Many victims of nursing home neglect and their families use the legal process to hold those who caused them harm accountable for their conduct. A large part of the motivation which spurs the effort is a belief that no other resident at the facility (or their family) should have to suffer because of inadequate nursing home care. Unfortunately, forcing the wrongdoers to understand the consequences of their actions in monetary terms is one of the few ways that usually gets their attention enough to take the matter seriously. When nursing home administrators realize that losing residents because of preventable nursing home neglect ultimately affects their bottom line, then necessary changes are often made to prevent other residents from suffering.
One form of damage that a victim can seek from a court is targeted specifically at this “punishment” aspect of the legal system. Known as punitive damages, these awards can be given by a jury in order to specifically send a message to the offender-and other nursing homes in the same position-about the real consequences of their actions. In the end, punitive damages are the civil legal system’s supreme deterrent device used in the hope of sparing other residents and their families from future hardship.
Punitive damages are not awarded in all or even most cases. However, they remain one of several tools that plaintiff’s can us to try to ensure proper accountability for particularly damaging conduct on the part of nursing home employees and administrators. For example, the Pennsylvania Record reported last week on the culmination of the damages phase of a nursing home abuse trial that resulted in punitive damages.
The case involved a man who sued on behalf of his father. The former nursing home resident had passed away after receiving inadequate care at a nursing home. The man died as a result of pressure ulcers and other preventable injuries at the nursing home. Earlier this year a jury awarded the victim roughly $2.3 million for his compensatory losses. Then, during a separate phase of the proceedings last week, the jury felt that punitive damages were also necessary to ensure that the corporate supervisors of the negligent facility understood the consequences of their actions. They ultimately returned a verdict for $600,000 in punitive damages.
Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience working on a wide variety of neglect cases. We understand the desire of many families to ensure that their loved ones suffering is not forgotten and instead turned into an important lesson. Our attorneys are well aware of the legal realities in each case to determine if punitive damages should be sought or not. In all cases, however, demands can often be made in settlement agreements that help families force negligent facilities to take some steps to prevent future problems. If you or your family wishes to protect others from abuse that your loved one suffered, please consider giving our office a call to learn how we can help.
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