What is wrongful death?
A wrongful death is a death that occurs due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. For example, a reckless driver may be held at fault for causing the wrongful death of another person in a car accident, or a doctor may be held liable for the wrongful death of a patient due to medical malpractice. Wrongful deaths often occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where caregivers and staff have a duty of care towards residents.
In a wrongful death case, the family of the deceased will usually try to recover money in damages from the negligent party. To recover, the deceased’s family must prove that the defendant owed a certain duty to the deceased, that the defendant was negligent, and that this negligence caused the deceased’s death.
How is wrongful death caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
Wrongful death often occurs through nursing home neglect or abuse – when a nursing home or one of its employees becomes careless towards a resident to whom the nursing home owes a duty of care. A caregiver may ignore signs of illness or infection in a resident and fail to administer treatment in time to save the resident’s life. Or a caregiver may fail to help a resident who needs assistance walking, causing the resident to fall and sustain serious injuries which may result in death.
On a larger scale, the nursing home itself may exercise negligence by creating a hazardous environment through wet floors or dim lighting. Or a nursing home may fail to hire enough staff members, fail to train them correctly, or fail to screen prospective employees before hiring – all instances of neglect that can lead to serious injury, illness, and death for nursing home residents.
What should a nursing home do to prevent wrongful death?
A nursing home should do all it reasonably can to protect residents from harm. This includes preventing abuse through employee
background checks and careful screening throughout the interview process, as well as close supervision after hiring. Nursing homes should train all employees to recognize signs of abuse and report any abuse immediately, and when a nursing home manager encounters abuse, he or she should intervene as soon as possible.
To prevent neglect, nursing homes should hire enough staff members to maintain a high level of care for all residents, and should make sure all staff are medically trained and equipped to care for a resident’s specific needs. Nursing homes should constantly keep their facilities safe and sanitary to prevent falls and the spread of infection – both of which can lead to wrongful death.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for wrongful death?
If the family of the deceased can prove that their loved one’s death occurred because of negligence or abuse on the part of the nursing home or one of its employees, then the nursing home may be held responsible for wrongful death. An at-fault nursing home will be required to compensate the family of the deceased person, providing money for things like medical bills, hospitalization, funeral expenses, and loss of income. The nursing home may also be required to compensate the deceased person’s family for any pain and suffering their loved one experienced prior to his or her death. Finally, in some cases, the nursing home may also be required to compensate the surviving family members for loss of protection and companionship.