Families in Pennsylvania who pay to have their elderly or disabled loved ones looked after in a nursing home or other long-term care facility should at least be entitled to the peace of mind that basic care standards are met.
Staff in nursing homes have a duty of care to residents and if this is not upheld, the results can have serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of residents.
Nursing home negligence in Pennsylvania is, unfortunately, more widespread than most people imagine.
If you are in this difficult position, where negligence has caused injury and losses to your loved one, you may be able to take civil action against the facility and its employees.
Here’s what you need to know about the nursing home negligence laws in Pennsylvania…
When can you file a civil lawsuit for nursing home negligence?
Nursing home negligence can be intentional or accidental – and it may be the fault of an individual employee or the nursing home facility.
Overworked staff or the failure to adequately cover for annual leave resulting in staff shortages are not valid excuses for negligence to occur in a nursing home. The facility can be held liable if it results in injury or losses for residents or patients.
Generally speaking, the following four reasons are the most commonly cited in civil lawsuits against nursing homes in Pennsylvania…
1. Negligence with safety hazards
The potential for slip and fall accidents and injuries in nursing homes is extremely high so extra care must be taken by staff to prevent foreseeable dangers.
This is a reasonable expectation and failure to meet safety standards can have serious consequences, so if your loved one has been injured due to lack of care being taken, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
2. Negligent hiring practices
Because of the high standard of care, safety, and trust expected in nursing homes, it is incumbent upon the facility to hire competent employees who can uphold these standards – and to provide adequate training for them.
If the facility hires staff unable to meet the duty of care standards expected or who end up neglecting or abusing residents, the nursing home itself may be held liable.
3. Negligent medical care
The nursing home may also be held liable for negligent medical care if staff or medical providers fail to provide adequate medical treatment and it results in the injury, illness, or death of a resident.
In such cases, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be brought against the facility if the family has reasonable grounds.
4. Negligent service
If employees in the nursing home are negligent in supervising or providing for the residents entrusted to them, the facility can be held liable.
For instance, safety standards include various cleanliness and sanitation requirements, as well as the use of bed rails, bed alarms, door locks, door alarms, and so on for safety.
If these health and safety requirements are violated due to staff negligence and it results in injury or disease to your loved one, you may have sufficient grounds for a negligence case.
What must be proven to win nursing home negligence cases?
The burden of proof in civil cases is lower than in criminal cases but you still need to present a “watertight” case with ample supporting evidence to convince a jury in a civil lawsuit for nursing home negligence.
Your lawyer will need to prove the following in court:
- The nursing home owed a duty to the resident (usually from the relevant care contract between the parties)
- The duty of care was breached
- The breach of duty caused injury to your loved one
- The injury caused damages (e.g., medical bills)
What is the statute of limitations for nursing home negligence in Pennsylvania?
The statute of limitations is the time limit placed on your ability to file a case in Pennsylvania.
Because evidence degrades over time and memories become less clear, the statute of limitations helps to prevent weak cases from being filed and wasting court time.
In Pennsylvania, if you fail to file a suit for nursing home negligence within two years of the date it occurred, you may have your claim barred and no compensation may be recovered.
This applies equally to personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Is it necessary to file a civil lawsuit?
Sometimes, nursing home facilities are held criminally responsible for negligent activities by the state or federal government. This can lead to penalties such as jail time, fines, license suspension or license revocation, etc.
While these measures may provide a sense of justice, they do not compensate you or your loved one for the losses that you have incurred. A civil lawsuit aims to correct this.
In most cases, it is unlikely that you will receive the compensation you are entitled to without taking some form of legal action against the facility.
What type of compensation is awarded for nursing home negligence?
A claim for negligence against a nursing home in Pennsylvania may include the following forms of compensation:
- The cost of necessary medical treatment (past, present and future)
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment/quality of life
After discussing the relevant events and the extent of your losses with your lawyer, further indications of what you may be able to claim in your specific case can be provided.
If you contact the lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote with a nursing home negligence case, all the information provided will be treated confidentially.
Please reach out to us for a free consultation at 866-311-8640.