Wrongful Death Is The Most Common Lawsuit Filed in Nursing Home Cases
Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) July 15, 2014 - Nursing home abuse resulting in death is a serious legal issue. While many cases may not go to trial, those that do go to court are resulting in higher damage awards, raising concerns about insurance liability.
“During the last five years or so, court awards for nursing home abuse and wrongful death have increased significantly,” said Michael Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Arkansas. “Along with higher awards come higher insurance premiums for nursing homes, a fact the industry insists negatively impacts on the quality of care they offer. However, senior care watchdogs suggest liability is a vital issue in keeping caregivers on their toes and demonstrating they are accountable for providing quality care for their vulnerable residents.”
If a family suspects a relative is being abused or neglected while in care, their children, friends, spouses, or the resident themselves, may sue a senior care nursing facility for negligent hiring and supervision, medical negligence or medical malpractice, and/or intentional injury. The grounds for filing such a lawsuit may range from physical and verbal abuse to using chemical restraints and isolation of a resident as punishment.
If medications are not given on time, not correct, are given to the wrong person, are not the right drugs or a resident gets too much of their medication and dies, surviving family may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are the most common reason for launching a personal injury lawsuit involving a nursing home.
Even though there are standards of care in place for nursing homes in most states, it does not mean all nursing homes may live up to those stated standards. Those that do not live up to the state mandated standard of care might face a lawsuit against the facility, management, owners and even the staff and administrators. “In some states, and this is important to know when you are considering filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit, there are laws in place to cap the amount of compensation awarded. In those states, it is feared litigation negatively impacts the nursing home industry,” Smith explains.
While it is often difficult for a senior-in-care to file their own lawsuit, the latest legal trend is the senior’s children suing on their parent’s behalf and on their own behalf for loss of companionship and emotional distress. This latest shift in suing for nursing home abuse may end up defining new areas of the law when it comes to protecting nursing home residents and this may also include a hard look at arbitration clauses included in admission contracts.
“Patients being admitted to a facility for long-term care need to carefully read all documentation on admission. Some nursing homes are including binding arbitration clauses that mean the resident loses their legal right to sue in court. Instead, they must deal with an arbitrator and not a jury and judge. Some of the clauses are also worded in such a manner that it may limit any damage claims a resident may have and make access to medical records very difficult. Recent case law indicates courts in some states refuse to enforce arbitration clauses in elder care facility contracts,” says Smith.
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