legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Average Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
Nursing homes are supposed to provide a safe, healthy place for the elderly to live out the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, not all nursing home residents get to live peacefully in their older years. Some experience abuse and neglect, often leading to physical and mental deterioration.
In worst cases of nursing home abuse, residents die at the hands of the people responsible for their safety and well-being.
If your loved one died in a nursing home, you have the right to know the causes and circumstances of their death. Many nursing home residents die due to natural causes. But what if you suspect that someone else is responsible for your loved one’s death?
You may have to dig deeper into their cause of death. One of our personal injury lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you investigate your suspected case of nursing home abuse and help you seek justice if the fault is proven.
Schedule a free consultation with us by calling (800) 926-7565 or filling out this contact form.What is Considered Wrongful Death For Nursing Home Residents?
Wrongful death is a death caused by another’s negligence or misconduct. In a nursing home wrongful death case, the victim has suffered abuse or neglect from the entity responsible for taking care of them, leading to their untimely death.
All healthcare workers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities owe their patients a standard duty of care. If they fail to provide proper medical care to a patient, resulting in their untimely death, they might be liable for wrongful death.
Similarly, a nursing home may face a wrongful death lawsuit if a staff member causes unintentional or intentional harm to the victim.Common Causes of Nursing Home Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful death in a nursing home can result from many different factors, including:
- Assault: The human body grows more fragile as it ages. Thus, physical assault on a nursing home resident is likely to cause severe injuries and death.
- Fractures: An older person is more susceptible to fractures due to a slip and fall or a violent incident. Fractures on an elderly patient can cause untimely death.
- Dehydration: The elderly are more prone to dehydration than younger people, mainly due to reduced thirst sensation. Dehydration can eventually lead to death.
- Bedsores: Also called pressure ulcers, bedsores typically occur when a patient lies in the same spot for a long time, resulting in skin damage, tissue death, and infections. Bedsores may be fatal when left untreated.
- Infections can lead to death when left unaddressed, especially for nursing home patients with compromised immune systems. Common infections in nursing homes include pneumonia, influenza, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and soft-tissue infections.
- Bedrail Injuries: Bedrails can put residents at risk for falls and accidental suffocation. For example, patients trapped between the mattress and the bedrail may suffocate and die.
- Medication Errors: Patients older than 65 experience a medication error rate almost seven times greater than those younger than 65. Giving a nursing home patient the wrong medication or dosage could cause severe injuries and even death.
- Malnutrition: Many nursing home abuse cases result from malnutrition. If an elderly patient is not given the right amount of nutrition they need, it can worsen their condition and eventual death.
- Untreated Medical Conditions: Failure to correctly diagnose a nursing home patient is medical malpractice. If a nursing home resident dies due to an undiagnosed or misdiagnosed condition, their attending physician could face a wrongful death claim.
Many factors can lead to a nursing home wrongful death. But why do these deaths happen in the first place?
Here are some of the most common factors that put nursing home residents at greater risk of abuse or neglect:
- Lack of Background Checks: A nursing home must conduct adequate background checks on all staff members to mitigate the risk of elder abuse.
Failure to do so can put residents at risk of violence and negligence from orderlies, nurses, and other nursing home staff.
- Inadequate Training: Lack of proper training can lead to poor medical care and medical malpractice, which, in turn, can result in nursing home injuries and death.
- Understaffing: Not having enough staff to provide adequate care to all residents can increase the risk of neglect. The adverse effects of understaffing are worse during nights, weekends, and holidays.
- Poor Infrastructure: Some wrongful death cases in nursing homes are caused by a lack of proper safety features, including fall protection. In such cases, the nursing home may be liable for failing to follow minimum safety standards.
Signs of nursing home abuse are not always obvious. Sometimes, they are mistaken for signs of dementia or other health conditions. Nursing homes may also try to cover up the abuse by blaming the resident or the resident’s health condition.
The following warning signs may point to nursing home neglect and abuse:
- Unexplained scars, welts, or bruises
- Fractures, sprains, or dislocations
- Broken eyeglasses or frames
- Signs of being restrained (e.g., marks on wrists or ankles)
- Irregular behavior when being touched
Emotional or Psychological Abuse:
- Changes in elder behavior or personality
- Symptoms that mimic dementia, such as rocking or mumbling
- Irritability, explosive anger
- Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
- Acts of violence
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Untreated physical conditions, such as bedsores
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Dirty clothing or unkempt appearance
- Lack of proper hygiene
- Worsening of existing health conditions
- Lack of medical aids (hearing aid, walkers, dentures, etc.)
If you suspect your loved one is receiving poor care in their nursing home, call 911 as advised by the US Department of Health and Human Services. If they are not in immediate danger, you could report the facility to your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) branch.
In any case of suspected abuse or neglect, it is best to take your loved one home for the time being.Average Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
Nursing home settlements give victims’ families compensation for medical bills, punitive damages, funeral costs, and other necessary damages.
Average nursing home wrongful death settlements range from $400,000 to $600,000. Some wrongful death settlements amount to $1 million or more.
However, every nursing home wrongful death claim is unique, and settlement values depend on the case’s specifics.
Factors Affecting Nursing Home Abuse Settlements
No two nursing home wrongful death cases are the same. You may receive a payout lower or higher than the average nursing home settlement. The value of your case will depend on:
- Health Care Costs: These costs include the medical treatment of your deceased family member before death.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: A nursing home lawsuit can help you recover the costs of laying your loved one to rest.
- Pain and Suffering: You could also sue the nursing facility for your family’s and deceased loved one’s pain and suffering.
- Age of the Deceased: The age of your loved one may also affect the value of your nursing home settlement. Generally, settlement values are more significant if the victim is younger as they may have lived longer if not for the negligence or abuse of the nursing home.
- Level of Nursing Home Negligence: Juries and insurance companies may also consider the level of negligence. For example, a nursing home wrongful death resulting from a patient climbing out of bed may receive lower compensation than a patient falling out of bed due to a lack of bedrails.
- Jurisdiction: Some jurisdictions are more favorable to plaintiffs than others, affecting the value of most nursing home settlements.
An experienced attorney from Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help estimate your nursing home's wrongful death settlement's dollar value.
Furthermore, they can help you fight for the maximum amount your family deserves for such a preventable tragedy.
All sensitive information you provide will remain confidential under an attorney-client relationship.
What to Avoid When Negotiating Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
Some nursing homes may use unscrupulous tactics to get you to accept a lowball settlement.
Keep in mind that many nursing home wrongful death settlements end without going to trial. If you take the offer, you can no longer file a case in court.
To avoid receiving a compensation less than your family deserves:
- Never accept the lowball settlement as “partial payment” for your claim. Once you accept the offer, you can no longer pursue damages in court.
- Do not give in to pressure tactics. Some nursing homes and insurance companies harass victims to make them accept the settlement.
- Never accept the settlement without consulting personal injury lawyers first. Hiring a lawyer first before communicating with the nursing home is best.
Nursing home settlements depend on many factors, as mentioned above. A lawyer can help you determine if the initial offer made by the nursing home or insurance company is reasonable.
If the offer is way below the average nursing home settlement, your lawyer can help you negotiate.
Similarly, a lawyer can help you file a complaint if the nursing home attempted to force you to accept the low offer.Filing a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Case
Senior facilities usually have insurance coverage to help pay for nursing home negligence settlements.
If your loved one died due to nursing home neglect or abuse, you could agree to the defendant’s settlement offer to avoid going to trial. If you accept the settlement, the case will be dismissed.
If you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit in court, either party could win the case. Whether you want to accept the wrongful death settlement or let the case proceed to a jury trial, it’s crucial to consult a nursing home wrongful death lawyer before making a decision.
Who Can File Nursing Home Negligence Cases?
The deceased's immediate family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. Immediate family members include children and spouses.
Extended family, such as siblings and cousins, may also be allowed to file a nursing home wrongful death case in some circumstances.
Other loved ones who the wrongful death has financially impacted can also file nursing home wrongful death cases. These include non-relatives like civil partners, executors of wills, and dependents.
There may be multiple parties involved in your nursing home wrongful death case. These parties may include:
- Nursing Home Workers: Nurses and other nursing home staff members may face liability if they are directly or indirectly responsible for the death of your loved one.
- Nursing Home Owner: The nursing home owner’s failure to provide a safe environment to all residents can land them in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, the owner may have failed to install proper fall protection, conduct thorough background checks, provide adequate training to staff members, etc.
In most nursing home settlements, the owner or operator is liable for a resident’s wrongful death, even if a staff member’s acts caused it.
The Role of Your Lawyer
It is often unwise to handle a wrongful death settlement on your own. Aside from being unable to navigate the complexities of the law, an average person will be less likely to win a fair nursing home wrongful death settlement than a person with a lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer can help you:
- Estimate the average settlement you might receive
- File the lawsuit within the statute of limitations
- Collect evidence to establish liability (medical reports, autopsy reports, photos, and videos)
- Negotiate a fair nursing home wrongful death settlement
- Find and interview witnesses and experts
- Take your case to trial
Our Nursing Home Law Center attorneys fight tirelessly for fair nursing home settlements. Contact us at (800) 926-7565 for a free case evaluation.Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process
The victims' families can choose to accept a nursing home abuse settlement or take the case to court. Obtaining a settlement is also possible after the trial commences. Nursing home litigation typically follows these basic steps:
- Filing of a Civil Suit
- Pretrial Investigation
After your initial case evaluation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant will then have to respond to the lawsuit.
If the defendant does not respond, they may lose the wrongful death case by default. However, it is more likely that they will explain why they are not responsible.
Each party will start gathering evidence that supports their side. In a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, your lawyer may collect the following evidence:
- Medical records
- Photos and videos of the accident scene, if applicable
- Security camera videos of the nursing home
- Eyewitness accounts
Your lawyer might also source a medical expert to testify in court and prove abuse, neglect, medical malpractice, or all of the above.
For example, if the nursing home failed to diagnose your loved one’s condition, causing their untimely death. In that case, a medical expert can help prove how a doctor in the same circumstances would have made the diagnosis by following the standard duty of care.
Your lawyer may informally begin the nursing home settlement negotiations or serve a demand letter to the defendant. This demand letter explains why your family deserves compensation, and the defendant may issue a counteroffer.
Many wrongful death settlements end at this step if plaintiffs deem the offer reasonable.
If lawyers of both parties cannot negotiate a nursing home wrongful death settlement, mediation begins with a mediator or a judge.
A mediator is a neutral party that facilitates communication and negotiation between parties. They aim to assist both sides in reaching a voluntary wrongful death settlement.
If you accept the nursing home lawsuit settlement from the defendant, the case is settled. Most nursing home wrongful death cases are settled out of court to avoid trial expenses. It can also help families focus on their grieving and avoid the stress of going to court.
The defense party will usually send the nursing home wrongful death settlement to the plaintiff’s lawyer in the form of a check within 30 days.
If negotiations fail, the case may go to trial. A judge or jury will hear the evidence from both sides and arrive at a verdict.
Your nursing home wrongful death lawyer will advise you on your chances of winning.
They will also brief you on the implications of going to court, such as the time it would take for the judge or jury to arrive at a verdict. Most wrongful death lawsuits take years.Avoiding Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Families of nursing home patients can prevent elder neglect and abuse before it’s too late. Here are the best ways to do so:
- Assess a facility’s safety, health, and care standards before admitting your loved one
- Visit elderly loved ones frequently
- Listen to their complaints and watch for strange behavior or personality changes
- Look for signs of abuse or neglect and learn how they differ from usual signs of aging and degenerative diseases
- Inspect their records for possible inconsistencies
- Talk to doctors and nurses about your loved one’s health conditions and medications
- Install a “granny” cam in their room to look out for mistreatment, if it is legal in your state
- Report abuse as soon as possible to the local authorities
- Transfer your loved one to another facility, if possible
- Observe how nursing facility workers interact with residents; watch out for signs of mistreatment
- Give your loved one a way to contact you immediately in case they experience mistreatment
Nursing homes are supposed to be a haven for older adults where they can live the rest of their lives as comfortably as possible. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are still rampant today.
Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can help you file economic, non-economic, and punitive damages against the parties at fault for your loved one’s premature death. Although a nursing home wrongful death settlement will not bring back your loved one, it can ease the financial burden on your family.
Nursing home wrongful death settlements tend to vary in value, but our expert legal team can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation for immediate legal advice. Our top-rated attorneys handle wrongful death and personal injury cases caused by the negligence of nursing homes.
Our services are completely guaranteed, so we do not require any upfront payments and will only accept payment after securing compensation on your behalf.
All discussions with our firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.