What Is Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?
When a nursing home resident dies due to another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct, their death is considered wrongful.
Wrongful death in nursing homes can stem from many different causes, some of which are more difficult to spot than others. It’s important to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for potential issues, like understaffing or poor training.
If you lost a loved one due to suspected abuse or neglect at a long-term care facility, a wrongful death attorney can help you determine your next steps.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
- Broken bones
- Improper medical care
- Lack of fall prevention
- Medication errors
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
- Untreated underlying medical conditions
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?
Nursing homes have an obligation to keep elderly residents safe and provide proper care. Accordingly, nursing home staff members, owners, administrators, and other parties can be held liable when proper care is not provided.
However, the statute of limitations (a time restriction on how long you have to file a lawsuit) varies from state to state, as do laws regarding proof and taking claims to court.
If you do choose to sue a nursing home for punitive damages, an investigation will likely be held in order to establish the degree of harm and who is at fault.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
While state laws vary on who can sue, immediate family members — like spouses and children — have the right to sue in every state.
In some states, distant relatives such as cousins, executors, or others who have been financially impacted by the death of the resident, can also sue.
Filing a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Filing a nursing home lawsuit may seem like an overwhelming step to take, but it is the only way to receive compensation for a nursing home wrongful death.
Most nursing home abuse lawsuits follow a similar structure:
- A civil suit is filed, and both parties submit paperwork regarding their stance.
- Discovery begins, and both parties collect evidence to support their claim.
- Negotiations and mediations begin. A settlement amount may be reached.
- The settlement offer is either accepted or declined by the plaintiff.
- If the settlement is declined, the case goes to trial.
The decision to take the case to trial — as opposed to accepting a settlement — can be a difficult one for a family to make. While a jury verdict may result in a larger amount of financial compensation, it is usually lengthier, riskier, and more taxing.
While a settlement may offer a lesser amount, the process is generally faster and less demanding. For this reason, most cases end up settling out of court.
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you make the best choice for your individual situation.
How Much Is a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlement?
While the average amount of a nursing home wrongful death settlement is around $406,000, the actual amount you may receive depends on a variety of factors. These factors include the severity of the abuse and the ability of the defendant — in this case, the nursing home — to pay.
In addition to seeking damages for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you can also seek punitive damages against the nursing home itself. Punitive damages are meant to punish the nursing home for misconduct and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Get Help Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Nursing home wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated and overwhelming to handle independently. Plaintiffs must provide significant amounts of detailed documentation including medical evidence like autopsy reports and proof establishing that abuse or neglect occurred.
Navigating complicated issues of liability can mean that wrongful death cases can take months or even years to conclude. Filing errors or the submission of incorrect documents can prolong the case even further.
Additionally, the assisted living facility will likely have legal representation of their own to help protect them from financial losses.
You can help protect yourself from these and other complications by working with a law firm that has lawyers who specialize in nursing home wrongful death cases. They will be able to assist with evidence gathering and can ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and is compliant with state laws.
You have a right to seek justice for your loved ones. If you have lost someone to nursing home neglect or abuse and are ready to take legal action, get a free case review today.