Nursing home liability for personal injury to residents, especially falls and pressure sores, is a growing area of legal concern. Although only a small portion of these complaints of abuse and neglect reach trial, increasing damage awards has nursing homes concerned about higher liability insurance premiums. The industry argues that increased liability has a negative impact on the quality of care, while senior care advocates argue that liability is an important part of keeping the caregivers of this highly vulnerable population accountable.
Nursing Home Liability
Residents, their children, their spouses, or their friends can sue a nursing home based on malpractice, negligence, intentional injury, and negligent hiring and supervision. These legal grounds cover everything from failure to prevent and treat bedsores to sexual abuse of residents by staff. Wrongful death is the most common basis for personal injury liability in nursing home cases.
Laws in Many States
Many states have passed laws that establish a nursing home standard of care. Nursing home resident rights laws can be used to sue the home, staff, and administrators in addition to traditional legal grounds. Some states have attempted to pass laws to limit the amount of damages awarded under nursing home personal injury cases. Policy makers in these states argue that litigation is having a negative effect on the nursing home industry.
Personal Injury Cases Are Now More Viable
Traditionally, senior citizens were in a weak position to file personal injury cases. Since the elderly are past their wage-earning years and rarely have dependents, economic losses were hard to prove. A relatively recent trend is children of nursing home residents suing on behalf of parents and for their own emotional distress and loss of companionship. This trend has breathed new life into this legal area.
Requirement of Binding Arbitration
Some nursing homes have made arbitration clauses part of their admission contracts. Residents entering the facility for the first time sign away their right to sue the nursing home, its staff, or its administration in court. Instead, residents must use binding arbitration that submits their claims to a professional arbitrator rather than a judge and jury. Some nursing homes go a step further and use the clause to limit damages and access to nursing home records to prove the resident's case. Courts in some states have refused to enforce arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding injuries caused by nursing home care is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.