Articles Posted in Nursing Homes

Our law firm handles bed sore lawsuits in Maryland. Below are some common questions we get from victims.

What are Bed Sores?

Pressure sores (also known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers) are damage injuries to the skin and tissue below caused by extended compression. Pressure sores typically occur at thin points in the skin where it covers the bony areas of the body such as around the heels, hips, ankles and lower back. Individuals who are bedridden or have limited movement ability are at particular risk of developing pressure sores. This is why bedsores are a common problem for elderly patients in nursing homes.

Most of my blogs posts are directed at Maryland nursing home lawyers and other plaintiffs’ lawyers. This blog post is directed to Maryland victims of nursing home neglect and abuse.  They want to know if they can sue, who they can sue, what is going to happen, and what likely outcome of the case might be.

Can I sue a nursing home?

Yes.  Nursing homes and other elder care facilities can be sued just like any hospital, doctor or other healhcare provider. In fact, lawsuits against nursing homes are very common and frequently settled out of court. I’ll talk to you more about this below.  But for now, if you fear is that you are afraid of going to trial in a nursing home case, that is a statistically very unlikely outcome.  I know of two nursing home trials that have gone to trial in last 7 or 8 years and scores of nursing home cases are filed every year.  More on that later.  But for now, if you stress level in suing a nursing home is going to trial, I think that stress is misplaced.

I’ve been waiting patiently for the first tort opinion of 2018.  I’ve muscled through the attorney grievance opinions and criminal cases for 19 days until I finally got one: Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations LLC. This nursing home fall case is a cautionary tale for lawyers who step outside of their practice areas.

The issue in Davis is the distinction between ordinary negligence claims and professional malpractice claims.  In most cases, you know whether you have a malpractice case or you don’t. You trip and fall on a slippery floor in a hospital; that is not malpractice. The doctor operates on the wrong leg; that is malpractice.  The question is what do you do when it does not feel like malpractice, but you fear a court might see it differently.

The answer is simple.  Just file suit under the Health Claims Act.  It can’t hurt.  But many Maryland lawyers — usually those that have not felt the weight of the nuances and technicalities of the HCA on their shoulders — choose a different path.

We have been handling more and more nursing home cases in the last few years.  How much is a nursing home case worth in Maryland? Well, nursing homes think a strong liability nursing home death case in Maryland is worth between $200,000 and $250,000.

We disagree.  Strongly.  This disagreement is bound to come to a head very soon.

Let me explain.

Calls to our law firm by bed sore victims and their families have increased substantially in recent months.  We have a few more law firms sending all of their nursing ho

me cases to us and our Internet presence has increased the number of calls we get directly from victims.

It is clear that there are a lot of questions about how bed sore cases and the types of cases that get compensation, the type of cases our firm will take, and what really is the deal with bed sore cases.

I’m always interested in the Metro Verdicts Monthly graph on the front of their publication which compares verdicts and settlements for a certain type of personal injury claim in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Sometimes I am surprised by the difference in the results.

nursinghome5This month I am astounded by the difference between Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland in median nursing home liability verdicts and settlements since 1987. The median recoveries in Maryland and Virginia are $125,000 and $175,000, respectively. This means that the median settlement and verdict in Virginia is 40% higher than Maryland. Virginia juries are generally more conservative than Maryland so this result is somewhat surprising. But here is what I find surprising: the average nursing home case settlement or verdict in Washington, D.C. is $700,000.  I realize there is no cap in D.C. But it is still amazing.

Real Value of Maryland Nursing Home Claims

If you are a lawyer with a nursing home bed sore client in Maryland, I want you to refer your case to Miller & Zois (with an attorneys’ fee sharing relationship).  This post is directed to lawyers who Bedsore-300x200do not regularly handle bed sore care to better understand the pros and cons of bed sore nursing home claims in Maryland and what types of claims are the most viable.

Why Bed Sore Cases Are Good Cases

Nursing home cases are medical malpractice cases in Maryland. You have to file in Maryland Health Claims Arbitration and follow the malpractice statute.  But bed sore cases are the exact opposite of medical malpractice cases.  In a malpractice case against a doctor, the presumption the patient or the patient’s family must overcome is that the doctor is competent and did her very best.  You start behind the eight-ball and need to present overwhelming facts to win. It is hard to win jump ball medical malpractice cases even in victim-friendly jurisdictions.

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Our primary focus at Miller & Zois is to further the interest of our clients by maximizing the value of their injury or wrongful death claims.  But it is also an absolute joy when we can be a part of Nursing Home Consent Formchanging Maryland law that helps all injury victims get a fair shake in their claim.  We did this last week when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals gave a victory for our client and justice in Peeler v. FutureCare Northpoint, a wrongful death nursing home case.

Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

At stake in Peeler v. FutureCare Northpoint was the breath of an agreement to arbitrate any claims that arise between a resident and a nursing home. Our client’s mother in Peeler entered a nursing home after she had femoral-femoral bypass graft at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.  She was asked upon arrival to sign an arbitration agreement. Clearly, this was not a moment of great clarity, right?  This is not uncommon.  Most decisions you make when entering a nursing home are made in crisis mode resulting from a precipitous decline in health.  So in the midst of this emotional powder keg, the incoming resident or their family must sign a million documents.  There is no time to plan or weigh options. I’m a lawyer. There is no way I’m reading all of those documents in that situation. I’m certainly not feeling free to negotiate with the nursing home.  I’m in the most unequal bargaining position imaginable. I just want — or I wanted my loved one to get — the needed care to get through the days ahead.

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nursinghome5There is a graph in Metro Verdicts Monthly on nursing home verdicts and settlements in Virginia and Maryland over the last 25 years.

The median nursing home verdict/settlement in Virginia was $287,500. In Maryland, the median verdict was $150,000. Virginia seems about right. I think the Maryland data is wrong. Again, I have no idea how Metro Verdict Monthly compiles this data.

Jury Verdict Research did a study that found that nursing home plaintiffs get a median award of $329,000. Defense lawyers are not eager to try these cases for a reason: plaintiffs win at trial a stunning 63 percent of nursing home jury trials. So, statistically speaking, you are more likely to win at trial a nursing home case than a rear end accident case. Crazy, right? Why more lawyers are not pushing for nursing home cases is beyond me. They are not as lucrative as they once were but they are still good cases that also, not for nothing, really help protect nursing home patients.

There are a lot of nursing home lawsuit in Maryland for a reason. The state of elder care in the United States is incredibly poor. Sending a loved one to a nursing home has become more and more difficult, Lonely old womannot for lack of quantity, but for lack of quality care. The problem is especially big in Maryland, where malpractice, malnutrition, and plain bad care run rampant throughout the elder care system. If the number of lawsuits filed is any indication, some of the lowest quality care facilities are in Prince George’s County (P.G.) and Baltimore City.  You can argue that these are the best jurisdictions for plaintiffs so, of course, all of the cases get filed there.  But you can also read the list of complaints and inspections that the government does.  Trust me, P.G. County and Baltimore City are not great jurisdictions for nursing homes.

  • Samples of Maryland nursing home lawsuits: get a sense of the type of claims that are being filed in Maryland

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