After close loved ones die because of the negligence of others, immediate family members in Southampton have the option to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit for the harm they suffer. This holds true even if the victim was in a nursing home and died as a result of the negligent or abusive care they endured.
How can nursing home conditions contribute to a wrongful death?
Many nursing home deaths come from simple neglect of patients. Poor nutrition can create a host of health problems and bed sores from not ensuring the patient moves regularly can lead to infections. Because the patient is already in poor health from the neglect, the patient may be more susceptible to infection and other medical conditions.
Falls are another common cause of death in a nursing home tied to poor care. When immobile patients need to use the restroom, and the staff does not come to their aid, they may try to get out of bed to use the bathroom themselves and fall as a result. Some nursing homes may neglect to place guardrails onto beds of at-risk patients; if the patient falls out of the bed, he or she can suffer serious injury that may prove fatal, especially if already in poor health.
Prescription drug errors contribute to nursing home deaths as well. Seniors take many drugs, and with understaffed nursing homes, it can be a challenge to keep track of who should get what medication. Overdose or inappropriate doses can lead to death.
Legal Recourse after Nursing Home Deaths
Wrongful death lawsuits resemble personal injury lawsuits in their legal burdens. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently towards the decedent and that the negligence caused harm to the beneficiaries. In terms of evidence, plaintiffs must meet the preponderance of evidence standard; the plaintiffs must present evidence that the claims are more likely true than not true.
Wrongful death actions benefit close family members – spouses, children and parents – for the losses they endure related to the death. Damages in these cases may be more limited insomuch as an elderly patient past the age of retirement may have little earning potential and their children are usually self-sufficient adults. Still, family may be entitled to other damages depending on the specifics of the case.
Meanwhile, in addition to a wrongful death claim, survivors may pursue a survival action on the decedent’s behalf. Survival actions are brought by the decedent’s estate for claims they would have pursued if they hadn’t died.
Oversight of Nursing Homes
Surviving family can submit a complaint to the Division of Nursing Care in Pennsylvania to investigate their loved one’s care and/or death for possible violations of state law by the nursing home staff or facility. An investigation may reveal facts that can help a wrongful death case and provide closure for the family.
Nursing home patients also have rights to visitation, to participate in their care and to financial autonomy. Violation of these rights and/or other negligent acts may be grounds for legal action. Talk to an attorney if you suspect your loved one’s death is related to neglect or abuse and wish to investigate the matter and explore your legal options.
Cordisco & Saile LLC is committed to helping Southampton families who lost a loved one exercise their right to legal action via wrongful death and survival actions. Contact our office at 215-642-2335 or contact us online to set up an appointment with an attorney today.