Suing a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death
No matter how careful you are in choosing a nursing home for your elderly loved one, it can be difficult to foresee crimes such as nursing home abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, no amount of money or research can guarantee the safety of your loved one. If your relative recently passed away in a nursing home under sudden, unusual or suspicious circumstances, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home in California.
What Is Wrongful Death?
The definition of wrongful death under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 is a loss of life caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another person or party. This definition can encompass many different actions, including careless mistakes and intent to harm by the nursing home or an employee. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim that pursues financial compensation for the economic and noneconomic losses that result from the death.
How Can a Nursing Home Cause Wrongful Death?
Not every death at a nursing home, long-term care facility or hospice center constitutes wrongful death. To have grounds to sue a nursing home, there must be evidence that it or one of its employees did something wrong. You must have proof that the nursing home or a worker committed an action or omission that a reasonable and prudent party would not have in the same circumstances, and that this caused your loved one’s final injury or illness.
Common crimes and issues associated with wrongful death at nursing homes in California are:
- Physical abuse (intentionally injuring residents)
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal, mental and emotional abuse
- Withholding food or water
- Improper use of restraints or isolation
- Malnourishment or dehydration
- Failing to provide proper medical care
- Failing to intervene during resident-on-resident violence
- Dangerous premises
- Failing to prevent resident wandering/elopement
- Medication mistakes
- Failing to diagnose a patient illness or infection
- Resident neglect
If you are not sure what caused your loved one’s death while at a nursing home in California, consult with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer for a thorough investigation of the incident. An attorney will have legal resources and connections to experts to provide a comprehensive investigation of the death. If an investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, abuse or neglect by the nursing home or one of its employees, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
Can You Sue a Nursing Home in California for Wrongful Death?
California law restricts the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit to only certain surviving family members: the spouse or domestic partner, child, or grandchild of a deceased child. If these parties do not exist, the law opens the ability to file to anyone who would have been entitled to inherit the decedent’s property through intestate succession or anyone who can prove that he or she was financially dependent on the decedent at the time of death. The law allows a personal representative of the decedent’s estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as well.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If your wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home succeeds, your family could receive a financial settlement or judgment award for both economic and noneconomic losses. You may be eligible to recover compensation for:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- The loss of the decedent’s love and companionship
- The loss of the decedent’s protection, moral support and society
- The financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family had he or she lived
It is impossible to place a dollar amount on a human life. However, a successful settlement or jury verdict could allow your family to pay for related bills and move forward with greater peace of mind. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can also hold a nursing home publicly accountable. For more information about a potential lawsuit against a nursing home for wrongful death, contact the attorneys at Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP for a free consultation.