The timeframe for a bedsore lawsuit can vary quite a bit. However, most cases last from several months to a few years before a resolution is reached. The time it takes to resolve your own case will be determined by several factors. These include, but are not limited to, the availability of evidence, the victim’s medical treatment plan, and the willingness of the other party to settle out of court.
What Causes Bedsores?
Bedsores are caused by friction and pressure that is applied to areas of the body when you haven’t been moved or had your position changed enough. The situation can be worsened if you aren’t provided with proper nutrition or hydration.
There are four stages of bedsores. They are:
- Stage one is mild with reddening of the skin and is warm and painful to the touch
- Stage two is pinkish, appearing blister-like, and sometimes begins to open
- Stage three is deeper wounds, yellowish dead skin at the edges, infected, and require antibiotics for treatment
- Stage four is deeper, sometimes down to bone and tendons, all tissue in the area is dead, no longer painful, and the mortality rate is significantly increased
If you are a resident in a nursing home and have mobility issues, or are confined to a bed, the facility should have best practices in place for ensuring that you are turned and moved every two hours. Not doing so consistently is a sign of neglect and one of the leading causes of bedsores in elderly or disabled residents.
Liability for Bedsores
Nursing homes are responsible for the health and safety of their patients and can be held liable for neglectful treatment that leads to bedsores. Owners, managers, and staff can be held accountable for the neglectful and habitual lapse in standards of care that causes the most advanced cases of bedsores.
A nursing home abuse lawyer will need to do a thorough pre-filing investigation to determine if enough evidence exists to prove liability against the nursing home in these cases.
What Is the Timeframe for a Bedsore Lawsuit?
A bedsore lawsuit is a time-consuming process. At your initial consult, the attorney will have many specific and pointed questions about the bedsores you’ve suffered and any circumstances pertaining to how you got them. The lawyer will need to see your medical records to determine whether you’ve ever been diagnosed with a condition that is considered to be a common risk factor for bedsores. He or she will ask about the treatment you received at the facility, and specifically, if you notified the staff of any discomfort you were feeling or asked them to check for bedsores.
Your attorney may not recommend you try to file a lawsuit for the bedsores if they are stage one or two. The reasoning for this is that bedsores at these stages aren’t necessarily a sign of long-term abuse or neglect and can be remedied through proper nutrition, hydration, and turning every two hours. The nursing home abuse lawyer will need to determine if there is a high likelihood of securing a settlement for you.
If your bedsores are stage three or four, your attorney will likely recommend further legal action, as the chances of securing a favorable settlement go up significantly at that point. Your attorney may recommend that you heal from the bedsores before filing a lawsuit, however, the medical costs and ordeal that you will most likely be going through will be contributing factors to your final settlement or judgment amount.
Your bedsore lawsuit timeline will be broken up into a few stages. These are typical for most lawsuits, but the timelines of some may be extended due to the many steps of investigation your attorney will need to do. The next steps to your bedsore lawsuit process will typically involve an investigation, healing, settlement negotiation, and trial.
During the initial investigation, your lawyer will need to interview you about the conditions and events leading up to your bedsores. They will also need to do a thorough review of your medical records to look for any contributing factors and to see if there is any indication that the facility was providing proper treatment for the bedsores.
From here, your lawyers will need to get statements from other residents, staff, management, or anyone who may have information about your situation. They may even tour the facility to check on staffing levels compared to the resident population size, and how fast they respond when called.
Your attorney will also be investigating any previous cases of bedsores, neglect, or abuse coming from that facility. In addition to the nursing home, there may be a contract management company who have contributed to the neglect, or individual staff members who can be held liable for your injuries.
Sometimes staffing contract companies fail to perform thorough background checks on nursing staff before assignment to a nursing home. It is possible for nurses with a history of neglect to slip through these cracks and be able to bring harm to future patients or residents. In cases like these, the staffing company may be liable for your injuries.
Your attorney may want you to heal as much as is expected before filing suit, especially if you are suffering from stage three bedsores. Any treatment you are forced to undergo in dealing with the bedsores could change the amount of damages you are awarded in a trial, and therefore the amount you can expect to be offered in a settlement if the facility chooses that route. For example, if debridement is considered medically necessary in addition to antibiotics, it is an extremely intrusive and painful process, which a judge or jury can be expected to take into consideration.
If left untreated, bedsores can quickly escalate from stage one or two to stage three. At stage three, your bedsores may even require surgery, including flap surgery, where a segment of skin or tissue is removed from another portion of your body to cover the wound from the bedsores. The progression from stage two to stage three sometimes indicates a pattern of neglect by the facility, management, and staff, that has caused your bedsores to appear and progress.
If your bedsores have progressed to stage four, there may be a reason to compress the timeline. Unfortunately, bedsore life expectancy is significantly reduced once you’ve reached this point. The increased mortality rate is due to the fact that you may get an infection, like sepsis, that spreads quickly throughout your bloodstream. Bedsores can also cause certain types of cancer, cellulitis, or meningitis.
At any time, once the facility or management company learns of the lawsuit being filed, settlement negotiations may begin. The insurance company or companies will hire attorneys to represent them. As your case progresses, and expert witnesses are interviewed and deposed, settlement negotiation may become more likely.
Your attorney may recommend hiring medical experts with bedsore experience to assist you in this process. They will be able to help determine if the facility or staff was neglectful or abusive in their treatment of you, and will be beneficial in explaining the situation to a judge or jury should the case come to trial.
If the facility chooses to forego negotiations, or if you fail to come to a settlement agreement, your attorney may take your case to trial before a judge or jury. If a trial is required, it could take from several months to a year or more, before the case is heard. This step, along with the initial investigation, is where the timeframe for a bedsore lawsuit varies the most.
If you reach an agreed-upon negotiated settlement in advance, you are saved the time and hassle of trial preparation and the trial itself. If you do not, then your nursing home abuse lawyer will need to prepare you, and your expert witnesses, if you’ve hired any, for the trial. The trial will likely last for several days, and then you’ll need to wait for the judge or jury to render a verdict and determine damages.
After a verdict is rendered, either side may appeal to a higher court in order to overturn the decision. This can significantly increase the timeline of your bedsore lawsuit because an appeal can take a year or more. Fortunately, most cases where nursing home neglect seems obvious will reach a negotiated settlement before this point. Your attorney will be your best resource in understanding the timeframe for a bedsore lawsuit and deciding how to handle your case.