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Can You Sue for Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home? Explained by the Best Wrongful Death Attorneys


In nursing homes, unnatural deaths may occur due to lack of proper care or from an intentionally negligent act. Common causes of wrongful death cases in nursing homes include:

  • Physical abuse. Patients living in nursing homes are at risk of experiencing abuse. Studies conducted on elder abuse in nursing homes indicated that about 20 percent of patients who have dementia sustained physical abuse, while 30 percent of them suffered from neglect. Common forms of physical violence being done in nursing homes include kicking, punching, squeezing, shaking, or pulling a patient's body party. Nursing staff may cover up the injury marks by claiming that the patient fell down.  
  • Slip and fall. As people age, their muscles become weaker. They also get more health problems, such as dizziness, bad vision, lack of stability, or side effects from medication they are taking. Due to these reasons, an elderly patient experiencing a slip and fall is highly likely. 
  • Lack of nutrition. Patients may have a difficult time trying to chew or swallow. Additionally, they suffer from impairment. This could result in malnutrition or dehydration. However, malnutrition may be avoided by having hands-on staff feeding the patients their meals and providing nutritional supplements. With dehydration, it is common for elderly patients to suffer from this problem. They may be afraid to consume water because they believe the nursing home staff will avoid trying to help them use the bathroom. Also, nursing staff intentionally do not provide fluids to the patients so they won’t wet their bed. 
  • Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice happens when doctors or medical experts inflict negligent acts towards a patient. The negligence could stem from having an incorrect diagnosis, treatment, or health management. In nursing homes, the nurses could fail to inform the doctor or the patient’s family about any changes the patient was exhibiting in regards to their health or behavior. Patients may also pass away from having the nurses misusing their medication.
  • Infections. This may result from lack of hygiene being given to the patients. Common infections that occur in nursing homes are urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, soft tissue infections, skin infections, influenza, or gastroenteritis.

Laws


If a patient dies from abuse and carelessness, the nurse(s) at fault for their death will be facing consequences from state and federal laws that primarily protect eldery residents. 

  • Nursing Home Reform Act. Monitors nursing home facilities that get funding from Medicare and Medicaid. It is expected for nursing homes to provide exquisite services to their patients. 
  • Older Americans Act Reauthorized (OAA). Funds elder abuse and neglect programs. Extensively improves on access and quality for services given to older adults.  
  • The Elder Justice Act of 2009. Nursing home employees are required to file a written report to the federal and state authorities if they suspect any elder abuse or other crimes being done in the facility. 
  • State Nursing Home Laws. Guidelines must be followed. This includes having:
    • Appropriate distribution of medication to patients.
    • Food and dietary needs available to patients. 
    • Dementia care.
    • Infections managed.
    • Having nursing home staff qualified for the position. They must also participate in training programs to ensure how to properly act within the facility.

Legal Action


If an elderly patient dies from a wrongful death, the family of the victim may seek compensation for their pain and suffering along with financial loss. The family must show:

  • The victim’s death was a result from the nursing home’s negligence.
  • The family members endured emotional distress. 
  • The victim left behind loved family members.

Survivor actions may also be presented. This is when the representative of the victim’s estate gets compensation for damages the victim would have been entitled to if they did not die. The estate representative must claim:

  • The victim passed away due to the nursing home’s act of negligence. 
  • If they had lived, the victim would have sued the nursing home for negligence. 
  • Due to death, the victim lost their future with their family. 

If compensation is given in a survivor action, it will be paid to the estate. These funds will then be spread to the heirs. 

It is highly recommended to get in touch with a personal injury attorney to receive compensation for your losses. It is difficult to prove nursing home negligence without having the expertise of an experienced attorney guiding you through it.

Available Damages


Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss  of Enjoyment of Life
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations For Damages In California 

For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here To Help


If you have lost a family member or friend due to the negligence of a nursing home employee, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled personal injury attorneys with extensive experience in handling wrongful death cases. Our firm will help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered. This includes medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are paid until we win. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].

CONTACT WEST COAST TRIAL LAWYERS TODAY


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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