Are Nursing Homes Subject to Civil Rights Litigation?
In Indiana, many nursing homes benefit from liability barriers that are an extension of our state’s medical malpractice laws. While most personal injury tort lawsuits are not difficult for plaintiffs to pursue, medical malpractice is a notable exception. Firstly, it costs a lot of money to pursue medical malpractice because the plaintiff requires an expert witness and these witnesses do not come cheap. Then, the plaintiff must pass a medical malpractice review panel which will determine if their case has merit.
A recent lawsuit, however, can change all of that. In 1987, Congress passed a nursing home reform bill known as FNHRA which sought to establish the rights of nursing home residents. Since their rights are enshrined under law, creative attorneys found a way around our state’s medical malpractice barriers by filing civil rights lawsuits.
What does this mean for your health care clinic? Essentially, you would not only be responsible for injury damages, you could also be responsible for attorneys’ fees and the client would not even have to prove medical malpractice. They would only need to establish that their rights under FNHRA were violated.
More Lawsuits are Incoming
FNHRA is not the only piece of legislation that establishes specific rights for patients that can be litigated in the courts. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) also established patient’s rights thus creating a possible avenue for lawsuits that would create a loophole around our state’s medical malpractice lawsuits.
Higher Malpractice Premiums are Incoming
While plaintiffs who are injured by negligent doctors do not like the rules Indiana has in place limiting medical malpractice lawsuits, the rules have helped keep our state competitive with other states when it comes to medical malpractice premiums. The general belief is that this keeps the cost of health care down for patients, reduces the burden on insurance companies, and makes health care providers more profitable, thus increasing investment.
However, a recent decision allowing a civil rights action to move forward in the courts could change all that. With the potential consequence of a civil rights lawsuit hanging over a provider’s head, the limitations that are placed on medical malpractice lawsuits no longer apply. This also means that lawsuits that were typically filed in state courts will now move to federal jurisdictions where the precedent is enforceable.
What Comes Next?
It is important for your health care agency to prepare for the inevitability of medical malpractice lawsuits. Barring an overturning of precedent in the federal courts, more plaintiffs will be pursuing damages in federal courts where they can sue for attorneys’ fees among other things. Laws that limit medical malpractice damages awards may no longer be enforceable. A skilled Los Angeles business litigation attorney can help.
Contact a Los Angeles Health Care Business Attorney Today
More medical malpractice lawsuits are likely to be filed under FNHRA and the ACA. Protect your company before these laws destabilize the marketplace. Call Carbon Law Group today.