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Where’s the Justice for Our Elderly. Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Elderly abuse is a frightening reality. For 21 days Dorothy Douglas, an 87-year old resident in a West Virginia nursing home, was victim to abuse. The elderly woman was not given adequate food and she was not properly cared for. Just 18 days into her nursing home stay, she died.

A jury found a $91.5 million judgment for the plaintiffs against the multi-million dollar nursing home corporation in Charleston, WV. This judgment survived the first appeal and a local judge affirmed the $91 million dollar award only cutting the amount by $400,000 to adhere to the state cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. However, the nursing home made a second appeal which was recently heard in the West Virginia Supreme Court. The defendant argued to the Supreme Court that all allegations against all nursing home employees should be subject to the $500,000 cap. This case, which prompted important discussion regarding whether nursing homes fall within the scope of the Medical Professional Liability Act and non-economic damages are subject to the cap, is still pending.

As of 2010, there are no caps in Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuits or any medical malpractice lawsuit. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the law requiring a $500,000 cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims violated the ‘separation of powers’ clause in the Illinois state constitution and thus was unconstitutional. Our state Supreme Court has now quashed such laws 3 times and has found for the right of the jury, not the legislature, to determine fair damages in medical malpractice and nursing home abuse claims.

Elderly residents suffering abuse cannot easily protect themselves. Moreover, it takes experienced professionals to ensure the law is upheld and nursing homes are held accountable when you or your elderly loved one is injured. At Walner & Associates we protect you and your loved one when Illinois nursing homes are not following the law.


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