Juries typically recognize that nursing home abuse causes severe consequences and permanent emotional scarring, and occurs due to preventable mistakes or intentional harm. As a result, some cases close with a seven-figure award amount that the harmed elder and their family absolutely deserves. A recently proposed bill could counteract progress, though, by seriously limiting how much a plaintiff can collect in noneconomic damages for successful nursing home abuse claims.
HR Bill 1215, which is being advertised as the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017,” would limit noneconomic damages in nursing home abuse cases to just $250,000, regardless of the details of the case. The number of victims, the extent of the harm, and the intent of the abuser would all be irrelevant if this bill is allowed to pass. Even in cases where an elder is sexually abused repeatedly, the noneconomic cap would be just $250,000.
Noneconomic damages in an injury claim are related to emotional suffering and psychological harm caused by a traumatic or painful event. Punitive damages to punish an abuser who had criminal intent when hurting a nursing home resident is also considered noneconomic damages and would be subject to the proposed cap. The only damages that would not be limited would be those related to paying for medical treatments to address the harm caused.
It is worth noting that the nursing home industry is valued at an annual amount of $130 billion, and $10 billion of that amount is considered to be direct profit. There is no reason to cap noneconomic damages at just $250,000. Lawsuits against nursing homes and parent companies are not frequent or significant enough to jeopardize the industry. The cap is surely only to benefit the abusers while simultaneously and possibly inadvertently spreading the false idea that nursing home abuse is nothing to worry over.
As steadfast defenders of the wrongfully injured, our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Shrager & Sachs stands against HR Bill 1215. If you think imposing this limit and crippling your right to recovery if you or a loved one is hurt by nursing home abuse, we encourage you to contact your local representatives or Congress members to let them know you do not approve of HR Bill 1215.