Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a complex and emotional decision. When you employ others to care for your family, you should be able to trust that your loved ones will be treated with compassion and integrity.
Sometimes, caretakers fail to provide your loved ones with the care they need due to lack of funding or understaffing. Other times, a nursing home resident may die due to neglect. In both cases, neglect led to an unnecessary death. In a study conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it was found that an estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced “adverse events” at nursing home facilities. Physician reviewers then determined that over half of these events were clearly or likely preventable.
While dealing with the grief resulting from a loved one’s death should come first, if you suspect they died due to a lack of care, you may want to consider filing a civil case for wrongful death.
Signs of Wrongful Death
The term “wrongful death” at its core describes a death that should not have taken place. A wrongful death does not have to be related to a person’s illness or medical history. Natural disasters that affect nursing homes, for example, can be the cause of a wrongful death. In a similar vein, if someone discovers asbestos in a nursing home, despite a state’s laws forbidding its use, any deaths involving respiratory issues in that nursing home can be taken to court as wrongful death cases.
All of this is to say that wrongful deaths in nursing homes can be caused by a variety of means, and the signs surrounding each case will be individualized. When assessing the death of a loved one for neglect, the best place to start is to take the care they received into account. If you believe that your loved one suffered unnecessarily, received injuries due to poor staff care, or was otherwise deprived of their right to care while in a nursing home, you may be able to bring your case to court.
According to the National Institute on Aging, elderly people with no family members or friends close by and those with disabilities or memory problems are most likely to suffer from neglect. Some of the physical signs of neglect that can lead to wrongful death in a nursing home include:
- Pressure ulcers or bedsores
- Broken bones or bruises
- Past injuries that have not healed
- Sepsis or infection
- Medical errors, including distribution of medication
- Unsanitary living conditions
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Wrongful Death and Neglect
By definition, wrongful death is closely tied to neglect. When issuing a claim of wrongful death, you must attest that the person’s death was the result of another person’s negligence. You may argue that the neglect was intentional or that it was accidental. In either case, you must present evidence of the neglect to establish liability.
Some forms of wrongful death can be classified as a degree of murder, depending on the state you live in and the circumstances surrounding the death in question. You may wish to consult a nursing home abuse lawyer before you bring your wrongful death claim before a court. Working with a legal team can help you assess the evidence surrounding your loved one’s death and determine the type of case you want to make.
Your Legal Rights After a Wrongful Death
Again, it is important to take time to grieve a loved one after they have died. However, if you suspect that something is amiss, you may also want to explore your legal options. Each state has a statute of limitations that puts a time limit on when you can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
First, you must establish if you are the appropriate party to bring a wrongful death case forward to your state’s courts. You can sue for wrongful death if you are:
- Immediately related to the deceased party
- A life partner, common-law spouse, or financial dependent of the deceased party
- Someone who has suffered financially due to the death of the deceased party
Your right to file a suit may vary based on the state you reside in. You will need to assess your relationship to the deceased as well as your state’s statute of limitations before pursuing civil action. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you with these steps. Working with a legal team can also help you:
- Establish your case with evidence, ranging from physical signs of neglect to eyewitness accounts.
- Determine any damages you may be owed.
- Express your case in a court of law with representation.
- Maintain relationships with all parties involved.
If you choose to settle a wrongful death case outside of court, a nursing home abuse lawyer can also help you avoid insufficient compensation.
Explore Your Legal Options
Our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC is here to help you understand the complexities of your wrongful death case and guide you through the process. We work on a contingency basis, which means you do not pay a fee for our services unless you receive compensation for your loss.
You do not have to let a potential case of neglect cause your family to suffer even further. To discuss your case and learn more about the compensation you may be entitled to, call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at 800-959-1444.