Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict how long a nursing home abuse case might take. However, realistically you can expect it will take at least a year from when you file the claim to get to trial. For example, your nursing home negligence attorney’s investigation can require several months or longer, depending on the case’s complexity.
Nursing home negligence lawsuits usually fall under medical malpractice. Extreme cases of abuse or neglect might be relatively straightforward, and a facility might agree to an out-of-court settlement quickly to deal with it and move on. However, you should not expect this outcome.
The Process of Filing a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Claim
When successful, nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits can help families feel as if justice has been served. Exceptional cases may even help transform the culture of negligence and mistreatment often seen in nursing homes.
Nursing home negligence claims proceed through several phases that determine how long the case might take.
Meeting With an Attorney
Initially, you will want to consult with an attorney in person. During your initial consultation, you can discuss case facts, ask questions, learn how they would address specific issues, and review previous cases similar to yours. In addition, you can share any pieces of evidence you’ve collected.
Then, if you decide to hire this lawyer, you will sign some documents, including medical record authorizations and a contingency agreement.
Over time, your attorney must calculate your claim’s potential worth and all factors contributing to the bottom line, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Maryland does not cap economic damages, such as medical bills; however, the noneconomic damages cap (which increases yearly by $15,000) is $860,000 for medical malpractice cases and $1,075,000 for wrongful death in 2022.
Your attorney will begin their investigation and gather anything they consider vital and case-related. For example, they might request medical records that pre-date nursing home residency to improve their understanding of your loved one’s health status before admission.
Based on the medical records, your lawyers may consult medical experts. Then, if they agree that the nursing home failed to fulfill their duty of care owed to your loved one and that failure resulted in injury, they will prepare a nursing home negligence lawsuit.
This is a part of the process where you can really help your case. You can gather as much potential evidence as you can, such as:
- Photos of your loved one before, during, and after the nursing home’s abuse or neglect occurred
- Nursing home medical records
- Medical records associated with abuse-related injuries
- Journal writing or letters that show concern about the nursing home’s practices
- Any communication with facility staff or management
- Lists of all healthcare providers and medications prescribed for the past five years
- The autopsy report, death certificate, and proof of funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death cases
Remember that anything you can’t obtain yourself, a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can collect later.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process in a legal case involves exchanging information between the parties about the evidence and questioning witnesses. This way, each side knows what will be presented at trial.
Also, most nursing home civil claims include depositions, which you have the right to attend. The nursing home’s legal counsel will likely want to take your deposition—a recorded series of questions and answers. Your attorney will prepare you and be present with you during this procedure.
Settlement or Trial
After you complete discovery, your case will be ready to go to trial. However, some cases settle through negotiations with the facility’s insurance carrier. Others will go to mediation, in which a neutral party helps the sides reach a fair agreement without going to trial.
However, if all else fails, a trial ensues that will probably last for several days. In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the facility negligently cared for your loved one.
After each side presents its case and makes its closing argument, the jury will enter into deliberations and ultimately return with a verdict.
Maryland Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse Cases
As noted, nursing home abuse and neglect cases usually fall under medical malpractice. However, not every nursing home negligence injury a patient sustains warrants a malpractice claim. Your attorney will advise you on how to proceed.
Maryland’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is the earlier of:
- Five years from the day your loved one’s injury occurred
- Three years from the day you discovered your loved one’s injury.
Consult With a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Today
If you or a loved one are the victims of nursing home negligence, please contact Brown & Barron today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll explain how long it might take for your nursing home abuse and neglect case to resolve and how we can help secure the money you need to cover your financial, physical, and personal losses.