Making the decision to place a loved one in the care of a long-term facility is difficult and fraught with emotions. After deciding to turn their well-being over to a nursing home, we expect a certain standard of care. The long-term care facility takes on the responsibility of keeping our loved ones out of harm's way. When a nursing facility fails to protect those in their care, the injured resident or, in severe cases where death results, the family of the resident, have the ability to bring a cause of action against the negligent nursing home.
Pennsylvania nursing home residents' rights to recover after suffering an injury and the rights of their families in the wake of a wrongful death have been protected for another legislative session.
Last fall, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill that would have capped the amount of punitive damages for which nursing homes could be on the hook to no greater than twice the compensatory damage award. The bill allowed for an exception only in the case of intentional misconduct. In addition, the bill prevented so-called jurisdiction shopping, by requiring plaintiffs to file their lawsuits in the same county where they were injured.
The bill has since failed to move beyond the Senate judiciary committee.
The failure of the bill to pass the Senate means juries will continue to be able to judge the damages warranted on a case-by-case basis. In some situations, sizeable judgments may be justified, particularly when the nursing home's negligence results in the death of the person for which they were meant to provide care. A skilled personal injury attorney can provide guidance for those who have been injured by the negligence of nursing home staff.
Source: Post-Gazette, "Nursing homes' bid for law to limit punitive damages stalls in Harrisburg," Steve Twedt, July 2, 2012.