Has your loved one been subjected to bedsore injuries? Our Chicago bed sore lawyers can help!
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Bed Sores?
You can file a lawsuit against a nursing home for bedsores, citing negligence. Advanced-stage bedsores often indicate neglect by the nursing home staff. Legal action can help ensure the nursing home is held accountable for its shortcomings.
Why Is a Bed Sore Considered Neglect?
Pressure ulcers are preventable. Have you or a loved one developed bed sores as a nursing home resident? This usually means that the facility’s staff has failed to take the necessary actions for pressure ulcer prevention.
Proving A Sore Pressure Claim
To be entitled to compensation under the law, you must prove the act of nursing home abuse. You need solid evidence that your pressure wound resulted from nursing home neglect.
You must demonstrate the following elements, also known as the four Ds of medical and nursing home facility negligence: duty of care, deviation from proper care, damages, and direct cause.
Duty of Care
The duty of care of a healthcare provider to a patient establishes a relationship, typically through the agreement to provide medical treatment. All nursing home staff involved in patient care are subject to this duty, which is especially crucial in nursing homes where multiple professionals interact with residents, including preventing and treating bedsores.
Deviation From the Duty of Care
Deviation from duty of care by the competent nursing home provider’s required standard of care to prevent bedsores result in the neglect of preventative measures.
Some of these measures include regularly examining residents’ skin for signs of bedsores. The failure to conduct regular skin assessments can lead to the development or worsening of bedsores, which remain untreated, causing unnecessary suffering for the resident.
Deviations might also include failure to do the following:
- Frequent repositioning
- Providing proper nutrition
- Ensuring that the bedding does not cause excessive pressure on any area
- Proper lifting and positioning techniques
- Using moisture barriers
- Keeping the area and surrounding skin clean
If left untreated, bed sore injuries can develop into life-threatening infections, which can cause long-term damage and even death. Besides the physical damages that come as a result of developing pressure sores, their impact often translates into:
- Hospitalization costs to treat infections
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and therapy bills
- Temporary or permanent disabilities
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Funeral expenses
The direct cause of a nursing home bed sore must be proven by the injured party (claimant) as the lack of preventive measures by the nursing home. While it may be straightforward to establish that nursing home neglect is below the standard of care, and failing to implement preventive measures like regular repositioning can lead to bedsores, linking it directly to developing a resident’s bedsores can be challenging.
The leading causes of bed sores include:
- Prolonged pressure to a bony prominence
- Prolonged pressure on healthy skin and underlying tissue
- Friction with a hard surface
- Moisture on the skin
- Lack of blood supply to the site
- Decreased sensory perception
Pressure Ulcer Stages as a Factor of a Bed Sore Lawsuit
The pressure ulcer (bedsore) stage can significantly impact the outcome of a lawsuit against a nursing facility. Each stage not only represents the severity of the medical condition but also influences the legal arguments that can be made regarding negligence and standard of care.
- Stage I – At this initial stage of developing bedsores, the skin appears reddened and may feel warm. There is no open wound, but the area is painful.Stage I bed sores might not be entirely preventable, especially in residents with certain risk factors. However, their presence can indicate that preventative measures may not have been adequately implemented, making it a point of contention in a lawsuit.
- Stage II – The skin is broken, forming an open sore or blister. The area around the sore may be discolored.Stage II bed sores may not always be preventable like Stage I. However, their progression from the initial stage can be used to argue that the nursing facility failed to take adequate steps for treatment and prevention.
- Stage III – The sore worsens and extends beneath the skin, forming a small crater. There may be signs of a significant infection.Medicare considers Stage III bed sores “never events,” meaning they are largely preventable and should never occur in a healthcare setting when established protocols are followed. Their presence can strongly indicate neglect and significantly strengthen a lawsuit.
- Stage IV – This is the most severe stage, where the deep sore exposes muscle, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Deadly infection is likely, and the damage is often irreversible.Like Stage III, Stage IV bed sores are categorized as “never events.” Because the nursing facility resident’s death is possible, their occurrence can be damning evidence of severe neglect and result in substantial settlements or judgments.
Stage I and II bed sores are considered less severe and may not warrant a lengthy legal battle. The cost of pursuing a lawsuit often outweighs the potential compensation, making it financially impractical to go to court for early-stage bed sores.
Understanding the pressure ulcer stage is crucial for medical treatment and legal action. It is a paramount factor in determining the nursing home’s level of negligence and the potential compensation in a lawsuit.
Average Bed Sore Lawsuit Compensation Amounts
Given the variability in compensation amounts, the financial implications of a bedsore lawsuit can be complex. An NCBI study provides some valuable insights into the average payouts in such cases, which can differ based on the nursing facility defendants involved. 
Here are some pivotal points to consider when evaluating what to expect in terms of compensation for a bedsore lawsuit.
- Nursing Home Cases: Lawsuits against nursing homes tend to result in higher compensation amounts, ranging from $4 million to $7.75 million on average. This is likely due to the severe neglect often associated with such cases.
- Individual Healthcare Providers: When individual healthcare providers are involved as defendants, the average compensation amount is around $400,000. This is significantly lower compared to lawsuits against nursing homes or hospitals.
- Hospital-Related Lawsuits: When hospitals are the defendants, the average compensation lies between $1.59 million and $2.48 million. Hospitals often have more resources to fight these cases, which may influence the final settlement or verdict.
- Negligence vs. Malpractice: Nearly 80% of pressure sore cases are filed under negligence, while only 22% are for medical malpractice. This could affect the type of evidence required and the potential compensation.
- Trial Outcomes: When pressure sore cases go to trial, the plaintiff wins approximately 35% of the time, while the defendant wins around 36%. This near-even split indicates the unpredictability of trial outcomes.
- Settlement Rates: Only about 26% of the bedsore cases in the study resulted in a settlement. This suggests that most cases either go to trial or get dismissed.
- Defendant Types: Most lawsuits list a hospital as the defendant (61.7%), followed by nursing homes (31.2%), and then individual healthcare providers (7.1%). The type of defendant can influence the case’s duration and outcome.
- Winning Verdicts by Defendant: Individual providers are most likely to win in court (80%), followed by hospitals (37.2%), and then nursing homes (25%). This could be a factor to consider when deciding to proceed with a lawsuit.
- Statistical Differences in Payouts: The study found statistical differences in payouts based on the type of defendant. Individual providers had a mean payout of $400,000, hospitals had a mean of $1,596,705, and nursing homes had a mean of $4,006,509.
Each point offers a different perspective on what to expect when considering a bedsore lawsuit. It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals to understand the specifics of your case.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Bed Sore Lawsuit?
The damages recoverable by victims filed by victims in a bedsore lawsuit are varied and are broadly categorized into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover the tangible costs associated with the injury, such as medical bills and lost wages, while non-economic damages account for intangible losses like pain and suffering.
Understanding the types of damages available can help victims and their families make informed decisions when pursuing legal action.
- Medical Expenses: This includes treating the bedsore and any complications. Expenses include hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and ongoing care like physical therapy.
- Lost Wages: If the victim cannot work due to the severity of the bed sore or associated treatments, they may be compensated for lost income during their recovery period. These residents tend to be in rehabilitation from surgery, hoping to return to work after recovery.
- Pain and Suffering: This non-economic damage accounts for significant pain and emotional distress experienced by the victim. The amount is often determined by the severity of the bedsore and its impact on the victim’s quality of life.
- Loss of Consortium: This refers to the negative impact of the bedsore on the victim’s relationship with their spouse or family. It compensates for the loss of companionship, affection, and sexual relations.
- Punitive Damages: These are awarded in cases where the nursing home’s conduct was particularly egregious or malicious. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
- Legal Fees: In some cases, the court may order the defendant to cover the plaintiff’s legal fees, including attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses related to the lawsuit.
- Future Medical Costs: If the bedsore will likely require ongoing proper treatment, the victim may be awarded damages to cover future medical/healthcare expenses.
- Emotional Distress: This non-economic damage is for the mental anguish caused by the bedsore and its impact on the victim’s life. It can include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This compensates the victim for the inability to enjoy activities and experiences that were a part of their life before the development of the bedsore.
Each type of damage has its complexities and requires thorough documentation and evidence. Consultation with qualified personal injury attorneys is essential for a comprehensive understanding of what damages may be recoverable in your specific case.
Filing a Bed Sore Lawsuit
Filing a bed sore lawsuit is far from straightforward; it’s a multi-layered process that requires meticulous attention to detail. From gathering medical records to negotiating settlements, each phase has challenges that can extend the timeline. For this reason, many nursing facility residents and families opt to work with experienced attorneys who can guide them through the legal maze.
The process includes the following phases:
- Evidence Gathering Phase: The bedsore lawsuit often begins with evidence collection. This phase can take several months and involves gathering medical records, witness statements, and other documentation. The availability and quality of this evidence can significantly impact the case’s timeline.
- Medical Treatment and Documentation: The victim’s treatment plan affects the lawsuit’s length. For instance, if the bedsore is at an advanced stage requiring long-term treatment, this could extend the time needed to resolve. The medical records will serve as crucial evidence in the case.
- Willingness to Settle: The disposition of the opposing party to settle the case out of court can either shorten or lengthen the lawsuit’s duration. Some nursing homes may prefer a quick settlement to avoid bad publicity, while others might fight the case in court.
- Legal Consultation and Pre-filing Investigation: A thorough investigation is required to determine the nursing home’s liability before filing the lawsuit. This process involves legal consultation and can add several weeks or months to the case timeline.
- Severity of the Bedsores: The stage of the bedsores can also influence the lawsuit’s duration. Cases involving advanced-stage bedsores (stage 3 or 4) are more likely to proceed to legal action, potentially extending the timeline.
- Initial Investigation and Interviews: Nursing home neglect attorneys must conduct interviews and possibly even tour the nursing facility. This investigative phase can be time-consuming, especially when gathering statements from multiple parties.
- Settlement Negotiations: Once the lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations may begin. The duration of this phase can vary widely, depending on the case’s complexity and both parties’ willingness to negotiate.
- Trial Preparation and Duration: If a settlement is not reached, the case may go to trial. Preparing for trial and the trial can take several months to over a year. This is often the most variable part of the lawsuit timeline.
- Appeals Process: After the trial verdict, either party may choose to appeal, adding a year or more to the case timeline. However, cases with clear evidence of nursing home neglect are less likely to reach this stage.
How Long Does It Take to Win a Bed Sore Settlement?
Winning a bed sore settlement can vary in time as bedsore lawsuits can range from straightforward to highly complex, involving multiple parties and extensive medical treatments. The more complex the case, the longer it may take to reach trial, sometimes spanning years.
Lawsuits involving advanced stages of bed sores (stage 3 or 4) are more likely to proceed to legal action and often take longer due to the severity of the medical condition and the need for comprehensive evidence.
Bed Sore Statistics Among Illinois Nursing Home Residents
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pressure sores and decubitus ulcers are among the most common reasons nursing residents are hospitalized, often leading to permanent disability, life-threatening injuries, and even death.
Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health reveals that between 2011 and 2012, more than 41 percent of all the most severe pressure ulcers among Illinois nursing home patients were due to negligence.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid report that nursing home residents who develop pressure sores have declined to 1.4 percent between 2010 and 2011.
However, that still represents more than 42,000 Illinois nursing home residents suffering from pressure ulcers.
Hire a Chicago Nursing Home Bed Sores Lawyer Today!
Our Chicago nursing home bed sores lawyers accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only receive a payment if we recover compensation on your behalf. Call our nursing home abuse attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation!
Resources:  NCBI