Bedsores, which are also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, may sound simple enough — they’re caused by pressure against the skin in patients who cannot easily move in their beds or chairs. But the effects of bedsores can be dangerous and even deadly: it was complications from a bedsore that killed actor Christopher Reeve, and they continue to be a threat for anyone who spends time in a nursing home.

In the earliest stage, a bedsore can appear as a slight discoloration of the skin. If left untreated, bedsores can become open wounds, and in later stages can result in significant tissue damage, extending all the way down to the bone.

Because bedsores are much easier to prevent than to treat, New York state health law requires nursing homes to ensure that residents do not develop bed sores, or if they do have them, to ensure that they receive the necessary treatment.

A second law allows residents (or in many cases, their families) to sue if the facility does not provide them with the care they were entitled to under law.

New York bedsore attorneys use these two laws to help protect New York nursing home residents by holding the facilities responsible if bed sores do develop. These legal rights are in addition to any other rights to sue that the patient may have, such as bringing a suit alleging nursing home negligence.

New York nursing home patients who bring a personal injury lawsuit under these laws are entitled to compensatory damages — monetary awards to help pay for the costs of treating the patient for the bed sores. By law, this compensation must be equal to at least 25 percent of the cost of the nursing home for every day the bed sores existed.

Nursing homes can defend against these suits by proving that they exercised all reasonable care in preventing the injury. This makes it important to have an experienced pressure sore attorney represent the patient’s rights in these cases.

If you have a family member who has suffered from bed sores while in a nursing home, talk to a lawyer who has handled nursing home injury cases about your loved one’s legal rights.