Wrongful Death after Nursing Home Abuse

Edward A. Smith

The abuse of elderly people in our country is atrocious, and yet it occurs at a rate of at least one in every 10 people over the age of 60 years old. While all forms of abuse are unacceptable, thankfully, many types of abuse or neglect do not put the elderly person at imminent risk of bodily injury. For example, failing to assist an elderly person - who is otherwise incapable of doing so on their own - with personal hygiene is negligent and cruel, but probably will not result in their death.

In other cases though, nursing home abuse is downright dangerous for the abused person. Neglect and abuse can lead to harm. Actions that may lead to the decline and injury - including fatal injury - of an elderly person include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing to move an elderly person who is bedridden, leading to bedsores;
  • Medication errors;
  • Failing to provide an elderly person with proper nutrition;
  • Physical or sexual abuse; and
  • Failure to supervise a patient who is in need of around-the-clock care, leading to a fall or other injury type.

In fact, even when abuse or neglect is not directly harmful, elderly persons who are abused are at a 300 percent higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated, according to the National Council on Aging.

In some cases, nursing home abuse can lead to the death of an elderly loved one. In the event that it does, you, as the representative of the decedent, can bring forth a wrongful death claim for damages. If you are the survivor of an elderly loved one who died as a result of nursing home abuse, please contact my Sacramento law office today for free and friendly advice.

The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in California

The elements of a wrongful death claim in California resulting from nursing home abuse are reflective of the elements of a personal injury or medical malpractice claim. These are:

  • That the defendant (the nursing home) owed the decedent (the nursing home resident) a duty of care;
  • That the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the decedent through an act of negligence (abuse or neglect); and
  • That the abuse or neglect led to the death of the nursing home resident.

If you can prove the above elements, you can recover compensation for your losses. Types of damages that you can recover include:

  • Compensation for medical expenses related to the care of the elderly person following negligence and prior to death;
  • Compensation for funeral and burial expenses;
  • Compensation for pain and suffering; and
  • Compensation for other financial or noneconomic losses, such as loss of emotional support.

In California, there are only certain parties who are allowed to bring forth a wrongful death claim. These parties include the surviving spouse of the deceased person, the deceased person’s domestic partner, the deceased person’s surviving children, or, if none of the above are present, anyone who would be entitled to the property of the decedent due to the laws of intestate succession. In some cases, anyone who can establish that they were financially depending on the decedent (which is rare in cases in nursing home abuse) can also bring forth a claim.

It is also important to understand other legal requirements for filing a wrongful death claim, including the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the time limit that you have to bring forth your claim before you forfeit your right to recover damages. In California, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death (see: California Courts - Judicial Brand of California).

How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help You to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. Losing a loved one due to an act of nursing home abuse can be more than just emotional - it can be downright angering. Losing a loved one as a result of abuse is a tragic situation, and one that no one should ever have to experience. When you find yourself in this situation, I want to help you to bring forth your wrongful death claim and achieve the justice that you and your family deserve. I can help you by:

  • Gathering evidence to support your claim. Remember, you must prove that the nursing home committed an act of negligence, and that the negligence was the direct cause of the elderly person’s death in order to recover compensation for your losses. I can help you to gather all the necessary evidence to prove this, including medical records, witness statements, expert testimony, and more.
  • Filing your claim with California courts. Filing a claim is a legally intensive process that requires the filing of numerous papers and documents. Because I have more than 30 years’ worth of experience representing victims of nursing home abuse, as well as wrongful death plaintiffs, I understand exactly what steps need to be taken to file a claim appropriately.
  • Representing you in settlement talks and mediation. Most wrongful death claims do not go to court; instead, they are often settled out of court in mediation. During these talks, I can represent you and negotiate a settlement that is within your best interest.
  • Litigating a wrongful death claim. While I will do everything possible to resolve your case out of court, if a settlement cannot be reached, I will be prepared to litigate on your behalf to get you the settlement you deserve.
Getting the Help You Need

A consultation with me to discuss your case in more detail and to learn more about wrongful death lawsuits following nursing home abuse is completely free. If you have lost a loved one because of nursing home neglect or abuse, please do not wait to take action - the clock on the statute of limitations is ticking.

I will work hard for you, and I know what you are going through. Take action by calling my Sacramento law offices directly today, or by filling out the contact form on my website.

Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence and/or abuse in a nursing home setting, please give me a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly and no obligation advice.

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