Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Laws
Illinois Cap on Damages for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
In Illinois, the use of damage caps on medical malpractice awards was held to be unconstitutional.
The Nursing Home Care Act allows plaintiffs to recover common law punitive damages upon proof of willful and wanton misconduct on the part of defendants. Dardeen v. Heartland Manor, Inc., 186 Ill. 2d 291, 300, 238 Ill. Dec. 30, 710 N.E.2d 827 (1999).
In Illinois, wrongful death claimants may recover compensatory damages. The recoverable losses include pecuniary losses which are not capped. However, medical expenses, hospital expenses, administration expenses, and funeral expenses in total may not exceed $900, in addition to attorney’s fees.
Statute of Limitations
The Illinois statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims and wrongful death. In other words, plaintiffs have two years from the date of the death or injury to bring a claim. Missing this deadline will severely limit a plaintiff’s legal recourse.
Attorney’s Fees and Contingency Fee Agreements
In Illinois, an attorney is not permitted to make an agreement for unreasonable fees or an unreasonable amount for expenses. Contingent fee agreements are required to be in writing and signed by the client. The agreement should state how the fee is to be determined and the percentage will be paid to the attorney if the case settles or is taken to trial or appeal. It should also delineate what expenses will be deducted from the client’s recovery and if the expenses will be deducted on the net or gross award or settlement.
The Nursing Home Care Act requires nursing home facilities to pay actual damages and costs and attorney fees to nursing home residents whose rights under the Act are violated. However, claims for medical malpractice must be brought independently of the Act.
Enforcement of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45/1, et seq., was adopted due to concern over reports of inadequate, improper and degrading treatment of patients in nursing homes. Under the act, it is considered neglect if a facility fails to provide proper medical care that causes physical or mental injury to a resident, or the deterioration of a resident’s physical or mental condition.
A key section of the Nursing Home Care Act is the residents’ “bill of rights” which guarantees nursing home residents rights, such as the right to be free from abuse and neglect by nursing home personnel.
Article II of the Nursing Home Care Act, sets forth the statutory rights of residents and responsibilities of nursing home owners and facilities. It provides that facilities must establish written policies and procedures to be made available for inspection. Further, it provides that the owner and licensee of a nursing-home facility is liable to a resident for any intentional or neglectful acts or omissions of their agents or employees which cause injury to a resident. The purpose of this Act is to deter abuse and neglect of nursing home residents.
Under section 3-601 of the Nursing Home Care Act, long term care facilities are liable to a resident for injuries caused by the intentional or negligent acts of their employees or agents.
In Illinois, nursing home residents have the right to:
- Be free from neglect and abuse.
- Receive proper medical services that promote a resident’s physical and mental health.
- Participate in their own care, including choosing their own doctor and receiving information about their medical condition and treatment in a language that they understand.
- View and get copies of their medical records.
- Respect of privacy when receiving medical care and in personal care.
Illinois has given the Department of Public Health regulatory and enforcement powers which allow for civil and criminal penalties against nursing homes which violate the law. Illinois nursing-home residents also may bring a private cause of action for damages and other relief, including attorneys’ fees, costs, and injunctive relief, against nursing home owners and operators who violate the law.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The legal statutes, laws and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.
Image via Flickr via Monika Thorpe