Missouri Nursing Home Abuse Laws

The State of Missouri Finds Damage Caps Unconstitutional

“Damage caps” are arbitrary limitations that some states put on the amount of compensation a victim can recover when injured or killed by the tortious conduct of another.

In Missouri, the use of caps on Medical Malpractice awards have been held unconstitutional by state courts. There is no limitation on damages in personal injury or wrongful death claims. In lawsuits for wrongful death, the recoverable losses include pecuniary; funeral expenses; services; consortium; companionship; comfort; instruction; guidance; counsel; training; support; suffering of deceased before death. The wrongful death statute does not permit damages for grief and bereavement (the period of mourning after death).

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The Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law that affects how long a person has to file a lawsuit after an event occurs. In Missouri, the time limit to file a claim in a personal injury action for nursing home neglect or abuse is 5 years. The Missouri statute of limitations to bring a claim for wrongful death is 3 years. If a lawsuit is not brought within the statute of limitations your right to bring a claim will be barred.

Attorney’s Fees and Contingent Fee Agreements

The use of a contingency fee agreement is meant to help people who cannot afford to hire an attorney by making it easier to pay for legal services. In a contingency fee agreement, the client pays for their attorneys services through a percentage of winnings from a case, as opposed to hourly billing.

The Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct set forth requirements of contingent fee agreements. Pursuant to Rule 4-1.5a, an attorney’s contingent fee must be reasonable at the outset and conclusion of the lawsuit. Further, Rule 4-1.5 requires that a contingent fee agreement be in writing. The scope of representation should be set forth in the agreement and any limits on the lawyers services should be stated explicitly. An attorney must get the client’s consent in writing if he wishes to divide fees with a lawyer from another firm. The division may be based on the proportionate share of services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer must assume joint responsibility for the representation.

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Missouri Nursing Home Regulations

Residents of long term care facilities in MIssouri have rights which are guaranteed by Federal and state law. The purpose of residents rights statutes is to promote and protect residents while supporting the principles of dignity and respect for each and every resident in a long term care setting. Every long term care facility in Missouri that accepts Medicare and Medicaid must promote the following residents’ rights to comply with federal and state law:

  • The right to be fully informed in writing (in a language they can understand) of a nursing homes rules and regulations.
  • The right to participate in their care and be informed of their medical condition and options available for treatment. Residents also have the right to refuse treatment options.
  • The right to choose their own physician.
  • The right not to be discharged or transferred from a long term care facility barring limited circumstances, such as nonpayment of a bill, threatening physical harm to residents/staff or medical conditions which require transfer.
  • The right to voice grievances or file a complaint against a long term care facility without retaliation.
  • Residents cannot be required to have another person sign a guarantee of payment for the resident’s care when admitted to a long term care facility.
  • The right to manage their own finances or to have the facility manage their financial affairs.
  • The right not to be subject to abuse.
  • The right not to be subject to physical or chemical restraints that are put in place for the convenience of the nursing home.
  • The right to confidentiality in their medical treatment, medical records, and when they receive or send mail. Similarly, residents are assured the right of privacy when residing in the home. This includes privacy in medical treatment, personal care and when communicating with friends, families and others.
  • The right to retain and use their possessions as space permits and as long as they don’t interfere with the rights of others.
  • The right to participate in social and religious activities. Additionally, nursing home residents retain all the rights of US citizens including the right to vote.

The complete “Residents’ Rights” statute can be found in the Missouri Code of State Regulations, Title 19, Division 30, Chapter 88.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regulates Missouri’s long-term care facilities. The Department conducts annual inspections to help ensure that each facility continuously provides the minimum levels of care the required by law. The Missouri Department of Health will also receive and investigate complaints made by consumers and residents about nursing homes to ensure compliance with health and safety laws.

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 Allen Brewer

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