Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes
Learn when family members of nursing home patients have a right to sue for wrongful death, the types of compensation a court may award, and the time limits for bringing a lawsuit.
If your loved one perished in a nursing home or an assisted living facility as the result of willful or negligent conduct, such as inattention, mistreatment, nursing home abuse, or neglect, you need legal representation. Wrongful death is the result of some sort of negligent action on the part of someone causing a death of another. That action can either be intentional or unintentional.
Of course, filing a lawsuit will never bring back your loved one, however such action is often needed to prevent similar mistreatment from occurring to other patients. Identifying and taking appropriate action against those responsible for the wrongful death of your relative may well protect and extend the life of other patients in the same circumstances.
There are two types of awards as the result of these suits. The most common is called Compensatory Damages. Examples of this type of award, which could result in a form of payment or compensation to you, include funeral expenses, some medical expenses connected with the abuse or negligence, and the loss of companionship.
The second type of award is called Punitive Damages. This type comes into play when the actions of the defendant are particularly atrocious or just plain reckless. This type of award is designed to punish the actors for their grievous conduct.
These, of course, are minor considerations when compared to the premature loss of your loved one, however more and more of these cases are coming to light across the country and these facilities need to be held accountable.
Not everyone is allowed to sue in such nursing home abuse cases, and this can vary from state to state. Normally, immediate family, spouses, life partners, dependents, or beneficiaries are given that right. This is called standing. So if you have standing in your state, you are allowed to initiate a suit.
Do not be confused if criminal charges are filed in such a case. For example, someone could be criminally charged with murder or manslaughter in the incident, but this is entirely separate from a wrongful death civil action suit. Each one is mutually exclusive, and stands completely on their own. There could be only criminal charges, or only a civil suit, or both, concerning the same death.
Unfortunately, filing a civil claim against such a facility is often the only way of causing real and lasting reforms to occur in this industry and for getting justice for the family. Justice will never be achieved when people ignore the causes of deaths that should have never happened in the first place.
Obtain high quality legal assistance in order to determine your actual standing and evaluate the merits of your case. Most attorneys are not experienced with the complexities of the laws that interact in wrongful death cases. You need someone who has a history of experience in this area and knows how best to approach and successfully handle these cases.
Remember there are very time limits for filing a wrongful death claim. The starting time begins as soon as the incident occurs. Additional investigations may have to be completed and depositions taken to dig out the facts of the case. A good wrongful death attorney will help you meet the deadlines, investigate what happened, and prepare and present your case.