Cases Involving Bedsores

Bedsores are unfortunately a common problem, and litigation in this field is occurring more frequently. Residents of nursing homes confined to chairs or beds are at a high risk of developing these sores especially if they are unable to turn and move on their own. It is the responsibility of the staff at the nursing home to move the patients regularly – once every two hours – to help reduce the risk of getting bedsores. In cases where the bedsores develop and cause harm or death, residents or their family members can file lawsuits against the facilities. Nursing home abuse attorneys are very helpful in this matter.

The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Bedsore Litigation

Families and residents can file different types of lawsuits against the facilities. If they are filing for abuse, the case would be criminal. If they are filing for medical malpractice, then the case would be civil. There are a number of other differences and it is therefor important to talk with an attorney concerning the best way to proceed before filing a suit.

The Process

Naturally, cases will progress differently based on the state in which the they takes place. The type of lawsuit will affect the way that it progresses as well. The process begins when an attorney files a letter that shows the intent to sue. This letter will go to the defendant and will make clear the plan to sue. The plaintiff’s attorney will gather medical records regarding the bedsore from the nursing home for an expert to review. The plaintiff’s attorney will then file a complaint and give the defendant time to respond. The discovery and deposition will follow to gather more information from witnesses.

Burden of Proof for Plaintiff and Defendant

The burden of proof can fall to the plaintiff or the defendant in these types of cases. This simply means that the party with the burden of proof will need to provide the evidence for the case. For example, the plaintiff may need to show evidence that the nursing home facility was negligent or abusive, and that they were the reason for the bedsore injuries. Some issues that the plaintiff may need to prove were the fault of the facility include:

  • Not providing the patient with proper nutrition and hydration to prevent the formation of the bedsores
  • Not turning the patient regularly to reduce the risk of bedsores
  • Not monitoring the patient and not examining for the formation of bedsores before they actually develop
  • Not talking with the family and the doctors about getting treatment at the first stages of bedsore development
  • Not providing a clean environment for the patient, such as allowing the patient to be in wet sheets or soiled diapers for extended periods of time

In some cases, the burden of proof falls to the defendant. In these cases, the facility will need to prove that their staff was not the reason for the bedsores. They can do this in two different ways. The facility will have to prove that the bedsore was on the patient before he or she was admitted to the facility, or show that the formation of the bedsore was clinically unavoidable even though the facility provided the correct treatment.

Statistics

Right after wrongful death litigation, cases involving bedsores are the most prevalent type of nursing home abuse cases. The American Medical Directors Association states that the average award for these types of cases is $406,000. The average will vary by state. In addition, the circumstances of the case will often play a large part in the award amount.