Bedsores are preventable. There is never an excuse for a nursing home resident to suffer from bedsores. Yet it happens daily and all across the United States. In fact, the numbers may shock you.
Bedsore injuries can take months to heal, involve tremendous (and needless) pain and suffering and can result in permanent muscle and nerve damage, bone degeneration and sometimes, death. So what is the value of a Bedsore lawsuit case? In the paragraphs below we try to answer that question.
First, a brief discussion of bedsores.
The CDC says that 1 in 10 nursing home patients will develop a bedsore. Nursing home administrators will tell patients and their families that they are inevitable. That simply isn’t true.
Bedsores are often called pressure ulcers or pressure sores. Medical professionals call them a decubitus ulcer. They occur when a patient lays or sits in one position for too long.
Bedsores can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on skin that covers bony areas. They are also common on the buttocks and thighs.
The number one cause for bedsores? Poor staffing. A facility that doesn’t have enough people or doesn’t train their people properly is likely to not have the time to frequently turn patients and ensure that any areas of redness don’t become ulcerated.
For patients confined to wheelchairs, bedsores frequently occur on the:
- Back of arms and legs where the body rests against the chair
For bedridden patients, skin ulcerations are commonly found on the:
- Sides and back of head
- Lower back
- Heels and ankles
For more information about bedsores, we invite you to visit our cornerstone page on bedsores. (It is one of our most widely visited pages. It also includes information for how to sue a nursing home for bedsores.)
Factors that Affect the Value of a Bedsore Case
There are many factors that affect the value of a bedsore case. One of the primary factors is the severity of the injury.
Bedsores are measured in stages. According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, bedsores have four stages with stage 1 being the least serious and stage four the most serious. These stages are:
- Stage 1 (Early Stage Ulceration) In a stage 1 sore, the skin at the wound site is still intact but red. The area is painful and often warm to the touch.
- Stage 2 In a stage 2 bedsore, there is now an open wound. There may be pus or the sore may resemble a fluid filled blister.
- Stage 3 Stage 3 bedsores are deep wounds. The sore often looks like a crater and dead skin is usually present around the edges of the wound.
- Stage 4 A stage 4 bedsore is so advanced that tendons, muscle and bone is frequently exposed. Even with proper medical care, permanent injury may occur.
Obviously, the worse the bedsore, the more a case becomes worth. While doctors and medical professionals look at pressure ulcers by stage, lawyers see things a bit differently. We attempt to quantify the severity of the bedsore injury by a number of factors including:
- Amount of medical bills to treat the bedsores
- Need for hospitalization or rehabilitation
- Presence or probability of serious infections
- Inconvenience – frequent trips to the hospital for treatment of the wounds
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Delay in discharge of resident from nursing facility or hospital
- Location and size of the bedsore
- Permanency of any injury (muscle, nerve or bone loss / damage, paralysis)
- Age of patient
- Mental status of patient (some states limit pain and suffering damages if patients is incompetent
Another factor is the location where the injury occurred. Some states consider nursing home injuries to be medical malpractice claims and impose caps. Other states have general pain and suffering caps.
Although it shouldn’t matter where you are, some juries are known to be more conservative than others. Although only a small percentage of bedsore lawsuits ever go to trial, recent jury verdicts have an impact on settlement value. For that reason, a bedsore in St. Louis or Philadelphia is probably worth more for settlement purposes that a similar case in rural Maine or North Dakota.
Finally, in recent years many nursing homes are inserting lawsuit waivers into their contracts. Depending on who signed the contract (resident or family member) and whether the person signing was competent, we sometimes see cases where the bedsore and other injury claims must be arbitrated.
In the perfect world, the results would be the same but obviously there is a reason why nursing homes prefer arbitration.
Average bedsore settlements
By now, it’s obvious that there are many factors in determining how much your case may be worth. Every case is unique. (If you have questions, call us. Do not let this guide or anything else you read on the Internet be the definitive source of information on case values.)
We are happy to have one of our qualified bedsore lawyers evaluate your case, provide a likely settlement range and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Knowing that each case is unique, we offer some very general guidelines:
- In cases where the bedsores injuries are minor and the patient recovers quickly, bedsore lawsuit settlements in the range of $150,000 – $300,000 are common.
- If bedsores lead to infection and hospitalization or permanent injury, settlement may be $500,000 or more.
- Stage 4 bedsores with severe pain and suffering and a long recovery (or permanent harm may exceed $1 million.
- In cases where bedsores have become septic and resulted in the patient’s death, the case can be worth millions. This is especially true if the patient was younger and still earning an income.
What Should I Do if My Loved One Has Bedsores?
If you think you or a loved one has been mistreated in a residential care facility or are suffering bedsores there are several steps to take.
First, document everything. Take pictures, keep a journal and document all complaints made to nursing staff or facility management.
Next, give us a call as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure if you have a case, call us. There is never a charge or any obligation for a consultation.
Like you, we have family members that we love. When it comes to family, one can never be too careful. We are happy to evaluate your facts and see if you have a case.
If you have been mistreated or have unexplained bedsores, we can let you know your options and help ensure that no one else suffers.
We Help Bed Sore and Other Neglect Victims & Their Families Stop the Misconduct and Win Financial Damages – Call Right Away for a No-Cost No-Obligation Discussion of Your Legal Rights 833.201.1555 OR EMAIL US