Illinois Proposal to Require Nursing Homes to Carry Liability Insurance Fails in Committee

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A recent attempt to require nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to carry liability insurance has failed.  Proposed House bill 5668 would have required that nursing homes carry at least $1 million of insurance coverage, but the bill died in committee for the second time in four years.  Current Illinois law does not require nursing homes and other care facilities to obtain or carry liability insurance, although many facilities voluntarily choose to do so.

If you have a loved one who resides in a nursing home, or if you are considering placing someone into such a facility, you may want to inquire about and consider the types of coverage carried by the facility.  When residents of a facility are injured by the negligence or malpractice of a facility, Illinois law allows that injured individual to bring a claim against the nursing home to recover for the damages they’ve suffered.

When such a nursing home or care facility is underinsured, or fails to carry any insurance whatsoever, a patient’s ability to seek compensation for his or her injuries is greatly reduced.  Oftentimes, the small insurance limits on nursing home policies deter victims of negligence and neglect from pursuing a claim against the responsible nursing home because a potential plaintiff must worry that the cost of litigation will outweigh any potential award.

Although the legislation proposing mandatory liability insurance for nursing homes has failed, there are several steps that anyone considering placement in such a facility may wish to consider taking.  First, you can contact the Illinois Department of Public Health, to review a particular facility’s record of compliance with state health laws.  Second, you may wish to ask your family doctor or other health care professionals for their opinions and recommendations regarding choosing an appropriate facility.  Finally, you should always visit and tour the facility yourself.

It’s important that residents and their families are aware of the current law governing nursing homes in their state.  If you or your loved one has been a victim of nursing-home neglect or abuse, you should speak with an attorney about your rights.  Protecting our loved ones must always be a top priority.

This wasn’t the first time that legislation aimed at requiring nursing home’s to carry insurance didn’t make it out of the committee.  In 2008, a bill was introduced which would have amended the state’s Nursing Home Care Act to include provisions (1) requiring nursing homes to carry a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance per year; (2) allowing the Illinois Department of Public Health to revoke licenses of uninsured or under-insured nursing homes; (3) requiring disclosure of every nursing home’s insurance policy to the public; and (4) allocating damages by requiring a nursing home licensee to pay three times the actual damages or $500.00, whichever is greater, and the cost of attorney’s fees.  But SB 3445 was not adopted four years ago, and it was denied again in the form of the current proposed legislation.

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