Wrongful Death Nursing Home Liability

When an elderly patient who is a resident in a nursing home dies due to the negligence of nursing home staff or abuse, the family of that patient may be entitled to wrongful death compensations.  A nursing home is not allowed to negligently cause the premature death of an elderly person or deprive him of whatever time he has left to live.  A cause of action for wrongful death concerning a resident patient in a nursing home must involve some kind of deviation from the acceptable standard of care required of that patient’s caregivers.  The establishment of any form of patient abuse as to the deceased patient is generally recognized by courts as a deviation from that required standard of care need to substantiate nursing home liability for wrongful death.

Nursing Home Wrongful Death and Patient Abuse

  • Physical Abuse - Any type of intentional and improper use of inappropriate force on an elderly patient resulting in him or her suffering injury or pain is considered physical abuse.
  • Mental Abuse - Mental abuse includes nursing home intimidation of an elderly patient by use of verbal degradation, verbal threats, isolation, emotional threats and emotional manipulation.
  • Chemical Abuse - Chemical abuse occurs when nursing homes use prescription drugs to improperly restrain an elderly patient or in situations where an elderly patient is given an improper drug due to prescription errors or an over dose of a prescription drug.

Determining Negligence and Foul Play

Determining whether an elderly patient’s death was caused by a nursing home’s negligence requires a comprehensive investigation by experienced persons.  Often the cause of death stated on the death certificate will not provide the necessary evidence that nursing home abuse or neglect occurred.  For example, the death certificate may list the official cause of death as “heart failure” when the underlying cause was abuse such as malnutrition and dehydration caused by nursing home neglect.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

An attorney can draft and file a wrongful death lawsuit for the family of a deceased nursing home resident after determining that the death involved instances that deviated from the acceptable standard of care required by his nursing home care givers.  Damages for a wrongful death depend on the relationship of the deceased to the plaintiff and can include loss of consortium with the deceased, mental anguish and potential financial contributions to the family income and funeral expenses.