Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A nursing home wrongful death case can bring justice and closure to grieving family members. Additionally, a sizeable nursing home wrongful death settlement will deter the nursing home from allowing this kind of harm to happen to the next resident. A wrongful death claim against a nursing home is about righting a wrong and ensuring that the facility is held accountable for neglecting one of its most vulnerable.
Free Wrongful Death Lawsuit Case Consultation
At Senior Justice Law Firm, our firm focus is on nursing home abuse litigation. This is our niche practice area. Unfortunately, most of our nursing home negligence cases involve wrongful death allegations. Let our decades of experience assist you and your family in achieving justice today. Our team of experienced and compassionate attorneys have undoubtedly handled cases similar to the one you’ve experienced. Put our knowledge to work for your family.
Live chat with our office now, or give us a call at 888-375-9998. All consultations are free, and if we accept your nursing home wrongful death case, we require no retainer or out of pocket payment from you. We work exclusively on contingency fee, meaning we only get paid if we make a financial recovery for you.
Understanding Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuits & Settlements
Nursing homes are intended for the elderly to peacefully and enjoyably live during their older years. Unfortunately, while some nursing home residents are afforded this opportunity, many suffer poor care in long-term care facilities, and some even die because of it. When a nursing home resident dies at the fault of the administration or staff, then their death could be classified as a nursing home wrongful death.
When a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect dies, this does not absolve the facility of fault. Instead, the decedent’s family members are able to bring the case against the negligent facility in the form of a nursing home wrongful death case.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Many untimely and unfortunate deaths can be classified as wrongful deaths, from reckless driving accidents to homicides and murder. In the broadest sense, a wrongful death is when a victim dies because of another person or persons negligence or inaction.
People often confuse wrongful death with intentional, deliberate actions, like a homicide. This is not the case. A wrongful death can arise out of negligence, oversight, or unreasonable conduct. Simply put, a wrongful death does not have to arise out of an intent to harm. Most frequently, wrongful deaths in nursing homes occur due to preventable accidents.
Even in nursing homes where the average patient is quite sick, a wrongful death can occur in numerous ways. In fact, roughly 300,000 wrongful deaths in the United States occur from preventable nursing home or hospital injuries each year. Sadly, because of the age of nursing home residents, many wrongful death cases never get the justice they deserve because their death is dismissed as a result of old age or their underlying conditions.
If your loved one has suddenly died in the care of a nursing home, then it is very possible that their death could be considered preventable. As nursing home neglect litigators, our firm routinely investigates facility wrongful death cases. Usually, the facility will withhold information from the family, so it is necessary to do your own digging.
Below are some of the more common nursing home wrongful death cases that get litigated.
Examples of Common Wrongful Death Cases Arising in Nursing Homes
A wrongful death can occur in many ways. There is no singular example of a wrongful death. In nursing homes, however, the majority of these cases are a direct result of poor nursing home care.
Weight Loss, Dehydration and Infection
Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes, from malnourishment to dehydration and improper care of medical emergencies. Failing to appropriately react to a nursing home infection is another common cause of wrongful death. While the elderly—like any human—can experience malnutrition, dehydration, and infection in certain circumstances, it is the facility’s failure to timely respond to these illnesses that results in liability.
Prescription drug errors are another frequent cause of wrongful deaths. Many (or even most) nursing home residents are prescribed multiple medications every day. Sometimes, certain medications are deadly when mixed with other types, and sometimes, a nursing home resident had a prior negative reaction to a certain type of medication that was not properly documented. While doctors in charge do not typically intend to harm the patients that they care for, in unfortunate circumstances a doctor might overlook these deadly errors, leading to the wrongful death of a nursing home resident. Additionally, a doctor might over-prescribe a drug, leading to a resident overdosing. Negligent nurses and med techs may also carelessly give too much medicine, or the wrong type of medicine, to a resident, resulting in overdose.
Another commonly overlooked symptom of wrongful death is bed sores. Bed sores are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin and are not a rare phenomenon in nursing homes, especially among bedridden residents. Generally speaking, a bed sore should never develop in a healthcare facility. While bedsores are easily preventable, if they do develop, it is vital that they are treated during the early stages of their appearance. If they are not properly handled, they can lead to gruesome infections and premature death.
Falls and Broken Bones
Deaths due to sustained injuries like falling can be another cause of wrongful death. The most common injuries in nursing homes are patient falls. While a resident’s fall might simply be an accident, it could also be the result of irresponsible nursing home care as well. Federal regulations require a nursing home to use fall prevention techniques to stop fall-risk residents from falling. If the accident is found to be the fault of the nursing home and the resident dies as a result of their injuries, then their death can be classified as wrongful.
Red Flag Injuries Suggestive of Nursing Home Neglect
If your family member suffered any of the above injuries, live chat with our office now, or give us a call at 888-375-9998.
Suing a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death
While a lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one or take away the pain of their loss, it is a vital step to ensure that the victims of the wrongful death are not left to handle exorbitant costs that are left in its wake. It also keeps nursing homes accountable for their behavior and can save the lives of other residents.
Well before a trial, the attorney will provide an estimate to the victim’s family to help them decide whether they wish to continue with the case or reach a nursing home wrongful death settlement. It is ultimately the family’s decision, however, the attorneys help them determine a reasonable range of compensation. If the case does not settle, it will proceed to a civil trial. At trial, the attorneys will present the case to a jury or arbitration panel, explaining the loss of the decedent and how it could have been prevented through appropriate nursing home care.
Available Damages in a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Suit
A nursing home lawsuit can award compensation for medical bills and other expenses that resulted from the injuries leading up to the nursing home resident’s untimely death. The compensation can also cover the costs that occurred as a result of the death, like funeral costs. Additionally, in many venues, the survivors of the deceased are able to claim pain and suffering for losing their family member. In some venues, a jury evaluates the pain and suffering of the decedent, and not the family members.
When analyzing compensatory wrongful death damages, most courts instruct the jury to consider the life expectancy of the decedent before the injury, and the survivor(s) relationship with the decedent.
Additionally, a court can award punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are awarded to the victim’s family to punish the long-term care facility. When the nursing home is responsible for the death of one of their residents, punitive damages incentivize future change by forcing nursing homes to consider the costs that further lawsuits would cause if they do not reform their methods. Punitive measures also provide a level of justice for the family members of the victim by ensuring that the nursing homes do not get off unscathed.
Settling Your Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit
Despite the above talk about trial, statistically speaking, your wrongful death case against the nursing home will almost certainly settle out of court. Due to the expense involved in medical litigation, including expert witnesses, most nursing home negligence cases do not go to trial. Instead, the defendant agrees to pay the victim’s family a sum of money and the case settles.
In the event your case settles, the damages will not be apportioned in the above damage categories. Instead, the defendant nursing home will write a single, lump sum check to resolve any and all claims. These settlement awards ensure that family members of the victim are compensated fairly for their loss, but also prevents the family from having to go through the trial process.
Many families prefer to settle the case without a trial and our attorneys can usually accommodate this request.
Examples of Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
Nursing home settlements can range from $30,000 to over $1,000,000. However, wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes represent only a fraction of that figure, which also includes nursing home abuse and neglect. The severity of the lawsuit, however, can easily affect the overall settlement award. In the event of gross negligence or punitive conduct, a higher figure will almost certainly be met.
In recent history, there have been several wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes that received settlements for well above the national average. Large settlements are not limited to a certain part of the country either. If the court finds that there has been a wrongful death, then the settlement will properly compensate for the loss.
Here are just a few examples of settlements throughout the United States where a nursing home was found liable in a wrongful death case:
In 2019, a Westboro, Massachusetts nursing home was ordered to pay $1 million for the wrongful death of an 89-year-old resident who succumbed to her injuries after a fall. The resident had a history of falling at the facility, which had set up a system to alert the nursing home staff when the resident arose from where she was sitting. However, that system had not been activated when the resident fell. Furthermore, once her injuries were discovered, the nursing home was tardy in responding to the emergency, failing to promptly seek proper care. That nursing home had been sued previously for a similar death in 2015, where the facility was fined $75,000, implying that the large settlement four years later was a result of punitive action taken against the nursing home for failing to adapt safer nursing home procedures.
In 2019, a nursing home in Port Jefferson Station, New York paid $1 million after a resident choked to death when the nursing home forgot to put in the resident’s dentures. The resident had a specific list of foods he was able to eat (pureed foods), but the nurse in charge neglected that chart in addition to forgetting to put in his dentures. Shockingly, that nursing home attempted to sue the family of the victim for unpaid fees.
In 2012, a Georgia nursing home was ordered to pay $43.4 million after a wrongful death at their facility. The lawsuit was filed after an 80-year-old man died after a series of falls. The nursing home failed to alert a doctor or the man’s family of his injuries. The lawsuit revealed the nursing home’s poor ownership, which restricted much of the staff because of inadequate funding.
Seven years later, a California nursing home was hit with a similar penalty: $42.5 million for the wrongful death of one of their residents. Of the $42.5 million, $35 million was classified as punitive damages. The verdict came after a 77-year-old was routinely drugged without her consent. The drug made it difficult for her to eat, and she was found to be choking on food after she received the medication. She died of aspiration pneumonia, in which food is inhaled into the lungs, causing infection and inflammation.
Preventing Wrongful Deaths
Lawsuits against nursing homes for wrongful deaths are one measure to prevent future incidents at that specific nursing home. In addition to compensation for the economic damages (like bills accrued because of the death) and non-economic damages (to compensate for things like pain and suffering), a judge might also levy punitive damages as well. Through punitive damages, poor nursing homes must adapt their behaviors or suffer immense financial pressure. While punitive damages cost nursing homes a considerable amount, the cost of a settlement as a whole might force a nursing home to reconsider how they run the facility and prompt them to make positive changes in an effort to avoid further payouts. These damages for wrongful deaths, however, only punish the nursing home after the fact.
Intentional Understaffing is the Cause of Most Nursing Home Wrongful Deaths in the U.S.
In long-term care facilities, wrongful deaths are often caused by negligence, when staff at nursing homes do not provide ample attention to their residents. The root cause of this negligence, however, is not disdain for the residents on the part of the staff, but rather a nursing home that is poorly staffed overall. Many facilities are for-profit, which leads to cost cutting measures to maximize profits. Staffing issues can arise when the nursing home chooses profits over paying for staff.
Additionally, poor staffing could be a product of poor training. When staffing is not sufficient, the individuals responsible for training new staff might not be able to take the time to properly demonstrate good behaviors and habits. Poor training can then lead to poor medical care. Additionally, lack of staff can cause an absence of proper supervision in the nursing home.
Wrongful deaths are a possible consequence of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, pursuing a lawsuit early will help prevent worse outcomes and can levy punitive damages against the offending nursing home before a deadly outcome arises.
When choosing a nursing home, it is best to find a highly rated facility that is well-staffed. While no nursing home is perfect, a nursing home that has proper staffing will offer a much lower chance of negligence, abuse, or wrongful death. Even if your loved one enters into a well-regarded nursing home, it is important to remember that no facility is perfect. These are a few of the hallmarks of abuse or neglect to keep an eye out for:
- Unexplained injuries, like cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Dirty and unclean appearance
- Anxiety and fear around nursing home staff
- Restrictive caregivers and refused visits
Many wrongful deaths have occurred after abuse and neglect were allowed to go unchecked, so it is important to report any suspicious signs before the problem gets worse.
Contact a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney
At Senior Justice Law Firm, we narrowly focus on nursing home abuse cases.
If your family has lost a loved one because of the unacceptable behavior of a nursing home, your best next step is to reach out for legal representation. While seeking justice for the wrongful death of a loved one is a difficult process, having an experienced attorney on your side will give you the best chance at ensuring you get the compensation and justice you deserve.
A monetary settlement cannot bring back your loved one, but it does help to mitigate the suffering as well as alleviate any unnecessary financial burdens that may have arisen because of the wrongful death. It also sends a message to the negligent nursing home — you cannot get away with this kind of recklessness. By filing a lawsuit, you not only help future residents and their families by forcing nursing homes to change how they operate, but also help yourself by securing compensation and leaving the most stressful parts of the process in the hands of a competent legal professional.
We Want to be Your Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys
We know what you are going through. Just about every family that retains our firm is going through the same thing. For that reason, we’ve made hiring our law firm an easy process. You’ve been through enough. Getting the right law firm on board should not be scary or nerve-racking.
We do not charge any out of pocket charges for fees or costs. Simply explain the case facts to our intake team and we will review the case and get back to you. If we can help you, we will sign up the case and begin requesting records. From there, we can better evaluate the potential claim. Best of all, we only receive compensation if you do. Our attorneys fees range from 33 1/3% to 40% of the total recovery. Because we handle these cases on contingency fee agreements, if we accept your case, it means we feel you have a good chance of making a financial recovery.
Senior Justice Law Firm has years of experience in handling cases involving nursing home abuse resulting in wrongful death. We would be happy to help you navigate this process. Reach out to us through our chat feature or call our firm today at 888-375-9998. If you prefer, you can also submit your information below.
We are truly sorry for your loss and empathize with what you are going through. We hope we can help your family pick up the pieces after a preventable tragedy occurs inside a healthcare facility.