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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Here are some Illinois nursing home abuse FAQ that we frequently receive from prospective and actual clients. These questions relate to nursing home care as they seek information about potential lawsuits

Illinois Nursing Home Abuse FAQ

What Are Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

The biggest indicator of neglect is that your loved one tells you that there is a problem. However, nursing home residents are not always verbal or able to fully express themselves.

Therefore, it is up to families to be on the lookout for signs of neglect. They include:

  • Your loved one appears withdrawn or worried
  • They have an odor or always look unkempt
  • They develop pressure ulcers
  • Your family member’s skin looks brittle and discolored
  • They lose weight suddenly and appear drawn
  • They appear to be overly medicated

Why Does it Seem Like So Many Nursing Homes Are Negligent?

At their core, nursing homes are for-profit businesses. Even the ones that are non-profit still need to look out for their balance sheets. In every facility, it is the staff that makes the difference between good care and poor care.

Many nursing homes artificially cut back on staff to inflate their profits. Those employees who are left are overworked and undertrained.

Understaffed nursing homes can truly be a danger to their residents. Without enough nurses and age, residents and their health conditions tend to be neglected. There are too few people around to pay attention.

This could lead to infections, falls, dehydration, and other injuries. The culture of profits over people endangers seniors, and it is what causes the growing number of nursing home lawsuits.

What Are Some Examples of Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Abuse in a nursing home setting can lead to settlements or jury verdicts against the nursing home. It is illegal, and it is grounds for a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, most allegations of nursing home abuse go unreported because victims are not able to articulate what they have experienced or are not listened to when they come forward.

Here are some types of nursing home abuse for which you can file a lawsuit:

  • Financial abuse – This occurs when someone takes money or property from a nursing home resident or pressures them to include them in something like a will.
  • Physical abuse – This does not have to be just striking the resident. It could also include things like handling them roughly or using unnecessary restraints, both physical and chemical.
  • Emotional abuse – This may include things such as unfairly blaming a certain resident and singling them out from everyone else.
  • Verbal abuse – This includes things like berating and name calling
  • Sexual abuse – The nursing home may be liable when either their staff or a fellow resident sexually abuses or violates another resident.

Is the Neglect of Nursing Home Residents Grounds for a Lawsuit?

Nursing home neglect of loved ones is a form of abuse, and it is a reason to begin nursing home litigation. This is when the nursing home fails to care for a resident.

Neglect could include a failure to provide proper nutrition or hygiene. It could also mean that the nursing home does not give the proper medical care.

Neglect can lead to things such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Infections
  • Pressure ulcers (bed sore)
  • Frequent falls

What Are Some Examples of Nursing Home Negligence?

Here are some common reasons why families file lawsuits against nursing homes and win their cases:

  • The nursing home fails to institute and implement a fall prevention plan for a resident who is a risk and are injured in a fall.
  • Nursing home staff fails to prevent an at-risk resident from developing a pressure ulcer (bed sores), and they then fail to properly treat the condition, leading to severe sepsis
  • The nursing home negligently hires and fails to screen an employee who then abuses a resident.
  • Doctors on staff commit medical malpractice by not diagnosing a life-threatening condition or misdiagnosing it.
  • Nurses commit a serious medication error, either by not giving the resident the necessary medication or by giving them the wrong one.
  • A resident is harmed by a visitor or another resident when the nursing home fails to provide security at the site.

What Should I Do if I Think that I Have Grounds for a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

Be very careful about who you speak with at the nursing home. You have every right to raise concerns about your loved one’s care, and you should certainly report abuse and neglect. However, you should not mention the word “lawsuit” to them.

However, you should begin to document things such as the care that your loved one receives and their daily appearance. Try to take pictures and save whatever evidence that you can.

When you think that something is wrong, you should immediately contact a nursing home abuse lawyer with our law firm. The attorney could tell you what to look out for and how to document your case. They could also explain the legal process to you and work with you on a case strategy for a nursing home abuse case.

Why Should I File a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

Even if your loved one has passed away, your family is entitled to a financial recovery for their loss and what they experienced at the hands of the nursing home.

Some families hesitate to file a lawsuit because they want closure. However, that means that a nursing home gets away with its conduct and injuring your loved one. Even if you do not need the money any longer for their care, you can divide it up among family members.

In addition, a lawsuit also helps get justice for your family and could help ensure that other families do not have to face what you did.

How Do I Get Medical Records from a Nursing Home Where My Loved One Was Injured?

Nursing homes may try to make it difficult to obtain medical records, especially when they know that there might be a potential lawsuit.

In addition, there are medical privacy laws like HIPAA [1] that they may use to try to keep you from the records. However, the same law that nursing homes use to keep records from families actually requires that a resident or their legal representative be given their records upon request.

However, you should not tell the nursing home the purpose of the medical records request. You should also try to make this request as soon as possible to get the records before there is any time to change them or for the nursing home to cover their tracks.

You may be asked to pay for photocopies, and that is perfectly legal. These records may make a difference in your nursing home case.

How Do I Win a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

In most cases, you are suing the nursing home for personal injury to your loved one. Personal injury lawsuits require that you prove that the nursing home was negligent.

This means that they owed your loved one a duty of care, and they failed to act like a reasonable nursing home would under the circumstances. Ultimately, your loved one suffered an injury that they would not have suffered had it not been for the actions of the nursing home.

The negligence standard applies to practically every kind of nursing home lawsuit. This could include neglect or abuse of your loved one. In an abuse case, you would argue that the nursing home negligently hired or supervised the employee who harmed your loved one.

Negligence could also mean that the facility staff failed to keep your loved one from developing a pressure ulcer and allowed it to develop to the point of sepsis.

FAQ Nursing Home Abuse

Can I Also Sue an Assisted Living Facility?

Assisted living facilities owe their residents the same exact duty of care as nursing homes. They assume an obligation to the resident’s well-being when they move into the facility.

There are also examples of when they fail to supervise their residents or get them the medical care that they need. The distinction between nursing homes and assisted living does not impact your right to file a lawsuit.

Who Is Entitled to the Damages in a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

If your loved one is still alive, the settlement is paid to them. It could be placed into their trust if they have one. In most cases, the family member has passed by the time of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit then is filed as a wrongful death claim. Each state has its own formula for who receives the wrongful death damages. Usually, it is the spouse who splits these damages with the children.

If the estate files the claim, the damages would be divided according to the terms of the estate.

Does Medicare or Medicaid Have a Claim to My Nursing Home Lawsuit Damages?

Medicare or Medicaid do not get part of the pain and suffering or other non-economic parts of your nursing home settlement or award.

If any part of your claim involves medical bills that the government paid, then they do have a lien on the settlement and have the right to be paid back first. If the government was able to receive the entire settlement, there would be no reason for families to file a lawsuit.

Make sure that you factor in any Medicaid share of your proceeds before you agree to any settlement.

Are There Limits to the Number of Damages that You Can Recover in a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

It depends on the state in which you file the lawsuit. Many states have no damage caps whatsoever. For example, in Illinois, there are no limits to what you can recover.

The state had tried to limit some personal injury recoveries years ago, but the Illinois Supreme Court found that those caps were unconstitutional. However, states like Indiana have some limitations on what you can recover from a nursing home.

Damage caps should not keep you from filing a lawsuit. In many cases, the damage caps are well above the average nursing home settlement.

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

This all depends on the nursing home and their motivation. Every case has its own unique factors with things that affect the plaintiff and the defendant.

For example, the nursing home may want to try to settle the case very quickly because they know that they will not only lose in front of a jury but will also be hit with massive damages. The plaintiff may want to settle more quickly because they could want closure and avoid a lawsuit.

However, cases that settle quickly are more of an exception than the norm. Defendants may try to wait for a plaintiff out for a while before getting more serious about negotiations.

Some cases may even settle during the trial itself. All of this is to say that a settlement could take between several months and several years, and you often have little control over the timing since much of it depends on the defendant.

Will My Nursing Home Lawsuit Go to Trial?

Not every nursing home lawsuit will end up in court in front of a jury. In fact, most of them will not as the nursing home will usually try to settle cases when they know that they could be hit with a very large jury verdict.

In that case, the court is the last place that they ever want to be in order to protect themselves. In most cases, the nursing home will try to settle at some point to protect its own bottom line.

It is true that more cases that go to trial result in a defense verdict. This is not because nursing homes have a stronger case than you. It just means that they did a very good job of settling cases without trial that could have been massive losers for them.

Usually, you should expect settlement discussions at some point in your case. Whether this means that you reach an agreement depends on how reasonable the nursing home is.

What Damages Am I Entitled to in a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

A nursing home lawsuit is the same as any personal injury case in terms of damages. This means that you could get both economic and non-economic damages.

In a nursing home lawsuit, the injured resident would not otherwise be working to recover lost wages, so the only major component of economic damages is medical costs if there were any.

A majority of the damages would be non-economic. Here, pain and suffering, and emotional distress would be the largest parts of the damages award. In addition, you could be entitled to wrongful death damages if the negligence killed your loved one. Depending on the state, you may also get punitive damages if the nursing home’s conduct was bad enough.

I Filed a Lawsuit Against the Nursing Home. Who Is Entitled to the Money?

This depends on the type of case that you filed. If your loved one is still alive, presumably the money would be in their name if there was a settlement.

However, most nursing home lawsuits are filed as wrongful death cases, either because someone died from the facility’s actions or because they did not survive until their lawsuit went to court.

Every state will have a wrongful death statute that gives the order of who can file a case. The first person with the right to sue is always the surviving spouse. If the spouse is no longer living, then the children will have the right to file the lawsuit.

If there is no spouse or children, the estate will usually be the one that files the lawsuit. Most states have a formula that divides money from a wrongful death award between the spouse and children.

What Is the Average Nursing Home Lawsuit Payout?

It depends on the particular facts of your case. Each lawsuit is different. Here are some of the factors that could affect the value of your case:

  • The age of the victim – wrongful death cases for younger people could lead to more money
  • The amount of suffering – Pain and suffering are a large part of the damages in a nursing home lawsuit.
  • The mental anguish and humiliation that the victim suffered
  • The level of negligence of the nursing home.

There is no such thing as a “garden variety” nursing home case. All lawsuits where a family member suffered at the hands of a nursing home should be shocking, and we fight for the maximum possible compensation in every case.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Grounds for a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

The first thing that you should do is speak with a nursing home lawyer. You can schedule a free no-risk consultation to discuss your possible case with one of our attorneys. You can either call us or fill out a contact form.

The attorney would learn the facts of your case and give their opinion regarding the next steps in your case. The one thing not to do is to begin arguing with the nursing home because it would not help your case, and it could cause them to start circling their own wagons.

Make sure to stay calm and begin the legal process as you fight for your rights.

If your loved one is in immediate danger, you should report the problem to the state as a potential abuse case. You can call them or contact them through their email address.

These reports would mean that they investigate quickly and punish the nursing home if they were found to break a law in any way. Just knowing that the state or federal government is investigating could cause the nursing home to correct its behavior.

Nursing Home Abuse FAQ

Can I Afford a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?

Families are worried about the cost of hiring an attorney for their cases. They associate lawyers with high hourly bills and steep retainers that they must pay upfront to engage the lawyer.

This is not the case with personal injury lawyers. Even after you call our office for a free consultation, you will not owe our law firm any money out of your pocket during the course of your case.

In fact, you only owe us anything if you are successful in your case. Then, we would be paid out of the proceeds of your financial recovery. You would not need to write us a check. If for some reason, you lose your case, you would not be presented with a bill for our time at the close of the case.

When that happens, we are not paid anything for our time. There is no risk to you when you hire a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit attorney.

How Do I Know Who Is the Right Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for Me?

When you are hiring a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney, you need someone who is both experienced and responsive to your questions. Your family needs a lawyer who has handled numerous nursing facility cases before and knows how these particular cases work.

A nursing home abuse or neglect case is not the same as other personal injury cases. They require reconstructing the care that loved ones received. In addition, there is the special issue of showing how negligence harmed the health of someone who was not in good physical health, to begin with before the injury.

How Long Does it Take for a Lawyer to Evaluate a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Case?

Your nursing home attorney would get to work right away. During the initial consultation, they would ask you the question that they need answers to so that they could get started on investigating your case.

They could begin just as soon as you sign the representation agreement to hire them. Just knowing that someone is in your corner fighting for you is enough to make a difference for many families.

It could take time for the attorney to fully understand your case well enough that they could prove it in court. However, they could begin laying out some of your legal options right after they begin representing you.

They could listen to the facts and give you their opinion of your case if the facts that you are alleging are true. Your attorney understands the statute of limitations and the time crunch that you are working under.

If the Nursing Facility Broke a Law, Does it Automatically Win My Case for Me?

There are certain types of evidence that are very powerful in a personal injury case. When the state comes in and finds that there was a violation of a nursing home regulation, it could prove your case.

The government is considered to be an objective third party in the situation, and the facts that they establish could show what happened to your loved one in an abuse or neglect case.

For example, if the state comes in to investigate an abuse claim and fines the nursing home for violating the abuse regulations, that could be used as evidence in a civil case.

This is why you should always report any instance of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment to the relevant state agency. It is always better to have investigators on the case, and they may be able to get evidence that others may not be able to access.

To schedule your free consultation, call our toll-free phone numbers or send us an email through our website. A personal injury attorney is ready to speak with you today in your nursing home abuse and neglect case. Our services are free of charge unless we are able to recover for you.

Have Additional Illinois Nursing Home Abuse FAQ?

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney. Our attorneys can address your concerns and answer questions unique to your situation.

Resources: [1] HIPAA

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