Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for the Wrongful Death of Your Loved One?
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 part. 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. Furthermore, they could suffer from impairment. This can 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 drinks to the patients so they won’t wet their beds.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice happens when doctors or medical experts may act negligently towards a patient. The negligence could stem from having an incorrect diagnosis, treatment, or health management. In nursing homes, it is possible for a nurse to 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 their medication given to them incorrectly, such as consuming the wrong medication or medication dosage.
- 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, and gastroenteritis.
If a patient dies from abuse and carelessness, the nurse(s) at-fault for their death will face 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. This act extensively helps improve access and quality for services given to older adults.
- The Elder Justice Act of 2009 requires nursing home employees to file a written report to the federal and state authorities if they suspect any elder abuse or other crimes are being committed in the facility.
- State Nursing Home Laws have guidelines, which include:
- 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 learn how to properly act within the facility.
If an elderly patient dies from a wrongful death, the family of the victim may seek economical and non-economic damages. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Medical costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the decedent’s financial contributions
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
To acquire these damages, the plaintiff must prove:
- The victim’s death was a result of the nursing home’s negligence.
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim.
- In what ways the defendant’s negligence contributed to the decedent’s wrongful death.
Survival 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. If compensation is given in a survival 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 can be difficult to prove nursing home negligence without having the expertise of an experienced attorney guiding you through it.
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 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 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
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 were only incorporated in 5 percent 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].