Bedsores are sores, also known as tissue ulcers, which are injuries that sometimes develop when a person is lying in bed in one position for an extended period. Bed sores may occur for a variety of different reasons, but they are common in situations in which a person is recovering from an accident or has mobility issues that cause them to remain in bed for a prolonged period of time.
Bedsores are also a common injury in nursing homes, where the residents of the homes may have mobility issues that cause them to remain bedridden. Examples of places where bedsores may develop, either due to the negligence or mishandling of a patient, include:
- Hospital settings where a patient is injured and required to remain in a bed for an extended period of time;
- Nursing homes, where a resident may have mobility issues;
- Elder care homes, where a resident may have mobility issues; or
- Long-term care facilities, where a resident may have mobility issues.
It is important to note that nursing homes, elder care homes, and long-term care facilities typically know that their residents have mobility issues and require a specialized duty of care. As such, nursing homes, elder care homes, and long-term care facilities typically have practices and standards of care for such patients.
As such, when the facility in charge of an individual fails to fulfill its duty of care, it may be liable for the injuries suffered by the individual. In fact, bedsores may become serious in many cases and lead to complications such as serious infections requiring surgery. For instance, if a facility fails to turn a bedridden patient and that patient develops bed sores, the facility may be liable for not taking proper care of that patient.
What Is a Nursing Home or Care Facility’s Duty to Their Patients?
As mentioned above, nursing homes and other facilities that house patients with mobility issues have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries to patients at their facility. Although the exact definition of reasonable care differs from state to state, reasonable care is typically determined in light of the patient’s physical or mental condition and the other patients in the facility.
It is important to note that a nursing home or similar long-term care facility’s duty is limited to known or foreseeable consequences of their resident’s impairment. This includes reasonable precautions that must be taken to protect individuals who cannot protect themselves, such as persons with disabilities or known mobility issues.
For example, if a nursing home or elder care facility is caring for a patient that has diabetes, it is foreseeable that failure to provide proper diabetes care for that patient would likely result in the patient suffering injuries. Similarly, if a patient has known mobility issues or a disability that causes them mobility issues, and the facility fails to check in on them or help them move positions routinely, that would likely lead to them developing an injury like bedsores.
However, it is also important to note that a hospital or elder care facility is not an insurer of a patient’s safety and is not required to have staff follow the patient at all times unless such care is required for the patient’s particular medical needs. Typically, liability will be determined based on whether or not the hospital or elder care facility is aware of the patient’s medical needs. Additionally, a hospital or elder care facility’s duty to a patient may be modified by the contract between the facility and the patient or state or local laws.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bedsore Injury?
As mentioned above, the owners of hospitals, nursing homes, or other elder care facilities may be held liable for a person injured due to bedsores. In addition to the facility’s operators, any physician, medical assistant, nurse, administrative staff, or any other employee may also be held liable for a resident or patient developing and being injured due to bedsores.
However, when a plaintiff (i.e., the party that suffered the injury) initiates a personal injury lawsuit, they will typically attempt to sue the facility or resident physician, as those are the parties that typically have insurance coverage and can pay for their injuries. Additionally, if an employee is found negligent, their employer may be liable under the legal theory of respondeat superior.
Respondeat superior is a legal doctrine wherein an employer may be held responsible when their employee injures someone as a result of the tortious activities of the employee. Importantly, this includes the negligent actions of employees. In most cases, the party that may be held liable for a bedsore injury will depend on how the injury developed.
In most cases, liability will be based on the legal theory of negligence or via a medical malpractice claim. For example, if a physician or individual in charge of patient care fails to report that a patient has bedsores, then they might be found personally liable for committing medical malpractice.
In some cases, bedsore injuries may develop from defective medical products or medications. For instance, a defective medicine or topical product may cause a patient to develop a rash or sore. In these cases, it is also possible that the product manufacturer can also be held liable under the legal theory of product liability, along with the facility that administered the product to the patient.
What Legal Remedies Are Available for Bedsore Injuries?
As can be seen, there are numerous ways in which a person may develop and be injured by bedsores. If there is any other party that is liable for the injuries suffered by the individual that developed bedsores, then the individual that was harmed may file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for their injuries.
The plaintiff will most likely seek a monetary damages award as the legal remedy. The monetary damage award will typically cover economic injuries suffered by the plaintiff, such as hospital expenses, medication costs, lost wages resulting from the patient missing work, loss of earning capacity if the plaintiff loses their mobility, expenses related to corrective surgeries and treatments, pain and suffering, emotional damages, or other losses.
In many cases, the presence of bedsores itself indicates that there is an overall lack of health or safety standards for patients that are present in the offending facility. Such situations may even rise to the level of elder abuse. In these cases, a bedsore lawsuit may lead to other legal actions, such as a class action lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Bedsore Lawsuit?
As can be seen, bedsore claims often involve some complex laws, such as proving a medical malpractice claim, and they can also involve many different legal issues. As such, if you or a loved one has been injured due to bed sores, it may be in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you evaluate your legal claim and determine what party may be held liable for your injuries. Additionally, an attorney can help you initiate a civil lawsuit and represent you in court as needed.