The value of each nursing home abuse case is different. Each victim suffers unique economic and non-economic damages, and the details of these damages determine the claim’s value.
A nursing home abuse lawyer will review the victim’s damages and calculate an appropriate settlement target. Calculating these damages may be difficult without a lawyer’s help.
Factors That May Affect the Value of a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Nursing home abuse is damaging in all cases. However, several factors differentiate one abuse case from another, and these differences may affect the value of a fair settlement.
A nursing home abuse claim’s worth may depend on:
The Types of Injuries the Victim Suffers
Abuse can cause many kinds of physical injuries and injuries that are not visible. The types of abuse the victim suffers may affect the cost of their damages and, therefore, the value of a fair settlement.
For example, say that a nursing home abuse victim:
- Suffers a broken hip when an abuser shoves them to the ground
- Remains largely immobile during the recovery period, which may take up to four months (or longer)
- Has to receive medical treatment during the majority of the recovery period
- Requires rehabilitation and other services to recover from their serious injury, if they ever recover
This is an extensive medical undertaking, and an abuse victim may face medical bills throughout treatment and recovery. While every abuse-related injury has a cost, a broken hip may impose a greater financial cost on the victim than a severe cut or another injury.
Whether the Nursing Home Abuse Led to the Victim’s Death
If elder abuse causes or contributes to the victim’s death, this will increase the minimum amount surviving victims should accept from liable parties.
Losing a loved one is the most painful event most people experience. If you have lost a loved one because of nursing home abuse, an attorney will present a settlement target that adequately reflects your tragic loss.
The Cost of Economic Damages Resulting from the Abuse
Every victim of elder abuse has a unique array of economic damages. For example, an abused victim may choose to relocate to a new facility after experiencing abuse, while others may not. Those that move may face various relocation-related expenses.
As another example, researchers have noted a pattern of dental injuries among victims of elder abuse. This may require costly dental work. A nursing home abuse victim without oral injuries may not need dental care, illustrating just one way in which different abuse victims experience different economic damages.
The Psychological and Emotional Toll of the Abuse
Abuse victims suffer psychological and emotional harm.
The nature and extent of this harm may depend on:
- The type of abuse the victim suffered: (some victims endure intentional psychological trauma that may prove long-lasting, while others may not experience such severe psychological or emotional mistreatment)
- The victim’s health profile: Abuse victims with existing mental health issues may be more deeply affected by abuse.
- The victim’s response to treatment: If a victim responds positively to emotional or psychological trauma treatment, their symptoms may largely disappear. If another victim’s symptoms do not go away with treatment, that victim may require more mental health treatment which will not come for free.
An attorney may work with mental health professionals to evaluate the victim’s emotional and psychological abuse symptoms.
How the Victim Responds to Treatment and a New Living Environment?
Suppose a victim of elder abuse responds positively to treatment for their injuries and adapts well to a safe living environment. In that case, their symptoms may lessen in a reasonable period.
However, if an abuse victim continues to suffer symptoms of the abuse even as they receive treatment, they may require a longer recovery period. The longer the victim experiences symptoms, the greater their cost of care and pain and suffering may be.
What Qualifies as Abuse in a Nursing Home?
The forms of elder abuse include:
- Emotional abuse: This may be similar to psychological abuse and generally includes any mistreatment meant to inflict psychological or emotional harm (often fear) upon the victim. Threatening, name-calling, mocking, and intentionally isolating the victim are examples of emotional or psychological abuse.
- Physical abuse: Touching an older person in any way they do not want may be physical abuse. There are exceptions, such as when a caregiver must restrain someone for their own safety. However, intentionally harmful physical acts like slapping, shoving, forcefully grabbing, and punching are physical abuse.
- Financial exploitation: Also known as financial abuse, this occurs when someone takes advantage of an elderly person for financial gain. Manipulation and outright theft are two examples of financial abuse.
- Sexual abuse: Any inappropriate sexual contact with an older person may qualify as sexual abuse.
- Neglect: While we discuss abuse and neglect separately, neglect can cause immense harm to a victim. When caregivers fail to provide essential care providing medications, bathing, feeding, and other basic duties—they commit neglect.
Any overt act or failure to act that causes harm to a nursing home resident may qualify as abuse or neglect. If you have questions about whether your loved one should file a nursing home abuse case, an attorney can review your circumstances and advise you.
Steps to Take After Discovering a Loved One Suffered Abuse in a Nursing Home
Once you discover possible abuse, the victim’s safety is the most important consideration. You may take appropriate measures to ensure their safety, which can include relocating the abuse victim to a new facility.
Then, hire an attorney. A lawyer may have helped other victims of elder abuse and may help you ensure your loved one’s safety. The attorney will then fight for the financial recovery your loved one deserves.
How a Lawyer Will Seek a Fair Financial Recovery for a Nursing Home Abuse Victim?
Personal injury lawyers seek a financial recovery for victims of elder abuse, and their duties generally include:
Securing Evidence of the Abuse
Your loved one’s attorney will work to prove that abuse took place and may prove this with:
- Abusers’ admissions of wrongdoing
- Eyewitness accounts of the mistreatment
- The victim’s account of abuse
- Expert testimony about injuries and other signs of abuse
- Video footage from the nursing home showing abuse taking place
- Any other available evidence
Attorneys like to secure evidence as soon as possible. Evidence may become unavailable with time. For example, a nursing home may intentionally or unintentionally dispose of video footage showing abuse.
An attorney may file a letter of spoliation, which requires those in possession of evidence to preserve the evidence.
Documenting the Victim’s Damages
The victim’s lawyer will document any damages resulting from abuse, perhaps using:
- Medical records specific to abuse-related injuries
- Expert testimony about the victim’s symptoms of abuse
- Bills for abuse-related medical services
- Bills for a moving service and any other relocation-related expenses
Documentation can help a lawyer prove the nature of an abuse victim’s damages. If liable parties claim that the victim exaggerated their damages or suffered no injuries, the documentation may prove otherwise.
Calculating the Claim Value
Personal injury lawyers must calculate the exact cost of their client’s damages, including:
- Economic damages (like medical and moving expenses)
- Non-economic damages (like pain and suffering)
- Damages the victim has already suffered
- Damages the victim may suffer in the future
Attorneys are deliberate when calculating the cost of a client’s damages. The lawyer generally has only one opportunity to secure a financial recovery, and they must ensure that the recovery will cover all of the victim’s abuse-related damages.
Seeking a Fair Settlement
Lawyers lead settlement negotiations for abuse victims.
During negotiations with insurers or civil defense attorneys, the attorney may:
- Present their calculation of the victim’s damages
- Present documentation of the victim’s damages
- Present evidence of abuse
- Make an oral argument demanding a fair settlement
- Negotiate back and forth with liable parties
An attorney should maintain the option of going to trial. This way, they can negotiate from a position of strength. If liable parties refuse to accept a fair settlement, the personal injury lawyer can take the case to court.
Taking the Case to Trial, if Necessary
Most civil cases settle out of court. However, a nursing home abuse lawyer should always maintain the option of going to trial.
If your case results in a trial, your attorney may:
- Complete the discovery process, during which time both sides will exchange information they can use during the trial
- Make opening arguments
- Present and question their own witnesses
- Cross-examine the opponent’s witnesses
- Speak about evidence of abuse
- File motions and objections as necessary
- Make closing arguments
Your lawyer will request that the judge or jury award a fair judgment based on your damages.
Recoverable Damages for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
Elder abuse can cause a wide range of life-changing damages, including:
Pain and Suffering
Nursing home residents who suffer abuse may experience:
- Physical pain
- Emotional anguish
- Psychological distress
- Feelings of isolation and helplessness
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Lost sleep
In severe cases of abuse, victims may even slip into despair and suicidality. Pain and suffering is an inevitable outcome of elder abuse. An attorney can calculate the cost of this pain and suffering.
Abuse victims who suffer physical injuries may require medical treatment, including:
- Emergency treatment
The more severe an elder abuse victim’s injuries are, the more costly their medical care.
If your loved one moves away from the facility in which they suffered abuse, their attorney may seek compensation for:
- A moving truck
- A moving service
- Transportation to the new facility
- Any enrollment fees for the new facility
- Any other expenses associated with moving
Victims of abuse should never have to stay anywhere where they are unsafe. Liable parties who endangered an abuse victim should cover the cost of relocating that victim to safety.
Mental Health Treatment Costs
If an abuse victim requires medication, therapy, counseling, or any other emotional and psychological trauma treatment, an attorney will include the cost of mental health treatment in the lawsuit.
The Cost of a Wrongful Death
Nursing home abuse can directly or indirectly contribute to a victim’s death.
In these cases, surviving loved ones may seek a financial recovery for:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of a parent’s guidance
- Loss of a spouse’s companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Any other damages caused by the wrongful death
There is no damage more significant than losing a loved one. An attorney will lead your wrongful death case compassionately, demanding that liable parties pay for the harm they caused you.
Why Do I Need an Elder Abuse Lawyer?
If you are not a lawyer and decide to lead your own claim, you may:
- Pay out of your pocket for all case-related expenses
- Struggle to build a strong case, as you may be splitting your time between your case and other responsibilities
- Have difficulty negotiating effectively, primarily if you are not used to negotiating settlements
- Fail to get the compensation you are entitled to
- Compromise your health and well-being due to the stress of completing a nursing home abuse claim
When you hire a lawyer, you allow the attorney to shoulder the stress and responsibility of your case. You can focus on your well-being and personal responsibilities without concern about the legal process.
Seek an Attorney to Pursue Justice for Your Loved One’s Mistreatment
Each state places a time limit on when you can file a nursing home abuse claim, ranging from one year to six years across the U.S.
Do not wait to hire an attorney, as missing the filing deadline can prevent you from seeking compensation. Seek a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in New Port Richey as soon as possible to begin protecting your loved one, seeking justice, and hopefully preventing future harm to others at the facility.