In the past few years, there has been some backlash against personal injury attorneys and their lawsuits against nursing homes and hospitals. One such article, written in a large healthcare magazine, even went so far as to suggest that some attorneys use understaffing of workers as an excuse to create lawsuits for cases that would not otherwise be valid. These same writers are arguing for tort reform, which would also put a cap on awards for injury or negligence. They argue that, if there was a cap on awards in the state of Pennsylvania, there would be fewer legal claims and nursing homes may be able to use more workers. They also noted that arbitration decreases the projected expense and awards of cases.
These facts are not completely accurate. Arbitration does NOT decrease the expense and value of claims in all cases; in fact, they may increase the awards from claims in some cases. Additionally, nursing home cases are not as "easy to prove" as these proponents of tort reform would make you believe. Nursing home cases can be difficult to prove, as well as time-consuming. Therefore, the implications that most nursing home negligence cases are easy to prove and will most likely result in large awards are inaccurate.
Understaffing is also a significant and problematic issue in many large nursing homes, and that should not be belittled or explained away. When nursing homes are seriously understaffed, the residents may seriously suffer or injure themselves as a result. In our law office, we have seen understaffing result in very serious injury, such as untreated bed sores and slip-and-falls that result in significant and lasting problems. Articles such as the one described above are written with a definite slant, so be a critical and thoughtful reader when browsing articles.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer practicing in the western and central Pennsylvania region. For more information on his firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.