What Is a Nursing Home Abuse Settlement?
A nursing home abuse settlement is a legal agreement between the plaintiff (the party filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit) and the defendant (the party being sued).
Settlements resolve a case in place of a trial jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff or defendant.
While settlements may result in less compensation, many nursing home abuse victims prefer the benefits of settling to the possibility of receiving more money through a trial jury verdict.
Quick Facts About Nursing Home Abuse Settlements
- A recent study by Health Affairs journal found that paid claims for nursing home abuse averaged $406,000.
- According to Black’s Law Dictionary, recently-available statistics report about 95% of lawsuits end in a settlement.
- Averages are difficult to determine, but nursing home wrongful death cases have some of the highest settlement amounts of any nursing home abuse case type.
- A study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies found that in 61% of cases where plaintiffs rejected a settlement offer, they actually received less compensation in a trial verdict.
Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Benefits
While trial verdicts may result in more financial compensation than nursing home abuse settlements, plaintiffs who choose to settle a nursing home abuse case gain several advantages.
Some advantages to nursing home abuse settlements are:
- Avoiding the uncertainty of a trial verdict for guaranteed compensation
- Avoiding the extra stress associated with a full trial
- Maintaining more privacy concerning the details of a victim’s abuse
- Saving a large amount in legal fees
- Speeding up the legal process
According to the journal Health Affairs, the average nursing home abuse settlement in the United States awards around $406,000 — still a sizeable amount for most victims and their loved ones. However, individual case amounts may vary greatly.
Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Factors
Several things may influence the total compensation a victim receives from a nursing home abuse settlement.
Settlement amounts may vary depending on factors such as:
- Case type: The compensation a plaintiff can expect from the average case of nursing home neglect may not be as large as that from a typical wrongful death case.
- Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is a government’s official power to make legal decisions. Some nursing home abuse laws fall under federal jurisdiction, but nursing home abuse state laws are often more relevant. Local laws such as special penalties for harming the elderly and compensation caps may influence settlement amounts.
- Legal precedent: Both parties consider how much similar cases awarded through settlements and trial verdicts to help determine suitable compensation amounts.
- Strength of a case: A defendant may make a low settlement offer — or none at all — if they do not believe the plaintiff has a good chance of winning a trial.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse Settlements
The following examples explore a wide range of settlement amounts from different jurisdictions and case types.
Nursing home abuse and neglect settlement examples:
$65,000 in Pennsylvania
An elderly woman being treated for a leg fracture was left in an immobilizer for months after her orthopedist said it should no longer be used because of bedsores. The sores progressed to the point where her leg had to be amputated.
$1.25 Million in New York
A 72-year-old woman was sent to a nursing home to recover from minor bedsores after a hospital stay. However, due to neglect, her condition worsened. She developed infections, with bedsores rotting all the way to her bone.
Nursing home wrongful death settlement examples:
$1.95 Million in Illinois
Nursing home staff left an elderly woman unsupervised. While struggling to find her way back to her room, she fell down a stairwell, fatally breaking her neck.
$13 Million in Kentucky
A 68-year-old retired judge died after failing to receive needed antibiotics, resulting in the return of the infection he was recovering from. For weeks, nursing home staff falsely reported that he had been given his medication despite not giving him a single dose.
Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Process
The process of settling a nursing home abuse lawsuit may be relatively complex. Most defense parties will not sit down with the plaintiff until after they conduct a pretrial investigation, gathering all of the facts they need to make a decision.
The right nursing home abuse lawyer can make the difference between a weak case that leads to a small (or no) settlement offer and one that makes the defendant eager to settle and avoid a trial verdict.
Depending on each party’s willingness to compromise and how early settlement negotiations take place, the entire process may take several months or longer.
There are 5 basic steps involved in a settlement:
- Filing a lawsuit: A nursing home abuse victim must first file a complaint with the court, naming the parties they wish to sue and what they want to file a lawsuit for. This begins the trial process.
- Conducting a pretrial investigation: In most cases, a defendant will not seriously consider settlement discussions until after the pretrial investigation or “discovery” process. This process allows both parties to get all of the facts and determine how strong a plaintiff’s case is.
- Sending a demand letter: A plaintiff’s lawyer may advise waiting until the defense attorney asks them to make a settlement demand to avoid appearing too eager to settle. At this point, the plaintiff’s attorney will draft a letter containing a compensation amount. The defense may make a counteroffer, reject, or accept the terms.
- Attending mediation: The plaintiff and defendant parties will both attend mediation, where a private mediator or judge will attempt to get the two sides to reach an agreement.
- Accepting a settlement offer: In most cases, the defense will make a settlement offer that the injured party can either accept or reject. If they reject it, the trial will continue and a jury will reach a verdict, deciding whether and how much the plaintiff is owed. If the plaintiff, accepts the settlement offer, they will be compensated according to the agreement. This decision is final.
Cases can be settled before or sometime during a trial. While settlements may take a long time to negotiate, trial verdicts usually take far longer.
Get Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse
Victims seeking nursing home abuse compensation should start by finding an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Whether through a settlement or verdict, attorneys with specialized knowledge of the complex nursing home abuse legal field are more likely to earn plaintiffs the compensation they deserve.
Start your free case review today to speak with one of our trusted legal partners and see if you may be entitled to financial compensation.