In any nursing home neglect claim, the plaintiff’s nursing home attorney must first determine whether to name co-defendants such as physicians not employed by the nursing facility or whether the nursing home will be the sole defendant in the case. If the facts surrounding the plaintiff’s case indicate that the nursing home is clearly responsible for the neglect or abuse, it is typically in the plaintiff’s best interest to direct the case against only the nursing home. Having one defendant will allow the litigation to focus specifically on the defendant’s omissions or wrongful acts as well as the alleged injures to the plaintiff.
Strategies for Naming a Defendant
However, choosing to name the nursing facility as the sole defendant and not naming the outside doctors does not come without risk. In fact, the nursing home and its employees might blame the “outside” physicians for the wrongful death or injuries of the patient. This possible defense can arise in several ways, such as:
A nursing home employee testifies that he attempted to contact a physician when he realized a problem needed to be addressed, but the physician did not respond at all or in time; or
A nursing home employee testifies that she was following a doctor’s orders when he committed whatever type of omission or act that caused death or injury to the resident. Other theories include:
- A doctor who did not adequately follow the resident under the circumstances;
- A doctor who did not properly write orders for the resident; or
A doctor had the ability to correct whatever mistakes were made but failed to do so. Especially in a wrongful death case, if a plaintiff does not not name any physicians as residents, it is likely that the nursing home’s defense experts and attorneys will find some way to blame the patient’s death on a physician who was not employed by the nursing home.
What Plaintiffs Can Do
To avoid this, the plaintiff’s nursing home attorney can name all of the doctors who saw the resident during the pertinent time period as defendants. Unfortunately, this strategy can be expensive, and it brings multiple defense attorneys into the lawsuit, all of whom will be attacking the plaintiff’s case. As a result, the cost and time of the litigation can increase significantly. In addition, naming each of the outside physicians as defendants can also distract from the lawsuit filed against the nursing home. Keep in mind that, in jurisdictions that have limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits that do not apply to nursing home abuse claims, naming outside physicians as defendants can also limit a specific portion of the damages to which a plaintiff may be eligible for his or her injuries or wrongful death. Before making the decision to name or not name any outside doctors as defendants, the plaintiff and his or her legal team should consult with a physician regarding the potential standard of care as well as causation defenses which the nursing home may raise. If the plaintiff’s expert is confident that there are no viable cases against the doctor or doctors in the case, then the plaintiff may consider pursuing the case against only the nursing home.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Attorney Today
If you would like to learn more about your options if you feel that you have a nursing home abuse case, contact Giroux & Associates Inc. at (727) 895-5399. We can review the facts surrounding your claim and help to determine the best course of action for you and your family. The time to file is limited, so contact a professional nursing home attorney at Giroux & Associates Inc. today.