Nursing Home Abuse Compensation
The role of a nursing home is to provide care and daily living assistance to its residents. According to the CDC, over 1.3 million senior citizens depend on nursing homes for personal and medical assistance.
Despite this, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that as many as 1 in 10 seniors in the United States have experienced some form of mistreatment. This can include physical, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse and gross neglect.
If you or one of your family members has experienced abuse while in the care of a nursing facility, you may be entitled to compensation. Learn what type of nursing home lawsuit settlement you can receive in California and how filing a nursing home lawsuit can help you hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
What is Nursing Home Abuse Compensation?
Nursing home abuse compensation refers to financial compensation for the injuries, damages, or neglect caused to a resident. The nursing facility or at-fault staff member typically pays compensation. You can obtain a nursing home negligence settlement through a negotiated settlement or court-award damages:
- Negotiated nursing home settlement. In this type of settlement, you and your family agree on an out-of-court settlement through negotiations, mediation, or arbitration with the facility or its insurer.
It is typically initiated by filing a complaint with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or a civil claim with the help of an elder abuse attorney. The nursing home abuse settlement amount is based on evidence of the abuse discovered by your attorney or the CDPH.
- Court-ordered nursing home abuse settlement. If you and the at-fault party cannot agree on fair compensation, you can file a lawsuit in civil court. This allows you to present your evidence at trial to obtain a settlement that reflects all physical and emotional damages suffered by your loved one.
In this type of settlement, the judge or jury determines the amount in a damage award, which considers economic, non-economic, and punitive factors for particularly wanton or malicious actions.
Forms of Nursing Home Abuse Eligible for Compensation
Many types of nursing home abuse or neglect can take place in a nursing facility. If you or a loved one suffers mistreatment, you can seek a settlement for the following types of abuse or neglect:
- Physical abuse. Includes all forms of intentional abuse resulting in pain or physical injuries. This can include cuts, bruises, fractures, broken bones, or bleeding caused by caregivers, other staff members, or residents.
- Emotional abuse. This refers to staff members yelling at, belittling, insulting, isolating, or causing other forms of intentional distress to residents. It includes non-verbal emotional abuse, such as isolation from other residents or denying social interactions. As many as 40% of abuse claims involve a staff member psychologically abusing a resident.
- Financial abuse. Includes stealing from a resident’s cash or bank accounts, abusive overcharging, exploiting, coercing, or defrauding residents.
- Sexual abuse. Includes verbal sexual harassment, such as unwanted advances, disparaging comments, non-consensual touching or contact, rape, and sexual assault.
- Gross neglect. Abuse can also take the form of severe and intentional lack of care, resulting in missed meals, pressure ulcers (bedsores), and infections.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Get in a Settlement?
Compensation for nursing home neglect cases can include economic, non-economic, and punitive (exemplary) damages. Here is a breakdown of what each category can include for your settlement:
- Economic damages. Includes damages with quantifiable monetary value, such as medical expenses, ongoing treatment and medical care costs, and property damage. It can also include lost income from family members missing work days to care for an injured or neglected resident.
- Non-economic damages. These are intangible damages to an abused resident’s health and quality of life. Examples include pain, suffering, distress, anxiety, or loss of enjoyment of life.
A knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer can estimate the monetary value of your claim using the per diem (a fixed daily rate) or multiplier method (multiplies economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5, based on severity).
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the defendant and deter other facilities from similar wrongdoing. They may only be awarded in a court order for nursing home negligence cases for gross negligence or wanton disregard for the victim’s well-being.
Who Can File for Nursing Home Abuse Compensation?
If a nursing home resident has been the victim of abuse or neglect, they can file a compensation claim for their mistreatment. However, many nursing home abuse victims may not have the capacity to file a claim due to cognitive or physical health conditions. In some cases, the resident may have passed away due to the abuse.
Here’s who’s eligible to file a claim on behalf of a nursing home resident in California:
- Immediate family members. Children, spouses, or siblings of the abused nursing home resident can file a claim on the resident’s behalf. If the resident has passed away, these family members can seek a wrongful death nursing home settlement for funeral costs, medical expenses, and emotional suffering.
- Legal guardians and individuals with power of attorney. An individual with no familial ties to the abused resident may file a claim on their behalf if they were assigned legal guardianship or given power of attorney over them. In both cases, they must have the legal right to manage the victimized resident’s affairs.
- Estate executors and administrators. If a nursing home resident suffers abuse or neglect after establishing an estate, the executors or administrators can pursue a settlement on their behalf. The most common scenario is after the resident’s passing, allowing executors and administrators to seek a nursing home wrongful death settlement.
What Affects Your Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Amount?
In nursing home negligence cases, your settlement amount is typically based on the severity of the abuse suffered and accompanying damages. However, expert testimony, insurance policy limits, and the quality of your legal representation can impact compensation amounts.
The following factors can determine your final award in a nursing home neglect case:
- Severity of the abuse. The settlement amount is affected by the severity and impact of the abuse or neglect, with more serious cases usually resulting in larger compensation.
- Accompanying damages. This includes tangible damages like medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and other financial losses and intangible damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.
- Quality of evidence. The strength and clarity of evidence can impact the settlement amount. Comprehensive evidence like detailed medical records, eyewitness testimonies, photographic or video proof of abuse, and incident reports can strengthen the claim, leading to a higher settlement.
- Expert testimony. Testimonies from medical experts, care specialists, or abuse investigators can validate the extent of abuse and its impact, influencing the settlement value. For example, a medical expert could testify to the long-term psychological consequences of neglect on the resident, which could raise the potential settlement value due to the seriousness of the impact.
- Insurance policy limits. The compensation amount can be affected by the limits of the liable party’s insurance coverage. Higher policy limits may allow for a larger settlement. In California, all facilities must carry liability insurance between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000 to cover injuries to residents on the premises or due to negligent actions by employees.
- Quality of legal representation. The skill and experience of your attorney can affect your compensation. Proficient legal representation can collect thorough evidence, access expert witnesses, and negotiate more effectively for a fair settlement.
- State caps on damages. State damage caps can affect your compensation amount. California does not limit compensatory or punitive damages for personal injury cases; however, caps may apply in cases involving medical malpractice ($350,000) or wrongful death ($500,000).
What is the Typical Settlement Amount?
Nursing home lawsuit statistics don’t often report compensation amounts because most settlements are made out-of-court in private agreements. However, the average nursing home abuse settlement for most cases can be over $1 million.
The following are real-world awards for nursing home lawsuit cases on behalf of California victims and their families:
- A settlement of $1,500,000 was awarded in a case of nursing home abuse. This compensation was recovered from a nursing home facility for failing to protect an elderly resident from various health and safety hazards.
- A settlement of $420,000 was reached in a case involving a nursing home where the resident suffered from pressure wounds and aspiration pneumonia, leading to wrongful death.
- A case involving a nursing home wrongful death resulted in a $400,000 settlement. The nursing home was held accountable for failing to prevent aspiration pneumonia and not recognizing a change in the resident’s condition, which led to their death.
Secure the Compensation Your Family is Entitled to Following Nursing Home Abuse
The mistreatment of nursing home residents is a worrying concern for all California families with elderly relatives. If your loved one has been mistreated by nursing home facility staff, administrators, or doctors, you can protect their rights and seek a fair
settlement. If you suspect neglect or abuse, document the evidence, file a complaint with the CDPH, and speak with an attorney to guide you on the next legal steps.