Breaking Down a Nursing Home Negligence Case
Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Since nursing home employees take care of physically frail people, the duty of care is very high. Usually, owners have a duty of reasonable care. Like the Good Samaritan went out of his way to help an injured traveler, they must go out of their way to avoid injuring residents, intentionally or unintentionally. If owners breach their duty of care, and that breach causes injury, an attorney can obtain compensation in court.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Sometimes, a Columbia personal injury attorney can obtain additional punitive damages as well. These damages, which deter future misconduct, are available if an attorney proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that the nursing home owner intentionally disregarded a known risk.
What Causes Nursing Home Negligence?
Money is a root of many kinds of evil, and money is usually the root of nursing home negligence in South Carolina.
To accommodate more residents, and attract more residents, large construction and renovation projects are standard features of most nursing homes. These projects create significant hazards for older residents.
Many residents cannot see well. So, they don’t spot construction hazards or see warning signs, like “Keep Out.” Furthermore, many nursing home residents have gait disorders. Instead of lifting their feet as they walk, they shuffle their feet. As a result, if they lose their balance, they generally fall.
At the same time, to improve their profit margins, many nursing homes trim payroll. They cut jobs or hire lower-paying workers when possible. For example, a nursing home administrator might hire a licensed vocational nurse to do a job a registered nurse should do.
These staffing issues often create problems during patient rounds. During low census periods, like holidays and weekends, a skeleton staff might only sporadically look in on residents. Moreover, less-qualified professionals are less able to spot potential serious health issues, like early-stage bedsores.
Pressure ulcers and falls are two of the most serious nursing home negligence injuries. Others include resident-on-resident assaults and malnutrition. The duty of care requires nursing home owners to create safe and healthy environments.
Resolving a Claim
Usually, a Columbia personal injury lawyer settles nursing home negligence and other injury claims out of court. These resolutions significantly benefit victims, mostly because settlements are final. A nursing home could tie a trial verdict up in appeals for years. But nursing homes immediately write checks after they sign settlement papers.
Liability (responsibility) issues often prevent fast settlements. We mentioned two issues above. The failure to heed a warning sign could be a legal defense, and, since South Carolina is a contributory negligence state, victims who partially cause their own injuries are entitled to less compensation.
Furthermore, the best evidence is often unavailable early in the process. So, a fast settlement usually means less than maximum compensation.
Therefore, most nursing home negligence claims settle late in the process, during mediation. A third-party mediator meets with both sides and brings them together on a compromise settlement agreement.
During mediation, both parties must negotiate in good faith. “Take it or leave it” is not a good faith offer. Largely because of this responsibility, nursing home negligence mediation is about 90 percent successful.
Connect With a Diligent Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.