Lawyer Resources for Wrongful Death

wrongful death casesWrongful Death Statutes & Nursing Home Lawsuits

Wrongful death and survival statutes can give family members peace of mind in standing up for the legal rights of a loved one after death. Through a wrongful death statute, a cause of action survives the life of a deceased person. This means that if your loved one experienced neglect or abuse in a nursing home and later died, then you can still file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit after the death of your loved one. Surviving family members can recover compensation that can be used to pay for outstanding medical bills and funeral expenses. In some cases, economic damages or damages for loss of companionship may also be available. Each state has its own Wrongful Death statute that specifies the total amount of damages that may be awarded to family members after the death of a loved one.

Nursing home lawyers can help you file a lawsuit under a wrongful death statute if your loved one has passed away. Our lawyers are ready to assist you in your time of need and provide you with direction through legal recourse. Nursing home wrongful death lawsuits can help you begin to move forward in your life and hold a nursing home accountable for the harm caused to your loved one.

What Needs to Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Claim?

When you are filing a wrongful death claim, it will be up to your lawyer to prove your case in court. This involves proving that the defendant’s conduct has been responsible for the death of your loved one. Second, your lawyer will need to show that a nursing home facility was negligent and liable for the death of your loved one. Third, there must be surviving family members of the deceased person that are the spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents. Lastly, there must be monetary damages that have resulted from the decedent’s death.

The Many Forms of Neglect Under a Wrongful Death Claim

In proving a wrongful death claim, there are many forms of underlying neglect that can be used to support the claim. It is important for you to save any evidence that could be used in proving the underlying basis of a wrongful death claim, such as photographs of injuries, medical records, contaminated clothing, smart phone video recordings, saved testimony from employees and other evidence.

Some common types of neglect that can be used to prove a wrongful death claim are development of bed sores, dehydration & malnourishment, use of chemical or physical restraints, physical abuse, a fall during an admission, sexual abuse, improper medical care, physical therapy malpractice, burns and other forms of neglect. You may also have records to show the improper treatment that your loved one received while on a ventilator. There may have been instances in which an untreated urinary tract infection or cerebral hemorrhage lead to a worsened condition or death of your loved one. Meeting with a nursing home lawyer early on in your case will ensure that you preserve this evidence and gather any other evidence that may be necessary for your case.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit within the Statute of Limitations

Family members should also be aware that there is only a fixed period of time in which a wrongful death claim may be filed after the death of a loved one. In most states, this fixed period of time ranges from six months to three years. By meeting with a lawyer, you can ensure that you do not lose the opportunity to file a wrongful death claim and can have your wrongful death nursing home case filed in court as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, many incidents resulting in an injury to a nursing home patient may eventually result in their death. Consequently, legal action may be necessary to recover for the suffering the person went through following the incident and for the loss the family has endured following their passing. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will evaluate the dynamics of each case in order to fully prosecute each case under the applicable laws.

Sources:
http://www.nursinghomeinjurylaws.com/common-nursing-home-injuries/wrongful-death/

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While it is becoming more common these days to hear reports of nursing home negligence and abuse, many facilities never receive the justice they truly deserve for systemic understaffing and policies that prioritize profits before human life. It is important to understand that cases falling under the realm of medical malpractice are very difficult to win due to the many protections put in place for healthcare providers to defend against frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, it is these very protections that may prevent victims with legitimate claims from receiving the compensation they deserve.

Family of Deceased Patient Loses Legal Battle against Negligent Nursing Home

An 84 year old man’s family brought a lawsuit against Kindred Healthcare and Greenbriar Terrace, located in the city of Nashua, New Hampshire after he died due to complications later linked to the worsening of multiple bedsores. His family argued that there was no excuse for the delayed discovery of the sores and that caregivers failed to provide adequate treatment and preventative care.

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Poor Care in Nursing Homes Can Lead to DeathAs of November 2015, Families for Better Care, a watchdog advocate group that protects the elderly, began ranking Missouri fourth on a list of the nation’s worst states concerning nursing homes. This is in response to Missouri inspection reports showing how many statewide nursing facilities have either caused or contributed to dozens of deaths involving the elderly in the last three years.

Additionally, ProPublica, a nonprofit journalist investigative group released a troubling report outlining allegations of verbal and physical abuse, rape and neglect that were uncovered through nursing home inspections in recent years. These disturbing inspections were performed by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The massive database details deficiencies uncovered at nursing facilities all throughout the state. The report details deficiencies by their severity that shows harmful incidences or deficiencies that tend to occur as a pattern at the facility.

Many of the lives taken at the hands of caregivers acting negligently or abusively were frail victims who tragically died prematurely. This unseen pandemic commonly goes unnoticed even by state inspectors who perform routine certification and licensure surveys, and are required to investigate incidences of neglect, mistreatment and abuse. Many of the deaths are the result of life-threatening neglect that can be directly traced back to the nursing staff whom residents rely on to receive health and hygiene care along with assistance with exercise, nutrition and hydration. Many cases of unlawful neglect and abuse go unreported or are never prosecuted.

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Wrongful Deaths in Nursing HomesBy legal definition, wrongful death is any incident in which a person dies either due to an intentional act or negligence, which is classified as carelessness or inaction that has caused harm. Unfortunately, poor care in nursing homes is responsible for many premature deaths in elderly patients. However, many of these premature deaths are never investigated because the attending physicians usually assume that an elderly patient’s death is related to an existing medical condition. Some facilities may even deliberately attempt to cover up the cause of a patient’s death if it is known that some form of negligence may be at fault.

Fear of Litigation

The greatest motivation for facilities to conceal a patient’s cause of death is to avoid a civil lawsuit in which the facility would be required to pay a large sum in damages. Malnourishment, dehydration and infection can be symptoms of common illnesses in the elderly, but they can also be evidence of neglect and improper care. Rather than perform a thorough investigation into the cause of patients’ deaths, facilities with much to lose may try to cover up the cause of death if only to prevent the families of the deceased from seeking damages.

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Oxygen Levels Need MonitoringDespite it taking three years, the family of 88-year-old Alda Gray filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home where Ms. Gray was at the time of her death. The claim is that before she died on November 28, 2010, staff members of the Landmark Care Center did not respond to her respiratory problems. This is not a situation where a single mistake became fatal either. According to the family, the staff members ignored these problems for days.

What happened according to the lawsuit?

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the Landmark did not contact Gray’s doctor or her family, despite the fact that her oxygen levels fell as low as 71 percent. Her own doctor gave specific instructions that her oxygen levels needed to be at 90 percent.

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Senior End of Life WishesEnd of life decisions are never easy, and they can be controversial. There are those who want to fight for every minute that they can have here with their loved ones. There are also those who do not want their agony prolonged when it comes to the point where their bodies are giving up. Regardless of what group people belong to, everyone seems to agree that fighting or not fighting death is his or her right. Unfortunately, some nursing home patients have lost that right when they needed it the most.

Two Deaths, No Resuscitation

Tragedy has struck two nursing home residents and their families in recent months, one in Michigan and one in Minnesota. Both patients died at the nursing homes where they lived, and neither one was given CPR or brought to the hospital.

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Screen shot 2012-04-14 at 9.44.05 AM.png[Photo Caption: A post-mortem investigation concluded that Joseph Shepter (above) died as a result of extreme neglect in a nursing home. (Photo Courtesy of the Shepter family)]

At first glance, nothing about William Neff’s death seemed unusual. The 83-year-old WWII veteran had spent his final days in an assisted living facility in Bucks County, Pa. When the inevitable occurred, and Neff succumbed to advanced-Alzheimer’s disease in September of 2000, the nursing home doctor simply noted that Neff failed to thrive.

Case closed; documents sealed.

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Nursing Home’s Bad Conduct In Wrongful Death CaseAfter hearing the evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit involving an elderly woman’s fall at a Florida Nursing Home, a jury became so enraged by the conduct of the facility— that they chose to punish them the only way they could– by handing down a huge verdict against the facility.

The trial centered around the care— or perhaps lack thereof– that a 92-year-old woman received at Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center during an admission to the facility in 2004.  It was during that admission, that the staff at the facility allowed the woman to wander in her wheelchair to an unsecured stairway where she fell down multiple stairs to her death.

In addition to the oversight in allowing this patient– with known wandering propensities— to wander away from a group of patients at the facility, staff failed to notice the woman’s whereabouts even though she was equipped with multiple alarms to alert the facility as to her whereabouts.

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fall cartoon.jpgRecognizing the significant threat that ‘falls’ pose to patients in nursing homes, federal regulations impose a duty on facilities to assess each patient at the time they are admitted (and similarly reassess on a regular basis) to determine the likelihood of the patient is at risk falling and then create a plan of care for the facility to implement to minimize the frequency and severity of any ensuing injury.

Given the significant risk of serious fall-related injuries— or even death, fall precautions need to be made a priority at all long term care facilities caring for the elderly.  While some fall precautions may be customized to the patient’s indvidual needs, many experts in geriatric care suggest the following common sense precautions at all facilities:

  • Removing debris from floors
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Nursing Home Ignored Patients Self Destructive BehaviorAn investigation into the suicide of a young man at a California nursing home reveals a disturbing situation where a facility obviously ignored the man’s mental health needs.

On February 28, 2011 the patient commit suicide at Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Center when he discharged a fire extinguisher into his mouth.  While the incident is indeed disturbing, the man had attempted the exact same behavior on three prior occassions at the facility according to a news report in the Glendale Free Press.

The incident resulted in civil fines and against the facility and criminal charges against both the facility and administrator.  The criminal charges were recently filed by State Attorney General Kamala Harris after evidence was produced in a grand jury indictment that indicated that the nursing home continually allowing the man back to their facility when the facility had no experience with mentally ill patients.

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An apparent nursing home suicide is under investigation at Heartland Nursing Home (a ManorCare facility) in Galesburg, IL. Using an oxygen tube and an electrical cord, the patient apparently fashioned a noose and hung himself from a bar on the ceiling which had been installed to help the man reposition himself— or did he?

While officials investigate this nursing home death, a primary focus of the investigation will center around if this patients death was indeed intentional or a situation where sloppy storage of medical equipment allowed the patient to become entangled— and eventually strangled to death.

Nursing Home Patient Commit SuicideDue to the uncertainly surrounding his death, the Knox County Coroner will be performing and autopsy to help bring closure to this unfortunate event.

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