Although no two nursing home abuse cases are exactly alike and the specific terms of a settlement are generally confidential, there are a number of general guidelines you can use when deciding what level of compensation to expect from your claim.
Proving Nursing Home Abuse
No one wants to see a loved one suffer in a facility they trusted to provide appropriate care. However, the law has strict requirements for how to prove a case of nursing home abuse. You must establish three key elements:
- Duty of care. The nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident, based on the terms of the facility contract.
- Breach of duty. The nursing home failed to follow widely accepted standards for resident care.
- Damages. The resident suffered physical and/or emotional harm due to the nursing home's failure to provide appropriate care.
Since nursing home residents are unable to care for themselves due to physical and/or cognitive disabilities, an abuse claim is generally initiated by a relative who serves as the resident's legal guardian. Proving damages can be done using several different types of evidence. For example:
- Photographs of bruises, cuts, or other injuries
- Notes detailing conversations with staff or the resident
- Testimony from family members or people close to the resident
- Medical records
Types of Damages Awarded in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
When you file a claim against a nursing home for the physical, verbal, and/or sexual abuse of a loved one, you're allowed to seek damages for the harm the resident has suffered. This includes compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering related to injuries
- Mental pain and suffering, including depression, anxiety, and feeling unsafe in the care facility
- Cost of necessary medical treatment related to the abuse
Factors Affecting the Nursing Home Abuse Compensation
The vast majority of nursing home abuse cases are settled out of court when attorneys for each side come to a mutually agreeable settlement. Factors that are considered include:
- Age of the injured resident. Cases involving younger and relatively healthier residents tend to settle for larger amounts than those involving older residents with complex medical issues.
- Severity of the injury. Serious injuries resulting in limitations that affect the resident's quality of life will generate higher settlements than those that are considered relatively minor.
- Track record of the facility. A facility that has had a pattern of poor care for residents may be more eager to settle than one that considers your case an isolated incident.
- Investigative agency findings. When incidents are investigated by state or federal agencies, this can entice a facility to offer a higher settlement, even when the findings are technically considered inadmissible.
Deciding Whether to Accept a Settlement
A settlement is by definition a compromise between two parties. This means that neither side is left completely satisfied. If you're trying to evaluate whether an offer is fair, you will need to weigh the dollar amount of the settlement against the expense and overhead associated with a trial. In addition, settling can have personal benefits if you're worried about protecting the privacy of your loved one or placing family members through the emotional stress associated with court appearances and depositions.
How Medicaid and Medicare Affect Settlements
In the United States, the majority of nursing home residents receive Medicaid or Medicare benefits to pay for their care. As you're evaluating a settlement offer, keep in mind that any program used to pay for your loved one's nursing home care will be entitled to a percentage of funds recovered in a lawsuit.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Since nursing home abuse claims can present challenging legal issues, it's important to enlist the assistance of an attorney who can advocate for your needs throughout the process. The experienced attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are dedicated to helping Louisiana residents protect their right to compensation in nursing home neglect cases. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at one of our six convenient office locations.