On this page we will look at lawsuits against Maryland nursing homes for abuse, neglect and malpractice. 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.
Plaintiffs in Maryland nursing home lawsuits have a very high success rate, and most nursing home facilities prefer to settle cases before they go to trial. This page will also look at the average settlement value of nursing home lawsuits in Maryland.
When Can You Sue a Nursing Home in Maryland
Nursing homes and other elder care facilities can be sued just like any hospital, doctor or other service provider. In fact, lawsuits against nursing homes are very common and frequently settled out of court.
Nursing homes are not strictly liable for every accident or injury to one of their patients. Even with the best possible care and attention elderly patients will sometimes get sick or injured. Unfortunately, however, very few elderly patients ever receive the best possible care and attention at most Maryland nursing homes. Elderly patients in nursing homes are frequently neglected and sometimes intentionally abused. Even in the absence of blatant abuse or neglect nursing homes can also be liable injuries or death resulting from medical malpractice or from poorly maintained facilities. When nursing homes get sued the claims typically asserted fall into one of the following categories: abuse; neglect; medical malpractice; and property liability.
To have a viable lawsuit against a Maryland 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 statistics on nursing homes in Maryland and across the country.
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).
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence
Nursing home neglect and abuse can come in different forms. They are not exclusive to each other and tend to overlap. Some of the most common types of abuse and patient neglect that we most frequently see in nursing home lawsuits are outlined below.
Nursing home abuse refers to some type of intentional, wrongful act or actions committed against a patient resulting in physical or mental injury. Nursing home residents are usually defenseless which makes them vulnerable to various types of intentional abuse. Abusive conduct is usually committed by nursing home staff members but in some cases the abuser can be another patient. There are 3 basic types of abuse:
- Physical Abuse: acts of physical abuse come in a wide range of severity. Punching or assaulting a patient is clear cut and indefensible abuse. Using excessive force on a difficult patient can also cross the line and be considered abusive. For example, if staff members don’t have patience for a difficult patient and tie them to the bed or sedate them every day this can absolutely be consider abusive treatment.
- Mental Abuse: mental abuse of nursing home patients can also come in a variety of forms and levels. Verbally berating, bullying or threating a patient are common examples. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to sue a nursing home for mental abuse alone. You probably won’t be able to sue unless the mental abuse is accompanied by some level of physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse: sexual abuse of nursing home patients does happen. It can sometimes be hard discover but if you can prove it you will have a very strong claim against the nursing home.
You don’t necessarily need to “catch” or identify the abusive staff member in order to sue the nursing home for abuse. Catching the bad guy in the act is obviously great and makes for a slam dunk abuse claim against the nursing home. But the truth is you don’t really need to name a bad guy or even a suspect in order to hold the nursing home liable for abuse. For example, if mom or dad has a new black eye or bruise every time you go to visit them and the nursing home cannot offer a valid explanation you have enough evidence to sue the nursing home for abuse. You don’t need to figure out exactly who has been doing the punching.
Nursing homes have an obligation to actively monitor and care for their elderly patients. A nursing home can be liable if it fails to take proper care of a patient and they are injured as a result. The question in claims of neglect is exactly what level of care was required. This may vary depending on the type of nursing home involved. Malnutrition is a common type of nursing home neglect claim. All nursing homes have an obligation to ensure that their patients are eating and drinking enough to stay healthy. With some patients this may require more than simply putting a tray of food in front of the patient. Nursing homes also have a minimum obligation to prevent physical injury to their patients so falls and bedsores are also common grounds for neglect claims.
Nursing homes provide patients with both living assistance and medical care and treatment. If a patient is injured during the rendering of medical care the nursing home can be liable for medical malpractice. Malpractice claims are somewhat different from claims based on ordinary negligence or neglect. In a malpractice claim the question is whether the medical treatment provided by the nursing home or its employees was consistent with the accepted medical standard of care.
Nursing homes can also be sued for premises liability. Premises or property liability refers to the liability of a property owner to maintain its facility in a safe condition. Slip and falls cases are the most familiar type of property liability claims. Nursing homes can be accountable for more than just a slippery floor. Elderly patients in nursing homes have special needs so the scope of premises liability for a nursing home is somewhat broader. Inadequate maintenance or poor design at a nursing home facility can be more likely to cause injury compared to a similar condition at another location. For example, suppose the carpet in the hallway at a nursing home has a pulled seam. In an office building, this might not create much of a hazard. Most people in an office building are not going to trip and fall over a pulled seam and if they do they probably won’t be seriously injured. For elderly patients at a nursing home, however, the same pulled seam could be very dangerous. Nursing home residents using walkers or canes are far more likely to trip and seriously injure themselves.
Nursing Home Bed Sore Lawsuits
Neglect may result in the development of bed sores (also called pressure sores) in residents. This is one of the most common consequences of staff neglect. They may result in a severe infection or even death.
The inability of a patient to move around is the most common reason why bed sores are not uncommon in nursing homes. Bed sores are ulcers that are caused by pressure put on someone’s skin due to immobility and malnutrition. They may result in specific areas of the skin that feel numb or painful.
Bedsore severity is rated on a scale ranging from 1 to 4. Grade 1 bedsores are prevalent and consist of skin turning red. They are also known as a decubitus ulcer, which can resolve fairly quickly. A grade 2 decubitus ulcer consists of compromised skin. Grade 3 bed sores consist of further compromise of skin that is more noticeable and requires serious medical attention. Grade 4 bed sores consist of an infected ulcer, which further necessitates medical attention.
Treatment of bed sores consists of surgical removal or tissue or wound care. Moving someone in bed or getting them out and moving also helps a bed sore from developing. Ensuring that a nursing home resident is well-fed is important. However, the best way to avoid bed sores is to ensure that a nursing home has enough staff that provide the best quality care possible.
Settlement Value of Maryland Nursing Home Lawsuits
Compared to other types of civil lawsuits, such as medical malpractice, lawsuits against nursing homes have a relatively high success rate. Many claims against nursing homes are quickly settled before a lawsuit is even filed. For those that do go to trial plaintiffs win over 60% of the time and damages exceed $1 million in a ¼ of the victories. The median amount of damages awarded by juries in nursing home cases is around $350,000.
The calculation of settlement amounts in Maryland nursing home lawsuits is a complex process that considers several factors. While there isn’t a standard formula, here are the key elements typically taken into account:
- Negligence and Liability: Calculating a settlement amount of a Maryland nursing home lawsuit begins here. The degree of negligence and liability of the nursing home plays a significant role. Higher degrees of negligence can lead to larger settlements. If you cannot prove your case, you might be one of the rare few that go to trial in a nursing home case.
- How Long You Can Wait: More than any other type of lawsuit, nursing home suits are a game of chicken. Nursing homes talk tough. But they fear trial. So the closer you get to a trial date in a Maryland nursing home lawsuit, the higher the settlement offer.
- Severity of the Injury or Abuse: This is a crucial factor that is synonymous with the pain and suffering element we discuss below. More severe injuries or cases of abuse often result in higher settlement amounts. This includes physical injuries, emotional trauma, and any other form of harm suffered by the resident.
- Medical Expenses: All medical costs incurred because of the injury or abuse are considered. This includes past, current, and future medical expenses if the victim survives the malpractice.
- Pain and Suffering: This is a non-economic damage and is often subjective. It accounts for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced by the victim. The calculation for pain and suffering varies and is often multiplied by the total medical expenses based on the severity of the suffering. More than 90% of lawsuits our nursing lawyers bring are wrongful death lawsuits. The damages for a death almost always exceed the cap on damages.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, where the conduct of the nursing home is found to be particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages may be awarded. But this is a double-edged sword. If the conduct is intentional, it might be excluded under any insurance policy. So nursing home lawyers in Maryland plead punitive damages very carefully.
Contact Us About Suing a Nursing Home
If you or someone you know has been the victim of nursing home abuse, neglect or malpractice contact our experienced nursing home neglect lawyers at 800-553-8082 or contact us online free online consultation. We can tell you whether you have a possible lawsuit against a nursing home and how much it might be worth.