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Important Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Analysis: Questions of Law vs. Questions of Fact

Understanding the importance of the Illinois nursing home case Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc first requires knowing the type of issue involved in the case.

All lawsuits involve two types of questions that a judge or jury is must answer. The first kind is known as a “question of fact” –what actually happened in a certain case? The second is known as a “question of law” –what rules apply to whatever happened in that case?

For example, a nursing home abuse case may have a question of fact like “Did the staff member actually treat the resident’s pressure sore wound in the proper manner?” Medical records, witness testimony, and other evidence would be examined to help answer that question. The same case may have a question of law such as “Can the nursing home company be held responsible for the negligence of the individual staff member?” In essentially all cases, the courts have answered the question in the affirmative.

Juries are only asked to answer the questions of fact. Judges (both at the trial and appellate levels) are the ones who must decide questions of law.

An important distinction is that questions of fact only apply to a single case, whereas questions of law may have implications for many different cases. The scope of the legal holding depends on the level of judge who reached the decision. For example, Illinois has three general levels of courts: circuit courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. The state is divided into 5 different appellate courts, and so the ruling of one of those courts only applies in that part of the state. However, a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court applies in the entire state.

The legal issue in the Vincent case was recently heard by the Supreme Court, which means that whatever rule the court decides upon will apply to every single case that is brought in Illinois in the future. In that way it is critically important for all those who care about the rights of nursing home families to step up and seek a proper ruling on this question of law.

The analysis of this Illinois nursing home lawsuit will continue with a closer look at the specific question of law related to types of damages that the Illinois Supreme Court is considering.

Our Chicago injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well versed in the trial tactics of nursing home lawsuits as well as the legal doctrines involved in the law as it relates to nursing home residents and their families. We are proud to fight both for the victims we represent in court as well as all those who may seek to hold a Illinois negligent nursing home accountable.

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