Senior Living Liability Mitigation: Aggressive Defense as a Deterrent
Usually, when we think of Senior Living Liability Mitigation, our minds gravitate towards preventative measures like regular safety audits, enhanced staff training, and implementing state-of-the-art medical alert systems. While these methods are critically important and serve as the foundation for improving the level of service, your liability mitigation strategy shouldn’t be restricted to just these avenues. There exists another potent form of liability mitigation that senior living facilities should seriously consider, if they aren’t already integrating it: the assertive adoption of legal strategies to deter.
Senior living facility operators who are typically committed to the care and well-being of residents, still find themselves having to navigate the multifaceted complexities of the legal landscape. While addressing genuine concerns, industry members must increasingly grapple with both the predatory tendencies of some plaintiff attorneys and the rising average costs of liability claims. As a response to these challenges, many operators employ advanced litigation tactics. By crafting an assertive courtroom demeanor, they aim to set a financially and procedurally high bar for initiating litigation. This approach doesn’t seek to escape accountability; rather, it serves to deter both groundless and exploitative legal claims while still addressing genuine grievances.
Understanding the Rising Tide of Liability Claims
Recent data from a Chicago-based insurance company, CNA, underscore the escalating costs of liability claims. Since 2018, the average liability claim cost in assisted living rose to $267,174 in 2021 from a previous $152,348. Meanwhile, skilled nursing facilities also experienced an uptick in average claim costs from $216,428 in 2018 to $245,559 in 2021. Significantly, assisted living claims overshadowed the latter in costs.
Key observations from the report highlighted that one of the leading allegations in assisted living is the failure to monitor, often exacerbated by inadequate staffing. This lapse could manifest in unwitnessed falls or delayed identification of pressure injuries. Falls and pressure injuries alone represented almost two-thirds of all claims across all settings. Interestingly, dementia played a role in 72.9% of all assisted living falls-related claims, with an average claim cost of $242,269.
More alarming statistics include the top five fall-related injuries in both assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, with death leading at 59.4%. Furthermore, less than 25% of facility marketing materials set realistic expectations about the ongoing risk of resident falls.
Elopement-related claims, although constituting only 1.8% of all claims, proved to be among the most expensive, averaging an astounding $360,840. In assisted living, these claims surpassed the average, costing over $400,000.
Predatory Litigation in the Face of Rising Claim Costs
In light of these soaring claim costs, it becomes evident why the sector is a lucrative target for predatory litigators. They bank on the perception that facilities will opt for a quick settlement rather than face these escalating figures. However, when operators are known to vigorously challenge every allegation, the cost for plaintiff attorneys can increase exponentially. Considering the new data, the investment in a robust defensive strategy seems not only justified but necessary.
Strategizing Against Opportunistic Lawsuits Amidst Rising Costs
Amid these economic realities, operators cannot afford complacency. Through collaborations with skilled legal teams and a thorough approach to each challenge, they communicate a clear stance: predatory litigation and groundless claims have no place here. And with claim costs skyrocketing, this assertive approach becomes not just a deterrent but a necessity.
Balancing Vigilance with Authenticity
While operators need to safeguard against rising claim costs and predatory lawsuits, they must also ensure their residents and their families that genuine concerns will always be met with care, understanding, and action. Addressing actual oversights and providing top-notch care remains the core of the sector, even as it navigates these legal and financial challenges.
The intricate dance of advanced litigation tactics, rising claim costs, and ensuring resident care defines the modern senior living sector’s narrative. As operators continue to face both genuine concerns and predatory legal challenges, a proactive and balanced approach becomes their strongest ally. Their ultimate goal remains the same: delivering outstanding care while ensuring a just and fair operational landscape.
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