Bedsores are one of the most common nursing home injuries – and can be extremely dangerous to the victim’s health. Bedsores – also known as pressure ulcers – are responsible for roughly 60,000 deaths every year. If your loved one has experienced a pressure ulcer at a nursing home, you may be eligible for a bedsore settlement.
The path to seeking compensation involves many moving parts – and each case is a little bit different. In this post, we want to discuss everything you need to know about nursing home bedsore lawsuits and your path to seeking justice.
Types of Bedsore Settlements
When seeking justice for bedsores in a nursing home, there are a couple of ways to attribute the nature of the injury. This relates to nursing home medical malpractice versus negligence.
Medical malpractice is a bit more serious than negligence. This refers to the breach of duty of care by a medical provider or facility. The main difference between malpractice and negligence is intent. In nursing homes, this scenario would involve a doctor or provider knowing they should have done something to prevent the bedsore injury, but failed to do so knowing this may result in harm to the patient.
Now, the harm to the patient may not be intentional. However, the provider knew the risk of harm was present.
Negligence, on the other hand, does not involve intent. Medical negligence is generally characterized by a mistake in treating a patient. The medical provider did not commit the negligent action with the intention or knowledge that it would result in harm.
How Much is a Bedsore Lawsuit Worth?
There are two answers to this question – depending on the nature of the injury and how it occurred.
The Average Bedsore Settlement for Malpractice
Every bedsore settlement for malpractice is a bit different. Moreover, a good portion of these cases never go to trial – and only jury verdicts are public knowledge. However, we’ve seen settlements to be $1 million or more when malpractice is involved, especially if it resulted in wrongful death or disfigurement.
The Average Bedsore Settlement for Negligence
A study published in HealthAffairs.org found that the average bedsore settlement payout for medical negligence is around $605,000 (adjusted for inflation) – depending on the circumstances.
For instance, some minor injuries may only result in a settlement of a few thousand dollars. If the negligence resulted in wrongful death, the settlement can be worth millions. Other factors include the type of negligence, the victim’s age, and overall health.
Who is at The Highest Risk of Bedsores?
Many different factors come into play when assessing the risk of bedsores. In nursing homes, some of the big ones include (but are not limited to):
- Thin, fragile skin in patients
- Problems with mobility that make changing positions difficult
- Skin that is vulnerable to damage due to incontinence
- Loss of sensation – due to conditions like diabetes
- Dehydration and/or malnutrition
- Patients with vascular diseases
Nursing homes should consider these issues with individual patients to prevent bedsores. Not only would this help to keep patients safe, but it would also protect the provider against bedsore lawsuits.
Your Path to Seeking Compensation for a Bedsore Injury
Every nursing home injury is different. The path to seeking bedsore settlements is not always crystal clear. We want to discuss several of the key factors that may play into your bedsore lawsuit.
The Severity of the Bedsore
Bedsores – or pressure ulcers – typically occur on the buttocks, heels, shoulder blades, back of the head, and backs/sides of the knees. These injuries are categorized in four different stages based on severity.
Stage 1 Bedsore
The affected area is red and warm to the touch. The area may appear purple in victims with darker skin. The victim may experience burning or itchy sensations.
Stage 2 Bedsore
The affected area appears more damaged, potentially with an open cut or blister. The area will likely be discolored and the victim may experience significant pain.
Stage 3 Bedsore
The damage below the skin may create a crater-like appearance in the affected area.
Stage 4 Bedsore
A large wound is present in the affected area. Bones, muscles, and tendons may be involved in the injury. Stage 4 bedsores leave the victim vulnerable to infection.
Stage 1 and 2 bedsores don’t usually carry severe consequences or health issues. Seeking a significant bedsore settlement lawsuit may be difficult.
However, stages 3 and 4 are known as “never events”. This means the medical provider or facility should never let them happen. If your loved one has experienced stage 3 or 4 bedsores, you may be eligible for a higher settlement.
Cause of the Bedsore
Finding the cause of the bedsore is the most important piece of the puzzle in a nursing home injury claim. The key is to understand if the cause of the bedsore was action or inaction from the nursing home staff.
There are typically three categories in which the causes of bedsores fall into:
1. Simple mistakes
These are usually non-serious and easy to fix before patients experience stage 3 or 4 bedsores. Examples would be mattress pumps set to the incorrect weight or wrinkled underpads.
2. Gross negligence
Gross negligence and clear neglect typically involve leaving patients for long periods without shifting their position. This can lead to more severe injuries – and potentially a higher bedsore settlement. In some cases, gross negligence can be ruled as malpractice depending on the circumstances.
To echo a previous point in this article, bedsores due to malpractice are the most serious in the eyes of the law. Malpractice may involve providers failing to give patients proper hydration or nutrition. Or, failing to catch bedsores in the early stages may also qualify as malpractice.
Pinpointing the cause of bedsores can be difficult. Family members of victims will likely have a very hard time doing this on their own. Working with a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home injuries will be crucial.
The consequences your loved one suffered will form the basis of the compensation you’ll seek in the bedsore lawsuit. There are two main types of losses incurred in personal injury cases:
1. Economic Losses
Economic losses are the financial losses suffered by the family and victim. In a bedsores case, this would typically include (but is not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Court costs
2. Non-Economic Losses
Non-economic damages are the non-financial and personal damages suffered by the victim and their family. This typically includes (but is not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
Non-economic damages aren’t always easy to put a price tag on. Working with a skilled nursing home injury attorney will walk you through the process and make sure you get the highest compensation.
We discussed pinpointing the cause in a bedsore lawsuit, the next challenge is attributing liability to the at-fault party(s). Like every other personal injury case, the most important factor in attributing liability is evidence. The more evidence you have to support your case, the higher bedsore settlement you stand to earn.
Generally, if you’ve got a mountain of evidence proving liability, the nursing home and insurance company will likely know that going to court is a losing battle for them. As a result, they may offer a higher bedsore settlement to avoid going to trial – which would result in high court costs and a potentially higher jury award.
More importantly, not going to trial would end the lawsuit much quicker.
Gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies is not something most families of victims are equipped to do. You want as much evidence as humanly possible to build your claim. You need an attorney who has the skills and experience to do this efficiently.
Starting a Nursing Home Injury Claim
Bedsore settlements can vary quite a bit from case to case – as many factors come into play. The most important takeaway is that the strength of a bedsore lawsuit is solely dependent on the evidence you have in place. Everything from medical assessments and witness statements to receipts and financial documentation should spare no detail.
To sound like a broken record, hiring a skilled attorney specializing in nursing home injuries will be the determining factor in earning the maximum compensation.
Now, most of these attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means you don’t pay a penny upfront for their services – they collect their fee in the bedsore settlement after the case is won. In other words, EVERYONE can afford a personal injury attorney.
If you have any questions about bedsores and seeking justice, do not hesitate to reach out to Midwest Injury Lawyers at 312-786-5881, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us online.
Even if you do not have a valid personal injury case, we are more than happy to point you in the right direction.