How Nursing Homes Are Responsible for the Wrongful Deaths of Residents Under Their Care
Nursing homes are established to house elderly people who are in need of receiving additional care and assistance in order to live a comfortable lifestyle. Nursing facilities typically offer a wide variety of health and personal care services to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. This includes administering medications, housekeeping, laundry, 24/7 monitoring, on-site staff, and hosting social activities.
Unfortunately, many reports of elderly abuse in nursing homes have been released throughout the past few years. This has become a major concern to those who are entrusting nurses to take care of their loved ones as these nurses are taking advantage of their position and inflicting unnecessary harm on innocent people.
If you lost your loved one due to wrongful death caused by a nurse working at a nursing home, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against them for damages. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will review your claim to determine what essential steps are needed to take in order to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation at our Los Angeles personal injury law firm, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form.
10 Causes of Nursing Home Wrongful Death
The most common causes of a wrongful death in a nursing home include the following.
- Insufficient staff. Nursing homes in the state of California are legally required to provide at least 3.2 hours of care and attention to every resident in the facility a day. They are required to hire as much staff as necessary to provide such care. However, many times, nursing homes don’t follow this regulation and are severely understaffed, meaning that many residents don’t get the attention they are legally obligated to receive. This can lead to negligent actions being inflicted on residents, which can result in a wrongful death.
- Untrained staff. Even when a nursing home might have enough staff to meet the legal requirements of providing 3.2 hours of care per patient, oftentimes, not all staff members are properly trained. Untrained staff may incorrectly take care of nursing home patients, which can cause a multitude of different problems.
- Neglect. Negligence is the main cause of nursing home wrongful death cases. Each nursing home patient is owed a duty of care under the nursing home facility and staff. When staff members or facilitators breach their duty of care by not providing patients and residents with the proper care and attention that they need, this negligence can lead to injuries or death. Some examples of neglect and negligence include the following:
- Not providing the minimum 3.2 hours of care a day to patients.
- Not bathing the elders.
- Not assisting the elders when they need to use the restroom.
- Not providing food, water, medication, or adequate care.
- Lack of accident prevention. Not taking the proper precautions, actions, and protocols to prevent accidents from happening in a nursing home is a form of negligence that may result in a wrongful death. If a staff member places proper signages or offers assistance, it could prevent a slip and fall injury or death from occurring.
- Medication errors. Providing the wrong medication to a patient is a form of negligence on behalf of the medication administrator or staff member who is in charge of providing the appropriate medication to the resident. It is their responsibility to ensure that each resident gets their prescribed medication dosages and that they are taken correctly. Giving a resident the wrong medication or medication dosage can lead to a wrongful death.
- Willful deprivation. Willful deprivation is the refusal to provide patients with the care that they need. This occurs when staff or facilitators willingly deprive or refuse to provide their residents with proper medication, food, water, meals, bathing, therapy, and any other feature of care that is essential to their health and well-being.
- Physical abuse. Sadly, some staff members physically abuse nursing home residents out of pure cruelty, or to get them to comply with them. They might physically abuse them by treating them roughly when providing care, such as forceful grabbing, pushing, pinching, slapping, and punching.
- Sexual abuse. It’s horrifying to think that sexual abuse from staff to residents occurs in nursing homes. Unfortunately, this situation does happen under the care of nurses. Some staff or facilitators might take advantage of the fact that those under their care might be too weak to fight them off or too scared to speak up about it. Some forms of sexual abuse include groping, touching, and violating.
- Psychological abuse. While psychological abuse might be more challenging to identify, it also occurs in nursing homes from staff to residents. This form of abuse can be paired with verbal abuse that humiliates, torments, and shames residents. Some examples of this abuse include yelling, criticizing, and taunting.
- Resident to resident abuse. Sometimes, residents of nursing homes might find issues with one another. However, it is the duty of the staff and facilitators to ensure a welcomed stay for all of their residents. They are also expected to de-escalate and prevent resident to resident issues that can become abusive and potentially lead to a wrongful death. If nursing home staff members or facilitators do nothing to impede the issues between residents, then this will be considered as a form of negligence on their behalf.
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.
- The 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.
Need a Wrongful Death Attorney? West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Help
If you have lost a loved one due to negligent actions committed by another party, our expert team of Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for damages you have suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact us today by calling (888) 341-9802 or filling out our quick contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.