To recover damages in a nursing home abuse lawsuit, it is necessary for the plaintiff to establish that abuse occurred and that the patient suffered either physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result. This requires the collection and presentation of evidence including medical records, eyewitness statements, and financial records. Plaintiffs in Illinois can pursue compensation for actual damages sustained as well as punitive damages.
Establishing Specific Damages
Proof of many physical damages including bed sores and pressure ulcers, bruises, cuts, and broken bones can be established by photographic evidence as well as a review of medical records. These records reflect the physical wounds inflicted by neglect and violence as well as the medical procedures required and applied to restore the patient’s health.
Abused nursing home residents can also pursue compensation for the documented suffering that accompanies their injuries. In addition to physical discomfort and the impact the injuries have on the person’s quality of life, it is not uncommon for patients who suffer physical abuse to experience permanent disfigurement, loss of sensation, or loss of range of motion/mobility as a result of the abuse. One way of establishing these damages is through comparisons of medical records from before and after the abuse occurred.
Establishing Invisible Damages
Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, or financial, it is likely to have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life and life expectancy. Abuse in any form can negatively impact the patient’s mental health which can result in depression and loss of enjoyment. In turn, these can result in a shortened life expectancy. Counseling records, eyewitness testimony, journal entries, and other evidence can be presented to establish these invisible injuries.
Pursuing Punitive Damages
Illinois statutes allow plaintiffs and their nursing home abuse lawyer to pursue punitive damages in nursing home abuse cases when it is established that the deliberate actions of a caregiver or facility breached the duty of care owed to the patient and that this breach caused the patient harm. This includes instances of negligent medical care, physical abuse, mental abuse, and financial abuse. Punitive damages may be awarded to prevent a recurrence of abuse and to alter the future behavior of a caregiver or the operation of a nursing home facility.