One of the most common questions people ask themselves prior to taking any legal action is, “how much will it cost to hire an attorney?”
This is no different when it comes to nursing home abuse cases…
Unfortunately, while it may seem like a straightforward question, there is no straightforward answer.
Each attorney is different in their approach to fee arrangements, as well as the type of cases that they prefer to take on.
Depending on the circumstances, there may be upfront consultation fees, followed by a contingency fee based on the outcome of the case.
First, we need to understand that every attorney has a different approach to fee structures.
Next, we can evaluate the different types of attorney’s fees…
There are 6 different types of attorney fee arrangements:
However, most nursing home abuse attorneys stick with the first two fee arrangements, consultation fees, and contingency fees.
Let’s explore each of these attorney fee arrangements below…
Nursing home attorneys typically bill their clients on a contingency-only basis, however, some nursing home attorneys also charge a consultation fee.
The main concern of the victim, or victims family, in these cases – is paying an attorney an upfront consultation fee, just to find out that the attorney won’t take on their case, or that they don’t have a solid case at all, regardless of the attorney.
The other consideration that needs to be made is the nature of the question you are hoping to ask the attorney.
Most attorneys are more likely to answer a general question about the law for free, while they may request a consultation fee for a specific question about a prospective client’s situation or case.
Let’s say you called a nursing home attorney to ask about the statute of limitations on nursing home abuse.
The attorney might give you the general answer of 2 years from the date of the injury.
If you were to send in pictures of bruises on your grandmother’s arm, and ask the attorney whether or not you have a case against the nursing home, the attorney may request that you send in further information, requiring a small consultation fee.
Whatever the situation, the attorney should always make the prospective client aware of any fees that they may incur, prior to providing any legal consultation.
So, how much does a nursing home abuse attorney charge for an initial consultation?
Most nursing home abuse attorneys charge somewhere between $100-$500 for the initial, in-person consultation.
Prospective clients should be aware that they are under no obligation to pursue legal action, or pay any additional fees, even after the initial consultation.
Most nursing home abuse attorneys rely on contingency fees for payment for their services.
Meaning, aside from the possible initial consultation fee, clients do not pay their attorney unless they successfully win their case in a court of law, or agree to a settlement in the case.
This is the most attractive fee arrangement for victims of nursing home abuse because it means that they don’t have to incur any upfront costs or risk losing any of their own money while pursuing legal action.
It also means that the attorney is fairly confident in the client’s chances to win their case.
Attorneys do not like to waste their time and would not agree to a contingency fee without a high level of certainty it will result in a financial reward on their part.
Naturally, the next question prospective clients will ask is:
What is a typical attorney fee?
Again, the exact contingency fee is going to depend on the attorney, as well as the details of the case.
The riskier the case, the higher the fee might be.
In most nursing home abuse cases, attorney fees range from 30%-45% of the total settlement amount.
When working with an attorney on a contingency fee basis, make sure these percentages are clearly established upfront, before you pursue any legal action.
Nursing home abuse settle amounts vary drastically depending on the details of the case, the severity of the injuries, and the provided evidence. However, the national average for nursing home abuse settlements is roughly $406,000 (according to a recent study from the journal of health affairs).
Examples of large nursing home abuse settlements:
In 2013, a nursing home and pharmacy agreed to pay $13 million to the estate of a former judge after he tragically died after failing to receive his required antibiotics. Nursing home staff neglected to give him his medication for weeks, all the while falsely reporting that they were giving him the antibiotics. The 68-year-old died due to the neglect and resulting infection.
In 2010, a Kentucky jury awarded a man’s family $42.75 Million after the nursing home staff neglected to provide the man with water, resulting in fatal dehydration. Although the 92-year-old was on a feeding tube, nursing home staff members neglected to provide him with water. The man was only in the nursing home for nine days prior to his death
In 2009, a 36-year-old man with a traumatic brain injury died in Arizona as a result of ingesting foreign objects.
In 2017, an 85-year-old woman died in an Illinois nursing home as a result of her medications being mismanaged by nursing home staff. At the time, this was the largest nursing home abuse settlement in the state of Illinois.
Aside from the cost, the second most commonly asked question from prospective clients is, “how long will it take to reach a settlement”.
Unfortunately, in far too many nursing home abuse cases, the victim has passed away by the time the family is seeking legal representation.
The last thing that most families want to do, is to sign up for multiple years of legal battles, further elongating the mourning process of their loved one.
However, the reality is, these types of cases must be handled delicately, and they take time.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the defendants (the nursing home and liable staff), must be served.
Once the defendants have been properly served, the law provides them with up to 30 days to respond to the lawsuit and the allegations.
After that 30 day period, both parties begin a six-month discovery period.
The intention of the discovery period is to provide both parties the opportunity to gather and exchange documents that will be used in the case, as well as request written statements.
Also during the discovery process, each party will depose any vital witnesses, treating doctors, nursing home staff members, and subject matter experts regarding the allegations.
Due to the complexity of many nursing home cases, it is not uncommon for this discovery period to be extended by an additional six months, and in some rare cases, multiple years.
Once the discovery period is completed, many courts will request that the parties mediate the dispute, rather than go to trial.
Mediation is an alternative form of resolution in which the parties plead their case to a neutral mediator.
The mediator will review the case, and attempt to settle without going to trial.
The majority of nursing home abuse cases are settled in mediation without ever going to trial.
If mediation is unsuccessful, cases can then be placed on the trial calendar.
Trial calendars are scheduled in the order in which they are placed on the judge’s docket.
Depending on the number of cases on the judge’s docket, this waiting period can last for several months.
The nursing home abuse trial itself is the shortest part of the journey, with most trials lasting only 3-7 days.
In total, you can expect a nursing home abuse case to take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years, on average.
If you or a loved one has suffered from any form of nursing home abuse, or suspect that abuse has occurred you may be eligible for compensation.
Our affiliated nursing home abuse attorneys are there to fight for a favorable outcome for your unique situation.
Get in touch with us today for a FREE no-obligation consultation. A lawyer will be in touch to discuss your unique situation and evaluate your potential case.
There are no fees unless you win your case. Call today!