Liability in Nursing Home Cases
It can be a horrifying experience to live in a nursing home and be the victim of abuse or neglect, or to be a family member who represents a loved one who is suffering abuse or neglect in a nursing home. The idea that people may violate the trust we place in them to care for our most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens can be unthinkable. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people who live in nursing homes to have their rights violated in ways that can cause them physical, mental, or emotional harm.
Basis for Nursing Home Claims
Nursing home claims are based on the principal that people who live in nursing homes have certain rights. For residents of Illinois, those rights are stated in the Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45. Nursing home residents also have numerous rights under federal laws.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act says that when a nursing home resident’s rights are violated, the resident or his or her authorized representative has a right to make a claim for compensation of actual costs incurred. That can include medical bills for treatment of any injuries, lost income, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, loss of normal life, and attorney fees.
A nursing home claim may involve actions that are negligent or intentional, but it isn’t necessary under the Nursing Home Care Act for there to have been negligence or an intentional act. The statute allows a claim whenever a nursing home resident’s rights are violate. So when you make a nursing home claim, you have to prove:
- The nursing home staff or administration violated a resident’s rights — either yours or those of someone for whom you are the authorized representative
- You or your loved one suffered a harm that can be compensated
Actions that may violate a nursing home resident’s rights and give rise to a claim for compensation include:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Financial abuse or exploitation
- Allowing a resident to become malnourished or dehydrated
- Forced feeding through a feeding tube without consent
- Improper use of physical or chemical restraints
- Allowing a resident to develop bedsores
- Allowing a resident with dementia or cognitive impairment to wander or leave the premises without supervision
- Withholding a resident’s letters, emails or telephone calls, or preventing a resident from seeing visitors
- Taking a resident’s personal property
- Prohibiting a resident from choosing his or her own physician or participating in his or her medical care
- Any other form of abuse or neglect that results in some harm to the resident
Harm could be physical, such as bedsores or bruises from a fall, or emotional such as experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of abuse or neglect, or economic such as losing money or assets to financial exploitation. Any actual costs that you or your loved one incurred because of the rights violation may be evidence of harm.
Who Can Be Sued in Nursing Home Claims
When a resident’s rights are violated, the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act specifically makes the nursing home owner or licensee liable for the violation. Under the Nursing Home Care Act, those are defined as:
- Owner — The person or entity that owns the facility. This also can include a lessor if the facility is leased to an operator. The owner should be listed with the Illinois Secretary of State, but finding the owner can be complicated when corporations and their subsidiaries are involved, or the owner is in an other state.
- Licensee — The person or entity that holds a license from the Illinois Department of Public Health to operate the nursing home. The name of the licensee and other information should be available through the state public health department.
Sometimes there may be some combination of owner and licensee, or multiple owners. The relationships between corporate entities involved in nursing home operations can be complex, but an experienced nursing home attorney can help you identify the proper party or parties against whom to make a claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help
It may sound relatively simple that a violation of a nursing home resident’s rights can give rise to a claim for compensation; however, nursing home claims can be challenging to prove and can involve complicated questions regarding the proper parties or what amounts to a violation of the resident’s rights. An Illinois nursing home attorney with experience successfully resolving nursing home claims can offer insight about your options for a claim and what to expect from the process.
Your lawyer can handle the investigation into your claim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and gather the evidence to support your claim. Your nursing home attorney also can negotiate the settlement of your claim or argue your case in front of a jury so that you or your loved one is fairly compensated for what happened in the nursing home.
Contact Chicago nursing home attorney Jared Staver today for a free consultation at .