Nursing home abuse can result in some of the most serious injuries a person may be made to endure. Despite this, many cases that involve allegations of abuse settle without ever going to court.
In many situations, the evidence presented by a plaintiff and their attorney is so overwhelming that the nursing home agrees to the demands of the plaintiff without contesting them. This allows the defendant nursing home to avoid the public spectacle of a trial and may limit their damages to some extent.
Unfortunately, sometimes plaintiffs and their families may need to take their nursing home abuse case to court to obtain the justice that they deserve. This is an intensive undertaking that should not be started without understanding the consequences. As soon as a case is filed in court, the defendant and their attorneys would likely pry into every aspect of the plaintiff’s life attempting to find a cause for the injury that absolves them of liability.
The nursing home abuse trial process in Chicago is lengthy and complex. A dedicated nursing home abuse attorney could help you with every portion of the case, from the initial investigation and filing to depositions to the final verdict.
Why a Case May Go to Trial
Cases alleging nursing home abuse typically go to trial only when there is a genuine disagreement as to the facts of the case. Both the plaintiff and the defendant should be aware of the laws that govern how nursing homes must treat their patients, as well as the types of injuries sustained by the resident.
As such, the disagreements usually revolve around a few specific questions of liability, including:
- What did the nursing staff do that led to the injury?
- Was the injury foreseeable?
- Was the injury preexisting the behavior that led to the incident?
- What is an appropriate level of compensation for the injury?
These are questions that a jury may need to decide. During the trial, both sides can present witnesses and documentary evidence to bolster their cases. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that the abuse was committed by the nursing home and that this abuse directly led to an injury.
Civil Trials Process in Illinois
All allegations involving a personal injury that result from nursing home abuse are civil cases. This means that even if a jury finds that abuse did occur, the defendants cannot be sent to jail. Any case involving an intentional harm committed by the nursing home against a resident should be reported to the police and would be handled by a local prosecutor.
To start a case in civil court, a plaintiff or their attorney must author a complaint and file it in the local Circuit Court. This complaint must outline the situation that led to the injury and explain how the related facts fit into a recognizable cause of civil action.
In addition, the plaintiff must meet the statute of limitations for the case. According to 735 ILCS 5/13-202, plaintiffs have a time limit of two years from the date of injury to file a nursing home abuse case in court. As long as the case is filed within this time frame, the court must hear the case.
Once this case is filed, both the plaintiff and the defendant have the right to collect evidence. This typically involves:
- Sending written questions that the other party must answer, known as interrogatories
- Holding deposition sessions in which the parties ask questions in person
- Employing experts to produce reports concerning their opinions as to scientific evidence
While this is happening, the judge in the case may hold pretrial sessions to determine what evidence may be heard at trial and iron out any other questions of legality raised by either party. Only once all these procedures are completed would the case go to trial.
At trial, a 12-member jury is chosen by both parties to hear the facts of the case and decide if the nursing home was responsible for the injuries. If they decide in favor of the filing award, the jury would award damages to the plaintiff. For more information about the nursing home abuse trial process in Chicago, consult with a dedicated attorney.
Knowing the Nursing Home Abuse Trial Process in Chicago Could Be Essential to a Successful Case
Very few civil claims involving nursing home abuse go to trial, as most cases end with a successful settlement for an acceptable sum of money. Still, to obtain the full value of the case, some plaintiffs may need to take their case to court.
This is a lengthy and complex process that involves months of evidence-gathering, legal arguments, and jury selection, all before the case is ever heard in a courtroom. A skilled nursing home abuse lawyer could help guide injured nursing home residents and their families through Illinois civil court to get them the compensation warranted by their injuries. Contact a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney today to learn more about the nursing home abuse trial process in Chicago.