Nursing Home Abuse: How Long Do You Have to Sue?

Updated on December 14, 2022

State laws determine how much time you have to file a lawsuit against nursing home abuse. The statute of limitations, however, varies between states, depending on the case. Nursing home abuse does not have a separate statute of limitations. This will also be determined by how you categorize the incident. 

Most cases qualify for negligence, medical malpractice, or personal injury. However, on average, the deadline for filing a lawsuit against a nursing home is between two and three years.

Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are designed to offer a degree of protection to the defendant. Mainly, they can’t be taken to court for something they did a long time ago. Therefore, the faster you take legal action, the better. The deadline represents the end date for filing the lawsuit. 

When calculating your time frame, consider all the time you spend preparing a file and your meetings with this Alaska nursing home abuse attorney working on your case. All these preparations can take a rather long time, so make sure to start proceedings as soon as possible. Also, it is better to begin documenting the incident while the evidence is still fresh.

The Time Frame

The deadline to initiate a lawsuit is very different between states. However, an average timeframe for a nursing home abuse case would be two or three years. Still, you should check what is specific for the state you live in because, in some locations, it can be as short as a year, or it can go up to six years.

What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?

Not meeting the deadline means that your case can be dismissed on account of untimeliness. There are, however, some exceptions. The most solid grounds for an exemption from the deadline are fraud or deception. In other words, if the nursing home tried in any way to hide events from you or has tried to hinder your proceedings can be considered a valid reason for delay.

Possible Types of Lawsuits for Nursing Home Abuse

Since there is no specific statute of limitations, this is determined by the type of lawsuit you choose. In the following, we will take a closer look at some relevant deadlines for nursing home abuse lawsuits.

Medical Malpractice

This is a legal path that is frequently pursued for negligence in nursing homes. Eldercare facilities have strict regulations in place about proper standards of care and service. The staff has to abide by these at all times.

When preparing a case on medical malpractice, there are a couple of aspects to prove. First of all, it has to be clear that the staff failed to abide by the institute’s regulations. Secondly, this failure must have caused harm to the victim.

In medical malpractice cases, negligence is often determined in court by comparison. For this, it is taken into account how another caregiver with similar experience would have acted in a similar situation.

The time frame for medical malpractice starts with the standard deadline that stretches over two to six years (depending on the state) following the incident. 

Personal Injury

It is also possible to file for a personal injury lawsuit if a resident has suffered neglect or abuse in the nursing home. In most cases, these damages are classified as compensatory since they aim to compensate for the injury. There are several types of compensatory damages, here are the main ones that can apply to nursing home abuse cases:

  • Medical treatment: covering the expenses for the medical care associated with the injury. This can cover both past and estimated future bills.
  • Emotional distress: covers the psychological damages triggered by the injury.
  • Pain and suffering: this applies both to the immediate pain and the discomfort caused in the long run.
  • Loss of enjoyment: injury can also make the victim lose interest in activities that have brought pleasure in the past.
  • Property damages: covers any property damage that was caused during the incident.

The statute of limitations on personal injury varies from state to state. For example, in California, the lawsuit must be filed within two years since the injury occurred or one year after the injury was discovered. 


It can be possible to file a lawsuit against a nursing home for negligence based on neglect. In cases like this, it is recommended to first report the case to the administration of the facility. Based on the severity of the incident, you coulda also get the police involved. 

If it was only a minor case of negligence, you could consider giving the nursing home a chance to redress their action following your report. However, if they fail to do that, seek legal counsel and start preparing your case file. Neglect caused by care providers can cause pain and suffering to residents. The institution can be held liable for these consequences.  

If negligence is taken as a section in a personal injury case, the statute of limitations will be the same. In California, the deadline for filing the documents is two years since the incident occurred or one year since it was uncovered.

Wrongful Death

If a resident dies due to improper nursing home conditions or care, the family may sue them for wrongful death. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may file a lawsuit against specific staff members, nurses, or the administration. Numerous actions may qualify for wrongful death; here are a few of these:

  • Error in administering medication.
  • Forced and improper restraints.
  • Bedsores brought on by neglect.
  • Improper supervision.
  • Direct physical abuse.

Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years since the person is deceased. The injury or incident that caused death could have happened many years ago. What matters is to prove that it was the cause of death.

Act Now

Although there is a somewhat generous time frame for filing a lawsuit, it is essential to act as soon as possible. This will prevent the victim from being exposed to further harm. Also, a lot of work hours go into completing the file and gathering all the evidence. Do not underestimate how much time goes into preparations for a lawsuit. 

What is more, some evidence is time-sensitive. Physical signs might fade away or heal in time. As soon as you notice signs of abuse or neglect against a resident in a nursing home, start taking action.

About the Author

Kyle Hambright is a passionate writer proudly representing Pintas and Mullins Law Firm. He has focused his legal career on personal injury cases, and throughout his practice, Kyle has helped people from all walks of life. This determination transpires in his writings as well. His articles translate the complex web of legal jargon into accessible text. Readers not only gain a firm grasp on theory, but they also learn how to put it into practice. 

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