The Buckfire Law Firm nursing home lawyers specialize in cases involving the abuse and neglect of residents. We have helped families and their loved ones in medical negligence cases throughout the State of Michigan since 1969. We have the skill, experience, and knowledge to win your case.
We understand that placing your family member in a Michigan nursing home or assisted living facility was one of the most difficult decisions you ever made. You trusted the safety of your loved one to the nursing facility and expected the best possible care and supervision. When an injury or unexpected death occurred, you felt angry and betrayed.
Nursing home residents and their families have the legal right to pursue compensation under Michigan law. Contact us to find how we help you get justice for a neglected or abused resident.
Who are the Best Michigan Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers?
Our legal team includes the most successful nursing home abuse attorneys in Michigan. Buckfire Law lawyers have won the top awards in the legal profession, including:
- U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms
- “Best Michigan Personal Injury Attorney” by American Lawyer Academy
- Named Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Michigan
- Honored as “Super Lawyers”
- Top Martindale-Hubbell Rating (AV) for Skill & Integrity
- Member of Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
If you or a loved one was injured in a nursing home, contact us now so we can begin our investigation of your case. We do not charge any fees unless you get a settlement.
Nursing Home Injury Statistics
Unfortunately, not all skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide necessary and appropriate care for residents. Violations are regularly issued by state investigators.
Increasing numbers of resident abuse and neglect are being reported to state agencies every year. Skilled nursing care facilities are having a difficult time keeping up with proper staffing for the number of new residents being admitted to facilities. The result has been harm to the residents that require medical care, hospitalization, and often cause unexpected death.
According to the CDC Data on nursing home care, there are over 15,000 nursing homes in the United States and the number is rising in every state. . There are over 1.5 million beds in these facilities and the majority of the residents are over the age of 65.
In Michigan, there are over 444 licensed nursing homes and even more licensed and unlicensed assisted living facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that only one in three Michigan nursing homes had an above-average rating in health inspections.
The bar chart above shows the number of deficiencies by severity level in the state of Michigan. The graphs shows that thousands of deficiencies result in all types of actual and potential harm. Hundreds of residents suffer actual and serious harm every year from violations issued by the state investigators.
What Constitutes Abuse in a Skilled Nursing Facility?
Michigan statute MCL 333.20201 sets forth the Patient Bill of Rights for nursing home residents. The statute provides many rights, including that all residents shall receive adequate and appropriate care, have the right to participate in medical decision making, and the right to religious and civil liberties.
The law also requires that all residents have the right to be free of both mental and physical abuse.
Nursing home abuse is when an intentional act by a caregiver that causes harm to the resident. This could be physical harm, unreasonable confinement or restraint, intimidation, or the causing of mental anguish by a caregiver. The abuse can be either a physical injury or psychological damage to the resident and can be caused by a facility staff member and even another resident.
The pie chart above shows the different levels of abuse types that elders have complained about, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. Physical abuse and resident-on-resident abuse is responsible for nearly half of all complaints.
- Physical abuse: 27.4%
- Resident-on-resident abuse (physical or sexual): 22.1%
- Psychological abuse: 19.4%
- Gross neglect: 15.3%
- Financial exploitation: 7.9%
- Sexual abuse: 7.9%
What is Considered Neglect?
Nursing home neglect (or negligence) is a frequent problem in facilities. Many times, it is undetected because the resident is completely unable to recognize or describe the poor treatment to family members. Roommates and other residents may witness the neglect but not be able to communicate either.
The legal term “negligence” means what a reasonable person, or nursing home, would do in the same or similar circumstances with respect to a patient.
For a nursing home, negligence occurs when the facility and staff fail to provide the required medical care and treatment for a resident. This includes the failure to develop and implement required care plans, making medication errors and mistakes, and not properly monitoring the residents in their rooms and in common areas.
Unfortunately, most nursing homes and their staff members will not admit to their mistakes that harm residents. Many times, they will even try to hide a bedsore for conceal an injury from family members. Also, they rarely complete an incident report to document the accident or injury.
Common Reasons for Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
The fact is that nursing homes are businesses. They are often owned by large corporations and their primary end goal is to make a profit. Like all businesses, maximizing a profit involves reducing the costs and expenses in running the facility.
Unfortunately, this can involve low wages to workers which results in high turnover among staff, leaving residents at risk for neglect and abuse.
Resident neglect and abuse can happen at facilities for many reasons, including:
- Staffing shortages, leading to a low nurse to resident ratio. As a result, residents do not receive the personal attention necessary for their needs, safety, and welfare.
- Lack of staff training and experience due to sub-par education and ongoing training. This results in staff not recognizing signs of illness, failing to properly monitor residents, and being unaware to properly move and transfer residents.
- Underpaid staff, which leads to poor morale, high turnover, and indifference. This causes poor continuity of care and a lack of trust between residents and staff members.
- Poor supervision of nursing staff members by senior nurses and management. Many staff members are aides and need to be supervised and monitored by registered nurses and licensed practical nurses during their shift.
- Individual caregiver problems from burnout, personal issues, and stress.
- Resident risk factors, like medication issues, illness, and others that are ignored due to the indifference of staff members and overwhelming workload during work shifts.
- The failure of staff members to properly communicate changes in a resident’s physical or mental condition to the nursing doctor or not sending a resident to a hospital emergency department when there has been an injury or significant change in condition.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect in Michigan?
You can file a complaint about nursing home neglect and abuse by another resident or by a nursing home employee with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
If the complaint warrants an investigation, the enforcement team will go to the facility and perform a detailed investigation. When concluded, you will be able to obtain the investigation report.
Which Nursing Homes have the Most Violations in Michigan?
According to Nursing Home Inspect, 124 of the 444 Michigan facilities were determined to have serious deficiencies and were assessed penalties of more than $13 million last year.
The homes with the most violations last year according to Nursing Home Inspect are:
- Medilodge of Southfield: 112
- Medilodge of Farmington: 105
- The Lighthouse at Ishpeming: 98
- Cambridge South: 95
- Medilodge of Grand Blanc: 91
- The Lodge at Taylor: 91
- Metron of Belding: 91
- Cambridge East: 91
- Spectrum Health Rehab: 88
- Laurels of Coldwater: 87
Many other nursing homes have dozens of violations for serious deficiencies that resulted in neglect, abuse, and injuries to residents and exposed others to potential harm.
When Can You Sue a Facility in Michigan?
You can sue a nursing home for negligence or abuse if it results in serious injury to the resident. To file a lawsuit, the injury must typically result in death or significant harm, like a fractured hip, brain bleed, or infected pressure ulcer. There must be an actual injury to a resident, rather than something that “could have happened” or “almost happened.”
There are two main reasons for filing a nursing home lawsuit. The first reason is to get compensation for the injured resident and family members caused by negligent care. The second reason to sue a nursing home is to prevent the same type of harm from happening to another resident in the future. This is the main objective for many of our clients because they do not want to see another resident or family experience their same type of grief and pain.
How Do You Prove a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
To prove a nursing home lawsuit in Michigan, you must prove that the:
- Care or treatment provided was below the acceptable standard of care for nursing home care. This means that the facility failed to provide the required treatment, care, and monitoring to the resident that would be expected in a licensed nursing care home.
- Negligence of the nursing home staff caused injury, harm, or death to the resident
- The resident (or estate) suffered quantifiable harm as a result of medical malpractice. This includes pain and suffering, disability, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses and other economic harm.
The nursing home will rarely if ever, admit that it provided substandard care to the resident. We hire nursing home expert witnesses, including nurses and physicians, to review the records and provide opinions on why the facility was negligent. Our medical experts also provide opinions explaining how neglect and abuse caused injury to the resident. This testimony is a crucial part of winning a nursing home neglect lawsuit.
Examples of Nursing Home Lawsuits
A nursing home is liable for negligence by a doctor and nursing staff. There are many types of nursing home lawsuits that demand compensation for the resident and family, including:
- Bedsores, pressure ulcers, and decubitus ulcers. These are caused by the failure of the staff to regularly re-position the resident, bathe the resident, and inspect the body for evidence of skin breakdown.
- Falls from beds, wheelchairs, and transfers. Falls resulting from nurses and aides not properly monitoring the resident or providing the required help with assistance during walking.
- Resident wandering and elopement from the facility not supervising the resident and have proper security alarms to notify the staff when a resident leaves the building.
- Infections resulting in sepsis and death because the doctors and nurses did not identify the condition and start treatment in a timely manner.
- Malnutrition & dehydration of residents due to poor feeding and dietary issues and the failure to recognize the symptoms before they warrant hospitalization.
- Fractured hips & broken bones from falls, drops, and improper transfers from a wheelchair to bed, wheelchair onto toilet, or into a shower. These also happen because the resident was not provided the level of assistance needed by the staff member, like a two-person assist during a transfer.
- Medication mistakes & drug overdoses resulting in hospitalization, including giving a resident the wrong medication or improper dosage of the prescribed drug.
- Choking injuries & death from improper diets and failing to supervise a resident during meals. Mistakes include the nursing staff feeding the wrong food choice to a resident with a swallowing disorder or not modifying a diet when needed by changes in a resident’s condition. The dietary staff may also not follow speech and language therapy and physician recommendations and this can lead to serious harm.
- Sexual abuse & rape from staff members, visitors at the facility, and other residents. The home is liable for failing to protect the resident from sexual predators.
- Wrongful death from falls, infections, choking and poor medical management.
Who Can File the Lawsuit?
The nursing lawsuit can be filed by the resident if that person is legally competent. In most cases, it is a legal guardian, conservator, or family member that contacts our law firm on behalf of the resident to sue the nursing home. In cases involving death, the lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the estate appointed by a probate court judge.
How Do I Start a Michigan Nursing Home Negligence Case?
The first step is to contact our experienced nursing home negligence lawyers to discuss the facts of your case. We will listen carefully to your story and determine if you have a case with merit. If we believe that your case is meritorious, we will begin our investigation immediately.
The next step to is to get the complete resident chart from the facility. Our attorneys will request and pay for the entire resident chart. We personally review every page of the records to determine if there is a viable case. We also have the records reviewed by our nurse and physician experts to determine if negligence by the home or the staff caused serious injury to the resident.
We also get all hospital records for treatment that occurred after the incident or injury. We analyze the records to determine the type of harm caused by the neglect of the staff. If there was a State of Michigan investigation, we will get a copy of that report. For deaths that involved an autopsy, we will obtain the medical examiner’s report.
If our experts determine there is a valid case of neglect or abuse, we prepare a lawsuit and file it at the county courthouse. We then serve it on the facility to start the litigation process.
The lawsuit looks to hold the nursing home accountable for the injuries and harm to the resident. It demands money compensation for the resident and family members.
In cases involving a resident death, we will file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Type of Compensation Can You Claim?
The Michigan law of damages provides for two types of compensation in a lawsuit. These are known as non-economic and economic damages. Settlements include both types of damages.
Non-economic damages include settlement payouts for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship by family members, and scars and disfigurements.
Economic damages include payment of medical expenses and reimbursement of monies paid by Medicare or a health insurance carrier for injuries caused by nursing home neglect.
In the event of a death, a wrongful death lawsuit demands compensation for the pain and suffering of the resident prior to passing away. The law also provides damages for the loss of society and companionship of the surviving family members. In addition, the settlement also requests the reimbursement of funeral and burial expenses.
How Much are Michigan Nursing Home Lawsuit Settlements?
Nursing home settlements are very substantial and are based upon the harm caused to the resident. There is no “average” or “typical” settlement amount and there is no settlement calculator. The compensation amount awarded is determined by the skill and experience of your lawyer.
Buckfire Law has won many nursing home settlements and jury verdicts throughout the State of Michigan. Examples of our case settlements include:
- $5,000,000 verdict in a Southfield assisted living wrongful death lawsuit.
- $3,650,000 settlement for an assisted living home death case.
- $600,000 settlement in a case we sued a Detroit area nursing home for fatal fall in a van.
- $565,000 settlement for a Northern Michigan nursing home fall injury.
- $470,000 settlement due to a fall from a Hoyer lift during a transfer.
- $400,000 settlement for a Macomb County facility for a resident sexual assault
- $290,000 settlement for a Battle Creek area assisted living fall death lawsuit.
- $275,000 settlement for a Detroit nursing home neglect bedsore complication.
- $250,000 settlement for an Ann Arbor resident with a fractured hip when dropped by a nurse.
- $250,000 pre-suit settlement for a fall that resulted in subdural brain bleed and death near Saginaw.
- $200,000 settlement for a Wayne County adult foster care (AFC Home) resident with burn injuries.
- $175,000 settlement for a Stage IV pressure ulcer in a Rochester skilled nursing facility.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Case?
The actual lawsuit can take one to two years to complete from the time the Complaint is filed at the court until either the trial or settlement. However, the process often takes longer due to the many legal requirements that must be met before the case can even be filed.
We have settled a large number of cases with the insurance company even before a lawsuit is filed. This happens when liability is very clear and the insurer would rather pay the claim than incur the expense of litigation when it is clear a settlement will be paid at a later date. We will make every effort to settle your case before going to court.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Michigan Nursing Home?
In Michigan, you must generally file a nursing home lawsuit is generally two years from the date of injury. In cases involving the death of the resident, this time deadline can often be extended beyond the two years and even up to five years under certain circumstances. This is referred to as the “statute of limitations” and is strictly followed by the courts.
To avoid missing any deadlines, you should contact our nursing home litigation team immediately so we can start our investigation of your case.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Attorney?
It does not cost anything to hire our nursing home negligence lawyers. We do not charge any fees to start your case and only get paid when you receive your settlement check. We also pay all of the case costs for you and get a percentage of the settlement at the very end of the case. There are no legal fees if there is no settlement.
Get Help from our Top-Rated Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers
Call our experienced nursing home lawyers to get started on your case. We will listen to your complaints and then let you know if you have a case for filing a civil lawsuit.
If you do have a case that we can pursue, we will order all of the medical records and start with our investigation immediately.
There is no cost to get started and never a legal fee unless you receive a settlement. We even pay the case expenses.
Michigan Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources