Filing a Complaint Against a Virginia Nursing Home

Every day we get calls from families who believe their loved ones have been neglected, mistreated, ignored or harmed in a Virginia nursing home.

And everyday I explain that in order to file a lawsuit against a nursing facility, you must prove their action was (a) negligent; that (b) their negligence was a proximate cause of a permanent injury; (c) that the injury was painful and cost the family money.

In English – the nursing home (a) made a huge mistake; (b) that caused injury and (c) the injury is severe.

You can’t run to the court house everytime a nursing home fails to change a patient, or when they overmedicate your loved one such that they appear sleepy, too tired to interact. Nor can you file suit when they cause minor harm like a scratch.

And so often I tell families – YOU HAVE A CASE, BUT I do not recommend you file it.


Because lawsuits take time. Typically 1-2 years. They are expensive. $20,000 in costs, plus attorneys fees, etc.

They are emotionally draining. And at the end of the day, Medicare and Medicaid may be entitled to a large portion of your recovery. So not every lawsuit should be filed. Sometimes the costs of bringing suit and greater than possible recovery.

And when I explain this to potential clients, they often reply “But its not about the money. I just want the nursing home to do a better job. I want them to be accountable. I don’t want this to happen to another family.” And when that is the case, the appropriate course of action is filing a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health.

And that is FREE.

And when you do file a complaint, the Board will send out investigators, unannoucned to the nursing home, to review your loved ones chart. And then, they will examine whether or not the care provided met the standards and law in Virginia. And this, ladies and gentlemen, can effectuate change.

So if you have a complaint against a Virginia nursing home, call 1-800-955-1819 today. This is the Virginia Department of Health in Richmond, and they will perform a complete investigation on behalf of your family.

By: Eli Christman
Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at