The Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Process
Atlanta-area attorney explains how you can pursue compensation
Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit or an assisted living lawsuit in Georgia is a complicated legal process. There are strict rules and deadlines that must be followed. Otherwise, you could miss out on your opportunity to take legal action against the nursing facility that harmed your loved one. That’s why it’s critical that you understand how the legal process works.
Attorney George S. Johnson is an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who knows exactly how the process works in Georgia. That’s because he has been helping families in Atlanta and throughout Georgia take legal action against nursing homes and assisted living facilities for years. He knows what forms to file. He understands what courtroom strategies are the most effective. That’s why he has such a strong track record of success. Case results truly matter here.
Can you sue a nursing home for negligence?
Not every injury or illness in a nursing home or assisted living facility is grounds for a lawsuit. However, if your loved one sustained an injury because of the nursing home’s negligence, you can file a lawsuit on those grounds. Some examples include:
- The nursing home did not take precautions to protect your loved one from a hazardous situation.
- They provided substandard care which directly resulted in your loved one’s injury or illness.
- They hired someone with a history of abusing nursing home residents.
- The facility was understaffed and did not have enough people to care for your loved one.
- Unsanitary conditions or poor maintenance caused your loved one’s injury or illness.
- The nursing home failed to properly supervise its employees, resulting in your loved one’s injury or illness.
Who can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Georgia?
In general, the person being abused or neglected, or their spouse, can file a lawsuit or take legal action against a nursing home in Georgia for abuse or neglect. If the victim has a legal guardian or has given power of attorney to another family member, then that person may be eligible to file a lawsuit as well.
If your loved one died due to nursing home negligence, then under Georgia law, only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If there is a surviving spouse (husband or wife), then only the spouse can file the lawsuit. If there is no surviving spouse, then the surviving child or children of the deceased person can file the claim. If there are no surviving children either, then a surviving parent can file the claim (this is an unusual scenario in nursing home cases, of course, but not impossible). If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, then it falls to the administrator or executor of the estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you are not sure about whether you can take legal action on behalf of a loved one, simply talk to an experienced Georgia attorney who knows the law and can help guide you through the legal process, step by step.
How do I file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Georgia?
If you decide to take legal action against a nursing home for abusing or neglecting a loved one, there are certain steps you need to take, including:
Hire a lawyer – Strictly speaking, you aren’t required to have an attorney to file a lawsuit, but it’s always in your interest to get legal representation. Your lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence in support of your legal claim. They can also help you fill out all the necessary paperwork and file these documents on time with the appropriate court, usually in the Georgia county where the nursing home is located.
Gather evidence – The more evidence you have in support of your claim, the stronger your legal case is. Evidence of abuse or neglect can take many forms, including:
- Verbal or written statements from your loved one.
- Eyewitness testimony from other nursing home residents or employees.
- Photos of physical injuries.
- Medical records documenting treatment for injuries.
File a formal complaint – Your complaint should outline the parties involved, why you are bringing the lawsuit and what your claims against the nursing home are. Your attorney will file this complaint in the appropriate court.
Formally notify the nursing home – You, or your attorney, must inform the nursing home of your legal actions in writing so that there is a written record of your formal complaint.
Prepare for court – Your attorney will gather additional evidence and get ready to face the nursing home’s attorneys in court. Your attorney will work with you to create a legal strategy and prepare you for each step in the formal process.
Note that filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean you’re going to court. You can settle out of court with the nursing home and their insurance company at any point in the process; indeed, that’s how most claims are resolved. A lawsuit is a tool to keep your legal options open and put more pressure on the nursing home to offer a fair settlement.
Other steps you should take if your loved one is being abused
Filing a lawsuit isn’t the only action you can take to address nursing home abuse or neglect. Other ways to report nursing home abuse include:
File a complaint with the state – You will need to contact the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Georgia. They investigate complaints of nursing home abuse or neglect in the state. Several community ombudsmen serve Georgia based on geographic location. For example, if your loved one lives in Fulton County in the Atlanta area, you will need to contact the Capitol Ombudsman Program in McDonough, GA. If your loved one’s nursing home is in DeKalb County, you will need to contact the West Ombudsman Program in College Park, GA. A complete list of offices for community ombudsmen in Georgia can be found here.
Call the police – If you believe a crime has been committed, call the police right away. Your loved one’s life could be at risk.
How much time do I have to take legal action?
In most cases, you have two (2) years from the date the abuse or neglect took place at a nursing home to file a lawsuit in Georgia. If your loved one died, you likewise have two (2) years from the date of death. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you might miss out on your only opportunity for justice.
But just because you have two years to sue a nursing home does not mean you should wait that long to take legal action. The sooner you initiate legal action, the stronger your case. Evidence can be lost or destroyed over time. Witnesses’ memories can fade.
Make sure you give your legal case the best opportunity for success. Talk to a Georgia lawyer right away who knows how the legal system works here.
What can I sue a nursing home for?
In most cases, you can sue for damages, a legal term for financial compensation for direct financial losses as a result of the abuse or neglect. This often includes:
- Medical treatment for your loved one’s injuries.
- Prescription medications and medical devices to treat your loved one.
- Follow-up medical care, including doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.
- Pain and suffering experienced by your loved one.
- The cost of relocating your loved one to another nursing home, if necessary.
The bottom line is you should not have to pay for someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior. If your loved one was harmed, you should be fully compensated, plain and simple.
How much is my lawsuit worth?
There’s no set dollar amount when it comes to lawsuits involving abuse or neglect at nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Each case is different. And the jury will ultimately decide how much money to award your loved one.
Your attorney’s job is to convince the jury to award your family full and fair compensation for all your injury-related expenses – or to convince an insurance company that it’s in their best interest to settle rather than facing a jury. This is why it’s important that you have an experienced lawyer familiar with presenting such cases in court in Georgia. Otherwise, your family might not get the money you deserve for your loved one’s injury, pain and suffering, and other costs.
Get an attorney who will fight for your family’s best interests
Legal cases involving nursing home abuse or neglect in Georgia can be very complicated. The stakes are high. If your case is successful, your loved one could be awarded significant compensation. Nursing homes know this. That’s why they hire lawyers to do everything they can to reduce or deny their liability.
Atlanta nursing home abuse attorney George S. Johnson can help you every step of the way. He has successfully argued complex legal cases in Fulton County, DeKalb County, and throughout the state of Georgia. That’s why families turn to him when it matters most.