Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyers
Some nursing home errors can have the worst consequences for the residents who are affected. In some cases, the nursing home’s failure to exercise the proper level of care or supervision can literally cost the residents, for whom they have an obligation to care, their lives. When that happens, your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home and receive financial compensation if the nursing home settles the case or if you are successful in court.
The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can help your family take action against a nursing home when your loved one has died and the nursing home may be at fault. Families whose loved ones die at a nursing home under questionable circumstances want justice for what happened. Unfortunately, the nursing home, fearing legal liability, may make it difficult for the family to get answers. The Nursing Home Law Center will be on your side as you attempt to figure out what happened and possibly seek compensation.Wrongful Death Claims Cannot be Arbitrated
Wrongful death lawsuits are consequential in many respects. One of the biggest effects of a wrongful death lawsuits is that it defeats any attempt by the nursing home to force the case into arbitration. Many nursing homes try to take advantage of their superior bargaining power when residents enter to home to force families to sign arbitration agreements. This has the effect of depriving families of their day in court as nursing home operators attempt to select arbitration forums that they perceive to be more favorable to their interests. However, several courts have ruled that wrongful death claims cannot be arbitrated if the families want the case to go to court.
While a wrongful death claim often appears with other charges against the nursing home, it is not a claim that is derivative of the other allegations. Instead, wrongful death claims are their own separate independent claims. Many different people have the ability to file these claims on behalf of themselves. Certainly, children and partners of the deceased resident can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. In some states, even more distant relatives can file these claims. As opposed to filing a lawsuit seeking compensation for the injury suffered by the resident, a wrongful death claim will seek financial compensation for the impact that the resident’s death has on the plaintiff.How Does Wrongful Death Occur?
Wrongful death can result from a wide variety of actions or inactions on the part of the nursing home. Even is a third party has caused the injury that resulted in the death, the nursing home can still be held to be legally responsible. Here are some instances that can result in wrongful death lawsuits against the nursing home.
- Pressure Ulcers - A nursing home fails to prevent or diagnose a pressure ulcer and the resident develops an infection and dies from sepsis.
- Falls - A resident is unsupervised and falls and suffers a fatal head injury.
- Physical Abuse - A roommate or someone else physically attacks a resident and they suffer fatal injuries.
- Dehydration and Malnutrition - The resident becomes is not properly fed or hydrated and suffers fatal physical effects from it.
- Medication Errors – The nursing home staff either prescribes or gives the resident the wrong medication.
- Medical Malpractice – The nursing home fails to live up to its obligation to properly treat the resident’s health.
It is important to know the difference between a routine death in a nursing home and a wrongful death. It is an unfortunate fact that deaths occur in nursing homes all time. However, most of these deaths are from natural causes and do not involve wrongdoing on behalf of the nursing home. It is important to consult with an attorney to discuss the manner in which your loved one died to decide whether it may be the basis for a viable legal cause of action.
In order to be a wrongful death, a legal case must prove that three elements exist. They are:
- There was the death of a human being
- The death resulted from the negligence of the nursing home or its staff
- There was an impact on the surviving family
Usually, the first and third elements are not in dispute during a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home. The sole issues are whether the nursing home has been negligent and whether that negligence was the cause of the resident’s death. The nursing home will often argue that it has taken the necessary actions, but the incident or illness was the fault of the resident or occurred naturally. Alternatively, the nursing home will claim that the resident would have died regardless of its actions.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the following can be recovered from the nursing home on behalf of the surviving family:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of guidance from the loved one
Here are some instances in which families have successfully initiated legal actions against nursing homes and have received compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one.
Settlement for $350,000 in Pennsylvania (2011) – The resident was being transferred from their bed to a wheelchair. The nursing assistant was using a Hoyer Lift to transfer the resident. During the transfer, the resident fell out of the sling and onto the floor, sustaining fatal injuries in the fall. The lawsuit alleged that staff was negligent in not properly securing the resident in the Hoyer lift during the transfer.
Jury Verdict in New York for $18.75 million (2009) – This was an egregious instance of alleged neglect of a resident. The resident developed 20 pressure ulcers during the time he was at the nursing home since staff allegedly failed to reposition his body as necessary. The lawsuit claimed that he was also allowed to lie in his feces for an extended period of time. The pressure ulcers became infected with e.Coli and the resident required five hospitalizations. Despite attempts to contain the infection, it spread and the resident died.
Jury Verdict for $29.1 million in California – The resident was an Alzheimer’s patient. She fell and suffered an injury. For eight days, the nursing home failed to diagnose the fact that she sustained a broken hip in the fall. When she underwent surgery, she developed an infection from bedsores that she developed while at the nursing home and died from sepsis. California allows for punitive damages against a nursing home, which is what the bulk of this jury verdict is.
Settlement for $1 million in California (2009) – The resident had a brain injury and a history of choking. Nevertheless, the nursing home staff served him a burrito at mealtime, which he grabbed and tried to eat. He choked on the burrito. Although his records indicated that he was “full code,” there was confusion about his status and the staff attempted to contact the family while he was choking to check on his status, taking away from resuscitation efforts. The nursing home was cited by the state for not giving the resident the proper supervision during meals and for failing to ensure that the resident received prompt emergency care.
Jury Verdict for $200 million in Florida (2012) – The resident was confined to a wheelchair and had a history of wandering. She was able to make her way to a staircase and fell down the stairs while still strapped into her wheelchair. She was found an hour later at the bottom of the stairs drowning in a pool of her blood. Notwithstanding the fact that the resident had alarms on her clothing and wheelchair, it still took an hour for her to be found, and the delay contributed to her death. At trial, the family also introduced other evidence of neglect during the resident’s nursing home stay. The jury assessed $140 million in punitive damages against the Florida nursing home.
Jury Verdict for $20 million in Kentucky (2006) – The resident complained of abdominal pain and the nursing home allegedly did not listen to the man’s complaints, nor did it take steps to obtain prompt medical care for him, including consulting a physician. The abdominal pain turned out to be a precursor to a heart attack, which the resident suffered and died. The jury found that the nursing home’s negligence in their failure to obtain medical care caused the resident’s death.Has Your Loved One Suffered Wrongful Death While at a Nursing Home? Get Legal Help Now
While your loved one cannot be brought back, the nursing home can be made to pay for your suffering that experienced from their loss. The legal system allows families to recover for losing their loved ones and the attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can be your advocate and counselor when you seek to recover financially for your loss. Call us today at (800) 726-9565 to set up a free no-risk case consultation. You only pay us if we are able to successfully help you and your family receive financial compensation.Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources