Senior citizens deserve respect, good care, and kind treatment. Unfortunately, they often find themselves at nursing homes that offer none of these things. Has your mother recently moved into a facility after developing dementia and developed bed sores? Has an aunt or older friend complained about difficult conditions? How can you clarify the problem, provide sensible support, and seek justice? Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer can help you. We have successfully represented clients abused and neglected at numerous facilities across Illinois.
Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Hold Facilities Accountable For Neglect and Injury
When the rights of a patient are compromised or when a facility provides inferior care and a patient is injured, it’s time to hire an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse and neglect. Illinois residents may pursue a case for civil damages to recover financial compensation for personal injury or death. Illinois recognizes the following types of damages in nursing home cases: past and future medical expenses; disfigurement; disability; pain and suffering; and wrongful death.
By holding nursing homes accountable for their conduct, our law firm hopes to improve the care that all patients receive and recover the maximum compensation for our clients. Nursing home operators must stop abusive and negligent care. It will not be tolerated. Our attorneys have experience prosecuting complex cases against nursing facilities across the state.
We will explain the typical injuries and their signs and symptoms. We’ll discuss what you can do to advocate for nursing home victims and report wrongdoing. You can be in control of your next steps.
What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect?
Red flags include: the development of pressure sores, particularly on the buttock and heels; sudden behavioral changes or moody, angry, withdrawn, or upset behavior; clothing that is dirty or bloody; joints that are stiff or stuck in one position; bruising, cuts, fractures or burns; sexually transmitted diseases; sudden weight loss; of the appearance of being overly medicated or fatigued.
Pay attention to how staff acts around you and your family member when you visit. Do they refuse you on some visits or seem annoyed by your presence? Does your loved one act differently when they’re present?
What Should I do if I Suspect Mistreatment?
Assess the situation yourself. If it seems minor, make your concerns known to staff at the facility, or contact a nursing home ombudsman.
If there are signs of physical abuse, contact the authorities immediately. Visit the Illinois Department of Health website, or call the Nursing Home Hotline by dialing 800-252-4343. Contact an experienced attorney as well to consider your options.
What Laws Protect Illinois Nursing Home Patients?
Both the Federal Nursing Home Care Reform Act of 1987 and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act protect nursing home patients. These statutes set forth standards to ensure that nursing home residents receive the “highest practicable” mental, physical, and psychosocial wellbeing. This regulatory framework enforces quality care, establishes a resident Bill of Rights, and makes provisions for certain services for residents. To receive Medicaid or Medicare payments, each facility must comply with the requirements of the Nursing Home Care Reform Act.
How Long Do I Have to File an Illinois Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit?
In Illinois, you have two years to file a lawsuit against a negligent nursing home. Illinois law states that “[a]ctions for damages for an injury to the person… shall be commenced within 2 years... after the cause of action accrued.”
How do I win a Nursing Home Case?
How to win a nursing home case depends on the type of claims that you bring. Some typical nursing home injury claims involve nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. In a negligence action, you must show that the defendant: 1) owed you a duty; 2) the defendant breached that duty; 3) you suffered injuries, and 4) the defendant's breach caused those injuries.
Medical malpractice actions are similar to negligence actions. In these suits, you must show that: 1) a patient-provider relationship existed between yourself and the defendant; 2) the defendant owed you certain standard of care; 3) the defendant failed to provide you with that standard of care; 4) you suffered injuries; and 5) your injuries were because of the defendant's failures. Finally, in wrongful death actions, you must prove that: 1) your spouse or loved one died; 2) the defendant caused the death, and 3) the death caused you damages.
How Much are Illinois Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Cases Worth?
Each nursing home case is very different, and the compensation will be dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. Some things that can be used to determine the financial value of the case in both negligence and wrongful death are medical costs; pain and suffering of the patient and family; disfigurement; loss of income; loss of normal life; and survival damages, in the case of wrongful death.
The total amount awarded will depend on the extent of the injury and can also be affected by some state laws that limit the amount of compensation. Other relevant factors include age of the individual; conduct of the facility; the facility’s history of care; whether the nursing home is insured; and whether the family was regularly involved in the care of the loved one.
Here are a couple examples of successful nursing home abuse actions:
$972,000 Jury Award. The events of this suit arose in Anna, Illinois. A woman in her 80s with a history of health issues entered a nursing home. Her conditions included dementia and hypertension and doctors considered her at risk for falls. They warned the home’s management company about this too. The next few years of her life passed without a problem. Yet, when she was 92, she fell down on the floor of her room. Home staff didn’t see this happen. They found her on the floor in a pool of her own blood in the early hours of the morning. They rushed her to the ER. Doctors diagnosed her with a fractured spine and hematoma, and she had many bruises and scars. Just hours after these events, she slipped into a coma. She passed away about a week after this. Her five adult children brought an action against the home, alleging negligence and wrongful death. A jury awarded the family $972,000.
$725,000 Settlement. An 83-year-old woman entered a nursing home in Illinois with a bed sore. She was also at risk for falls. The sore progressed to stage 4 while in the nursing home and became infected, leading to sepsis. During her stay, she also fell from her bed, breaking her femur. Her medical bills related to the bed sore and fall reached more than $150,000. Her family felt that the injuries and resulting complications led to her death. The nursing home settled for $725,000 to cover her medical bills, pain, and suffering, the most common damage categories claimed in wrongful death and negligence cases.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Statistics
The nursing home industry is a big business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.4 million people reside in 15,600 nursing homes in the United States (in Illinois, there are more than 732 facilities caring for more than 100,000 patients). Nearly 70% of these are operated as for-profit facilities. According to Medicare data, nearly 37% of the facilities were deemed to be below average by surveyors.
While there is nothing illegal about making a profit by caring for people, a conflict arises when operators attempt to maximize profits by reducing the staffing levels and hiring inexperienced workers. These cost-cutting measures impact patient care, often causing serious injuries and deaths.
Individuals 65 and older make up about 13 percent of the total U.S. population. It is estimated that at least 2.3 million seniors will become victims of nursing home abuse. Most cases go unreported. Family members are often oblivious; victims are too afraid to come forward, or they don’t know that inadequate care constitutes abuse under federal regulations. The American Association of Justice reported that only 1 in 14 nursing home abuse cases are reported to the proper authorities and estimated that 90 percent of nursing homes are understaffed.
This problem won’t be solved overnight. The industry needs an overhaul—for starters: new hiring processes; adequate background checks; new training; stronger sanctions for abusers; and better reporting processes. As well as experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers defending the rights of their victims.
If a nursing home in Illinois fails to abide by standards that have been established by federal and state law, then it may have its license revoked. In 2009, 99 nursing homes had a conditional license due to abuse complaints. Only three nursing homes had a license revoked or denied due to the abuse and inadequate care of residents. There were no nursing homes that had a license suspended as a result of abuse complaints.
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Cases that may be categorized as abuse by include: physical harm (perpetuated by staff, residents, or visitors); sexual assaults (facilities have a responsibility to screen staff and residents who have a history of aggressive behavior and sexual assault); dropped patients; medication errors (facilities must provide the correct medication and dosage as prescribed by the resident’s physician); bed rail entrapment; and untimely death.
Nursing home neglect, meanwhile, leads to situations like bedsores (when staff fail to reposition patients with limited mobility, the blood supply to tissue is interrupted and the flesh dies. An open wound may develop.); repeated falls; choking (many patients have special diets to accommodate difficulty swallowing. When staff fail to adhere to the dietary restrictions or monitor patients, they may choke on solids or liquids.); dehydration and malnutrition; and wandering (facilities must identify those prone to wandering, including dementia or Alzheimer’s patients, and implement safeguards to prevent them from leaving the safety of the facility.)
Contact Our Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciates the feelings of anger and guilt after a loved one has suffered an injury from abuse after an admission to an Illinois nursing home. We encourage you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights and options for pursuing a claim or lawsuit against a facility. Our attorneys are available 24-7 and we can schedule a meeting at your home or our office.