What damages are recoverable in a nursing home abuse case?

According to a 2014 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are approximately 79,400 residents living in certified nursing facilities in Pennsylvania. Many of these residents are completely dependent upon the nursing staff. And sadly, many of these vulnerable residents face neglect or abuse. Luckily, Pennsylvania law allows abused residents to hold nursing homes and their staff accountable through injury claims. Learn more about what damages are recoverable in a nursing home abuse case here.

If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact Cordisco & Saile LLC. Not only can we help put an end to the abuse, but we can help your loved one recover damages for his/her injuries and pain and suffering. Give us a call today: 215-642-2335.

Types of Recoverable Damages for Nursing Home Abuse

Under Pennsylvania negligence laws, if you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, you are entitled to compensation. If a nursing home failed to follow federal and state safety guidelines for reasonable care, it will be liable for any elder abuse that results.

Victims of elder abuse and their families could recover compensation for the following damages:

Medical Expenses

If the nursing home staff abuses a resident in a way that results in the need for medical treatment, the nursing home will be liable for the cost of that medical treatment. For example, if nursing home staff leaves a resident unattended in a room without a walking aid and that resident falls and breaks a hip, the nursing home could be responsible for the resulting medical costs.

Potential medical expenses that could be covered after an elder abuse claim includes:

  • Over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • Doctor’s office visit bills
  • Hospitalization bills
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Cost of transportation to and from doctor’s office
  • Therapy or counseling

Lost Wages

In other negligence cases, the wronged party often receives compensation for lost wages.

However, most nursing home residents do not work. But, if the resident is young and potentially able to work after leaving temporary nursing home care, s/he can recover lost wages compensation if the abuse or neglect prevents him/her from working.

Noneconomic Damages

Victims of nursing home abuse may also be able to recover noneconomic damages or “quality of life damages.” A court may award these types of damages if the nursing home causes injuries that permanently affect the victim’s quality of life.

If you can prove the nursing home’s abuse affected your loved one’s quality of life, you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.

Punitive Damages

In cases that exceed ordinary negligence, such as when a staff member deliberately or maliciously abuses or neglects a resident, a court may award punitive damages.

To recover punitive damages, you must be able to prove that the defendant (i.e., nursing home, staff member) acted in an intentional or egregious manner.

There have been several Pennsylvania cases where courts have awarded punitive damages after incidences of nursing home abuse.

  • Dubose v. Quinlan (2015): The court awarded $875,000 in punitive damages after the court found there was sufficient evidence of substandard care in the nursing home to the point of reckless indifference.
  • Hall v. Episcopal Long Term Care (2012): The Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that the lower court should have awarded punitive damages after the nursing home acted in a reckless disregard to the rights of others and created an unreasonable risk of physical harm to residents of the nursing home. It reversed and remanded the decision the lower court made of not awarding punitive damages.

How to Recover Elder Abuse Damages

To recover damages after instances of elder abuse, abused elders or their loved ones should follow the steps below.

Speak with an Elder Abuse Attorney: The first thing you should do if you suspect a nursing home or one of its employees is abusing a resident is report the abuse and then speak with an elder abuse attorney in Pennsylvania. These legal professionals are knowledgeable about your state’s rules and regulations regarding the standards in nursing homes and can help you spot abuse. 

Gather Information: Your attorney will tell you what kinds of evidence to specifically look for in your particular case. In general, if you see evidence of abuse, such as bruises, bed sores, or other physical injuries, you should photograph each and every instance of suspected abuse you discover.

Additionally, it is a good idea to have the nursing home resident keep a dated journal of his/her daily life (e.g., have him/her note each time s/he receives a bath, the times s/he receives food/medicine, etc.).

Consult with Medical Experts: The average person cannot decipher everyday medical paperwork belonging to an elderly nursing home resident. But, you and your attorney can consult with a medical expert to determine whether the nursing home is providing the proper care and attention your loved one deserves.

Any experts worth their salt will be able to spot evidence of medical abuse, such as sedating residents without reason or not following regular, necessary treatments. 

File a Claim Against the Nursing Home: Your attorney will handle the heavy lifting, but after you have collected enough evidence to support your claim, your next step should be to file a claim against the nursing home for elder abuse. Taking this action will ensure your loved one’s safety and potentially prevent future cases of abuse for other residents.

For Help Seeking Elder Abuse Damages, Contact Cordisco & Saile LLC

If your loved one suffered elder abuse or neglect in a Pennsylvania nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the attorneys of Cordisco & Saile LLC. We can help you collect evidence and build a case against the negligent nursing home. Call us today at 215-642-2335.