Nursing home residents should be protected from harm when they are admitted into a long-term or assisted care facility. However, there is a real danger to many residents being burned from smoking accidents or other burn hazards within the nursing home. Many Illinois nursing home residents are burned or even lose their lives due to the carelessness of others or from a lack of protection by the nursing home staff and administration. The tragedy is that many of these fire and burn risks can be easily prevented.
As Chicago nursing home negligence attorneys, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented patients who have suffered burn injuries in Illinois facilities. Our law office knows the devastation that a burn can have both immediately following an incident and during a recovery. If your loved one sustained a burn related to an incident or due to smoking, contact our office for a free case review.
Illinois Nursing Home Patients Injured in Fires at the Facilities
The threat of a fire in a nursing home poses great danger to the residents who are being cared for in the facility. Due to the lack of mobility and health issues of the patients, trying to evacuate so many people could have disastrous results. The U.S. Accountability Office estimated that an average of 2,300 nursing homes had structural fires in each of the years between 1994-1999. In 2003, there were 31 fire related deaths at two nursing homes due to lack of sprinkler systems.
Nursing homes need to be held accountable to prevent fires at all costs with so much at stake. Some common causes of fires that these facilities are:
- Smoking accidents. Allowing smoking indoors by patients puts all the residents at risk of both fire and second hand smoke exposure. According to a report issued by the U.S. Fire Administration, smoking is the number one cause of fire fatalities in the elderly.
- Candles. Candles that are left burning and unsupervised are potential fire risks. Elderly patients are often prone to falling asleep from medications or other influences while a candle is left burning in their room.
- Flammable medical hazards. Nursing homes are at a higher risk for large fires due to many patients having pressurized oxygen and the abundance of flammable gases and electrical equipment that can start and perpetuate fires.
The elderly have a high risk to fire injuries and death. Fire fatalities are double the national average for those 75 years and older and quadruple for those 85 years or older. Diminishing eyesight, hearing and mobility can all be considered factors in why the elderly are at a higher fire fatality risk.
Smoking Accidents In Chicago Nursing Homes
Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities still allow residents to smoke indoors. While many states and localities have restricted or banned smoking in public places, especially healthcare facilities, it is not a federal regulation. Nursing homes put their patients at both fire and health risk by allowing smoking within the facility and may be found negligent in protecting their patients when a smoking accident occurs.
Even in homes that restrict smoking to outdoor areas, there still needs to be supervision to prevent patient injuries. Most nursing homes have smoking policies to protect their patients that need to be adhered to. When these policies are either do not prevent injuries or are not adhered to, the nursing home may be found negligent in protecting their patients from harm.
Other Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can be extremely hazardous for elderly persons. The morbidity and mortality rate from a surface burn is much higher in older adults, due to changes in the body’s water concentration and other factors. In addition to smoking burn injuries, nursing homes need to protect their patients from any type of burn risks such as:
- Scalding water
- Heating elements
- Cooking equipment
Sample Nursing Home Burn Lawsuits & Settlements
$940,000 Settlement; Illinois Nursing Home Burn Accident
The resident in this dispute was in her early fifties. She suffered from various mental disorders. She was depressed and suicidal. In fact, she had attempted suicide on a number of occasions prior to this incident. The controversy here started when a fire broke out in her room. The flames badly burned her (second and third degree) across her arms, chest, and back. Doctors were able to save her, but she was left with scars, trauma, and over $300,000 in medical bills. With the assistance of counsel, she brought suit against the Illinois nursing home. Her main complaint was that they did monitor her sufficiently. They knew she was suicidal. They knew that a fire or burn accident were possible. Yet, they took no additional measures to secure her safety. As a result, she suffered dramatically. The defendant nursing home replied with a number of objections. However, they could not answer why there was no supervision especially in light of the woman’s specific circumstances. Eventually, that fact pushed them towards settlement. The woman received $940,000.
$675,000 Settlement; Chicago Nursing Home Smoking Accident
The nursing home resident caught up in this controversy was in her late sixties. She had a history of smoking. Facility staff actually caught her smoking in places she was not allowed to smoke on a number of occasions. One day, she lit up a cigarette and started smoking in her bathroom. Apparently, no alarms or other devices went off alerting staff to the fact that she was smoking where she should not have been. In the course of this, she burned herself. Her burn injuries were so severe that she needed to be transferred to a hospital. While staying there, she racked up medical bills over $200,000. However, it was not enough. She died just a few weeks later. She was survived by three siblings. Together, they brought a lawsuit against the Illinois nursing home because of the smoking accident. They said that the facility should have implemented a plan to prevent her from smoking in unpermitted places. Since it did not, and that failure led to the woman’s injuries and death, the plaintiffs believed they were entitled to compensation from the nursing home. The defendant did not agree to any of these allegations. Nevertheless, it did settle with the plaintiffs for a reported $675,000.
$1,650,548 Verdict; Chicago Nursing Home Smoking Accident
This matter became so contentious that it eventually wound up in court unlike many other lawsuits of this type. The resident involved was an elderly man in his middle eighties. He lived in a nursing home on the south side of Chicago. He had been warned on many occasions not to smoke in the cafeteria. Nevertheless, when all of the nurses were away helping other residents to bed, he lit up a cigarette that his family had given him. A flame fell down into his lap and he caught on fire. Nearly a third of his body was burned seriously, across his face, arms, neck, and chest. He sued the nursing home for negligent supervision. They replied forcefully that he was warned not to do it; they cannot watch him every second of the day; and his family gave him the cigarette. The plaintiffs persisted to trial. They argued the facility should have watched over him better and that its negligence led to his death almost two years later. Despite the suspect link in causation, the jury did award the plaintiffs roughly $1.65 million in damages for medical bills, lost normal life, suffering, pain, and disfigurement.
$850,000 Settlement; Chicago Nursing Home Smoking Accident
The resident in this nursing home controversy had circular problems in her veins. The staff had to apply cold and heat packs on her legs intermittently in order to treat them. However, on the day in question, nurses left the pack on too long and she sustained a burn on her leg. It was second degree. Doctors had her transferred to the emergency room for care and treatment. She needed to stay there for follow up procedures and rehabilitation. The ordeal cost her lots of money, time, and energy. She sued the nursing home for negligence. Her lawsuit argued that a reasonable facility would not have operated in this regard towards her. Consequently, she sustained financial, personal, and other damages. The nursing home offered a reply, but preferred confidential negotiations to settle the matter. The woman received $850,000 for the incident.Chicago Attorneys Prosecuting Smoking And Burn Injury Lawsuits Against Facilities in Illinois
There are many complexities that are involved in smoking and burn injury nursing home lawsuits. To prove negligence, the policies and procedures that the nursing home has in place to prevent these burns must be investigated as well as the history and specific situation of the injured patient. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have litigated a number of these types of smoking or burn injury cases and are experienced in exposing the truth behind the cause of nursing home burn injuries.
If you have a loved one that has been injured in a burn or smoking accident in a Chicago nursing home, we invite you to discuss your case with one of our expert Illinois nursing home injury lawyers. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and will advise you of your options at no obligation to you. 888-424-5757