Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court decided a case that may have a major effect on nursing home claims throughout the United States. In Kindred Nursing Centers, L.P. v. Clark, the court held that state courts cannot adopt rules that single out arbitration agreements for negative treatment.

signatureFacts of the Case

In the case, two individuals each held a power of attorney respectively for their relatives, who were nursing home residents. When the relatives moved into the nursing home, the family members signed arbitration agreements on behalf of the residents at the same nursing home. After both of the residents died, their estates sued the nursing home, alleging that the home had been negligent in caring for them. The nursing home tried to force the plaintiffs into arbitration, claiming they had agreed to settle their claims through arbitration, according to the agreements.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court found that the family members could not enter into the agreements on behalf of the residents because the residents had not expressly given permission for the plaintiffs to do so. The Kentucky Supreme Court did not give effect to the arbitration agreements because it decided that in the case of arbitration agreements, an individual must specifically waive his constitutional right to a jury trial.

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In a recent decision, a state appellate court dismissed a firefighter’s lawsuit after she was run over by a truck while sleeping at base camp. After a fire broke out in a national forest, firefighters were deployed to fight the fire. A base camp was set up for firefighters so that they could stay near the forest. The fire protection districts, who were managing the fire, were required to set up a quiet, shaded sleeping area for firefighters at the camp.

Fire TruckWhen the plaintiff returned to camp, the designated sleeping area was full. Some of the firefighters went to sleep by the horse barns, but she did not want to sleep there due to the conditions, and she asked her supervisor if she could sleep in the infield. Her supervisor agreed. Some others slept there as well. On the next night, after fighting the fire all day, she returned to base camp at around 9 p.m. She again asked to sleep in the infield, and her supervisor agreed. At around 10 p.m., another employee drove a water truck across the infield and ran over the woman. The truck crushed the woman’s chest, ribs, lungs, and left shoulder, and fractured her back. It also permanently damaged her heart, lungs, and eyes.

The woman sued the fire protection districts, among others, claiming she was injured because the district created a dangerous condition on public property. The defendants claimed they were immune from suit because the firefighter’s rule prevented the woman from recovering compensation. The state’s court of appeals agreed with the defendants and dismissed the lawsuit, finding the case was barred under the firefighter’s rule.

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When someone suffers injuries as a result of a defective or dangerous product, the potential defendants that may be held liable range from the company that designed the product to the manufacturer and even the retailer. Product liability cases involving product defects can arise from defects in manufacturing or defects in the product’s design. Manufacturing defect cases involve a defect in a product caused when the product was not manufactured according to its intended design. In contrast, design defect cases involve a defect in a product caused when the product’s design was unreasonably dangerous. There can also be marketing defects in cases in which there was an insufficient warning of the product’s dangers.

Cup of CoffeeIn an Illinois defective design case, a plaintiff must prove that the product had an unreasonably dangerous condition, the condition existed when the product left the defendant’s control, and the condition caused the plaintiff’s injuries. There are different tests courts use to determine whether a product is “unreasonably dangerous.” Under the consumer-expectation test, the question is whether a product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect. In contrast, under the risk-utility test, the question is whether a product’s risks outweighed its benefits. The risk-utility test considers a number of different factors, including the feasibility of alternate designs, whether the design conformed to industry standards, the utility of the product, the likelihood of injury, and the manufacturer’s ability to eliminate the unsafe condition.

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Personal injury claims arising out of car accidents usually involve acts of negligence, and they often involve multiple parties. For example, there may be allegations that a driver failed to obey traffic laws, failed to drive safely considering the conditions, or failed to properly maintain the vehicle’s brakes. There also may be allegations that a driver was negligent in responding to another driver’s actions or violated a traffic rule or law.

Multi-Car AccidentDepending on the circumstances surrounding an accident, if a driver violated a statute, ordinance, or traffic regulation, it may be considered negligence per se. If so, the driver’s conduct may give rise to a rebuttable presumption of negligence, or it may be considered evidence of negligence. In cases involving multiple parties, each party’s actions may come under scrutiny, potentially reducing the plaintiff’s compensation.

Comparative Negligence

Traditionally, under a different doctrine called contributory negligence, if a plaintiff was found to be partially at fault, the plaintiff could not recover any compensation from the defendant. However, today Illinois follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. Under the doctrine of comparative fault, or comparative negligence, a plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced by their own percentage of fault.

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Many car accidents are caused by a driver’s negligence. Often, these accidents involve the negligent driver not paying attention to the road and rear-ending the vehicle in front of them. According to recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for the majority of all motor vehicle accidents, comprising about 33 percent of all crashes.

Red RoseRear-end collisions are simply defined as collisions in which one vehicle collides with the rear of another vehicle. Across the country, over 2,000 rear-end collisions resulted in a fatality, and over 500,000 resulted in an injury. In Illinois, if another driver is to blame, an accident victim may recover damages from any defendant who was more at fault than they were in causing the accident.

Bachelor Star Charged with Causing Fatal Accident and Fleeing the Scene

According to one news source, a former star of the T.V. series “The Bachelor” has been charged with causing a traffic accident that killed a driver and fleeing the scene. Allegedly, the reality show star was driving a pickup truck at around 8 p.m. on a Monday evening in Iowa and rear-ended a tractor. The tractor then rolled over and fell in a ditch. The reality star’s truck fell in a ditch on the opposite side of the road. The tractor driver, a farmer, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was 66 years old and is survived by his wife, two sons, and three grandchildren.

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Medical products and devices are often used in surgical procedures and other medical treatments. In some cases, these devices can save lives. However, sometimes these devices can be dangerous and may result in more serious injuries than the injuries they are used to treat.

SurgeryPelvic mesh, sometimes called vaginal mesh or surgical mesh, is a medical device that is used in procedures to support repairing weakened or damaged tissue. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned of complications associated with surgical mesh when placed in the vagina.

In some cases, the mesh can erode and cause patients pain, infection, bleeding, and other issues. Pelvic mesh implants became common a decade ago to treat urinary incontinence, or involuntary leakage of urine. Many women experience a condition in which the bladder and other organs, weakened by childbirth, sag over time, causing incontinence. In recent years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of pelvic mesh, by women alleging they were harmed by the implants.

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There are several different types of claims that can be filed against nursing homes for injuries caused to residents. These claims include those based on intentional abuse, medical malpractice, and general negligence. A negligence claim is a common claim against a nursing home, and it arises from a provision of care that does not meet the standard expected of nursing homes.

Hospital BedNursing homes may be liable for acts or omissions that cause injuries to residents. Nursing homes are required to exercise reasonable care in caring for and protecting residents. Thus, in general, a nursing home has to exercise the degree of care and skill normally used by other long-term care facilities under the same or similar circumstances.

Woman’s Family Claims Nursing Home Failed to Resuscitate Her After She Was Found Not Breathing

According to a news article, a family recently brought a lawsuit against a Highland Park nursing home, alleging that staff caused a woman’s death by failing to administer CPR when she was found not breathing in her bed. The resident, who was 52 years old, had diabetes and suffered from kidney failure, but she was only supposed to be at the home for a few weeks while recovering from pneumonia. Last month, a nurse went into her room at around 4 a.m. and found the woman “lifeless and not breathing.” The family alleges that the nurse misread the woman’s chart, which stated whether she wanted to be resuscitated. The family said she wanted to be resuscitated, but no one administered CPR.

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In some circumstances, going to trial is the best way for plaintiffs to obtain the compensation they deserve. But in other cases, plaintiffs may want to avoid trial and can obtain the results they want without having to wait until the end of a trial. In Illinois, a plaintiff can dismiss a claim against a defendant and resolve the case through an agreed-upon settlement. In some cases with multiple defendants, a plaintiff may be able to obtain a settlement against one defendant and proceed to trial against the others. Some settlements require court approval, while others require only the agreement of the parties involved.

TrackIf a plaintiff agrees to a settlement, the circuit court retains jurisdiction for at least 30 days over any motion seeking relief from the judgment. For example, a party can return during that time to enforce a settlement or to try to void the settlement, due to fraud or duress. After this time, the court has more limited jurisdiction over the case, but it may be able to decide certain issues related to the judgment.

Woman Injured by Discus at School Track Meet Obtains $350,000 Settlement

An 83-year-old woman and her husband were attending a high school track meet when the woman was hit by a student’s discus. According to one news source, the woman filed a lawsuit against the school and against the athletic association, alleging they failed to keep spectators safe.

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Beach umbrellas can be a great way to avoid getting a sunburn at the beach. But on a windy day, they can also pose a significant danger. A strong wind can turn an umbrella into a dangerous object, with the potential to cause serious injuries. In addition to beach umbrellas possibly being lifted out of the sand, umbrellas can also come out of outdoor dining tables or even outdoor store displays.

Beach UmbrellaLawsuits against individuals or business owners based on an umbrella injury generally allege that the defendant was negligent in properly securing the umbrella. Even the government is a potential defendant in beach umbrella cases. If the incident occurs on a public beach, for example, the government may be responsible, particularly if the lifeguard was aware of the potential hazard caused by the wind but failed to minimize the danger.

In order to prove negligence, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to protect them against an unreasonable risk of harm, the defendant breached that duty, and an injury occurred that was proximately caused by the breach. The plaintiff has the burden to prove all four elements in a negligence claim. This means that the plaintiff has to present evidence that would allow a rational juror to reasonably conclude each of the elements of the claim is met.

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Although lawsuits against nursing homes may be brought for a variety of reasons, these lawsuits often require experts. Experts can help explain the standard of care the home was required to follow or the cause of a resident’s injuries. As in any negligence claim, in a claim alleging the negligence of a nursing home facility, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, the breach caused the plaintiff an injury, and the plaintiff sustained damages.

Bowl of CandyIn nursing home lawsuits, once the plaintiff establishes that the nursing home owed a duty to the resident, the next question is whether the defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care required under the circumstances. For example, a nursing home is normally expected to keep residents properly bathed and fed and to provide them with their medications. To prove that the staff was negligent, the staff’s conduct must have fallen below the relevant standard of care. Many nursing home residents are sick and elderly, and many residents die in nursing homes—thus, the fact that a resident died in the home’s care is insufficient. In order to succeed in a nursing home lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that the nursing home failed to properly care for the resident in order for the home to be held responsible. Accordingly, generally, expert testimony is required to establish the standard of care and to show that the nursing home’s conduct fell below the expected standard.

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