Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death lawyer can help you sue a nursing home if a patient’s death is a result of negligence, neglect, or abuse.

Can you sue a nursing home for wrongful death? Depending on the circumstances, you may have a case. When we place our frail, elderly, and vulnerable loved ones in a nursing home, we expect them to receive competent care and be kept safe from harm. Nursing home staff have a duty to care for individuals with serious medical issues and the need to live in facilities with specialized medical care. When care is inadequate and a loved one dies due to the home’s negligence or fault, a nursing home abuse attorney may be able to hold the nursing home liable through a wrongful death lawsuit.

If your loved one died in a nursing home due to abuse, neglect, medical mistakes, or inadequate care, our Asheville nursing home lawyer at Lakota Denton can help you understand your rights and determine the best approach to take to secure compensation for your losses. While money cannot replace your loved one, a successful lawsuit will bring justice by holding the nursing home accountable and will help make sure the negligent behavior stops so other vulnerable residents will not be harmed.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?

How a Lawyer Can Help You

At Lakota Denton, our nursing home wrongful death lawyers will immediately get to work on your lawsuit to fight for a fair settlement.

North Carolina law defines a “wrongful death” as one that is caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person or entity, of a kind that would have entitled the person to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2). The statute allows the wrongful death lawsuit to be filed by the personal representative of the deceased.

An attorney can help with your wrongful death action by taking the following steps:

  • Evaluate your case to determine if it is valid and what it may be worth
  • Investigate the circumstances of the death to determine all potential defendants who may have been at fault
  • Gather evidence to prove negligence, such as from videos and photographs, police and medical reports and documents
  • Interview witnesses, residents, and staff
  • Obtain expert medical opinions as to how neglect led to the death
  • Correspond with all potentially involved insurance companies and identify all possible sources of recovery
  • Demand payment and negotiate aggressively with insurance companies for a fair settlement
  • Build your case and take it to trial and present it to a judge and jury, if necessary.

Insurance companies and their attorneys tend to take your case more seriously and negotiate accordingly if they know you have an attorney on your side who is willing to take your case to court.

How to Win a Case for Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home

To win your case, you must prove another party was negligent and at fault for causing your loved one’s death.

Proving negligence legally means establishing the existence of the following factors:

  • Duty — The nursing home had a duty to care for the resident.
  • Breach — The nursing home breached this duty and failed to provide the required standard of care.
  • Cause — The nursing home’s misconduct caused the resident’s death.
  • Damages – You suffered damages as a result.

In a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, there may be multiple parties who can be held responsible. Liable parties may include the person who abused the resident, the owners and administrators of the facility who knew or should have known that a resident was being abused and failed to prevent further abuse, and doctors, nurses, attendants, or other residents who may have caused harm. They may all have insurance or assets that can go toward a settlement award, so we would look to name them in the lawsuit, and we are fully prepared to go up against any large corporation that may own or be involved with the home.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Lawsuit?

Damages amounts in a wrongful death settlement can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of the death and the individual factors involved. In general, surviving family members may be able to recover financial awards to compensate for their losses, that include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of consortium
  • Medical treatments related to the cause of death
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress.

You may also be entitled to compensation for the loss of the deceased person’s reasonably expected . . .

  • Net income
  • Services, protection, care and assistance
  • Society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice.

In addition, in some rare cases, punitive damages – designed to punish and deter wrongful conduct – may also be recovered. The purpose is to send a strong message and help to protect nursing home residents in the future from suffering harm.

If your loved one had a will that named a personal representative, that representative can file the case. If there is no estate plan, the court will appoint someone to file a wrongful death action, most often surviving spouses, parents, or adult children.

The personal representative may pay for reasonable and necessary expenses from the estate, not including attorneys’ fees. The estate will be reimbursed for expenses from the settlement; attorneys’ fees are paid next, and the remainder of the settlement is distributed to the heirs.

Situations That Can Lead to Death of Nursing Home Residents

There are many situations in nursing homes that can lead to death of residents. Among the most common causes are:

  • Nursing homes are understaffed. Nursing homes may hire less staff in an effort to increase profits, or they may not be able to attract and retain adequate staff to supervise and provide assistance to residents.
  • Unsafe conditions exist. Unsafe conditions such as slippery floors, obstructions and equipment in hallways, furniture that is too high or too low, poor lighting, belongings placed out of reach, and lack of proper safety equipment in bathrooms may cause falls that result in death.
  • Medications are not properly monitored and may increase risk of falls or overdoses.
  • Staff has not been properly vetted, trained, and supervised to prevent abuse.
  • There are no measures and monitoring to prevent residents’ wandering off.
  • Abuse or neglect by staff or residents was not noted and stopped.

Call Our Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney for Help

Lakota Denton has successfully taken wrongful death cases to trial and obtained verdicts from juries. If your loved one has died a wrongful death in a nursing home, we are prepared to represent you in your search for justice.

Don’t delay. It’s best to start investigating these cases immediately, while evidence is fresh and witnesses can be found. In addition, North Carolina has a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit, which is generally two years from the date of the death to file a claim in court. If you miss this deadline, the courts are likely to refuse to hear your case.

Call today at 828-333-5996 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation. There are no fees to you unless and until we win your case.

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