What Is a Nursing Home Abuse Case Value?
A nursing home abuse case value is the estimated dollar amount that a potential legal claim is worth. It tells the person filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit, the plaintiff, how much compensation they may receive.
Lawyers estimate case values before civil trials to help a victim decide if they want to pursue the case and to determine how much compensation to ask for during a settlement negotiation.
Depending on whether a client takes a case through the civil court system or settles out of court, the case value may also be determined by a jury, lawyers, or other parties.
Quick Facts About Case Values
- According to a Health Affairs report, the average nursing home abuse case recovered $406,000 in damages per claim.
- Settlements offer less compensation than trial verdicts, but their case values may still range in the millions.
- Wrongful death cases have some of the highest nursing home abuse case values.
- Some states limit the amount a jury can award in non-economic and punitive damages, but economic damages have no caps.
Factors that Affect Case Values
Nursing home abuse case values are based on damages — a victim’s injuries and losses along with any extra money the defendants (people/companies being sued) must pay as punishment for irresponsible or cruel behavior.
Generally, three elements determine the value of a nursing home abuse case:
- Economic damages: These are expenses and financial losses such as hospital bills or stolen money. Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate, especially if the victim or their family kept good expense records.
- Non-economic damages: These damages include compensation for the pain and suffering that the defendant’s actions may have caused. Values for non-economic damages are harder to determine. They depend largely on a lawyer’s research, experience, and assessment of the case.
- Punitive damages: This money may be included to punish the defendants for intentionally harmful or careless behavior and to discourage others from committing similar acts.
Other factors that may affect case values include:
- The strength of a plaintiff’s argument and evidence
- How much the defendant can reasonably pay, including through insurance
- What juries have awarded plaintiffs in similar cases
- How much compensation a plaintiff thinks is fair
Trial juries and negotiating parties may consider all of these and other factors to determine the total nursing home abuse compensation a plaintiff should receive.
Case Values and Case Type
The value of a nursing home abuse case may vary depending on what type of case a victim pursues.
Breach of Contract vs Tort Case Values
When victims of nursing home abuse or neglect seek damages in a civil court, they are usually making one of two types of claims.
Nursing home abuse victims often seek damages through:
- Breach of contract claims: Breach of contract cases address a nursing home’s failure to perform some part of their contract. For example, a resident may sue a nursing home for breach of contract if it failed to provide proper care, as described in their contract with the home, by employing less staff than required by law.
- Tort claims: Tort cases look at wrongful acts outside of breach of contract that resulted in injury. A nursing home resident may, for example, sue a facility after developing severe bedsores due to neglect.
If a victim wins a breach of contract claim, they may be able to get back any fees they paid to the nursing home. Unfortunately, the nursing home abuse insurance policies that often provide payment to plaintiffs do not cover breach of contract claims. Because of this, plaintiffs may be limited in how much money they can get from breach of contract cases.
However, tort claims involving abuse, neglect, wrongful death, and other case types are covered under most nursing home liability insurance. These case types usually offer much higher compensation amounts.
Wrongful Death Case Values
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity. The victim’s survivors may file a wrongful death claim for any losses and suffering caused by the death.
Because of their tragic nature, wrongful death suits have some of the highest nursing home abuse case values.
Some wrongful death case values include:
$1 Million New York Verdict
An 82-year-old man choked to death when a nurse forgot to put in his dentures before giving him a sandwich.
$1.95 Million Illinois Settlement
An unsupervised elderly woman at a nursing home was trying to find her away back to her room when she fell down a stairwell and broke her neck, dying of her injuries.
$43.5 Million Georgia Verdict
An 80-year-old man died after suffering several falls, including one that broke his hip. The nursing home he resided at failed to notify his loved ones or his doctors of the injuries due to a lack of staff and resources. Instead, its owner used these resources to buy luxury homes and expensive cars.
Settlement vs Trial Case Values
A victim of nursing home abuse or neglect can seek compensation in a civil court in one of two ways. Which method they choose can have a big impact on a case’s value.
Plaintiffs may get nursing home abuse compensation through:
- A settlement: A nursing home abuse settlement occurs when the defendants agree to pay the plaintiffs a lump sum of money instead of having a trial jury make a decision. The parties in a case can settle before or during a trial.
- A trial verdict: If the parties in a case cannot agree on a compensation amount, they go through the entire trial process and rely on a jury’s nursing home abuse verdict to decide the case. This includes whether a plaintiff should be compensated, and if so, how much money they should receive.
Trials typically award more money than settlements. However, most nursing home abuse cases end in settlements because they are much faster, cheaper, and more predictable than going to trial.
Some settlement and trial case values include:
$1 Million Massachusetts Settlement
An 89-year-old woman fell 20 times at a Massachusetts nursing home before dying from her final fall. She was found to have several untreated head and internal injuries.
$1.8 Million Georgia Verdict
A nursing home aide rolled a frail resident aside to change the sheets, but the force of the roll caused the woman to fall and hit her head on the floor. She suffered a brain injury and, a month later, died. The woman’s loved ones were awarded damages for pain and suffering.
$42.5 Million California Verdict
Nursing home staff members routinely drugged a resident with Ativan without her consent “for her agitation.” The drug caused her to develop aspiration pneumonia, and not long after, she died.
Case Values and Jurisdictions
Each state and county has its own court system that can make decisions that affect local nursing home abuse case values.
Jurisdictions may affect case values in many ways, such as:
- Limiting the non-economic damages a jury can award
- Limiting the punitive damages a jury can award
- Setting precedents for verdict and settlement amounts based on past amounts awarded
Plaintiffs can theoretically lose any amount of money due to a defendant’s actions, so courts do not place limits on compensation for economic damages.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Determining a nursing home abuse case value is a complicated process, but it gives victims and their loved ones an idea of how much compensation they may receive.
While there is no way to guarantee that you will receive a certain amount of money in a successful case, experienced nursing home abuse lawyers often provide much more accurate estimates than you would make through independent research.
In addition, an attorney can advise you on how to maximize your case value and get the compensation you deserve.
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