If your elderly loved one suffered bedsores while in a nursing home, the injury is likely to have resulted from nursing home abuse or neglect. Your elderly loved one may have the right to receive compensation for his or her injuries, pain and suffering, and—in some cases—punitive damages. Many factors determine the amount of compensation received in bedsore settlements cases, and your elderly loved one’s specific injuries ultimately determine the compensation he or she may receive.
Development of Bedsores and Nursing Home Abuse
Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, develop in just a few hours for elderly adults with delicate skin when caretakers confine them to beds or wheelchairs. Pressure ulcers among nursing home residents are preventable but affect up to 28% of all nursing home residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Nursing homes have a responsibility both ethically and legally to care for their elderly residents in such a way that bedsores do not develop. If your elderly loved one developed bedsores in a nursing home, they may have occurred due to nursing home neglect or abuse.
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Determining the Extent of the Injury
If you believe your elderly loved one’s bedsores resulted from elder abuse or neglect of the nursing home staff, the extent or severity of the injury suffered will determine the value of your case. Clinicians know that bedsores, or pressure ulcers occur in four stages of severity:
- Stage I: Slight redness, skin sensitivity, slight pain, and little to no skin loss.
- Stage II: Skin loss through all epidermis layers, along with possible infections.
- Stage III: Complete destruction of the skin and necrosis (death) of the tissue below, along with infections.
- Stage IV: Destruction of the skin, necrosis of the underlying tissue, destruction of the muscle tissue, bone damage, nerve damage, possible paralysis, and septic infections.
The greater the extent and severity of your elderly loved one’s injury, the greater the possibility for compensation.
Future Rehabilitation and Disability
Often, the damage from bedsores results in long-term injuries, permanent disabilities, or even death. Some bedsores never fully heal, and elderly residents must deal with the physical consequences for the rest of their lives. Victims of serious bedsores may require months or years of treatment, therapy, transportation, or rehabilitation. In many cases, bedsore settlements include the costs associated with the rehabilitation or disability resulting from bedsores.
Pain and Suffering
Bedsores cause severe pain and suffering for the elderly residents of nursing homes. Courts award compensation related to pain and suffering above and beyond that of actual medical bills; therefore, these amounts appear in settlement offers in many cases.
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Punitive damages refer to compensation intended to punish the at-fault party for their behavior in order to prevent such abuse and neglect from taking place in the future. While punitive damages typically appear in judgments from the court, an egregious case of nursing home abuse and neglect may factor into the settlement offer from the nursing home.
Unfortunately, in cases where bedsores become septic, an elderly resident of a nursing home may pass away. If you lost your family member due to nursing home abuse or neglect, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. While compensation will never bring back your loved one, you have the right to recover monetary losses from medical bills, therapy, rehabilitation, and the pain and suffering of your loved one.
While the above factors assist in the determination of bedsore settlements offers, other factors may also affect the outcome of your case. The following questions assist in the prediction of settlement amounts:
- How old was the nursing home resident?
- If the elderly resident died, were there other factors contributing to his or her death?
- Were there additional injuries stemming from the bedsores? (paralysis, sepsis, death)
- Did family members notice any neglect or abuse?
- How long did your elderly loved one reside at the nursing home? (Bedsores after only a short period of time often point to nursing home abuse or neglect.)
- What stage of bedsores did your loved one experience?
Other factors may apply, and each bedsore case varies.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
Elderly residents of nursing homes should never suffer from bedsores, and any appearance of bedsores often points to nursing home abuse or neglect. If you believe your loved one suffered neglect or abuse in a nursing home that resulted in bedsores, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 201-3999 to help you with your next steps.