While no death in the family is easy to deal with, one that was preventable is particularly tough. When you trust an establishment to care for a loved one, such as when placing them in a nursing home, you don't expect the unthinkable to ever happen, nor can you ever be truly prepared for that. Wrongful death in a nursing home calls for specific action, despite the fact that your entire family may be stricken with grief.
The General Criteria For Wrongful Death
Wrongful death cases vary in complexity and value, but anytime someone dies at the hands of another person, business, or entity, a wrongful death attorney should be contacted. Whether or not those pursuing the case are in need of the potential money awarded in the case, an unjust death should be documented and actions should be taken to prevent the situation from occurring in the future.
Accountability should be sought if the death in question is a direct result of another's action or inaction and the facts of the matter can be proven. Even seemingly simple cases aren't usually cut-and-dry; therefore, it's best for the loved ones involved to present their documentation and personal stories to a qualified lawyer.
Who Can And Should Bring Suit
Since the value of a wrongful death suit involves survivors (those suffering loss due to the death), it's usually family members who bring the suit forward. Although minor differences between states may exist, most cases can be pursued by the following:
- The spouse, partner, ex-spouse, or ex-partner of the deceased.
- Parents of the deceased, although a spouse (of the deceased) is more likely to file.
- Direct relatives, such as brothers, sisters, grandparents, or grandchildren.
- In some cases, anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased is eligible to bring suit.
If you're uncertain as to whether or not you can file a wrongful death claim or who else in your family should, an attorney can help you make that decision.
What May Have Gone Wrong At The Nursing Home
Despite the majority of nursing homes being safe and wonderful places, a number of things could have gone wrong at the facility where your loved one was, including something involving negligence:
- Lack of sufficient staff meant patient care was compromised, either on a short- or long-term basis.
- Nutritional needs were not being met, including hydration.
- Medication was skipped or not taken, or the wrong medication was given.
- Bedsores were not adequately addressed, which could, unfortunately, lead to lethal infections.
- A patient left unattended or not properly secured may have fallen and gotten injured.
- Staff at the nursing home delayed notifying the patient's physician about a serious condition, which could have affected whether they lived or died.
- Emergency procedures, including contacting 9-1-1, were not enacted, thereby endangering the life of the afflicted patient.
Negligence, in the case of a nursing home, takes many forms because the facility is bound to care for the residents, protecting them and acting in their best interests. Even if there was no malice, which is rarely ever the case, the absence of care leading to a person's death can be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Steps Immediate Family Members Should Take
Unfortunately, the collection of evidence may require loved ones to be involved in unpleasant circumstances, especially in the case of a nursing home death. For example, an autopsy may be required to prove the cause and/or circumstances of death in order for survivors to hold someone responsible. Also, reports, interviews, and statements from witnesses could also be needed, including from family members who visited the deceased in the nursing home prior to the death.
While survivors have a lot of legal responsibilities to help put together a wrongful death case, they also need to grieve and take care of each other and themselves. Obtain clear instructions from a lawyer regarding what you should and should not do, including discussing the case with anyone, but make sure you and your family deal with the loss at hand.
Dealing with death is difficult for the surviving family members under any circumstances; however, it can be much harder when that death was somebody's fault. There are so many questions, so many possible answers, and a number of unknown variables that can plague survivors for years to come. Get your questions answered, understand fully what happened to your loved one, and very importantly, do your best to make sure the same situation doesn't happen to anyone else.
To learn more, contact a wrongful death lawyer.