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What Are Statutes of Limitations in Nursing Home Abuse Cases?


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What are statutes of limitations in nursing home abuse cases? First let’s talk about what a statute of limitations means in civil law claims overall. In Michigan, as in other states, there are legal deadlines in place that require parties who are planning to sue for injuries resulting from negligent accident or wrongful conduct to file lawsuits within a specific timeframe. These time deadlines are known as statutes of limitations and are intended to safeguard both sides in a dispute by helping to ensure efficiency and fairness in the legal system.

When claims are not filed promptly, the risk of lost evidence and fading witness memories becomes much greater. Additionally, the statute of limitations prevents parties from indefinitely threatening other parties with lawsuits as a form of harassment. In most cases, once the statute of limitations runs out in an accident or other incident, lawsuits cannot be filed.

What Are Statutes of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits in Michigan?

In nursing home abuse in Michigan, statutes of limitations apply to a range of cases involving injuries and accidents. Because there are many different forms of nursing home abuse – including physical and emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and sexual abuse – the statute of limitations may vary from case to case. While the unique facts and circumstances of your case will dictate how long you have to file a lawsuit, these matters demand timely attention and immediate action.

If you fail to file your nursing home abuse lawsuit in time, you may be barred forever from pursuing legal action. Even if you are well within the statute of limitations for your nursing home abuse case, the longer you wait to file a claim, the greater the chance of evidence being lost or destroyed, witness memories of events growing cloudy, and even elderly witnesses passing away, all of which can affect the success of your suit.

Don’t wait to file a nursing home abuse case -- even if the deadline for filing seems far away. You risk losing key evidence and the clear recollections of witnesses, which can make or break your claim.

By filing a lawsuit as soon as possible after the incidents of abuse, you may also deter further abuse to yourself, your family member or other elderly residents of the facility. Nursing home abuse is more common than most people would like to believe, but when nursing home operators and staff realize they are being held accountable, they may stop their abusive or neglectful actions.

Michigan Statutes of Limitations in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Under state law, the statutes of limitations for nursing home abuse and neglect cases are as follows:

  • Medical negligence – Michigan sets the statute of limitations for medical negligence, under which many nursing home abuse and neglect cases fall, at two years after the negligent act. This means victims and their families have two years from the date an act of negligence occurred to file a lawsuit. Nursing home abuse and neglect are generally considered medical negligence, or medical malpractice, because nursing homes have a legal duty to provide a reasonable standard of medical care.

  • General negligence – In some cases, nursing home abuse cases may involve general negligence, which has a three-year statute of limitations. This applies to both injury and wrongful death cases.

  • Extended time deadlines – There are certain situations and exceptions where a statute of limitations may be extended. These include when a victim suffers from a mental illness at the time of injury, at unlicensed facilities, in cases of sexual abuse, and when the victim of negligence dies before or within 30 days of the statute of limitations.

As the unique facts of your case will determine the applicable statute of limitations, it is always wise to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling lawsuits against nursing homes as soon as possible after abuse occurs. Timely reporting is critical in nursing home abuse cases, as is taking immediate action to protect your right to a civil lawsuit. Should the statute of limitations run out, your loved one and family will generally be unable to pursue a case and have any possibility of holding the nursing home accountable and recovering compensation.

The unique facts of your case will determine the statute of limitations. It is wise to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney in Michigan to learn about specific deadlines for your case.

However, even if you believe you are close to the statute of limitations’ ending since you or your loved one were injured, you should speak to an attorney who is experienced in handling nursing home abuse cases to determine specific deadlines for your situation. Statutes of limitations are complex, and an attorney can help you understand exactly when it started running in your case.

Act Swiftly As Soon As You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse So You Do Not Run Out of Time to File a Claim

As soon as you believe abuse or neglect is occurring, that is the time to take action. What actions to take depends on the individual circumstances of each situation. Here are some possible steps to take:

  • Call 911 if there is a risk of imminent abuse and injuries.

  • If it is not an emergency but there is evidence of abuse, file a report with the police.

  • Report the abuse to Michigan Adult Protective Services to have it investigated.

  • Gather evidence of the abuse, such as photographs and witness contact information, if it is safe to do so.

During this process, it is also smart to consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer. An attorney can investigate the abuse for you and can also guide you in the reporting process to authorities to help ensure action is taken against the nursing home or the abusive staff members. A lawyer will also understand what type of evidence to gather that will best support your claim in a lawsuit and can gather the evidence and take witness statements for you.

Sometimes when abusers know that legal action is imminent, it can serve to protect the abused. When nursing homes have complaints and lawsuits filed against them, it can greatly affect their bottom line, which is what is most important to many nursing home operators. Remember, however, to take action as soon as injuries and other abuse are discovered to help protect your loved from one future harm. If you are considering filing a lawsuit for compensation, begin the process as soon as possible so as to not risk expiration of the statute of limitations.

Damages in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Compensation in nursing home abuse cases is measured in damages. Damages are all the losses that the injured party suffered due to abuse or neglect. Some potential damages in nursing home cases include the following:

  • Payment of doctor bills, hospital expenses, rehabilitation costs and other medical expenses

  • Pain and suffering for physical and emotional pain and trauma

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Disability and impairment

  • Scars and disfigurement.

If your family member dies as a result of nursing home abuse or negligence, you could potentially get compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages in wrongful death claims include reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering of the deceased prior to their death, loss of love, support and companionship from your family member, and other damages.

While many nursing home injury cases fall under medical negligence and have a two-year statute of limitations, wrongful death cases have a three-year statute of limitations. In any case, if you do not file a lawsuit in time and the statute of limitations runs out, you will probably lose your right to collect compensation for these damages. So do not wait to speak with an attorney about potential legal remedies when you or your family member has been injured due to abuse or negligence in a nursing facility.

If you do not file your nursing home abuse claim in a timely way, you could lose your right to collect compensation to pay for medical bills and other costs of injuries to you or your loved one. It pays to get legal help as soon as possible following injuries from nursing home neglect or abuse.

We Are Here to Help You When You Need It Most

Our legal team at Goodman Acker, P.C. is available to victims and families when they need it most, and encourages local residents throughout Detroit and the state of Michigan to act as soon as they can when it comes to nursing home abuse or neglect. By working with an attorney early in the claims process, you can receive the guidance and support you need, and put yourself in a position to pursue justice and compensation for damages. Even if you think the statute of limitations is closing in on your abuse case, we can examine your unique situation to determine the deadlines for making a legal claim.

To discuss a case with a Detroit nursing home abuse attorney from our firm, contact us for a free consultation. Call us today at 248-286-8100.