A wrongful death is a death caused by another person’s careless actions, reckless actions, or failure to take action. Wrongful death is especially common in nursing homes and other care facilities for the elderly, such as assisted living communities. Some of the most common causes of nursing home wrongful death include nursing home falls, mismanaged wounds and infections, starvation/dehydration, medication errors, and bed sores that are allowed to progress to advanced stages.
If your mother, father, or spouse was wrongfully killed in a nursing home accident, or suffered a fatal injury after entering a nursing home, our experienced wrongful death lawyers can fight for justice for your family. With extensive experience representing plaintiffs in complex wrongful death litigation against negligent and abusive nursing homes and their employees, our skilled and caring attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate, effective legal advocacy for wrongful death victims and their surviving loved ones.
We know that talking about a loved one’s death is painful. But when you are ready to discuss your family’s legal options, we will be here to help you understand the next steps. For a free, no-obligation, and completely confidential legal consultation, call Brent Wieand at (215) 666-7777 for assistance.
What is the Leading Cause of Death in Nursing Homes?
While many nursing home deaths are attributable to natural causes, there are also many cases where a resident’s death was preventable, and would not have occurred but for a serious nursing home violation. Some violations involve unsafe or unsanitary conditions, such as fire hazards, electrical hazards, wet floors or clutter that causes a nursing home fall. Other violations involve the direct mistreatment or neglect of a resident, such as failing to provide food and water, giving residents the wrong medication, committing violence against residents, or failing to supervise residents, who can then wander off the premises and sustain fatal injuries.
These and other violations can inflict deadly injuries, or cause patients to develop lethal infections or illnesses. Some examples of fatal injuries and medical conditions that are common in nursing home wrongful death claims include:
- Amputation Injuries
- Bed Sores (Pressure Sores/Pressure Ulcers/Decubitus Ulcers)
- Burn Injuries
- Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck)
- Choking and Asphyxiation
- Dehydration and Malnutrition/Malnourishment
- Diabetes-Related Infections
- Fall-Related Injuries
- Head Injuries (Traumatic Brain Injury/TBI)
- Lacerations and Bleeding/Hemorrhaging
- Organ Damage/Organ Failure
- Pelvic Fractures (Broken Hips)
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- Wound Infections
While the leading cause of death in nursing homes is Alzheimer’s disease, it is difficult to identify the leading cause of wrongful death, because elder abuse and nursing home abuse are notoriously underreported. While conservative estimates typically hold that roughly one in 10 seniors age 60 or older have been abused, the actual numbers are likely to be far higher, particularly after fatalities resulting from negligence are taken into account. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA), “20% to 24% of deaths in the United States occur in nursing homes. This number is increasing.”
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?
If a nursing home patient’s death was caused by the actions of a nursing home employee, or if a resident died due to a staff member’s failure to act, the victim’s surviving loved ones may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim or wrongful death lawsuit against the facility and/or individual employees, depending on the nature of the fatal accident or fatal injury. When a person has legal grounds to bring a claim for the wrongful death of a nursing home resident, he or she is said to “have a cause of action.”
One of the most common questions our law firm receives is, “Who can sue for wrongful death in a nursing home?” While each state has its own laws on this subject, the parties who may sue, called “real parties in interest,” generally include the children, parents, and spouses of decedents. Depending on where the death occurred, it may also be possible for other parties to sue, such as siblings, grandchildren, and others who sustained financial losses as a result of the decedent’s death.
Deadlines are also of critical importance in wrongful death lawsuits. Plaintiffs must bring a lawsuit before a deadline called the “statute of limitations” expires, or runs out of time. The statute of limitations differs in each state. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death.
The plaintiff in a wrongful death case may be able to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages for an array of losses and expenses. Compensation for wrongful death may include compensation for:
- Burial and Funeral Expenses
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Income/Benefits
- Medical Bills
- Pain and Suffering
It may be possible to reach a settlement agreement outside of court, without needing to go to trial. However, if the party at fault refuses to accept liability or make a reasonable offer, litigation may be the only remedy. In either scenario, our lawyers for wrongful death in nursing homes will work tirelessly toward a favorable resolution, no matter how complicated or challenging the case.
Contact Our Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys About Your Claim or Lawsuit
If you are reading these words because you recently lost an elderly loved one to nursing home neglect or abuse, please allow us to extend our sincere condolences. Our attorneys know that no amount of compensation can make up for the pain and grief of a loved one’s death; but we also believe that as a surviving spouse or family member, you have a right to hold the wrongdoer accountable by pursuing justice in a court of law.
Brent Wieand is dedicated to helping the loved ones of wrongful death victims recover not only financial compensation, but also the emotional closure they need to begin moving forward again. We are here to answer your legal questions, help you exercise your rights, and provide a shoulder to lean on as you go through this difficult and painful time. To talk about your nursing home claim or lawsuit confidentially in a free legal consultation, contact our law offices at (215) 666-7777.