Death of a loved one due to neglect or abuse in a nursing home is absolutely unacceptable. At our offices, we believe that nursing homes should not be allowed to commit such acts with impunity. We have had success in holding the guilty facilities accountable and recovering damages to help ease, in any way possible, the pain of loss and suffering.
When a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, California’s Wrongful Death statutes provide the decedent’s successors in interest (i.e. heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate) and dependents with a claim for the losses they have personally suffered as a result of the decedent’s death. For example, when a nursing home resident is neglected to the point where his or her dehydration result in death, his or her children may bring their own Wrongful Death claim against the nursing home and its operators. Recoverable damages include, but are not limited to, damages for loss of society, comfort, care, and protection.
Although not every Elder Abuse action involving a deceased resident warrants a wrongful death claim, in many instances the neglect and abuse of a resident is a direct cause of their death. Commonly, the nursing home’s failure to employ adequate staff is a contributing factor. State statutes require that every facility provide at least 3.2 hours of direct care to each patient every day. As this is a legal requirement for a nursing home, if understaffing results in a patient’s death then the facility is liable. Many fatal errors committed by nursing home staff can be traced back to staffing problems. Overwork and stress significantly increase the likeliness of deadly mistakes. Such errors range from administering an overdose of medication to a patient to forgetting to turn on vital equipment.
When a condition that results in death is preventable, it can be classified as wrongful death. One of the most common causes of death in nursing homes is falling. Some fall incidents are preventable. Nursing homes are required to develop individual care plans for each patient that include assessments of fall risk and prevention plans. If a fatal fall occurred because the facility failed to implement prevention measures, possibly because of a lack of trained staff, then a Wrongful Death suite is applicable.
Other preventable conditions that can trigger a wrongful death suite include, but are not limited to, pressure ulcers and some infections. Pressure sores can make people more susceptible to infection, especially sepsis. Pressure sores are a preventable condition, so mortality due to infected pressure sores falls under wrongful death. When a nursing facility does not use proper infection control and prevention techniques, there is also liability. Certain infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), are well-known to be endemic in healthcare facilities so certain precautions should be in place to prevent outbreaks. Infections due to unhygienic conditions, such as when incontinent patients are left un-cleaned for long periods of time by negligent staff, are also preventable and thus may constitute a Wrongful Death claim when they result in a patient passing away.
If you would like to know whether you have an actionable wrongful death claim, please contact us today. Our firm, along with our team of experienced experts and aggressive nursing home neglect attorneys, will do a comprehensive review of your case to determine your legal rights and options. If you have a meritorious wrongful death claim, we will prepare and, if necessary, take your case to trial to maximize your potential recovery.