Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Laws
Minnesota Damage Caps
To the dismay of victims who have suffered catastrophic injuries due to another person’s conduct, many states have enacted legislation that limit non-economic damages in personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.
In Minnesota there are no caps on damages awarded for personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death. The damages allowed in wrongful death cases include the damages that could have been recovered for the wrongful act if the decedent had lived.
However, Minnesota has limited the amount of punitive damages that may be recovered. Punitive damages are awarded as compensation for willful and malicious acts. In Minnesota, punitive damages are generally limited to three times the compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever is greater. But in personal injury cases, the ceiling is $1,500,000. These punitive damages limitations inapplicable to actions for wrongful death or for intentional infliction of physical injury.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that restricts the time within which legal proceedings may be brought. If a claimant does not file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, he or she will forever lose the right to bring a claim. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for claims of personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death is two years.
Attorney Contingency Fees
Contingent fees are the norm for lawyers representing plaintiffs in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Typically, a lawyer will have clients sign a contingent fee agreement authorizing a percentage fee based upon the total amount recovered. This lawyer’s fee is calculated by applying the agreed upon percentage to all amounts recovered.
The Minnesota ethics code requires that an attorney’s contingent fee be reasonable. Rule 1.5(a), Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits attorneys from charging excessive fees.
Minnesota Nursing Home Regulations
Minnesota nursing or boarding care residents have certain legal rights that are intended to protect them during their stay in a healthcare facility. The following is a summary of some of the most important care and treatment rights that are guaranteed to each nursing home resident. Under the law, nursing home and boarding care facilities are required to post a complete copy of state and federal rights in a public area of the facility. Furthermore, residents have the following rights:
- The right to courteous care in a manner and environment that maintains or enhances their dignity and respect in full recognition of your individuality.
- The right to private medical and personal care except as needed for their safety and assistance.
- The right to choose their activities, schedules, and health care. They have the right to interact (or not interact) with persons of their choosing. This includes the choice of participating in activities of commercial, religious, political and community groups.
- The right to proper medical and personal care based on their individual needs. Treatment and care plans should be designed to enable each resident to achieve your highest level of physical and mental functioning.
- The right to treat with an outside provider and know identity of the provider, their address, and a description of the services.
- The right to be cared for with reasonable regularity and continuity of staff assignment as far as facility policy allows.
- The right to look at their medical and care records.
- The right to be fully informed in language that they can understand of their total health status.
- The right to proper medical and personal care based on their individual needs. The medical care and treatment must be designed to enable a resident to achieve his/her highest level of physical and mental functioning.
- The right to choose an attending physician and participate in planning care and treatment.
- Residents have the right to be informed in advance about their care and treatment. They have the right to complete and current information concerning their medical diagnosis, treatment, alternatives, risks, and prognosis. This information shall be in terms and language the patient can reasonably be expected to understand.
- Residents have the right to refuse medical treatment.
Regulation of Assisted Living Facilities
Minnesota passed assisted living legislation to help protect the public by requiring assisted living facilities to offer basic services and to clearly state what services are offered to residents. Under this legislation, consumers can more easily compare assisted living facilities and choose one with the appropriate level of care.
Under Minnesota law, if a facility is classified as an assisted living facility it must provide basic services, such as on-call 24 hour nursing access and help with services such as laundry, meals, transportation and at least three activities of daily living.
In addition, Minnesota has enacted an Assisted Living “Bill of Rights” to protect and promote the rights of residents. The law can be found at Minnesota Statutes Chapter 144G. Some highlights of the law include assuring residents the following rights:
- The right to fair and respectful treatment.
- The right to choose services and providers.
- The right to a current care plan.
- The right to participate in their care and to change medical and care providers.
- The right to be free from harmful treatment.
- The right to self-determination.
- The right to privacy.
- The right to safety.
- The right to speak.
- The right to be provided with the home care bill of rights.
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 Dustin Gaffke