For decades the Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti have aided local seniors and their families following nursing home neglect. While there is slowly a growing awareness of the real need to address the rampant nature of nursing home mistreatment (thanks largely to demographic changes), we still have a long way to go before nursing home residents are treated as well as possible in all locations.
Legal accountability following preventable harm is one of the key ways to improve overall care. If poor care is a financial negative for these owners and operators, then they are far more likely to do what it takes to raise standards. It is partially with that idea in mind that the state of Illinois has a law known as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The statute outlines how private community member can hold nursing home accountable for their poor care–it is a critical legal protection for all Illinoisans. Our attorneys frequent protect resident rights based on the provisions in this law.
Recently, two of our attorneys contributed to an article published in the Law Bulletin’s “Law Day” publication discussing the nature of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. You can download the full article in .pdf form by clicking here.
Understanding the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
In the story, attorneys Steve M. Levin and Margaret P. Battersby Black discuss the most recent changes to this law. Their article analyzes the impact that those changes will have on civil litigation related to nursing home abuse and neglect in Illinois.
In particular, the story takes a look at a 2010 modification to the law that alters the definition of “neglect” such that more instances of inadequate care may result in legal liability. Essentially, the change eliminates the need to prove that failure to provide care caused injury by expanding the definition to include instances where injury did not directly result.
In addition, there is a “fee shifting” provision in the new law. This means that, if liability is found, then the defendant nursing home is required to pay for costs and attorneys fees. In general, all costs and fees are borne separately by each party in a lawsuit, regardless of the outcome. By changing the rules in these cases, private attorneys are now able to pursue worthy cases where clearly inadequate care is provided, but compensable injury is minimal or non-existent.
For example, in cases where basic care like bathing, nutrition, etc. is not provided, it may be difficult to show injury that would result in economic harm. Because these cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, without the possibility of clear injury it is usually difficult to pursue these worthy matters. However, by shifting the obligation of attorney’s fees onto defendants, private attorneys will more readily take on meritorious cases of obvious neglect, even if specific harm cannot be proven or has yet to occur. In many ways it is helpful to think of this change as allowing for more preventative liability–savings lives by not requiring severe injury before demanding accountability.
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