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 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.

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.) are legally obligated to provide a bare 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 a nursing home in Chicago, a plaintiff needs to prove two essential 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 include:

  • 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.

    • $5,500,000 Verdict (Cook County 2023): The patient was admitted for specialized care with an expected lifespan of three to six months, required continuous oxygen support via a nasal cannula. Tragically, during a family visit, it was discovered that her room had no power, and she was not receiving the necessary oxygen, resulting in her being in severe medical distress. Despite attempts to locate nursing assistance, the patient passed away 20 minutes after her condition was discovered. Some nursing home lawsuits cannot be defended and the defense lawyers conceded mistakes were made that caused her death during the trial.
    • $250,000 Settlement (Kane County 2023): An 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 filed a Chicago nursing home lawsuit that contended that the nursing home 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. The average nursing home neglect settlement is higher than
    • $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 two 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.

How to Sue a Chicago Nursing Home

To sue a nursing home in Chicago for issues such as negligence or abuse, you typically begin by consulting with a Chicago nursing home lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice. Ultimately, every almost every Chicago nursing home lawsuit is a medical negligence claim.

Your attorney will assess the facts of the case, including reviewing medical records, witness statements, and any evidence of negligence or abuse. Once a valid claim is established, your attorney will file a nursing lawsuit on your behalf. This involves drafting a complaint that outlines the legal and factual basis of the claim against the nursing home, which is then filed in the appropriate court.

Where will the lawsuit be filed?  In Chicago, the plaintiffs’ preference is usually the Circuit Court of Cook County but that decision is based on where you are permitted to file and where should file – Cook County is not the best venue for every case.

Your lawyer will also ensure compliance with any specific pre-suit requirements, such as filing a notice of claim or obtaining a certificate of merit from a medical expert, which Illinois law requires for cases alleging medical negligence. Throughout the process, your attorney will handle all aspects of the litigation, including discovery, negotiations for settlement, and in the unlikely event it is necessary, trial. Most strong Chicago nursing home lawsuit end in a settlement.

How to Calculate the Value of a Chicago Nursing Home Settlement

Let’s start out by saying that calculating the settlement amount for an nursing home lawsuit is a complicated task.  Every case is different. There is no one-size-fits-all settlement formula.

But there are factors that drive Chicago nursing home settlement amounts.   It all starts with the severity of the injury, the degree of negligence or misconduct on the part of the nursing home, and the permanence of the injury (usually wrongful death). This is what drives Chicago nursing home settlement compensation.

Pain and suffering is how severity of injury  translates to damages – it is almost always that biggest item of compensation in any Chicago nursing home lawsuit.

The calculation of nursing home settlement amounts also includes medical expenses, both past and future, if ongoing care is needed due to the injuries sustained. Our lawyers rarely see lost wages and the loss of earning capacity claims in nursing home lawsuits but they are to be considered if applicable.

Latest News and Updates in Chicago Nursing Home Lawsuits

May 14, 2024: New Chicago Nursing Home Lawsuit

A new nursing home lawsuit has been filed in Cook County alleging that a resident with Alzheimer’s suffered sexual assault at a nursing home in Caseyville.

The complaint, lodged by the independent administrator of the estate of the resident, targets both the Caseyville Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Inc. and SW Financial Services Co. for failing to meet staffing and care standards. The resident, who relied on the nursing home staff for daily living assistance, reportedly experienced multiple falls and displayed injuries consistent with physical and sexual abuse.

Medical examinations at a hospital confirmed bruising and injuries with unknown origins. The lawsuit criticizes the facility for inadequate staffing and for not adhering to federal staffing guidelines, as well as for failing to properly report and address incidents of abuse.

February 18 2024: Good Nursing Home Wrongful Death Arbitration Opinion

An Illinois appellate court reversed and remanded a lower court’s order that had compelled arbitration in a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit brought by the estate of a former resident against a nursing home.

The key issue was whether the wrongful death is subject to an arbitration agreement that the decedent had previously signed. The court rule that the Illinois Supreme Court tells us that wrongful death claims are not subject to arbitration agreements signed by the deceased. This stands even if the arbitration agreement attempted to bind the decedent’s heirs and the executor of their estate.

So the appellate court found that the wrongful death claim was not subject to arbitration because the decedent had signed an arbitration agreement, and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act nullified that agreement.

November 8, 2024: Favorable Nursing Home Venue Decision

Cook County is a more favorable jurisdiction for Chicago nursing home lawsuits than some neighboring counties, a fact that likely influenced the plaintiff’s decision to file their nursing home wrongful death claim in Gregory v. Forest City Rehab and Nursing Center, LLC.

In Gregory, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the Cook County Circuit Court’s decision to deny the defendants’ forum non conveniens motion to transfer the case to Winnebago County. The defendants had argued for a transfer based on the location of the alleged negligent acts and the convenience of witnesses.

The appellate court upheld the lower court’s ruling, emphasizing that Cook County’s connection to the management activities alleged in the lawsuit was substantial. The court also noted that the defendants did not sufficiently demonstrate that the balance of private and public interest factors favored a transfer.

Hire a Chicago Nursing Home Lawyer

Have you or a loved one suffered as a result of nursing home negligence?  Call 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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