Yes. A resident or resident’s family may sue a nursing home for bedsores. Bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home has committed neglect. Federal regulations require nursing homes to take reasonable steps to prevent the onset of bedsores regardless of a resident’s current health conditions. When a facility fails to take these steps, the nursing home may be liable.
To sue a nursing home for bedsores is often not a slam dunk. Residents must have a solid case in order to prevail at trial, or to force the nursing home into settlement. What does this mean? There must be compelling evidence, including expert testimony and medical records, that the nursing home’s actions were the actual cause of the bedsores, to the exclusion of all other reasons by a preponderance of the evidence (51%).
Here’s what is required in Georgia for a resident (or resident’s family) to sue a nursing home for bedsores:
- Breach of the Standard of Care. Nursing homes are required to do three things for every resident. First, assess the resident’s risk for bedsore development. Second, create an action plan, based on the assessment, to prevent bedsores. Third, execute the plan and revise when appropriate. When the nursing home fails at any one of these, they have committed negligence. We call this “breaching the standard of care.”
- Causation. The nursing home’s breach is not sufficient. Often the nursing home argues that, although they committed neglect, the resident would have developed the bedsore anyway. There must be evidence that connects the breach to the development of the bedsores. Most often, this is the most difficult component of a bedsore case.
Learn more about suing a nursing home for bedsores by listening to the Nursing Home Abuse Podcast:
- Episode 121: 5 Ways to Prevent Bedsores in Nursing Homes
- Episode 16: Suing a Nursing Home for Bedsores
Who are the defendants when you sue a nursing home for bedsores?
The owners of nursing homes are not dumb. They do their absolute best to hide assets and shield responsible entities. They employee attorneys to create shell companies or have out-of-state “corporate offices.” In other words, suing a nursing home is more than placing “XYZ Nursing Home” on the lawsuit.
Why is naming all possible defendants important?
Money. The primary goal of a lawsuit is to recover money damages. Understanding that, nursing home owners do their best to squeeze every extra dime out of the facility and disperse it elsewhere. That way, the owner can argue that there is no money left to pay a judgement or to make a decent settlement offer.
Do not fall for that. In a nursing home bedsore lawsuit, we name all entities or persons that (a) have direct control over the care of the resident or (b) control the purse as it relates to care. As such, the various entities have a harder time playing “hide the money.”
Here are some common nursing home defendants:
- Owners: Nursing home owners include individuals, other companies, and local governments.
- Management Companies: Nursing homes often pay money to management companies to do day-to-day operations.
- Corporate Offices: Corporate offices often dictate the budget, policies, and procedures that lead to injury.
- Staff: Physicians, nurses, CNAs, and other staff may be included.
- Administrators and Executive Directors. These are the so-called bosses that run the facility. Actually, it is often the management company and corporate office.
Is suing a nursing home for bedsores common?
Yes. According to at least one statistic, there are over 17,000 bedsore lawsuits filed per year.
There are many cases filed, but very few lawyers that specialize in the field. Nursing home neglect cases, especially those involving bedsores, fit within a highly specialized category of law called “medical malpractice.” Medical malpractice cases are unique. They often require added layers of evidence.
What is the value of a nursing home bedsore lawsuit?
The value of a bedsore lawsuit can vary. No two cases are the same. Still, a strong bedsore case can be worth anywhere from six figures to eight figures, with everything in between.
As most lawyers will say, the value of a case depends. However, there are some factors that are going to affect case value:
- Arbitration: Is there an arbitration agreement? If so, this will often negatively impact case value. Typically, arbitration awards tend to favor defendants rather than plaintiffs. Knowing that, nursing homes tend to consider arbitration less risky and therefore are likely to offer less in settlement negotiations.
- Health Status: To sue a nursing home for bedsores and win, it is necessary to show that the facility caused the injury. When a resident has a host of comorbidities, especially those affecting the circulatory system, the nursing home has a stronger argument that the bedsores were caused by those factors.
- Understaffing: Strong evidence that the nursing home understaffed for the purposes of saving money, and as a result, the injury occurred, increases the value of the claim. Still, this is not to say that a “one-time” negligent act is not a viable case.
- Budget: Evidence indicating that money was siphoned out of the nursing home to the detriment of care typically increases the value of the case. Juries tend not to have sympathy for a facility that intentionally cuts corners but doesn’t do its job.
How long does a bedsore lawsuit take to resolve?
Unlike other personal injuries like fender-benders, slip and falls, or worker’s compensation, cases are seldom resolved with a letter or by threatening a lawsuit. If the resident’s family has already been placed in the position where they have been forced to sue the nursing home for bedsores, it is likely to go for at least one to two years. Nursing homes will always vigorously defend these cases. They often go to the courthouse steps.
Sue a nursing home for bedsores.
Bedsores are an extremely common injury in nursing homes. Recent studies show that nearly thirty percent of nursing home residents will suffer from a bedsore at some time. Up to thirty-five percent of residents with a Stage II bedsore or higher will receive hospitalization.
However, simply because bedsores are common does not mean that they are unavoidable.
Federal regulations place bedsores into two categories: Avoidable and unavoidable. An avoidable bedsore is one that develops because the nursing home failed to do one of the following:
- Properly assess the specific resident’s individual risk for development of bedsores;
- Implement interventions to prevent the development of bedsores; or
- Monitor and evaluate the preventative measures.
An unavoidable bedsore is classified as a bedsore that develops despite these measures being taken by the facility, and usually where the is a chronic skin problem.
In short, do not listen to any nursing home staff that tells you that a bedsore on your loved one “was an unavoidable accident.” The fact of the matter is that bedsores are almost always avoidable. In fact, CMS no longer reimburses hospitals for treatment of new pressure sores in Medicare patients.
If a nursing home’s actions resulted directly in the development of a bedsore on your loved one, then you will likely have the right to file a lawsuit against that facility.
In a bedsore lawsuit, you may seek compensation for pain and suffering during the development and treatment of the wound. You may also be awarded compensation for medical bills incurred. This alone can be quite substantial. The average cost of treating a Stage IV pressure ulcer is $125,000. In Georgia, you may recover for these expenses even where private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid has paid these amounts.
Initiating a bedsore case and recovering maximum value can be difficult. It is important that you being investigating and looking for evidence as early as possible. If you observe skin wounds on your loved one, you are encouraged to take pictures. Ask the staff what measures are being taken to treat the wound. Request documentation and skin assessments. Be vigilant.
If your loved developed bedsores at a nursing home or assisted living facility, and you are wondering if you have a claim, then please, feel free to call and speak to one of our experienced Georgia nursing home neglect lawyers today. Our consultations are always free. If you would like more information about this topic, be sure to click on our other videos, or better yet, click the subscribe button to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thank you.