Nursing home neglect is defined as substandard care that causes harm to the nursing home resident. Neglect in a nursing home is a serious problem that typically involves one or more of the following:
- Medical neglect: This is where the nursing home staff fails to provide for the medical needs of the patient, such as care for medical problems such as heart disease or diabetes. This type of neglect can lead to problems including bed sores, infections, cognitive decline, lacerations and loss of mobility.
- Basic needs: The nursing home fails to give the resident enough food or water, or does not provide a safe and clean environment.
- Personal hygiene: The nursing home resident does not have enough help cleaning, brushing teeth, bathing and related practices necessary for good hygiene.
- Social and emotional: The nursing home ignores and neglects the patient, leaves them alone for many hours, or yells at or otherwise verbally abuses them.
As serious as these types of neglect are, in some cases, the situation can even grow worse. Some of the worst cases of nursing home neglect and abuse can result in death of the person. In that serious of a situation, the line can be crossed from the filing of a personal injury nursing home neglect lawsuit, to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death is a specific type of civil lawsuit that is usually filed against a negligent party that improperly caused the death of another person. It is different than a personal injury lawsuit in that the person who suffered the alleged neglect has passed away. In the case of a nursing home neglect situation, the loved ones of the deceased are usually the ones filing the suit against either individuals at the nursing home, and/or the facility itself.
When initiating a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home facility, there are four major factors that your nursing home neglect attorney will need to understand to determine if you have a strong case:
- Whether the death of your loved one was caused in some manner by the nursing home and its employees
- Whether the conduct of nursing home workers, caregivers and/or medical professionals at the facility contributed to the death
- Whether there are surviving members of the family who can file the lawsuit legally; these usually include the spouse, children and other close relatives
- Whether the death of the victim caused damages and pain and suffering
Why Are There Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Nursing Homes?
Most nursing home residents need the care of professional nursing home workers for many of their daily living needs, as well as cognitive and medical needs. But if a wrongful death has occurred in the hands of the professionals who were supposed to care for the person, the family that survives may be entitled to compensation for their damages. Wrongful death in a nursing home can be caused by many things. But typically, the causes is one or more of the following:
- Malnutrition and dehydration: If the nursing home patient needed a feeding tube or help to stay hydrated and fed, they are completely dependent upon the staff to care for them. But it is not unusual for understaffed and poorly trained workers to put in a feeding tube wrong, not feed the patient a certain diet, to rush through meal times, etc. Dehydration and malnutrition are the most common cause of death in nursing home neglect cases.
- Abuse and assault: Nursing home staff or other residents may assault your loved one seriously enough so that the injuries lead to death. Even if another patient assaults the loved one, the nursing home could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Lack of supervision and security are common problems in nursing home neglect.
- Wandering: Lack of supervision at a nursing home can allow the loved one to wander out of the nursing home and into the street. Or, the person may wander into an unsafe area and slip and fall. Nursing homes must be held accountable if the patient is not kept in a safe environment.
- Bedsores: In extreme nursing home neglect cases, bedsores can become so infected that sepsis results, leading to death.
- Excessive restraint: Caregivers may restrain a resident legally in some situations. But older adults have more brittle bones and poor immune systems. They can be at a higher risk for broken bones, sprains, infections and suffocation if they are restrained too often or severely.
- Poor sanitation: Poor air and heating, mold, bacteria and dirty water can lead to infections and death in people with weak immune systems.
- Medical errors: Most nursing home patients are on several medications; it is common for residents to be given the wrong medication or dose that can lead to death.
Legal Options in a Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Case
Many family members who survive after the patient has passed away will feel motivated to expose the nursing home or caregiver for the neglect that caused the death. In many cases, the administration of the nursing home and medical staff is just as at fault for the death as the day to day caregivers. This is because many medical professionals at nursing homes are seriously overworked and understaffed. It is normal for many facilities to put profits ahead of safety and to understaff and under train workers.
If a nursing home neglect problems becomes a wrongful death case, it is very important to consult an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney in the state. These specialized attorneys can help you to obtain justice and financial compensation for the untimely death of your loved one.
Depending upon the details of the nursing home neglect and wrongful death case, the beneficiaries could be eligible for medical expenses from the results of abuse and death; funeral costs; loss of companionship; and pain and suffering.
To prove a wrongful death claim after a nursing home neglect case, the following must be proven:
- That the nursing home owed the deceased a duty of care
- That the nursing home breached the duty of care through an act of neglect or abuse
- That the neglect or abuse led to the death of the person
Depending upon the state in which the death occurred, only certain parties can bring a wrongful death claim. These typically are the surviving spouse or domestic partner, children or any other person who would be entitled to the property of the deceased according to the laws of intestate succession.
Additional Nursing Home Abuse Articles
- Nursing Home Abuse vs Neglect
- Types and Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
- How to Report or File a Complaint
- Wrongful Death vs Neglect in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
- Elderly Abuse in Nursing Home Homes
- California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer & Laws