How to Prove Damages in a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
Nursing home abuse is something most people prefer not to think about. For tens of thousands of vulnerable senior citizens, nursing home abuse is a reality. If you or a loved one experienced nursing home abuse in Birmingham, you could be eligible for compensation for your damages. You or your Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyer will have to prove these damages, however, to obtain an insurance settlement or jury verdict in Alabama.
Hire a Lawyer
The first step to take toward proving your nursing home abuse claim is to hire a trial attorney. A lawyer will know exactly what to expect from the lawsuit process, as well as how to improve your odds of succeeding in securing compensation. A lawyer can help you gather evidence of nursing home abuse and your family’s related damages. Then, your lawyer can advocate on your behalf for fair and full damages to make up for the losses you or your loved one suffered. A nursing home abuse attorney will also understand relevant state laws and how to negotiate with insurance companies for a fair outcome.
Learn About Compensable Damages
Whether you choose to hire a lawyer or represent yourself, learn about the types of damages the Alabama civil courts will allow plaintiffs to recover during personal injury lawsuits. Understanding damage types can help you create a list of the losses you and your family suffered. Although each case and client is unique, the categories of compensable damages for nursing home abuse remain the same.
- Special damages. Special damages are economic losses unique to the victim’s particular experience or situation. They can include specific damages such as hospital bills, medications, disability accommodations, lost income, legal fees, and funeral and burial expenses (in a wrongful death case).
- General damages. General damages refer to payments for losses that any reasonable nursing home abuse victim might suffer. They describe intangible, or noneconomic, losses. They can include the victim’s physical pain, suffering, humiliation, anguish, mental harm, psychological distress, lost quality of life and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Punitive damages. General and special damages are compensatory, meant to make up for the victim’s losses. Punitive damages, on the other hand, intend to punish the defendant for wrongful acts. It is an extra financial award a judge may give to victims of gross negligence or malicious wrongdoing – including crimes such as nursing home abuse.
Once you understand which damages your loved one can claim, make a list of those that are relevant to your case. Put numeric figures by those with specific amounts, such as medical bills. Contact a personal injury lawyer or research similar cases to find out how to evaluate your general damages. A common calculation method is multiplying your total amount of special damages by a number from one to five that represents the severity of your losses. Work with an attorney for tailored counsel. A lawyer can give you an accurate portrayal of what your claim might be worth.
Gather Evidence of Damages
Demanding a compensatory award will only result in a fair amount if you can support your claim with evidence of your losses. The burden of proof during a civil claim will rest with you, the plaintiff, not the defendant. An insurance company, jury or judge will need to see proof of the damages you are claiming. Proving economic damages is typically a matter of gathering related documents, such as copies of medical bills, payment receipts, travel expense documents and legal fee contracts. Proving noneconomic damages, however, may take live testimony.
A personal injury lawyer can help establish intangible losses such as pain and suffering by telling the victim’s story in detail to a judge or jury. Good storytelling can speak to a jury’s sympathies, potentially resulting in a higher pain and suffering award. A lawyer can also hire nursing home abuse and mental health experts to testify on the witness stand as to the intangible damages this crime can cause to victims. Finally, testimony from friends and family members can serve as proof of how the incident negatively impacted the victim. Work with an attorney to help you and your family prove nursing home abuse damages in Birmingham.