Nursing home abuse and neglect is an unfortunate reality in many facilities in Kentucky and across the country. Whether it is a result of understaffing, miscommunication, lack of background checks, or simply uncaring employees, some of our most vulnerable relatives may find themselves at risk where they are supposed to be cared for and safe.
Many nursing home abuse cases that go to trial result in large damages being awarded to the victim or his or her estate. One of the more recent cases that has been in the news ended with a jury award of over $90 million in West Virginia. The victim had stayed at the nursing home for just 19 days, and she died 18 days after being moved from the home into hospice. Her family filed a lawsuit that accused the nursing home of neglect, saying she had fallen several times and was dehydrated and malnourished. This case highlighted not only how large jury awards could be, but also the fact that nursing homes were not specifically covered under the state’s medical malpractice cap. Since this judgment was rendered, West Virginia legislators have been working to fix this omission.
However, if you would ask the family of the victim who won this enormous amount, they would not say the money makes up for the loss of their relative. They aren’t glad it happened because now they will have lots of money. It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t bring her back. So why bother filing a lawsuit?
Some families want answers. Oftentimes it is very difficult to find out what happened to a relative at a nursing home. Such is the case for a man in South Carolina whose mother passed away at a nursing home in October, 2012. Before she died she told him she had been attacked by two women, and she was covered in bruises and had a broken hip. Local police were investigating, and the nursing home did an internal investigation, but the victim’s son is still not clear on what happened to his 90-year-old mother. In cases like this, relatives of the victim may file a lawsuit just to get access to the documents that tell what happened. The son in this case also wants to know who was responsible and that they were appropriately punished.