- February 17, 2022
- Jed Strong
- Wrongful Death
Our valued elders deserve the best care possible, and that makes wrongful death in a nursing home particularly troubling. Older loved ones have made a lifetime of sacrifices for their families, and now they require diligent care at assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, too many nursing homes engage in practices considered elder abuse.
When families lose someone to negligence or abuse at an assisted living facility, they are often unsure about the best course of action. Some ask: Can you sue a nursing home for wrongful death? The answer to that question may be different than you imagined. Not only can you sue a nursing home, but you have a responsibility to take legal action. Unless these profit-driven businesses are taken to task by your wrongful death lawsuit, other seniors and their families could suffer the same fate.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuit in a Nursing Home Fatality?
Wrongful death statutes allow surviving family members to take civil action against negligent or reckless parties. A wrongful death lawsuit in a nursing home case is often brought by someone who represents the deceased elder’s estate or family at large. When a loved one dies at no fault of their own, the following family members usually have standing to file a wrongful death action under Washington State law:
- Spouse of the Deceased
- State Registered Domestic Partner
- Children and Stepchildren of the Deceased
- Parents or Siblings (in some cases).
It’s important to understand that not all deaths qualify as wrongful. Even accidental fatalities that occur in an assisted living facility may not necessarily meet the legal standard. That’s why grieving families typically schedule a consultation with a wrongful death attorney before moving forward.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?
Securing justice through civil litigation requires building a detailed case that will persuade a jury to render a judgment or the nursing home’s insurance carrier to settle. It’s crucial not to let the facility or the reckless staff get off easy because grieving families want to be part of the solution. By enlisting the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney, a case can be built that includes the following legal elements.
- Negligence: A wrongful death lawsuit must prove the family member’s death resulted from recklessness, carelessness, or bad actions of another. The nursing home or its staff must be fully or partially responsible for the loss of life.
- Breach of Duty: This element can be demonstrated by producing records that indicate the facility received some form of payment to care for the deceased. In taking money, the nursing home assumes a duty to provide diligent and quality care.
- Causation: Companies that provide less-than-adequate senior care sometimes sidestep justice by muddying the waters about what caused a family member’s death. Proving that the actions or inaction of the facility or staff resulted in an untimely death can be challenging. Grieving family members are best served by working with an experienced wrongful death law firm that will get to the bottom of their loved one’s death.
The final element of a wrongful death in a nursing home lawsuit involves damages. This is another area that family members need to thoroughly consider when taking action against negligent parties.
How to Determine Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Perhaps the clearest way to understand damages in a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit is to break them into two categories. For the purposes of the court’s awarding damages or an insurance carrier’s making an offer to settle the suit, damages are either quantifiable or qualitative. This basically means the lawsuit demonstrates the financial impact and quality of life losses inflicted on loved ones. These types of damages usually include the following:
- Hospitalizations and Medical Expenses
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Loss of Income and Earning Potential
- Pain and Suffering of Family Member before Death
- Loss of Protection, Love, Companionship, Mentorship
- Pain and Suffering of Grieving Family Members.
Placing a dollar amount on things such as mental anguish can prove elusive for inexperienced people who attempt to seek justice through civil action. That’s why it’s essential to work with a legal team that knows how to secure a judgment or settlement families deserve.
Common Wrongful Death Incidents in Nursing Homes
The mere fact that common causes of untimely deaths persist in the nursing home industry stands among the primary reasons community members need to take action. It’s not uncommon for vulnerable seniors to routinely suffer wide-reaching forms of elder abuse from the very people entrusted with their care. The following types of callous neglect rank among the ongoing problems in nursing homes today:
- Pressure Ulcers: Commonly referred to as “bed sores,” elderly nursing home residents develop them because they are left in a single position for too long. This form of neglect becomes life-threatening when pressure ulcers become infected and people die from a painful sepsis infection.
- Hard Falls: As the body loses strength with age, nursing home staff members are trained to provide support when residents move about. Failing to provide this standard care results in elderly people falling and sustaining traumatic head and brain injuries. These hard impact falls are not accidents.
- Violence: Although the general public remains relatively unaware of nursing home violence, it occurs too often. Other residents who do not receive necessary medication may become agitated and violent. Sometimes bad actors enter the eldercare industry and harm residents.
- Dehydration and Malnutrition: Failures by nursing homes to assist their residents to remain hydrated or provide on-time meals may result in loss of life. Although viewed as simple oversights or carelessness, some corporations are habitual offenders.
- Medication Mistakes: When a medical professional prescribes or provides the wrong medication, that error may prove fatal. Facilities are tasked with instituting systems and checks designed to prevent these errors. Failing to follow proper medication protocols is not an “accident.”
Other forms of medical malpractice also occur in nursing home facilities. Whether they result from companies’ overwhelming professionals with too many patients or less-than-thorough health assessments, it’s vital to hold responsible parties accountable.
Contact Strong Law Firm to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Strong Law work with everyday people who seek civil justice after losing a valued elder. Our determined lawyers work tirelessly to build a persuasive case and take a negligent facility to task. Together, we can stop the negligence and recklessness of these callous nursing homes and ensure that your family receives the full, fair compensation you deserve. If you lost a valued elder, contact Strong Law today at 206-741-1051 for a no-cost consultation.