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How Long Does a Nursing Home Abuse Case Take?

Talk to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to protect your legal rights

If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a Georgia nursing home, the mix of feelings can be overwhelming: shock, rage, confusion, and more. The prospect of taking legal action against the negligent nursing home can seem even more daunting. However, it’s important to know your options to protect your loved one’s rights under Georgia law.

Pursuing a nursing home abuse claim or lawsuit can be a long process, but you don’t have to go through that process alone. The experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Johnson Greer Law Group in Decatur, GA can help you every step of the way.

Steps in the nursing home abuse and neglect pre-lawsuit process

Every nursing home abuse case is different, so it’s difficult to pin down an exact timeline. However, there are certain steps that need to be followed to move a nursing home case forward. Each of these steps takes time and resources, but our attorneys put in the effort needed to put our clients in the best position to win.

Initial consultation

During the free initial consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to sit down with an attorney and explain what happened to your loved one in your own words. There’s no obligation to move forward at this stage, just a chance to tell your story. Based on the information you provide us, we will explain your possible legal options and next steps if we’re able to move forward with your case.

The initial consultation is also an opportunity for you to get to know your lawyer and decide whether you’re comfortable moving forward with a potential case. We’ll also explain our contingency fee agreement and answer any questions you may have. If you decide to hire our firm, we’ll send you various client engagement materials to establish the attorney-client relationship.

Initial claim investigation

Once our firm is engaged in the case, we will launch a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of what happened to your loved one. This investigation may involve:

  • Reviewing documents such as treatment records, medication administration records, and financial documents that can shed light on abuse or neglect.
  • Reviewing the nursing home contract to understand exactly what services the facility was obligated to provide.
  • Gathering medical records to document your loved one’s illness or injury.
  • Speaking with witnesses, including residents, staff, and visitors.

Depending on the situation, we may also need to hire experts, such as nurses or nursing home administrators, who can offer an opinion on the applicable standards of care and whether the facility met those standards.

Calculating damages

“Damages” are a legal term for financial compensation for losses you and your loved one have suffered as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect. Depending on the type and nature of the injury, damages in your loved one’s case may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish
  • Funeral and burial expenses (if your loved one died due to abuse or neglect)

Preparing a complaint

Once we have investigated the claim, the next step is typically to prepare a formal complaint that explains what happened, why the nursing home was responsible, and how much compensation we are seeking.

Settlement negotiations

At any point in the process, we can negotiate a settlement with the nursing home or their insurance company. Many of our cases settle before going to court. However, we are always prepared to go to trial if that’s what it takes to get our clients the compensation and justice they deserve.

If you receive a settlement offer from a nursing home or an insurance company representing a nursing home, always talk to your attorney before accepting it. Once you take their money, that’s it; your case is settled, and you can’t go back for more.

Steps in the nursing home lawsuit process

If we can’t reach a favorable settlement with the nursing home, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against them. Again, settlement negotiations can continue throughout the process. Steps in the lawsuit process include:

Filing the lawsuit

You must file formal documents with the court to initiate the lawsuit. Our law firm will take care of this step on your behalf.

Service of process

The defendants in the lawsuit – typically the nursing home itself and any liable staff – must be “served;” that is, formally notified that they are defendants in a lawsuit. Once served, they have 30 days to prepare a formal response.


The discovery period is a process of formal information exchange. This may include documents, written questions known as interrogatories, and in-person questioning called depositions. Your attorney will have the opportunity to question witnesses, including treating doctors, nursing home staff, and experts hired by the other side. Of course, the nursing home’s lawyers will have the same opportunity.

In Georgia, the discovery period is typically six months, but in nursing home cases, it is often extended due to the complexity and amount of evidence needed. It’s not unheard of for discovery to take a year or more.


Sometimes, the court will require the parties to go through the mediation process. Mediation is essentially an assisted settlement negotiation: you and your lawyer sit down with the nursing home’s representatives and their lawyers, with a neutral third party called a mediator going back and forth to work out a compromise. Mediation is non-binding: the mediator can recommend a resolution, but you and the other party will decide whether to accept it or not.

Pre-trial motions

If mediation is unsuccessful, both sides’ lawyers have the opportunity to file various pre-trial motions. This can take several months to resolve.


Once the pre-trial motions are resolved, the case is placed on the court’s docket. It may be several months or more before you go to trial. The trial itself may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

So, how long does it take to resolve a nursing home case in Georgia?

Again, the short answer is “it depends.” Because there are so many steps in the pre-trial process, taking a case all the way to trial generally takes at least 18 months and often significantly longer. That said, most cases settle at some point in the process, and a settlement can be reached at any time, from before a lawsuit is filed, all the way to the courthouse steps on the day of trial. It depends on the circumstances of the case, the amount of damages at stake, and how difficult the nursing home and its insurance company decide to be.

When you come to your free initial consultation, we’ll give you our best estimate of what the legal process might look like in your case, but it’s just that: an estimate, based on our incomplete information at the beginning of the process.

Sometimes, cases can be resolved faster than expected; other times, seemingly straightforward cases take unexpected twists and turns. We can’t promise you a timeline upfront. What we can promise is dedicated advocacy and clear communication throughout the process, no matter how long it takes.

If you believe your parent, grandparent, or other loved one was abused or neglected in a Georgia nursing home, you deserve answers about your legal options. Give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced nursing home negligence attorney at Johnson Greer Law Group.

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