Nursing Home Wrongful Death - What is Wrongful Death?

Nursing Home Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes

Quick Answer

Wrongful deaths in nursing homes may occur if a resident suffers from severe abuse or neglect at the hands of incompetent staff members. Families who have lost loved ones to abuse can file nursing home wrongful death lawsuits. Families may be able to receive compensation for funeral costs and pain and suffering through this type of lawsuit.

What Is a Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?

When an elderly nursing home resident dies due to the negligence of administrators and/or employees, it may be considered a wrongful death.

Older adults and their families rely on assisted living facilities to provide high-quality care, and when this does not happen, it can have fatal consequences. Enduring the loss of a loved one is hard enough. When the death stems from nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s even worse knowing that they might still be alive if they received proper care.

Families affected by a nursing home wrongful death may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility and its staff. A lawsuit can help families receive financial compensation for medical and funeral costs, and hold the facility and its staff accountable for a loved one’s death.

Contact our team to see if you can file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit today.

What Causes Wrongful Deaths in Nursing Homes?

Serious — but preventable — injuries that stem from nursing home neglect or abuse may lead to a resident’s wrongful death.

Nursing home wrongful deaths may occur if staff members:

  • Abuse or injure residents
  • Fail to break up resident-on-resident violence
  • Fail to diagnose or treat medical conditions like bedsores or sepsis
  • Make medication errors
  • Neglect residents’ health care needs

A notable example occurred in September 2017, when twelve nursing home residents died from heat exposure after a hurricane destroyed a facility’s air conditioning — even though a hospital was only 100 yards away. Prosecutors later charged four nursing home employees with manslaughter.

As nursing home wrongful deaths continue to claim lives today, families should know how to take action so others do not suffer. One of the best options available is to file a nursing home wrongful death case to pursue justice and compensation.

Our trusted advocates can help you and your loved one take legal action. Call us today at (855) 264-6310

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuits Explained

Wrongful death claims are a type of nursing home abuse lawsuit that can benefit families in a few different ways.

Nursing home wrongful death lawsuits may: 

  • Award families with financial compensation to pay for medical and funeral expenses
  • Encourage the nursing home to enact change so other residents stay safe
  • Hold the nursing home financially responsible for the wrongful death
Did You Know

If a nursing home resident files a personal injury lawsuit but passes away as a result of the abuse or neglect they suffered, their family may be able to continue the case as a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Generally speaking, a senior’s next of kin can file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit against long-term care facilities and the larger companies that own them. Other loved ones also may be able to take legal action in the event of wrongful death in some cases.

Those who may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Immediate family

    Close surviving family members, including spouses, biological children, and adopted children, can file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit in every state.

    In some states, financial dependents, life partners, and putative or common-law spouses may also be able to file.

  • Extended family

    Some states allow siblings, cousins, and other relatives to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the deceased person.

  • People who have suffered financially

    Some states allow siblings, cousins, and other relatives to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the deceased person.

Regulations that affect nursing home wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state. Because of this, there are some limits as to who can file these lawsuits and how much time they have to do so. Families should consult with a lawyer to learn how these laws — known as statutes of limitations — may impact their case.

Our trusted advocates can help you and your loved one take legal action. Call us today at (855) 264-6310

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys

To file wrongful death lawsuits, many people work with nursing home abuse lawyers. These attorneys handle cases in which nursing home residents suffered serious injuries or passed away due to abusive or neglectful staff members.

You don’t technically need an attorney to file a lawsuit, however, working with a nursing home abuse lawyer makes the legal process significantly easier.

Nursing home abuse lawyers:

  • Collect evidence
  • Know how to file lawsuits within set deadlines and with the appropriate courts
  • Understand federal, state, and local elder abuse laws
  • Build strong cases on their clients’ behalf
  • Work quickly and effectively toward a conclusion

The best nursing home abuse lawyers also work on what is known as a “contingency basis.” This means they charge no upfront fees for their services and instead take a small portion of the compensation they secure for their clients at the case’s conclusion.

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements

To end a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, most cases are settled out of court.

In a nursing home abuse settlement, the defendants (those being sued) pay the plaintiffs (those who filed the lawsuit) an agreed-upon amount of money, and the lawsuit is dismissed. Lawyers tend to favor settlements because they allow families to receive financial compensation faster than if the case would go to trial.

$13 million awarded to a family in June 2019

Settlement amounts can vary, but some plaintiffs have received millions of dollars in compensation from past 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 who was 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, the case may go to trial. During a trial, a judge and/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, successful verdicts sometimes award families with more money than a settlement.

$42.5 million awarded to a family in February 2012

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.

Filing a Nursing Home Wrongful Death 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 relatives.

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 message to the nursing home and its employees: Things must change, and no other families should suffer.

Get a free case review today to connect with a trusted legal partner and learn if you may be eligible to file a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

View 3 Sources
  1. Kobin, B. (2019, June 11). Nursing home, pharmacy to pay family nearly $13M in retired Louisville judge's death. Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2019/06/11/kentucky-nursing-homes-former-judges-estate-gets-13-m-death/1420416001/.
  2. Scutti, S. (2019, August 27). More arrests expected in 12 deaths at Florida nursing home, police say. Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/27/health/florida-nursing-home-4-charged/index.html.
  3. Stanton, S. (2019, April 25). Elder care giant's CEO on $42.5 million verdict in elder abuse lawsuit: 'Eskaton will survive'. Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article229700034.html.
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