This page is on Georgia nursing home lawsuits. Our lawyers aim to explain to you the law governing these claims and the expected settlement amount in Georgia nursing home suits so you can get a better idea of what
If your elderly parent or relative died or was seriously injured due to nursing home negligence or abuse, you can file a lawsuit against the nursing home facility and get financial compensation.
Georgia nursing homes get sued for negligence, abuse, and medical malpractice. Why? There are 3360 nursing homes in Georgia. How many have a Five Star rating? Fourteen. This explains a lot.
Plaintiffs in Georgia nursing home lawsuits have a very high success rate, and most nursing home facilities prefer to settle cases before they go to trial. Victims want to understand the range of settlement amounts in Georgia nursing home lawsuits, and our nursing home lawyers provide some context for this here.
When Can You Sue a Nursing Home in Georgia?
Nursing homes and other elder care facilities (e.g., retirement homes, assisted living facilities, etc.) have a legal duty to provide a certain minimum level of care for their elderly residents. Unfortunately, nursing homes are notorious for their persistent failure to provide quality care to residents. Instead, nursing homes are usually chronically understaffed, and they tend to neglect or completely ignore the basic needs of their residents and provide care that is well below what is legally required.
So when can you sue a nursing home in Georgia? To have a viable lawsuit against a Georgia nursing home, you need to be able to prove two essential elements:
- The nursing home provided negligent care
- The negligent care resulted in serious injury or death to a resident
Establishing the first element is often the easy part in nursing home cases. Negligent care by a nursing home is generally defined as any level of elderly care that falls below what is reasonably expected by elder care facilities under the circumstances. Again, just look at the rankings. Georgia nursing homes are not doing a good job. Mistakes get made and people get badly hurt and die. All of the time.
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).
Various types or categories of nursing home neglect and/or abuse can potentially fall under 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 residents’ physical needs and maintenance (e.g., failing to regularly move patients to avoid bed sores, failing to wash and clean residents, etc.)
- Medical malpractice, often medication errors or misdiagnosis
- Failure to prevent residents with mobility limitations from falling
- Abuse or exploitation
- Failure to provide hydration and nutrition
- Wrongful death
- Failure to alert doctors about medical issues
Georgia Nursing Home Statute of Limitations
Healthcare provided by a nursing home falls under the Georgia medical malpractice statutory scheme. The statute of limitations for nursing home malpractice in Georgia is two years from the date of the injury. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71(a).
There are exceptions to the statute of limitation. They are rarely applied in nursing home cases. Call a Georgia nursing home attorney early in the process, if for no other reason that to get a gauge on what the statute of limitations is in your case and how long a lawyer would need to get your case ready to be filed. Because if you go to a nursing home attorney on the eve of the deadline to file a lawsuit, you will likely get turned away even if you have a good case.
Nursing Home Fall Lawsuits
Many elderly residents at nursing homes have difficulty walking or moving around on their own. Residents with mobility issues are at risk of falling when they try to walk. A simple fall for a fragile elderly person in a nursing home can cause severe injuries and even death.
Falls Are Incredibly Common
These falls are incredibly common in Georgia nursing homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries. In facilities with 100 beds, for example, there can be 100 to 200 falls annually, though many are not reported.
Nursing Home Have to Identify Fall Risks and Take Action
All nursing home facilities are obligated to identify residents at risk of falling. Once a resident is assessed as 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.
Nursing homes obviously can’t prevent every fall from happening, but reasonable fall prevention procedures are part of the basic level of care that nursing homes are obligated to provide. This is precisely why people pay thousands of dollars monthly to have their elderly relatives in a nursing home.
The foundation for many lawsuits is the claim that the nursing home acted negligently, either by failing to create a safe environment, not adequately supervising residents, or not providing proper medical treatment after a fall.
Nursing home fall lawsuits fall into one of two categories. The first category involves situations where the nursing home is 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 a fall risk. Still, the nursing home staff neglects to implement the appropriate fall prevention procedures.
Nursing Home Bed Sore Lawsuits
Bed sores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers (decubitus ulcers), are tissue wounds caused by continuous, prolonged pressure on specific points of skin when someone stays in the same position for a very prolonged time. Bed sores are a major problem at nursing homes when residents are immobile and reliant on staff to move them regularly.
Bed sores can be excruciating and can develop into fatal infections in many cases. Bed sores cause 60,000 deaths yearly in the U.S., with 13% of patients admitted.
Anytime a nursing home resident develops bed sores, it is clear evidence that the nursing home has provided negligent care for that resident. Bed sores can easily be prevented if the nursing home staff regularly moves and repositions the resident. Bed sores only happen when nursing homes are negligent. That is why pressure sores are one of the most frequently litigated injuries in the U.S., giving rise to nearly 20,000 lawsuits each year.
Bedsore cases are maddening. Because too many people die from this very preventable injury.
Arbitration Clause in Georgia Nursing Home Lawsuits
Like many states, arbitration clauses in nursing home litigation lead are a battlefield for Georgia nursing home lawyers. Understanding the implications and challenges of these clauses requires a deep dive into their legal foundation and the ethical concerns surrounding them.
Georgia courts have generally held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts state law regarding the enforceability of arbitration clauses unless there’s a clear legal ground to revoke the agreement, like fraud or undue influence – an unconscionable contract.
The Georgia Supreme Court describes an unconscionable contract as one that no rational person, unless deceived, would enter into and which no upright individual would exploit. It is a contract that goes against moral integrity because one party can and is overpowering the other.
Why Arbitration Hurt Victims?
What is the dispute about? An arbitration award is expected to be lower on average than the payout a jury would give. So, if there is an arbitration clause found to be valid, the expected settlement amount for that nursing home lawsuit would typically be, all things being equal, lower. So we fight this fight for a reason.
There Is Often a Path Around an Arbitration Agreement
Ultimately, arbitration agreements are usually upheld in Georgia nursing home lawsuits. But not always. There are a lot of end-runs around these agreements. Nursing home lawyers must look at every avenue to push back against enforcement. You have to look at who signed the agreement, the specific language of the agreement, and other foundational contract principles.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
Sadly, many elderly nursing home residents are the victims of physical and mental abuse committed by staff at the facility. Federal regulations define abuse at a nursing home facility 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 Georgia Nursing Home Lawsuits
Nursing home lawsuits tend to have relatively high settlement amounts compared to other personal injury cases in Georgia. The primary reason is that nursing homes have an abysmal public image and a reputation for negligent care of elderly residents. This lousy reputation makes nursing homes extremely vulnerable defendants in any type of negligence lawsuit.
When you accuse a nursing home of negligence or abuse, juries tend to assume that all allegations are true. This negative bias is clearly reflected in the national statistics on verdicts in nursing home lawsuits.
Nursing Home Settlement Statistics
Nationally, the median compensation award in nursing home cases is just under $300,000, significantly higher than the median compensation for other tort cases.
The median compensation award in Georgia nursing home cases is $265,000, just slightly below the national average. For those nursing home negligence cases that go to trial, the plaintiffs win 63% of the time. This is more than double the win rate for plaintiffs in regular medical malpractice trials, and it reflects how much juries distrust nursing homes.
Georgia Nursing Home Settlements and Verdicts
Below are summaries of jury verdicts and reported settlements from recent nursing home negligence lawsuits.
- $15,319,500 Verdict (Gwinnett County): A 77-year-old female with a history of various health issues and complications died from a sepsis infection that developed from severe bed sores (pressure ulcers). At the same time, she was a resident at the Life Care Center of Lawrenceville nursing home. Sepsis is a very lethal condition in a nursing home. Her family hired an Atlanta nursing home lawyer who filed a lawsuit that alleged that the nursing home was grossly negligent in failing to move the decedent, which allowed the bed sores to develop, then failing to recognize and treat the bed sores. The verdict included $9.1 million in punitive damages.
- $800,000 Verdict (Fulton County): A 59-year-old nursing home resident developed stage 3 bed sores which developed into a systemic infection and eventually caused her death. The lawsuit alleged the nursing home was negligent in preventing the bed sores from developing by regularly re-positioning the decedent.
- $500,000 Verdict (Cobb County): A 77-year-old female died after allegedly suffering a hip fracture and a subdural hematoma from a fall while a resident at the Wellstar Paulding Nursing Home in Cobb County. She hired a nursing home lawyer who filed a lawsuit in Marietta claiming that the nursing home failed to adequately safeguard the decedent from falling out of her bed and then failed to provide immediate medical care after the fall occurred.
- $225,000 Verdict (Glynn County): Elderly female resident at Fairhaven Assisted Living in Glynn County allegedly suffered severe burn injuries to her legs and inner thighs when staff at the nursing home used water that was too hot while cleaning her. Following the incident, the staff failed to recognize and/or provide treatment for the burns, and they eventually developed into an infection which caused death. The severity of thewhat burns drives burn injury lawsuit. The lower settlement amount her reflect this.
- $9,502,683 Verdict (Walker County): This wrongful death action was brought after a 51-year-old female died while at the defendants’ assisted living facility where she was being treated for cerebral palsy. The plaintiff contended that the defendants failed to properly hire, train and supervise their medical staff, that its nonparty medical staff failed to properly treat the decedent, and failed to provide the proper standard of care.
Hire a Georgia 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.