At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we understand the toll that nursing home abuse and neglect can take on families. We want to help if you or a loved one is a victim.
Please review the following frequently asked questions in order to get a better understanding of Illinois laws on neglect and abuse in nursing homes.
We also encourage you to contact us and speak directly with a lawyer about the facts and legal issues in your case.
Nursing Home Neglect
You may not be able to know for sure if your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect until after a thorough investigation has been conducted. However, you should be on the lookout for certain signs of neglect. Read more.
Nursing homes have an obligation to provide reasonable quality care. If the nursing home or its staff members fall short of the requirements, a claim can be made for nursing home neglect.
The four most common types of neglect that occur in nursing homes are:
- Failure to provide proper nutrition and hydration – This may be indicated by sudden or unexplained weight loss, dizziness or light-headedness or confusion and disorientation.
- Failure to provide proper medication – This may be indicated by an unexplained worsening of your loved one’s condition, withdrawal symptoms or sudden and unexpected change in personality.
- Lack of hygiene supervision – This may be indicated by the presence of bed sores, infections or general uncleanliness.
- Lack of general supervision – This may be suspected if your loved one has suffered an unexplained fall or become ill from heat stroke or overexposure to cold.
You can read more about this subject at our section on Signs of Nursing Home Neglect.
Also, the Nursing Home Care Act provides information on the rights of patients in nursing homes in Illinois. The law makes it clear that all residents have a right to be free from neglect.
Unfortunately, abuse occurs too often in Illinois nursing homes. Certain signs may indicate that your loved one is a victim.
The most common types of abuse in nursing homes are:
- Physical abuse – You can detect this if your loved one has unexplained bruises and cuts, or if you observe torn, stained or even bloody clothing.
- Emotional abuse – Although your loved one may be suffering internally, you can pick up on external signs of this abuse, such as your loved one’s depression, insomnia or fear around particular caregivers.
- Sexual abuse – If your loved one has suffered a sexually transmitted disease or has bruising on the buttocks, breasts or inner thighs, this may indicate sexual abuse is occurring.
- Financial abuse – If your loved one is missing money or possessions, checks bounce and bills are unpaid, a nursing home staff member may be financially abusing him or her.
Please see our section on Signs of Nursing Home Abuse to learn more about this subject as well as steps you can take to protect your loved one if you suspect nursing home abuse.
Nursing home patients can pursue a claim if they were injured because of neglect or abuse. However, patients may be killed due to nursing home misconduct or may be unable to act on their own behalf.
If a death occurs, close family members, including a surviving spouse or child, may be able to make a wrongful death claim under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. If the patient is alive but unable to pursue his or her own legal claim, then the patient’s representative will pursue legal action. To learn more about neglect and abuse cases involving nursing homes, please visit our page on Wrongful Death in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases.
Different types of evidence may show that you or a loved one suffered injury as the result of nursing home neglect or abuse.
Physical evidence may be obtained by taking photographs of the victim’s injuries or living conditions. In some cases, a therapist may be able to diagnose and testify about mental health problems the victim has suffered due to mistreatment in the nursing home. Witness statements also play a valuable role in establishing one’s case.
In many cases, it is also necessary to subpoena the nursing home’s records in order to gather evidence to prove that neglect or abuse occurred. An attorney who focuses on nursing home abuse cases can assist in obtaining the necessary information.
Remember: You have the burden of proving the neglect or abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. This means showing that more likely than not the neglect or abuse occurred. You will also need to demonstrate that the neglect was the direct cause of harm in order to make a successful claim and obtain compensation.
A claim against a nursing home will be resolved through litigation in court or settlement outside of court. You may be pressured to settle for less than what your case is worth, so understanding your rights is essential.
A case may be settled if the nursing home and/or its insurance company accepts responsibility for neglect and makes an offer to pay a reasonable sum of money.
Settlement agreements are final, so do not sign an agreement unless the full extent of the injuries is known, and an attorney has reviewed the agreement to ensure it sufficiently protects your rights.
If no agreement is reached, or if the nursing home does not accept fault, the case will proceed to court. The court process includes:
- Filing a claim
- The defendant answering the charges of neglect or abuse
- Pre-trial hearings in which the judge rules on relevant motions, such as a motion by the nursing home to dismiss the case or a motion to grant a subpoena to secure necessary information or access to witnesses
- Discovery in which information is exchanged and witnesses interviewed
- Trial in which you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the nursing home is liable for neglect or abuse and resulting injuries
- Appeal if you or the defendant believes errors were made in the original case
- Compensation, if awarded by a jury.
Compensation varies depending on the extent of the injuries and whether you settle or go to court. However, you should seek recovery for both economic and non-economic losses.
Compensation for economic losses typically includes payment of medical bills and costs made necessary by the nursing home neglect or abuse. It may be possible to obtain a refund of the cost of the nursing home care as well.
Damages may also be available and include compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If the neglect resulted in the death of a loved one in a nursing home, wrongful death damages such as those for lost companionship and funeral expenses may be awarded.
In cases where the nursing home’s behavior was egregious, a jury may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed not just to provide compensation but to also punish the defendant and deter future wrongdoing.
You can learn more about compensation for nursing home abuse and neglect injuries on our page, How Much is My Case Worth?
Yes, an attorney can play a critical role in securing compensation for your losses in a nursing home abuse and neglect case.
For instance, an attorney with experience handling nursing home neglect cases in the Chicago area can provide access to experts who can evaluate your situation and testify on your behalf. Your attorney can also help obtain necessary evidence, negotiate a favorable settlement or prove your claim in court.
To learn more, please visit Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our attorney fees are based on a percentage of the compensation you recover. If you do not receive compensation in your case, you will not pay legal fees for our representation.
Because having an attorney increases the chance of maximizing compensation, many plaintiffs end up with as much or more in compensation even after paying attorney fees than they would if they had not had a legal professional advocating for them.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard offers free consultations to victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and abuse. Contact us today to speak with a member of our legal team about your case.