A recent settlement in a New Jersey court in the negligence lawsuit of Shirley Burrows recently ended in a large settlement that may ease some of the plaintiff’s suffering.
72-year-old Shirley Burrows was admitted to the Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center after visiting the hospital for three bed sores that were considered at the time to be “superficial” in nature. Instead of making a swift recovery, however, Burrows instead developed infections and had areas of her lower back exposed down to the bone.
After recovering in the hospital, Shirley filed a negligence lawsuit against the two-star rehab center and began a protracted legal battle in June 2015. At first, the Buffalo News reports that the opposing insurance lawyers representing the center declared that they “would never pay a dime on this case.”
Despite their confidence, on December 14, 2018, a jury settled the negligence lawsuit in Shirley Burrows’ favor and awarded her $1.25 million. They declared that $475,000 for her past suffering, $300,000 for future damages and suffering, and $475,000 as punitive fines at Newfane Rehab & Health Center for failing to provide adequate care despite receiving specific direction by doctors. The punitive fines are also from violation of New Jersey public health laws protecting the elderly in nursing homes.
Though the results of this negligence lawsuit are promising for Mrs. Burrows, the negligence of nursing homes in New Jersey is still pressing. Long-term of residents in Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center were found to have a 6.02% chance of developing bed sores in a study conducted from 2017 to 2018, and that is a safer incidence rate than most of the state homes.
The underlying issue in this story is how the treatment of the elderly is not prioritized and minor negligences are accepted as a matter of course. According to many sources including MedlinePlus, the simplest way to prevent bedsores is to help residents to move once every 2 hours. Though there is no shortage of legal opportunities to punish negligent nursing homes, the justice a negligence lawsuit brings can only help a resident recover after they have already been wronged.
Shirley Burrows now lives in her own home under the care of her daughter. Though she still has a small wound from her injuries, it is carefully cared for as she begins to recover from the nursing home’s negligence.