All lawsuits consist of one or more causes of action. A cause of action is a theory of wrongdoing, such as breach of contract, battery or fraud. For our office, depending on the facts of a case, care home lawsuits consist of several different causes of action, including elder abuse, negligence and wrongful death.
The causes of action in a lawsuit determine the types of damages that the suing party may obtain. In a care home suit, available damages usually include compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, attorney fees and costs, and punitive damages. If the victim is alive, almost all of these damages may be obtained if we can prove any of our causes of action. But if the victim is dead, the only damages we can obtain for proving negligence are reimbursement for medical bills. This makes elder abuse — which lets us seek all these damages even for deceased victims — a very important cause.
As you might expect, however, elder abuse causes of action are hard to prove. While proving that one or two errors most likely occurred is enough to win a negligence claim, an elder abuse cause requires proving more serious wrongdoing with a higher degree of certainty (clear and convincing evidence). The threat of elder abuse damages and the difficulty involved in winning them both factor into the types of settlements available in care home suits.