What Are Nursing Home Abuse Cases?
Nursing home abuse cases are a type of legal action taken by seniors and their families against nursing homes and their staff members. Through a nursing home abuse case, victims hope to receive compensation for their injuries.
Nursing homes should provide high-quality care to their elderly residents at all times. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, with reports of elder abuse and neglect making national headlines every year.
These problems often stem from the nursing home staff and administration. Corporate-run nursing homes may put profits over people, leading to understaffing or poor training protocols. Staff members may also physically injure, sexually assault, or financially extort nursing home residents.
Incidents of abuse may be occasional and isolated incidents at an otherwise top-notch facility, or they could be a deep, underlying, and dangerous problem at a nursing home where systematic abuse frequently takes place. Sadly, elder abuse cases in nursing homes often go unreported.
Nursing home residents never deserved to suffer from abuse or neglect. This is why nursing home abuse cases are so important: They allow victims and their families the chance to heal and cover medical bills through financial compensation. Successful cases may also hold the nursing home and its staff responsible for the harm they caused.
Quick Facts About Nursing Home Abuse Cases
- When filing a nursing home abuse case, families often work with a lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases.
- Nursing home cases can be filed anywhere in the country, but local and state laws often limit how long someone has to file. These laws are called statutes of limitations and typically prevent legal action from being filed after 2-3 years. File your case as soon as possible to avoid complications.
- Most nursing home abuse cases are settled out of court by lawyers, but some are decided by a judge and jury in a trial setting.
- How much money a senior may receive depends on the type of abuse they suffered, how it impacted their health, and the medical expenses that stemmed from their injuries.
Criminal vs Civil Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Nursing home abuse cases generally take two forms: criminal and civil.
Criminal cases deal with more serious and violent forms of abuse, such as physical violence or sexual assaults. Criminal cases are prosecuted by authorities such as the local police.
In a civil case, the victim and/or their family takes the nursing home and its staff to court. The plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) usually request financial compensation from the defendant (the person/company being sued). Civil cases can be filed even as criminal cases move forward.
Most families work with nursing home abuse lawyers to file civil cases. These lawyers can make filing and pursuing a civil case easier and may increase the chances of receiving compensation.
Nursing Home Abuse Case Process
All nursing home abuse lawsuits roughly follow the same process. A lawyer determines if the plaintiff has a valid case and then works to receive the most compensation possible for them.
Find a step-by-step breakdown of the process below:
1. Pre-Lawsuit Investigation and Filing
Before filing a nursing home abuse case, a lawyer will have a clear, open, and honest discussion with the plaintiff. During this discussion, the lawyer typically asks for the basic facts of the case and will also ask for relevant evidence.
Evidence typically includes:
- Medical records
- The legal contract with the nursing home
- Witness observations
The lawyer then compiles their initial findings and files the case with the court. The defendant receives a copy of this filing.
During the discovery phase, the legal teams share the information they already have and prepare to take the case to trial. They also may collect additional information and documents to support their claims.
Further, witnesses may be subpoenaed (legally required or summoned) to testify for each legal team. This is a deeper fact-finding process where witnesses for the plaintiff and defendant can be cross-examined, and their testimony can be used during the trial.
3. Trial Preparation and Settling Out of Court
After the discovery phase, both parties take time for an objective analysis of the facts they collected. They use these facts to prepare their sides of the case for a trial.
Lawyers often try to settle the case before it reaches trial. Nursing home abuse settlements award the plaintiff with a lump sum of money from the defendant, and the legal proceedings come to an end.
Settlements help both sides avoid the time and extra expenses that come with taking a case to trial. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the case moves forward into the trial phase.
4. Trial and Appeal
During a trial, a judge or jury will decide whether the plaintiff’s claims are valid and if the defendant should be held responsible. They make their decision in the form of a verdict.
Deciding a trial is not always black and white. While some nursing home abuse case verdicts award more than nursing abuse settlements, there is also more room for complications.
Sometimes the judge or jury will agree with some of the plaintiff’s claims but reject others. This can affect how much compensation — if any — the plaintiff receives. The defendant may also win the case, in which case the plaintiff gets nothing.
For these reasons, most lawyers try to avoid trials and settle cases out of court. Sometimes, the losing party may be allowed to appeal the decision so a higher court can review it.
5. Receive Compensation
Provided that the plaintiff wins the case — and that the defendant cannot appeal the decision — they will receive financial compensation based on what the judge and jury decided.
Compensation can help the plaintiff pay for medical treatments that stem from the abuse or neglect and may also reimburse them for their pain and suffering.
Most lawyers receive a small percentage of this compensation instead of charging upfront fees for their work.
Common Questions About Nursing Home Abuse Cases
If you are looking to file a nursing home abuse case, you may still have questions or concerns about the process. Below, find answers to common questions about nursing home abuse cases.
Should I work with a lawyer?
Most families who received compensation worked with a nursing home abuse lawyer. While you can file a lawsuit without a lawyer’s help, you may make mistakes that prevent you from receiving as much — or any — compensation.
The best nursing home abuse lawyers:
- Have the resources and experience to build a strong case on your behalf
- Received financial compensation for other victims of nursing home abuse
- Charge no upfront fees and only get paid if your case is successful
By working with a lawyer, you can get the case resolved as fast as possible. Lawyers also do most of the legal work, meaning you have more time to focus on healing and day-to-day matters.
How long does the case process take?
Nursing home abuse cases typically take several months if they are resolved through an out-of-court settlement. That being said, there is no definitive way to guarantee how long the process will take.
Some nursing home abuse cases may take 1-2 years if they go to trial, and they may go on longer than that if the case is appealed. While this rarely happens, it is important to know if you are considering going to trial and not settling out of court.
What is the average value of nursing home abuse cases?
It is hard to pin down the average nursing home abuse case value, as each case is different. That being said, some recent nursing home abuse cases awarded families with millions of dollars.
Factors that affect nursing home abuse case values include:
- The type of injuries suffered
- If the injuries contributed to the patient’s death
- Medical expenses due to these injuries
- Federal, state, and local laws
Your lawyer can estimate the value of your case by using these factors and looking at previous cases they have handled.
Learn More About Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Nursing home abuse cases can make the difference between receiving compensation or nothing at all. If you or someone you love has suffered from abuse or neglect in a care facility, consider filing a nursing home abuse case today.
To learn more about filing a nursing home abuse case, as well as nursing home lawsuit settlements and verdicts, get a free case review from our team today. We can help you explore your legal options and advise you on the next steps to take.