Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
August 17, 2020

How Do I File a Nursing Home Abuse Claim?

Many families pursue justice each year when their elderly loved ones are mistreated in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The thought of hiring a lawyer may be overwhelming, especially if your relative has suffered serious injury or, worst of all, died as a result of abuse or neglect.

Speaking to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer is the best way to understand your legal options. In addition to discussing your right to sue, your lawyer can advise you of the process for lodging a complaint against the facility.

If you or your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please call Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 today for a free case review. Our lawyers serve clients in Plover, Marshfield, and all of Wisconsin.

Filing a Claim for Nursing Home Abuse

Whether you are a nursing home resident or you are acting on behalf of a family member or his/her estate, there are a few crucial steps for getting your case underway:

1. Hiring an Experienced Attorney

Although you have the right to pursue a claim against the nursing home on your own, it is in your best interest to have qualified legal counsel. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are businesses. They have the money, resources, and – in some cases – in-house teams of attorneys who will aggressively challenge lawsuits.

Nursing homes and other facilities are also subject to complex laws and regulations. When filing a claim, it is crucial to have someone on your side who knows how to navigate these laws.

As you search for a lawyer, remember that experience in nursing home abuse cases is key. These cases are often complicated, and the attorney you choose should have a proven track record of handling and winning claims like yours.

2. Investigating the Abuse or Neglect

Your initial consultation with a lawyer is your chance to share any and all information about your case. This may include:

  • Medical records and photos of injuries
  • Photos and video you have taken of conditions at the facility
  • A verbal account of what you have seen, heard, and experienced
  • Any documents you have from the nursing home

Your attorneys will use this information to start building a claim on your behalf. The investigation process your legal team employs may involve steps such as:

  • Reviewing the contract you or your loved one signed with the nursing home
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Visiting the facility to document conditions
  • Interviewing the doctors who treated you or your loved one
  • Enlisting medical experts to review injuries and treatment records

No two cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are exactly alike. Preparation is the key to the successful resolution of your claim, and the lawyer you hire should take timely, decisive steps to build a compelling case on your behalf.

3. Initiating Legal Proceedings

Once your case is prepared, your lawyers will begin the legal process by filing a complaint on your behalf with the court that has jurisdiction in the matter. The claim will include information such as:

  • The parties in the case
  • A statement of facts in the case, including details of the abuse or neglect
  • The legal principles involved
  • The amount and types of damages sought

After the defendant receives notice that they are being sued, a representative for the facility will file an answer with the court denying the allegations of wrongdoing. What follows is the process of discovery where both parties prepare for trial.

In most cases, however, your claim will not see the inside of a courtroom. During the discovery process, your lawyers will negotiate on your behalf with attorneys for the nursing home. The goal of these negotiations is to reach a settlement that fairly compensates you and your family for the losses you have suffered.

Most nursing home abuse cases settle out of court. However, it is important to work with an attorney who is willing and able to go to trial if that is what it takes to recover fair compensation.

3a. Arbitration

Your claim may not follow these exact steps. Some nursing homes and long-term care facilities have added clauses in their contracts that require disputes (including ones involving abuse and neglect) to be resolved via arbitration rather than court proceedings.

Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution. Instead of arguing your case before a jury or judge in court, you and your lawyer will present evidence at hearings overseen by an arbitrator or arbitration panel.

The nursing home company has a significant advantage in these situations. Not only does the company select who presides over the arbitration and the rules thereof, but the decision of the arbitrator(s) is final; unlike claims in the courts, there is no option to appeal.

Unfortunately, you or your loved one may have already signed a document without knowing it that requires you to submit to arbitration. It is crucial to contact an experienced lawyer so you know your legal options, as well as any restrictions on your nursing home abuse or neglect claim.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

In addition to filing a lawsuit, you can also lodge a complaint against the facility where you or your loved one resides. The Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services regulates nursing homes and other care facilities in the state.

DQA provides an online form where you can report abuse, neglect, and other violations. The division investigates reported instances of:

  • Physical, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Financial exploitation and theft
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Understaffing
  • Misconduct by credentialed and non-credentialed staff

Reporting abuse and neglect to DQA is separate from any claim you may file against the facility. However, bringing mistreatment and poor conditions to the attention of the state may help protect other residents of the facility.

Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today

Studinski Law, LLC has extensive experience in nursing home abuse cases. Our founding attorney, Jason Studinski, is the author of “How to Keep Your Loved One Safe in a Wisconsin Nursing Home.” Together with attorney Jennifer Kehoe and our team of paralegals, our law firm has successfully resolved many complex nursing home abuse and neglect claims through litigation and arbitration.

For a free evaluation of your claim, please call Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 today. Our nursing home abuse lawyers have offices in Plover and Marshfield, and serve clients throughout Wisconsin.

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