Chicago Nursing Home Lawsuits and Settlements

On this page, our lawyers will discuss Chicago nursing home lawsuits. We will explain some of the legal grounds for suing nursing homes in Chicago and we will look at the average settlement value of these cases.

When an elderly person is injured or dies as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse, they and their relatives have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and get financial compensation.


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When Can You Sue a Nursing Home in Chicago?

Chicago nursing homes and other types of eldercare facilities (e.g., rehabilitation centers, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, etc.) have a legal obligation to provide a basic minimum level of care for their residents. The fact is, however, that nursing homes in Chicago and across the country are notorious for their consistent failure to provide a high level of care to residents. Most nursing homes regularly neglect or ignore the basic needs of residents and provide a level of care that falls well below the legal minimum.

When nursing homes provide poor quality care residents get injured and often die. So when can you sue a Chicago nursing home? To have a valid lawsuit against nursing home in Chicago a plaintiff needs to prove 2 basic elements:

  • The nursing home provided negligent care (below minimum standards)
  • The negligent care directly caused injury (or death) to a resident

Proving the first element is often very easy simply because negligent care is endemic at Chicago nursing homes. The legal definition of “negligent care” at  a nursing home is any level of care that falls below what a reasonable elder care facility would have provided under similar circumstances. Federal regulations actually define nursing home neglect as the “failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness” (42 C.F.R. § 488.301).

There are many different types of nursing home neglect and/or abuse that can potentially meet this definition and create grounds for a nursing home lawsuit. Some of the common types of nursing home neglect that arise in lawsuits includes:

  • Neglecting the physical needs and maintenance of residents (e.g., failing to regularly move patients to avoid bed sores, failing to wash and clean residents, etc.)
  • Failure to prevent residents with mobility limitations from falling
  • Negligent or cruel and abusive use of restraints on patients
  • Failure to provide hydration and nutrition
  • Medication errors
  • Failure to alert doctors about medical issues

Chicago Nursing Home Fall Lawsuits

Nursing homes frequently get sued for negligently failing to prevent elderly residents from falling and hurting themselves. Nursing home residents often have difficulty walking or moving around on their own. These mobility issues put them at risk of falling when they try to walk. A simple fall for a fragile elderly person in a nursing home can cause very serious injuries and even death.

Chicago nursing home facilities have an obligation to identify residents who are at risk of falling. Once a resident is deemed to be a fall risk, the nursing home is supposed to implement reasonable measures to protect that resident from falling and hurting themselves. This includes both falling when walking and falling out of bed.

It is important to understand that nursing homes are not expected to prevent every fall from happening. Some falls are simply not preventable. That being said, adherence to reasonable fall prevention procedures are part of the basic level of care that nursing homes are obligated to provide. After all, this is exactly what nursing homes get paid to do.

Nursing home fall lawsuits generally come in 2 varieties. The first involve allegations that the nursing home was negligent in failing to identify a resident as being a fall risk. The second type of nursing home fall lawsuit involves cases where the resident has been labeled as a fall risk, but the nursing home staff neglects to implement the appropriate fall prevention procedures.

Chicago Nursing Home Pressure Sore Lawsuits

A bedsore, also known as a pressure ulcer, pressure sore, or decubitus ulcer, is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue. It results from prolonged pressure on the skin, especially on bony areas of the body, such as the heels, hips, elbows, and tailbone.

Bedsores most commonly develop in individuals who have limited mobility and are unable to change position regularly, such as those who are bedridden or in wheelchairs. These ulcers can range in severity from reddened, unbroken skin to severe tissue damage that extends into muscle and bone.

The development of a bedsore can be categorized into stages:

  1. Stage I: The skin appears red and may feel warm to the touch. However, the skin remains intact. This stage of injury is almost never a viable nursing home lawsuit.
  2. Stage II: The skin breaks open or forms a blister, exposing the underlying layer of skin. This stage of bed sore is not pleasant but also does not rise to a viable claim that could fetch anything other than a nuisance settlement amount.
  3. Stage III: The sore deepens and extends beneath the skin’s surface, forming a small crater. Fat may be visible, but muscle, tendons, and bones are not exposed. Our nursing lawyers have handled cases where Stage III is the most significant injury. But usually these injuries are not permanent.  In nursing home cases, permanent injuries or death drive settlement amounts.
  4. Stage IV: The sore is deep, reaching into muscle and bone. There may be significant tissue necrosis (dead tissue).  This is the type of lawsuit our bedsore lawyers handle the most. Stage IV cases are often strong claims.
  5. Unstageable: In some cases, the base of the ulcer is covered by yellow, tan, green, or brown dead tissue, making it difficult to determine its depth. Such ulcers are classified as “unstageable.” These are awful cases that often result in nursing home bedsore lawsuits.

It’s essential to prevent and treat bedsores as they can lead to complications like infections, cellulitis, sepsis, bone and joint infections, and even cancer in chronic wounds. Prevention includes regularly repositioning the patient, maintaining skin hygiene, providing proper nutrition, and using support surfaces like specialized mattresses or cushions (that are properly inflated). In other words, putting out effort to provide real care to patients.

Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

Sadly, many elderly nursing home residents are the victims of physical and mental abuse committed by staff at the facility. Abuse at a nursing home facility is defined by federal regulations as “willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish” 42 CFR § 488.31. Common types of nursing home abuse that give rise to lawsuits include:

  • Sexual assault or abuse
  • Assault and battery 
  • Abusive restraint or imprisonment
  • Deprivation of food, water or medical care
  • Giving residents unapproved drugs (e.g., a sedative to knock out difficult residents)

Settlement Value of Chicago Nursing Home Lawsuits

Nursing home lawsuits tend to have a relatively high settlement amounts compared to other types of personal injury cases in Chicago. The primary reason for this is that nursing homes have an abysmal public image and a reputation for negligent care of elderly residents. This bad reputation makes nursing homes extremely vulnerable defendants in any type of negligence lawsuit. Because juries expect nursing homes to behave badly.  When a medical doctor does something foolish, juries tend to look for an explanation.  If a nursing home screws up, this falls in line with exactly what the jurors thought would happen.

So when you accuse a nursing home of negligence or abuse, juries have a strong tendency to assume that all of the allegations are true. This negative bias is clearly reflected in the national statistics on verdicts in nursing home lawsuits.

  • $250,000 Settlement (Kane County 2023): 89-year-old female nursing home resident suffered pressure sores, multiple falls, a right hip fracture and, ultimately, her death while she was a resident of a facility operated by defendant Geneva Nursing and Rehabilitation Center outside Chicago. The estate contended that the defendant failed to properly assess the decedent’s risk for pressure sores, failed to provide proper wound care treatments as ordered, and failed to provide proper fall interventions.
  • $140,000 Settlement (Lake County 2023): an 87-year-old female resident of the Friendship Village of Mill Creek nursing home operated by defendant Greenfields of Geneva allegedly suffered fatal malnutrition and dehydration while under the care and custody of the nursing home. The wrongful death action asserted claims of common law medical negligence and violations of the Nursing Home Care Act and the Illinois Administrative Code.
  • $70,000 Settlement (Kane County 2022): A 93-year-old resident of the Alden Courts of Waterford nursing home in Aurora, IL, was classified as a falling risk. He fell out of his bed at night and suffered a compound fracture of his left femur and complications related to the injury caused his death. The lawsuit alleged that the nursing home failed to prevent the fall and provide prompt medical attention after it happened.
  • $82,500 Settlement (Cook County 2022): A 51-year-old female resident of the defendant nursing home facility died from complications related to injuries she suffered when 2 staff members at the nursing home dropped her on the floor while lifting her from her bed to her chair. The lawsuit alleged violations of the Nursing Home Care Act for failure to use proper lifting equipment.
  • $300,000 Settlement (Cook County 2022): An 88-year-old female nursing home resident was sexually assaulted by a staff member at the facility, resulting in injuries to her inner right thigh, left thigh, right cheek and right eye. After she died, her estate sue the nursing home for negligently failing to protect her from the sexual assault.
  • $200,000 Settlement (Kane County 2022): A 79-year-old female nursing home resident at Bria of Geneva suffered a right femur and hip fracture in March of 2019 while being assisted to use the restroom by only one staff member. The lawsuit alleged that the nursing home was negligent for failing to prevent the fall.  

Hire a Chicago Nursing Home Lawyer

Have you or a loved one suffered as a result of nursing home negligence?  Call Miller & Zois today to speak to a nursing home negligence attorney who can help you at (800) 553-8082, or CONTACT US ONLINE.



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