As regular readers of this blog are well aware, much of the law comes down to pretty strict definitions and interpretations. That’s why it can often be so daunting in determining whether to pursue a claim for your loved ones for incidents that occur in nursing home facilities.

Illinois has a long, exhaustive law on the books regulating nursing homes, known as the Nursing Home Care Act (cited as 210 ILCS 45, et. seq.) and it can be easy to get “swallowed whole,” so to speak, in this detailed mechanism.

Fortunately, an act such as this goes to great length in defining its terms and boundaries. For instance, let’s look at the concept of “neglect” — a term used very frequently in nursing home litigation, but one that many believe to be deceptively simple.

We’ve reported many recent instances in the news about the dangers of what can go wrong when a nursing home is under staffed and an accident occurs. But does this make the facility negligent? Looking to the text of the law that defines “neglect” (Section 1-117), the State defines the term as follows:

“‘Neglect’ means a facility’s failure to provide, or willful withholding of, adequate medical care, mental health treatment, psychiatric rehabilitation, personal care, or assistance with activities of daily living that is necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness of a resident.”

But how far does this definition go? The Illinois Supreme Court addressed this very question in Harris v. Manor Care Healthcare Corp., where they held that the term is synonymous with ordinary care, due care, or reasonable care — essentially, the same standard of care that a negligence action (such as for a car accident) is held. This is an important factor to keep in mind if your loved one has been injured, taken ill, or died as a result of a nursing home’s conduct.

The hurdles to recovery are high, but they are not insurmountable, and at the end of the day, you will have the chance to tell a court or jury to hold the facility to the same standard of reasonableness as they would anyone else.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect – in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.

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