Proving nursing home abuse is central to obtaining compensation for a nursing home injury. Michigan law provides steps you must take to ensure justice is served when a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect. The Michigan nursing home abuse lawyers explain how to prove a nursing home abuse case here.
Why Are Nursing Home Injuries So Common?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost two million people in the United States now reside in a nursing home. With more people living in nursing homes, and less money allocated to nursing facilities by Medicare and private health insurance, the rate of nursing home injuries due to negligence is increasing.
The number of nursing home patients has far outpaced the number of home health aides, nurses, administrators and doctors needed to adequately run a nursing home. Many nursing homes are privately owned, meaning they exist to turn a profit. The owners of these nursing homes will often cut corners and intentionally understaff a nursing home to save money.
If a person is injured in a nursing home due to an employee’s negligence, traditionally the first step is to file a claim against the nursing home facility. This usually involves explaining your theory of liability against the home to the insurance company that insures the nursing home.
However, just setting up a claim may not bring money or justice to the victim and their family. Usually, a lawsuit is necessary.
What is a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
A civil lawsuit against a nursing home, also known as a Complaint, is filed in a circuit court and lists the negligent parties as the negligent acts the nursing home committed. This can include statutory violations as well as violations under state and federal law. The parties are the plaintiffs (injured person and potential family members) and the defendants. Defendants typically include the nursing home and the employees who committed the negligence.
A good nursing home lawyer will make sure all potential defendants are named so nobody escapes responsibility.
A nursing home defendant will then respond to the lawsuit. This is called an Answer and is filed with the court. From there a period known as “discovery” occurs. Discovery is when both sides exchange documents, obtain medical records, take depositions of the parties and experts, and exchange other information that may be used at trial.
During this time the trial judge will set up conferences to try to get the parties to settle. If the parties are not able to settle, a trial date will be set up by the court.
Showing a Breach in the Standard of Care
To be successful in a nursing home abuse case, the plaintiff must prove a number of things. The most important thing to show is that the nursing home and its staff was negligent. To prove negligence against the nursing home, the plaintiff must demonstrate the nursing home owned a duty of care to the resident. This is usually not very difficult. When a resident is living in a nursing home facility, the facility owes a duty to properly care, supervise and medically treat every patient. The nursing home must do this in a reasonable manner and under the medically accepted standard of care.
Next, you must show the nursing home breached the duty of care. This can include failing to monitor a patient, failing to turn a resident, or causing a resident to fall. Proving a breach of the duty usually means showing the nursing home did not adhere to the standard of care for a nursing home in the same geographical area.
Next, the plaintiff must show the negligence was a proximate cause of the injury, and not something else. This is important. The bad acts by the nurse’s aide or the home health aide must have caused the injuries. Without causation, the plaintiff will not be successful in obtain money compensation in a nursing home injury case.
Showing and Proving the Injuries
There are many different types of damages a nursing home victim can show. During the discovery phase, the plaintiff must present to the nursing home how the damages occurred and why the plaintiff is entitled to them. These damages include:
• Past medical expenses;
• Future necessary and reasonable medical expenses;
• Pain and suffering from physical injuries;
• Pain and suffering likely to occur in the future;
• Loss of ability to enjoy life, both in the past and future; and
• Mental anguish
The list of potential damages is much more extensive than this. Because most nursing home residents are elderly, insurance companies and their lawyers love to minimize damages. They do this by arguing the person is old and therefore not worthy of real money. They will bring in experts to minimize the injuries and what the nursing home resident went through.
Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse
The key is to fight back and show in a meaningful way the quality of life the plaintiff once enjoyed, and how the plaintiff’s life changed drastically because of the nursing home’s negligence. A good Michigan nursing home abuse law firm will hire experts to show why there was negligence and how it occurred. These experts will explain in detail the proper way to manage the care of a resident. The experts will then explain what the nursing home failed to do and why it caused the injuries.
Another important way to prove nursing home abuse is to have family members and friends testify to how the injuries have affected the plaintiff. These key witnesses can paint a vivid picture of what the horrible negligence did to the plaintiff and his or her family.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. represents Michigan nursing home abuse cases throughout the state of Michigan. Our team of Michigan nursing home injury lawyers are ready to fight to ensure you and your family receives fair compensation and justice.
Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free phone consultation. There is no fee unless we win your case.