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Could Nursing Home Cases Become Civil Rights Lawsuits?


Right now, a huge battle is brewing in the U.S. courts which could change the way nursing home lawsuits are filed forever. As of right now, the majority of nursing home lawsuits are filed under theories of medical malpractice, premises liability, and negligent security or hiring. However, an Indiana plaintiff has filed a lawsuit against a government-owned nursing home in the state. In Indiana, more than half of the nursing homes are government-owned and operated. These nursing homes are even more lucrative than private nursing homes because they accept federal funds for their operation.

Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) created a patient’s bill of rights for nursing home residents. A recent lawsuit filed under the ACA alleges civil rights abuses were committed against one of the patients. This lawsuit could change the way lawsuits are filed against nursing homes, at least government-operated nursing homes. A consortium of nursing home lobbyists are hoping to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision allowing a lawsuit filed under the ACA to move forward. Below, we’ll discuss the implications of that.

The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act versus medical malpractice 

The majority of nursing home injury lawsuits are filed against private nursing homes under your state’s medical malpractice rules. In Florida, we operated under damage caps for decades. In other words, plaintiffs were limited in how much money they could recover from a negligent doctor or hospital. To boot, our state requires plaintiffs to provide expert witnesses who can comment on the veracity of their claim. In most states, both of these obstacles are in place. On top of that, the federal government limits injury claims against it leaving plaintiffs with at least three encumbrances on their personal injury lawsuit: Medical malpractice damage caps, sovereign immunity damage caps, and the requirement to get an expert witness to testify on your behalf, which costs a lot of money.

A new generation of nursing home lawsuits 

This problem is particularly an Indiana problem where about 90% of their nursing homes are government-run and these nursing homes rake in millions in subsidies from the federal government. In other words, they’re much more profitable than government nursing homes. On the other hand, this extra capital has not resulted in a higher quality of care. Further, these nursing homes are insulated from tort lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act which limits damages in claims against the federal government.

This has resulted in one lawsuit being filed as a civil rights lawsuit as opposed to a personal injury lawsuit. Two appellate courts have already ruled that the plaintiff’s lawsuit may proceed under this civil rights theory. It is important to understand that only government-run facilities can face this type of litigation. If SCOTUS doesn’t overturn the verdict, plaintiffs will have a much more lucrative angle to file nursing home negligence lawsuits.

Find a Port St. Lucie Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today 

If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, they are entitled to recover damages related to their injuries. If you have lost a loved one due to nursing home neglect or abuse, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Call the Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. today.



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