What is a Bedsore Claim?

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If a loved one is staying in a hospital, nursing home or other care facility and sustains pressure sores, ulcers, or “bedsores”, it is a red flag for neglect.

In such cases, you may be entitled to damages. To win compensation from a bedsore claim, you will need to prove fault, i.e., that neglect from the nursing home caused the bedsores.

This can be challenging and insurance companies may try every trick in the book to avoid fully compensating victims.

However, with the right legal guidance, such as the team from Sinel & Olesen PLLC, you can claim what you deserve. Many healthcare facilities settle out of court to avoid considerable court costs and, sometimes, higher settlements.

Here’s what you can expect from a bedsore claim…

The duty of care in nursing facilities

When you entrust your loved one to a healthcare facility, that facility is bound by a duty of care to your loved one.

On top of the right to be treated with courtesy and enjoy continued civil and legal rights, they must receive appropriate care.

Minimum standards are set by the state and federal governments for the care of your loved one.

For instance, in New York, the nursing home must post a Residents’ Bill of Rights and residents have the right to:

  • Dignity, respect and a comfortable living environment
  • Quality of care and treatment without discrimination
  • Be free from abuse including verbal, sexual, mental and physical abuse
  • Be free from restraints

There are many other rights afforded residents but “quality of care” is one of the most fundamental.

What causes bedsores?

Bedsores are “pressure ulcers” caused by persistent and unrelenting pressure on the skin.

Most commonly, this is due to a lack of movement when an incapacitated patient is confined to a bed or even a wheelchair for an extended period of time.

Nursing duties should normally include turning an incapacitated patient, as well as ensuring proper bathing and hygiene is followed.

For at-risk patients, special pillows, cushions, and air mattresses should be in place to reduce pressure on the skin and creams and ointments available to help prevent sores developing.

Failure to take measures to prevent bedsores can cause small injuries to the skin, resulting from restricted blood flow. These occur most commonly on the heels, buttocks, back, and head. 

Bedsores appear as shallow wounds at first and these are sometimes called “stage one sores”.

Stage three or four bedsores are a “never event” according to the federal government, meaning that they should never occur in healthcare facilities.

However, if stage one or two stores go unnoticed and are left untreated (and the patient continues to remain motionless), bedsores can quickly progress to deeper and more painful wounds. 

These wounds can become infected, especially in unsanitary conditions, and this may lead to other serious complications.

Can you file a bedsore claim if a loved one has bedsores?

Bedsores can lead to considerable damages, both physical and psychological. In the most serious cases, they require surgery or can even result in sepsis and death.

You may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Past medical bills for treating the bedsores
  • Past medical bills for treating conditions that resulted from the bedsores
  • Future medical bills 
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Physical pain and suffering 
  • Mental pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Wrongful death

To file a lawsuit, you will need to show that these damages were caused by the neglect of the nursing home.

As you have seen, there is a duty of care that healthcare facilities must abide by. Staff shortages, long working hours, inadequate training procedures, or other reasons for the neglect do not absolve the nursing home of responsibility for the injuries caused to your loved one. 

You do not need to prove intent to file a bedsore claim.

How to file a bedsore claim

Firstly, filing a bedsore claim is likely to involve legal representation. 

Remember, you need to prove fault to have a valid claim. An additional complication in bedsore cases is that most victims already suffer health problems, so it is important for a professional to establish the injuries related specifically to the bedsores.

Law firms exist that deal almost exclusively with bedsore cases. They are experienced at getting the compensation that victims deserve.

Your lawyer will handle the (at times) lengthy process of negotiating with the insurance companies and can often reach a satisfactory out-of-court settlement.

Most commonly, your bedsore claim will progress through the following steps:

  • Discovery and investigation: your lawyer will gather details about the circumstances surrounding the bedsores, gather photos, interview witnesses, collect medical reports, and approach medical experts to evaluate the injuries.
  • Assess present and future damages: your lawyer will assess medical expenses, recovery programs, etc., as well as psychological pain and suffering.
  • Full scope of costs: your lawyer will determine a fair value for a settlement based on all past and potential expenses (note that where a nursing home is found to be reckless, punitive damages may be due on top of other damages).
  • Liaising with the insurance company: your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. 
  • Litigation: if no settlement can be reached with the insurance company and you have a strong case, a bedsore lawyer should recommend litigation.

If you feel you may have a strong case for a bedsore claim, contact a law firm that specializes in such claims.

June 15, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized