Nursing Home Abuse:
Punitive damages are a special class of damages awarded in civil cases. They are for the express purpose of punishing the defendant for especially egregious behavior, with a hope of preventing similar acts in the future. In nursing home abuse cases, punitive damages may be awarded in cases involving malicious or reckless conduct by the nursing home. That is, it must be proven that the injury was the result of more than simple negligence. It may be argued that the victim was deprived of his or her nursing home resident rights in cases such as these.
Injured nursing home residents tend to be elders with a greater propensity for sickness and a shorter life expectancy than another personal injury plaintiff might have. Therefore, damages that are common to most personal injury cases (e.g., lost earning capacity, future pain and suffering, and future medical expenses) do not play as large a role. Awards against nursing homes are generally made up of punitive damages, as well as damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and the loss of affection and companionship by the surviving spouse (loss of consortium) or children.