What Is a Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?
Older adults and their families rely on assisted living facilities to provide high-quality care. When this does not happen, it can have fatal consequences. Losing a loved one is hard enough. When a loved one’s death is caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, it can be agonizing to know they might still be alive if they received proper care.
When a resident dies due to nursing home negligence, it may be considered a wrongful death.
Families affected by a nursing home wrongful death may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home facility and its staff. A lawsuit can help families get financial compensation for unpaid bills and funeral expenses. It can also provide closure by holding the negligent facility and its staff accountable for a loved one’s death.
Connect with our team 24/7 to speak with a caring Patient Advocate. They can help determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit.
What Causes Nursing Home Wrongful Death?
Nursing home wrongful death cases are caused by the failure of a care facility to protect a resident from harm. This could be through neglect, abuse, or assault by another resident.
A nursing home wrongful death could be caused when a care facility:
- Allows preventable and deadly falls to occur
- Does not provide sufficient nutrition, causing malnutrition or dehydration
- Fails to prevent or stop resident-on-resident violence
- Fails to treat medical conditions like sepsis
- Makes medication errors
- Neglects untreated pressure ulcers that advance to stage 4 bedsores
- Physically abuses or injures residents
A notable example occurred in 2017 when 12 nursing home residents died from heat exposure after a hurricane destroyed a facility’s air conditioning. This tragedy happened even though a hospital was only 100 yards away. Prosecutors charged four nursing home employees with manslaughter.
As cases of nursing home wrongful death continue to claim lives, families should know how to take action so others do not suffer. One of the best options is connecting with a skilled law firm to pursue justice and compensation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit?
Wrongful death legal claims are a type of nursing home abuse lawsuit that can benefit families in a few ways.
A wrongful death nursing home lawsuit can:
- Award families financial compensation to pay for unpaid bills and funeral expenses
- Encourage the nursing home to improve their level of care so other residents stay safe
- Hold the nursing home financially responsible for a death they should have prevented
If a nursing home resident files a personal injury lawsuit but passes away while their case is still open, their family may be able to continue the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent.
What Compensation Is Available in a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit?
When a loved one passes away due to nursing home negligence, family members may be able to receive financial compensation. This money is awarded in an effort to lessen the severe financial and emotional impact of their loved one’s death.
It is important to note that the amount and type of compensation available will vary by state.
Nursing home wrongful death compensation may include money for:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of consortium (money paid out to acknowledge the emotional impact of losing a close relationship, usually to a spouse)
- Medical bills stemming from the nursing home’s negligence
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (money paid out to punish the facility for incredibly negligent practices)
Nursing Home Abuse Center works with a national network of fully vetted personal injury lawyers with experience handling nursing home cases. Our trusted partners have the case history required to thoroughly investigate your claim and get you the maximum compensation available.
Connect with a Patient Advocate now to see if you can work with our nursing home abuse attorneys.
Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
Most nursing home wrongful death lawsuits are resolved out of court through a nursing home abuse settlement. When a settlement is successfully negotiated, the defendants (those being sued) pay the plaintiffs (those who filed the lawsuit) an agreed-upon sum. At that point, the claim is dismissed.
Lawyers from both sides often prefer settlements because they usually resolve more quickly than expensive and time-consuming court trials. They also allow for less publicity, which negligent nursing homes try to avoid.
This means settlements generally allow families to receive financial compensation faster than if the case went on to be heard in a courtroom.
Settlement amounts vary based on the details of each case, but some plaintiffs have received millions of dollars in compensation from past wrongful death cases.
For example, a nursing home and pharmacy paid nearly $13 million to a former judge’s family in June 2019. The lawsuit claimed that nursing home staff members failed to administer antibiotics to the resident fighting an infection that ultimately led to his death.
Nursing Home Wrongful Death Verdicts
If lawyers for both the plaintiffs and defendants cannot reach a settlement agreement, the case may go to trial. In these situations, a judge or jury will decide the case through a nursing home abuse verdict.
Attorneys tend to avoid taking cases to trial, as they typically take longer and are riskier than settlements. For example, if a judge or jury sides with the nursing home and its staff, the victim’s family will receive nothing. That being said, favorable verdicts sometimes award families more money than settlements.
For example, in April 2019, a California jury awarded $42.5 million to the family of a 77-year-old woman who entered a nursing facility in late February 2012 and died a month and a half later. Attorneys for the family claimed the woman was given medications without her consent, which caused her to choke while eating.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, next of kin can file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit. Claims are usually filed against long-term care facilities, the larger companies that own them, and their insurance companies.
In some cases, other loved ones may be able to take legal action in the event of a nursing home wrongful death.
Those who may be able to file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit include:
Close surviving family members, including spouses, biological children, and adopted children, can file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit.
In some states, financial dependents, life partners, and putative (good faith) or common-law spouses may also be able to file.
Some states allow siblings, cousins, and other relatives to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the deceased resident.
People who have suffered financially
Depending on the state the death occurred in, anyone who has suffered a financial loss may be able to file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit. This may be true even if they are not related to the deceased resident.
Find out if you may be eligible to file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit now.
It is extremely important to remember that the laws governing a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit will vary from state to state. There are limits on who can file these lawsuits and how much time they have to do so.
Laws called statutes of limitations set strict deadlines to file legal claims, typically within 3 years or less after the victim has passed.
Consult with an experienced nursing home lawyer to learn how the various laws in your state may impact your case.
What Evidence Is Needed in a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit?
The evidence you need to prove a nursing home wrongful death case will vary by state. This is because each state sets a specific burden of proof that must be met to demonstrate the death could have been prevented.
Generally, the evidence must prove the care facility was legally obligated to protect the resident’s safety but did not do so and that their failure resulted in the resident’s death.
Evidence that could be needed to prove a nursing home wrongful death may include:
- Copies of correspondence with nursing home administration
- Medical records that show resident care was inadequate
- Photos of injuries
- Timeline of the nursing home abuse case leading up to death
- Videos of caregivers abusing a resident
- Witness statements from staff or other nursing home patients
- Written accounts from health care providers
If you qualify to work with our trusted network of nursing home wrongful death lawyers, your legal team will handle all the heavy lifting for you. They will work with you to gather the evidence needed to build a strong case.
Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys
Many people work with nursing home abuse lawyers to file wrongful death lawsuits. These attorneys handle wrongful death cases in which nursing home residents passed away due to the consequences of abusive or neglectful care facilities and staff members.
You are not required to work with a nursing home wrongful death lawyer to file a lawsuit. However, working with a nursing home abuse lawyer makes the legal process significantly easier.
Nursing home abuse lawyers:
- Collect evidence to build the strongest case possible
- Know how to file lawsuits within set deadlines and with the appropriate courts
- Understand federal, state, and local elder abuse laws
- Work quickly and effectively toward a successful conclusion
It is important to hire a nursing home wrongful death attorney who works on a contingency fee basis. This means they do not charge upfront fees for their services, so you don’t pay anything out of pocket. Your lawyer is compensated only if your case is successful, at which point they will receive a small portion of the money you are awarded.
Filing a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit
Wrongful death is something that no family should ever have to experience. All too often, however, nursing homes fail to provide even the most basic care for parents, grandparents, and other elderly loved ones.
Filing a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit can help families get back on their feet. While money cannot make up for the emotional loss, it can help cover the associated medical and funeral expenses.
A wrongful death lawsuit also sends a powerful message to the nursing home and its employees: Things must change, and no other families should suffer.
Get a free case evaluation today to see if you can connect with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer near you. You may be eligible to file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit.
FAQs About Nursing Home Wrongful Death
What is a wrongful death in a nursing home?
A nursing home wrongful death happens when negligence on behalf of a nursing home or other care facility causes a resident to die. This could include neglect or intentional harm, such as abuse by staff or other residents.
For a death to be legally considered wrongful, it must be proven that the facility had the duty to protect the resident but failed to do so.
What are the most common causes of a nursing home wrongful death?
Nursing home wrongful death is usually due to a resident’s health care needs being neglected. Common causes are complications from stage 4 bedsores, serious or repeated falls, sepsis, and medication errors.
Wrongful death can also occur when staff or other residents physically abuse a nursing home patient.
What is the highest wrongful death nursing home lawsuit settlement?
The case value of a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit depends on several factors, including the state where the facility is located, the age of the resident, and the severity of the abuse or neglect.
While the average national settlement is around $400,000, a recent jury verdict in California resulted in a $42.5 million award.
Who can file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit?
Surviving family members may be able to file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one. Depending on the state where the nursing home is located, this could include a spouse, children, or siblings.
Additionally, if you have power of attorney, you may be able to file a lawsuit. The best way to know if you can file a wrongful death nursing home lawsuit is to consult with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.