When we put our loved ones in the care of a nursing home, we expect that the medical professionals working there will treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. However, many times, the staff in nursing homes will fail to treat our loved ones with respect, and abuse or mistreat them instead.
If your loved one has been harmed in this way, you need guidance from a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer. You and your loved one deserve no less. For help getting justice against an abusive nursing home, contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu, & Montesi (GKBM) for a free consultation and case review.
In any lawsuit, including nursing home injury or abuse cases, there are three things that you need to prove to recover damages from the defendant. These three things are:
- That the defendant is liable through negligence, gross negligence, or an intentional act
- That the defendant’s conduct caused your injuries
- That you suffered an injury
Proving damages is one of the most critical parts of your lawsuit. In almost every case, your failure to prove damages will end your case. Defendants are not punished financially unless you can prove you were hurt. In other words, courts apply the “no harm, no foul” principle to civil cases.
Collecting substantial and robust evidence can give you the greatest chance of successfully proving negligence in a nursing home abuse and neglect case. Your attorney and their professional legal team can investigate and gather all relevant evidence, such as witness statements, medical records, photos, videos, and past histories of staff members.
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Types of Damages
In nursing home abuse or injury cases, there are three types of damages that you can recover. The first two are referred to as “compensatory damages” because they are meant to compensate you for your injuries rather than punish the defendant. The two types of compensatory damages are economic and non-economic damages.
The third type of damages is punitive damages. These are not compensatory damages because they do not serve to compensate you. Instead, they serve to punish the defendant and discourage future similar behavior.
Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, are a type of compensatory loss that exists to compensate you for purely financial losses. In other words, these damages are reimbursement for specific things that you had to pay for as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
Some examples of economic damages that are often suffered in nursing home injury or abuse cases are:
- Medical bills, including treatment costs or physical therapy
- The cost of replacing personal property that was damaged, including medical equipment
- The costs of permanent treatment if the injury left the plaintiff disabled
When a plaintiff is injured in an accident, they are entitled to recover 100% of the economic damages they can prove to the jury. There is no cap on the amount of economic damages that you can recover, although this can vary from state to state.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, are a type of compensatory damages that exist to compensate you for losses that are subjective. In other words, these damages are meant to compensate you for the way your injuries have affected your life rather than the costs of treating that pain.
Some examples of non-economic damages that are often requested in nursing home injury or abuse cases are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
Tennessee state law places a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover. This cap is $750,000. The jury will not be informed of this cap, but if they award you a greater amount of non-economic damages, the court will reduce that award to the maximum allowed by state law.
Punitive damages are not compensatory damages. Punitive damages are damages that are added to your compensatory damages award for the purpose of punishing the defendant and deterring them or anyone else from engaging in similar behaviors. Punitive damages are not available in cases where the defendant was only negligent; the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions were malicious, intentional, fraudulent, or grossly negligent.
In determining whether to award punitive damages, the jury must consider:
- How much money the defendant has
- How reprehensible the defendant’s conduct was
- The impact of the conduct on the plaintiff
- Whether the defendant took steps to ensure that similar conduct would not happen again
Nursing home abuse cases are prime candidates for punitive damages because juries often see the elderly plaintiffs as highly sympathetic and the nursing homes as evil businesses.
Punitive Damage Caps in Tennessee
Under Tennessee law, there is a cap on the amount of punitive damages that you can receive. This cap is set at either $500,000 or two times the total amount of compensatory damages awarded, whichever amount is greater.
For example, if you were awarded $2,000,000 in economic damages and $750,000 in non-economic damages, you could potentially recover up to $5,550,000 in additional punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct qualifies. Punitive damage awards are nearly always given at the discretion of the court according to the specifics of each individual case. Your attorney can help you understand if your case may be eligible for punitive damages.
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Contact the Nursing Home Injury or Abuse Attorneys at GKBM
If a nursing home has injured your loved one, you should fight back and get the justice your family member deserves. Your family should not have to pay to treat injuries caused by negligence, malice, or abuse in a nursing home.
If you believe you have a case against a nursing home, you need attorneys that are competent, compassionate, and highly skilled. At GKBM, our lawyers have been representing clients for almost 50 years, and we want to help you too.
Contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation with a qualified nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer today.