therapy
- Other expenses
Money awarded to pay for medical bills and related costs are known as compensatory damages. Some nursing home lawsuits may also award extra money to punish the care providers for harming residents (punitive damages).
Besides awarding compensation, nursing home abuse lawsuits hold facilities responsible for harming residents.
Nursing home abuse lawsuits can expose:
- Breaches in the standard of care that led to injuries/wrongful death
- Negligent hiring of employees or insufficient staffing
- Negligent supervision
- Poor upkeep of the nursing facility and its equipment
Did you or a loved one suffer from any type of nursing home abuse? Call (800) 896-7040 to start a free case review today.
When Should I File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
Ideally, it is important to find out if you can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit as soon as possible. Laws known as statutes of limitations prevent legal action from being taken after a certain period of time and can differ for each state.
Additionally, it may be easier to gather evidence for more recent cases. For example, witnesses’ memories may be more clear since less time has passed. Physical evidence may also be easier to obtain than if months or years have passed.
Top nursing home abuse attorneys understand the statute of limitations for all 50 states and can help you file a case on time. Contact a lawyer even if you think the statute of limitation has run out in your case to discuss your legal options.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Process
While it can seem intimidating, the nursing home litigation process is relatively simple with legal help. Learn about the steps to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit below.
First, lawyers will gather basic information about the case and see if a lawsuit can be filed. If so, lawyers will file a complaint that explains the senior’s injuries and why the nursing home and its staff members are to blame.
A lawsuit against a nursing home must prove that:
- The nursing home failed to uphold its duty of care
- The nursing home was in a legal contract to provide care
- The resident’s injuries or death resulted from a lack of nursing home care
The nursing home and its staff will typically then respond to the lawsuit with counterclaims or they will automatically lose the case.
Once the case is filed, those suing become known as plaintiffs, and those being sued become known as defendants.
The two parties will begin collecting evidence to support their cases. This can include gathering medical records, witness statements, and testimonies from medical experts.
After each side has built its case, they will usually meet to try and settle the lawsuit before it goes to trial.
A successful nursing home abuse settlement occurs when the defendant’s lawyers agree to pay the plaintiffs a lump sum of money. If a settlement is reached, the lawsuit will end.
If the nursing home abuse case is not settled out of court, it goes to trial with a judge and/or jury.
Each party will have an opportunity to present their case and evidence. The judge or jury will then decide who wins the case through a verdict.
A settlement is still possible even as the trial occurs, however. Some nursing home abuse lawsuits have reached settlements just as a trial was about to conclude.
Trials do not always end a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Either party may choose to appeal the decision if a legal error has occurred. The lawsuit will then be presented to an appeals court, with each party submitting a record of evidence from the trial.
The court will look for legal errors made in the pre-trial or trial proceedings. After a review, the appellate court will release an opinion either backing the previous verdict, overturning it, or calling for a new trial to be conducted.
Remember, though: trials and appeals are very rare since most nursing home abuse lawsuits end in a settlement. However, your lawyer will prepare your case so it’s as strong as possible in the event a trial and appeal occur.
Types of Nursing Home Lawsuits
Lawsuits against nursing homes fall into two main categories: personal injury and wrongful death.
Personal Injury Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
If a resident suffered any type of harm while living at a long-term care facility, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit. This type of lawsuit will outline how the resident suffered from nursing home abuse and why the facility is to blame.
Past personal injury lawsuits have been filed for:
- Medical negligence
- Nursing home neglect
- Physical abuse
- Sexual assaults
Nursing home abuse lawyers can file a lawsuit on behalf of the resident and/or their loved ones, making the process less stressful.
Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If a resident passes away due to nursing home neglect or abuse, their loved ones still may be able to take legal action. Nursing home wrongful death lawsuits can award families with compensation for their suffering.
Nursing home staff members were supposed to keep residents as happy and healthy as possible — not cause them to die. Successful wrongful death lawsuits force nursing homes to pay if staff members contributed to a resident’s death.
Criminal vs. Civil Nursing Home Lawsuits
Criminal and civil nursing home lawsuits are very different. A victim can only file a civil lawsuit, as criminal lawsuits are brought by attorneys acting on behalf of the U.S. government.
Criminal lawsuits involve felonies and misdemeanors, while civil lawsuits are typically only about compensation.
The main differences between civil and criminal lawsuits are detailed below.Criminal Nursing Home Lawsuits
- Require a higher burden of proof as punishments are severe
- Guilty parties face jail time and/or fines
- Require a jury in most cases
- Initiated by U.S. government attorneys
- Must show defendant is more likely for the wrongdoing than not (less severe)
- Defendants must pay money but won’t go to jail if they lose
- Usually reach settlements before a jury trial occurs
- Filed by private citizens and their lawyers
File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit & Get Compensation
No one should have to endure the injustices of elder abuse. Fortunately, a nursing home lawsuit can award you compensation to cover your medical expenses and hold the long-term care facility and its staff accountable.
File a nursing home abuse lawsuit and pursue compensation with a free case review now. Our team can help you get started.
Common Questions About Nursing Home Lawsuits
How much is a nursing home neglect case worth?
Nursing home neglect lawsuits — which claim that the inactions of a staff member harmed an elderly resident — can award millions of dollars.
For example, a family received $13 million in 2019 after a man died from nursing home neglect. Another recent nursing home wrongful death case caused by neglect resulted in a $1 million payout.
Your particular case may have a higher or lower value than these examples. Connect with an experienced law firm to get an estimate of your nursing home abuse case value.
What factors impact how much I might win in a nursing home lawsuit?
Factors affecting nursing home lawsuit compensation include your evidence and the decisions of a jury.
If you have solid evidence of nursing home abuse, you have a better chance of getting compensation. For example, a videotape showing nursing home staff abusing a resident may have more legal weight than just pictures of the victim’s injuries.
Even if you have strong evidence, there’s no way to predict the outcome of a case if it goes to trial before a jury. A jury can award you more or less money than a typical settlement amount, or they may find that you cannot receive any compensation.
How long does a nursing home lawsuit take?
Each nursing home abuse lawsuit is different, so the time it takes to reach a conclusion can vary. Some lawsuits may be settled in a few months, while others can take a few years.
A lawsuit that has to go to trial will likely take longer than one that reaches a settlement. Trials require more time because evidence must be presented and a judge or jury must then decide the case.
How do I find a nursing home abuse lawyer?
Our Patient Advocates can help connect you with a skilled nursing home lawyer in your area if you qualify. Call (800) 896-7040 to speak to one of our trusted advocates.