Most nursing homes in Illinois are either corporations or limited liability companies. One of the basic principles of the law is that with a few exceptions, a business is responsible for the negligence of its employees.
The formal term for that in the law is respondeat superior. In practice what this means in the nursing home setting is that nursing home is responsible for the substandard care provided by nurses, CNA’s, and other direct employees that results in injuries or wrongful death due to things like nursing home falls, bed sores, choking accidents, or medication errors.
The flip side to this is that the in general, the nursing home is not liable for the actions of people who are not their employees, even if they were providing care in the nursing home. The one person that this will always apply to is the attending doctor. Past that, there are a handful of other kinds of health care professionals who provide care in a nursing home setting who are not employees of the nursing home but are instead employed by an independent contractor. The common categories of independent contractors in nursing home include:
- Nutritionist/dietician – these are people who help manage the nutritional needs of nursing home residents. Having good nutritional status is important for recovering from bed sores in particular, and they may become involved in case where the nutritional care of a resident with bed sores is at issue
- Wound care nurse/wound care doctor – these are health care professionals who are brought in to care for a resident who has already developed a bed sore. Wound care nurses are sometimes direct employees of the nursing home, sometimes not. Wound care doctors never are.
- Physical therapist – Physical therapists help residents who are in need to strengthening after an injury or illness and are at times involved in fall prevention care planning. They tend to be involved most often in cases involving nursing home falls.
- Occupational therapists help residents who have need of assistance with activities of daily living such as getting dressing, toileting themselves, or feeding themselves.
- Speech therapists – not only do they help with communication issues, they are also involved with assessing residents for dementia. Where we see the role of the speech therapist most clearly is in cases involving choking accidents in nursing homes.
- Respiratory therapists – they are involved in caring for resident on ventilators and who have other respiratory issues and may require the use of supplemental oxygen. They may be seen in cases involving ventilator accidents in nursing homes and in cases involving smoking accidents in nursing homes where the use of supplemental oxygen is an issue.
Recognition of the possible role of an independent contractor in any possible nursing home abuse and neglect case is something that any experienced Chicago nursing home lawyer will take into account in investigating a potential case.
The statute of limitations for nursing home cases in Illinois is 2 years from the date of accident or that date on which you knew or reasonable should have known that you suffered injuries which were wrongfully caused. Where there is a potential for involvement of one of the kind of independent contractors listed above, getting investigation done early so that suit can be filed against the nursing home is required. Having suit on file early allows us to obtain the names of the other potential defendants in the case and to amend the lawsuit so that they can be added as defendants to the case and held liable for their role in causing the injuries and death at issue in the lawsuit.
One of our core beliefs is that nursing homes are built to fail due to the business model they follow and that unnecessary injuries and illnesses and wrongful deaths of residents are the inevitable result. Order our FREE report, Built to Fail, to learn more about why. Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to help you understand what happened, why, and what your rights are. Contact us to get the help you need.