Nursing homes don’t want to accept responsibility for wrongful deaths of residents. They don’t want to pay damages and they don’t want their reputations to be harmed. However, if nursing home abuse or negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death, then you have the right to file a wrongful death claim, to pursue damages, and to hold the nursing home accountable for your loved one’s death.
Common Causes of Nursing Home Wrongful Deaths
Different types of abuse or neglect can lead to a resident’s death. If your loved one died in a nursing home and you suspect that abuse or neglect may have caused your loved one’s death, then it is important to consider if any of the following caused a fatal injury:
- Physical abuse. Hitting, punching, kicking other intentional acts of abuse can be deadly.
- Improper use of restraints. The use of physical restraints can lead to fatal injuries and should only be done after proper evaluation and in consultation with a doctor.
- Neglect. The failure to provide reasonable care can result in bedsores, falls, malnutrition, dehydration, infections, and other conditions that create the risk of deadly injuries.
- Failure to provide medication as prescribed. This may include providing the wrong medication to a resident, providing the wrong dose of a medication to a resident, failing to comply with the prescription directions when administering medication to a resident, or failing to provide medication to a resident.
- Failure to call a doctor or to get a resident medical attention. Nursing home staff should get a resident who is experiencing symptoms of illness or injury prompt medical attention.
- Lack of supervision. Residents who are left alone or end up wandering off and hurting themselves are also at risk of suffering fatal injuries.
- Failure to create or implement care plans. A care plan should be developed and followed for each resident.
- Failure to screen visitors to the nursing home. Nursing home staff should take steps to prevent someone dangerous from entering the nursing home.
- Failure to recognize the danger presented by another resident. When one resident hurts another resident that may be due to nursing home staff negligence.
- Otherwise failing to provide your loved one with reasonable care. Every nursing home resident has the right to expect reasonable care.
While any nursing home resident can be the victim of abuse or negligence, it is especially important to consider the potential for abuse or negligence if the resident is:
- Socially isolated.
- Mentally impaired.
- Residing in a nursing home that lacks good hiring practices or adequate staff training.
If your loved one suffered a deadly injury because of the abuse or neglect of nursing home staff then it is important to take action. Lack of video evidence, lack of a record of previous abuse or neglect, or the existence of a pre-existing condition will not prevent you from bringing a successful wrongful death case. However, in order to succeed in your lawsuit, you must first file a claim.
What to Do If Your Loved One Died From Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Before you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky, it is important to know how a case works. Specifically, it is important to…
- Know that your time for filing a wrongful death case is limited. In most cases, there is a one-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in Kentucky. That means that you have one year from the date of your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit and seek damages. If you do not file your case within the required time, then the nursing home will seek to have your case dismissed, the court will grant that motion, and you will not recover damages.
- Find out whether you have standing to sue. It would be nice if relatives always agreed about what to do after a loved one’s untimely death in a nursing home. However, ultimately, the decision about whether or not to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit may be made by the nursing home resident’s estate. It is the personal representative of your loved one’s estate who can file a claim in state court.
- Make sure you have a case. In order to recover damages, you will need evidence to prove that the nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care; that the duty of care was breached by a failure to provide reasonable care; that the breach of the duty of care was the cause of your loved one’s death; and that you have the legal right to seek damages.
- Comply with all of the technical requirements of filing a complaint in court. Your complaint must comply with the formatting requirements and it must contain the required information.
- Gather evidence. With the aid of written interrogatories, oral depositions, and requests for production of evidence, your lawyer can get to the truth of what happened and help you find justice even if the nursing home initially denied liability. Do not rely on a medical examiner to do this for you. According to the National Institute for Justice, many medical examiners may not be able to distinguish “symptoms of illness from signs of abuse,” and as a result abuse is rarely identified as a cause of death for the elderly.
Additionally, you need to know why you are pursuing a recovery.
Wrongful Death Cases Are Important
Often, we talk about the untimely death of a person that was caused by another person as a murder, as manslaughter, or as another crime. Sometimes, it is a crime. Sometimes, it is a civil wrongful death. Sometimes, it is both.
As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, you do not have the authority to bring murder or other criminal charges if your loved one suffered a fatal injury in a Kentucky nursing home. That right is reserved for the state. However, you or someone else representing your loved one’s estate may have the right to bring civil charges if you believe that someone’s negligent or intentional actions killed your loved one.
While nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death case may be important because:
- A lawsuit allows your family to take action and do something about the loss. It allows you to hold the nursing home accountable.
- You can have all of your questions answered. You can find out exactly what happened to your loved one by gathering evidence during the discovery phase of your lawsuit.
- The damages that you can recover in a wrongful death case may be important to your future. They may help you pay the hospital bills and funeral costs. The damages may keep your family from financial hardship and from suffering unnecessary stress.
- It may discourage nursing home abuse and neglect in the future. Nursing homes may want to avoid future lawsuits and may develop policies and procedures to avoid future abuse and neglect.
We won’t lie to you. Wrongful death cases are often confusing and complicated, but you should not have to deal with the day-to-day legal issues on your own. Instead, we invite you to use our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us so that you can learn more about your rights and about how we may be able to help you protect your family with a wrongful death claim.