The average settlement for nursing home neglect or abuse in the United States is approximately $400,000 when the case settles out of court. If the case proceeds to a court trial, the payout can be $1 million or more when the plaintiff wins the nursing home abuse lawsuit.
What is the Average Settlement for Nursing Home Neglect, Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
When nursing home neglect or abuse occurs, injury victims are entitled to file nursing home abuse lawsuits with lawyers who can settle the case out of court or proceed to court with a jury trial. According to legal statistics, when injury victims of nursing home abuse proceed to court they have a high rate of success with higher payouts than most settlement awards. Depending on the nature and severity of injuries, victims who file nursing home abuse lawsuits in court have a 90% chance of winning their cases with high payouts of $1 million or more. However, most nursing home lawsuits are settled out of court.
Although court trials usually lead to higher payouts for injury victims, many nursing home abuse cases are resolved through settlement agreements between insurance companies and nursing home abuse lawyers to avoid costly legal fees and lengthy court trials.
Damages Available in a Nursing Home Negligence Case
Typically, settlement awards cover the costs for the injury victim’s emergency hospital services, medical expenses, required medical devices, prescription medications, ongoing care expenses, pain and suffering, and relocation expenses if the patient relocates to a different nursing home facility. When physical and emotional abuse and neglect occur in a nursing home, elderly patients suffer a variety of negative health conditions that often lead to immobility and premature death from certain types of trauma.
In nursing home abuse cases, courts also typically award compensation for punitive damages based on negligent, reckless, or egregious behaviors of the perpetrator.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
National health studies show that 1 out of 6 patients in nursing homes and long-term care facilities suffer some type of abuse or neglect by their nurses, caregivers, and aides. Common egregious behaviors seen by Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys include:
- Withholding food and/or water
- Ignoring necessary trips to the toilet
- Ignoring unsanitary living conditions
- Over-medicating patients to avoid job duties
- Use of physical restraints that cause immobility
- Stealing money and personal belongings
In many cases, nursing home neglect and abuse also involve physical attacks, sexual assaults, and emotional abuse that causes trauma. These cases are especially prevalent among bedridden and immobilized patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Patients with cognitive dysfunction and mobility problems are often targeted because perpetrators know they are easier victims and less likely to complain or report anything to nursing home authorities. Intentional harm perpetrated on such patients is considered particularly cruel and egregious behavior by the court. As punishment to the perpetrator, the court often imposes harsh legal penalties and awards large payouts to injury victims.
How Safe are Nursing Homes in Chicago?
In Illinois, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are regularly monitored by state inspectors who watch for problems with patient care, safety violations, and facility management. To address problems that arise, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), developed the “Special Focus Facility Program” (SFF) to identify Illinois nursing homes that are failing to meet health and safety standards.
Every quarter, Illinois nursing home facilities are inspected and evaluated for health and safety violations that pose harm or injury risks to patients. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) publishes quarterly lists of state facilities that are cited for violations under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Such violations include any actions of physical abuse, verbal abuse, and physical or emotional neglect. It is not uncommon to see Illinois nursing home facilities that remain on IDPH safety violation lists for multiple quarters each year.
In 2021, CMS and SSF identified and cited at least 10 Chicago skilled nursing home facilities for violating health and safety standards that could result in patient harm and/or injury. The 5 nursing homes with with the worst ratings included:
- Southpoint Nursing & Rehab Center – Chicago
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5. CMS Cycle Scores: Ranked #61 out of 61 facilities within a 10- mile radius and #241 out of 247 facilities within a 25-mile radius.
2. Austin Oasis, THE – Chicago
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5. CMS Cycle Scores: Ranked #107 out of 108 facilities within a 10- mile radius and #268 out of 273 facilities within a 25-mile radius.
3. Arista Healthcare – Naperville
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5. CMS Cycle Scores: Ranked #40 out of 41 facilities within a 10-mile radius and #228 out of 232 facilities within a 25-mile radius.
4. Aperion Care – Chicago Heights
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5. CMS Cycle Scores: ranked #28 out of 29 facilities within a 10- mile radius and #137 out of 138 facilities within a 25-mile radius.
5. West Suburban Nursing & Rehab Center – Bloomingdale
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5. CMS Cycle Scores: Ranked #47 out of 47 facilities within a 10-mile radius and #274 out of 275 facilities within a 25-mile radius.
According to health and safety reports by IDHP, Metro-East nursing homes are some of the worst in Illinois. Safety violations show that Metro-East nursing homes are among the most dangerous facilities in the state for elderly residents, especially those with serious health conditions. Reports show high rates of resident assaults, abuse and neglect, illnesses, and infections. While numerous safety violations and citations have been issued by IDPH, Metro-East nursing homes still continue to operate.
Between 2015-2017, six residents in Metro-East nursing homes died due to improper care, and two more residents ended up in permanent comas because of medical errors committed by nursing home staff members and caregivers. CMS reports show established patterns of neglect and abuse Metro-East facilities that have not been corrected.
In Belleville, 5 nursing home facilities have received at least 260 federal violations, an average of 17.3 violations per 3-month inspection. This equates to more than double the average number of Illinois nursing home violations. In many cases, failure to administer medication at scheduled intervals was cited as a serious safety violation.
CMS categorizes safety violations by severity. While “A Violations” are considered minor with minimal safety risks to residents, “L Violations” are considered serious with immediate health and safety threats to large numbers of residents. Since 2014, 28 “L Violations” have been issued in Illinois, and 8 of those were issued to Metro-East facilities.
Are Residents at Risk for Community-Acquired Illnesses and Diseases?
Community-acquired pneumonia is commonly found in nursing homes and long-term care facilities where most residents are over 65 years of age. Due to advanced age, weakened immune systems, and existing health problems, nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to community-acquired illnesses. When residents have existing heart conditions and chronic lung problems, community-acquired illnesses and diseases can quickly cause life-threatening conditions.
The most common community-acquired illness is nursing homes is pneumonia, an infection that causes air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid and inflammation. When this occurs, it can lead to a variety of dangerous symptoms including:
- Persistent cough with phlegm
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- High fever with shaking chills and sweating
- Low body temperatures
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Mental confusion
In nursing home facilities, community-acquired pneumonia is easily transmitted between residents through different bacteria, viruses, and fungi that spread very quickly.
In the United States, Streptococcus is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. It often occurs following the flu or common cold due to a weakened immune system. It’s serious because it can affect one or both lungs. Even in the best nursing homes with clean, sanitary conditions, bacteria can be passed between residents and staff through food, personal activities, and shared items.
Elderly nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to viruses that cause pneumonia, the flu, and common colds. Many cases of viral pneumonia and other virus-related illness can cause life-threatening conditions for elderly and immune-compromised adults.
In 2020, the COVID-19 virus took a significant toll on Illinois nursing homes. During 2020 and early 2021, over 46% of nursing home deaths were directly linked to COVID-19. In Illinois facilities, the lack of proper care and chronic under-staffing created a COVID-19 liability during the height of the pandemic which has been linked to many wrongful death lawsuits filed by Chicago attorneys. In COVID-19 related deaths, it’s often difficult to determine what is the average settlement for nursing home neglect, nursing home abuse lawsuit?
In most cases, fungal pneumonia is seen in people with weakened immune systems and chronic health problems, a large percentage of elderly nursing home residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to fungal pneumonia as a serious “silent epidemic” because symptoms often mimic many other illnesses, but infections can quickly spread throughout the body or to the brain causing meningitis, and even death.
Getting Help for Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Nursing home neglect is caused by substandard resident care, usually by nursing home staff members, nurses, and caregivers. It impacts up to 40% of residents in U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities. While signs of physical abuse are usually apparent, many victims of neglect suffer in silence while their injuries go unnoticed, especially without regular visits from family members and friends.
Nursing home neglect takes many forms including: neglect of basic needs for food and water and safe living conditions; neglect of personal hygiene and personal care; neglect of medical needs like signs of illness or ignored medications; and emotional and social neglect caused by prolonged isolation. Elderly nursing home residents who experience forms of neglect and abuse are much more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and suicidal tendencies.
Watching for signs of neglect, reporting suspected mistreatment, removing the victim from the facility, and filing a lawsuit with a nursing home abuse attorney can prevent physical injuries, emotional trauma, and in some cases, the preventable death of a family member or friend. If nursing home neglect is suspected, family members should report suspicious activities and injuries immediately through the following resources:
The National Center on Elder Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder neglect and abuse. As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NCEA does not investigate complaints but works with various resources that provide help.
Adult Protective Services
Adult Protective Services (APS) has offices in every state. As a social services program provided by state and local governments, APS workers investigate complaints of elder neglect, abuse, and exploitation while working closely with medical professionals and police officers.
Local Law Enforcement
When nursing home neglect presents dangers or causes harm, local law enforcement should be notified right away. They can remove a resident from a facility or a dangerous situation. If laws are broken by the nursing home or staff, police will conduct a criminal investigation.
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman
A local ombudsman serves as an advocate for adults in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. He or she will address concerns of loved ones, investigate facilities for signs of neglect and abuse, and help victims take legal action through a nursing home neglect lawyer.
Nursing home lawsuits can be filed by injury victims or family members of injury victims against nursing home facilities, staff members, nurses and doctors, caregivers, and personal aides who cause harm or injury to a nursing home resident. Taking legal actions through a Chicago nursing home neglect or abuse attorney can provide compensation for the injury victim’s medical bills, physical rehabilitation, mental health counseling, reimbursement of nursing home expenses, and expenses for resident relocation.
An attorney can help with information and answers on what is the average settlement for nursing home neglect, nursing home abuse lawsuit? The attorney can also provide guidance on whether it’s best to file a lawsuit and go to court or negotiate a settlement through insurance providers. While proceeding to court may result in a larger payout, that must be weighed against the timeline that a court trial may entail. Depending on the court’s docet to schedule cases, the judge’s availability, trips to the courthouse, and legal fees, and personal commitments, a settlement may be a better option.
It’s best to discuss all options, timelines, and possible monetary awards with a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney who knows the details of the case, the severity of the victim’s injuries, and the approximate timeline to get results.