Michigan Nursing Home Injury Lawyer: How to Get Out of Hospital Medical Bills
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Personal injuries suffered at the hands of nursing home staff are especially tragic. Many elderly patients rely on these workers for basic physical needs like food and bathing, as well as psychological wellbeing due to illnesses like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. When neglect or abuse occurs, it results in serious personal injury, costly medical treatments, and even death.
If you or your family are swamped in medical bills stemming from a personal injury or wrongful death due to negligent care in a Michigan nursing home, you may be eligible to receive compensation by speaking with a personal injury lawyer and filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Widespread Elderly Abuse and Neglect
Elderly abuse and neglect is a widespread problem. Over 2.5 million elderly Americans live in long-term residential care facilities and are at risk of abuse and neglect from staff. Residents who suffer from Dementia and Alzheimer’s and who have severely limited mobility are most at risk due to their dependence on facility employees for their everyday needs.
Many nursing home residents are forced to stay in their rooms and lack adequate social interaction. They are also subjected to forms of abuse such as not being turned in their beds, left to suffocate in their bedding, or even being sexually assaulted by staff and other residents. Patients’ food and water are withheld, and their medication is withheld or given in too high doses. Each of these forms of abuse and neglect causes emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The issue of abuse and neglect in nursing homes caught the attention of lawmakers decades ago, resulting in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act intended to protect nursing home patients at a national level. The Michigan Public Health Code MCL 333.20201; MSA 14.15(20201) is specific to Michigan patients and details further rights, such as entitlement to receive “adequate and appropriate care” while at a nursing home facility.
Types of Elderly Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Despite these laws, abuse and neglect in nursing homes still exists and causes untold pain and suffering to the victim and their family. The most common types of elderly abuse involve physical and psychological abuse and neglect.
- Pressure sores
- Isolation or confinement
- Deprivation of stimulation
- Over or under medicating
- Sexual assault
These types of abuse are horrific. They occur in assisted living facilities when staff becomes aggressive with patients. Hitting, biting, and shaking are types of assault and result in bruising, cuts, and sores. When staff becomes passive-aggressive, patients may go without food or water as punishment, be left in isolation, taunted, and given too much or too little medication.
Nursing home neglect occurs when the staff fails to report abuse, doesn’t assist or rectify the abuse, and when patients are left alone. Many nursing home residents have suffered strangulation and suffocation due to neglect. Lack of care for personal hygiene of the patients results in bedsores that become infected, and patients sustaining injuries when they walk without assistance and fall.
Signs of Abuse
Because nursing home patients are often cognitively impaired, it is difficult for the family to determine if abuse is occurring. However, there are signs to watch out for that signal abuse is happening in the nursing home.
Look for injuries on your loved one. Injuries include bruises, cuts, open wounds, welts, and bedsores. If you notice an injury, ask the staff to explain what occurred. If they cannot explain the injury or it seems as if the injury is not being properly cared for, seek legal counsel.
Keep your eyes open for interactions between patients and staff. If you notice abusive language, roughness, or obvious slapping, pushing, shaking, or beating, there is abuse. If your loved one is able to talk, ask them if they witness or experience these types of behaviors.
Pay attention to non-verbal signs of abuse as well. These include your loved one acting out, becoming withdrawn or silent, or exhibiting unusual behavior. Investigate further and seek legal counsel if it seems likely that abuse or neglect has occurred.
Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death
If your loved one suffered an injury or death due to nursing home negligence, your lawyer might advise you to file a medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice lawsuit arises when you or a loved one suffered under the care of a physician or care facility.
According to Michigan laws, caregivers and care facilities must take adequate care of the patient and not cause injury or death due to negligence or abuse. When nursing homes fail to provide appropriate medical care, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit to receive compensation for the pain and suffering and accrued expenses resulting from the injury or death.
Wrongful death lawsuits can fall under medical malpractice, depending on the circumstances. Wrongful death settlements cannot bring your loved one back, but they can offer you compensation for expenses such as funeral and burial, pre-death medical bills, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Until recently, wrongful death claims did not exist, so the option to file on behalf of your loved one is something to take advantage of if this unfortunate circumstance befalls your family.
To file a wrongful death suit in Michigan, you must have a Personal Representative of the deceased person’s estate. This representative must hire an accident lawyer in Michigan. They must also send all family members who are involved a copy of the complaint. This may include the deceased person’s spouse, parents, children, grandparents, and siblings.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
The defendant’s insurance companies often try to blame the victim, their family or offer an unfair settlement. A knowledgeable attorney can negotiate with these insurance companies or refuse their settlement and get you the compensation you deserve.
Michigan malpractice settlements have recently enacted caps on damages that can be awarded. For non-economic damages or non-calculable damages, the cap is $471,800. However, this number increases to $842,500 if the injury leads to a permanent disability or loss of a reproductive body part.
It is important to note that in Michigan, the statute of limitation for medical malpractice is two years. There are several other time-sensitive benchmarks for medical malpractice cases, so working with an experienced lawyer is critical. If you do not act quickly, you may lose your opportunity for filing a lawsuit and end up with medical bills and other losses without compensation.
Contact Our Legal Team Today
If a member of your family has suffered abuse or neglect while in a nursing home facility, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today. Senior partner Eileen Kroll is a registered nurse with specialized knowledge of nursing home abuse cases. She can also interpret medical records to support your claim.
Let our law firm handle your case and determine how to protect the interests of your loved one best. Contact us at 866-MICH-LAW to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.