Wrongful death occurs when somebody is killed as the result of another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct.  While in some cases criminal prosecution in relation to the fatality may be appropriate, a wrongful death action is a civil action distinct from any criminal charges, which can be brought by surviving family members including spouses, children, or others who would be entitled to inherit in the intestate line of succession. A successful wrongful death claim will provide compensation to the family of the deceased. Monetary reward can cover the cost of medical care and funeral expenses, or other financial damages that result from the wrongful death.

In nursing homes, wrongful deaths can occur when nursing home staff fail to properly care for a patient, or intentionally cause harm. A wrongful death claim is appropriate when failure on the part of the nursing home was the direct or proximate cause of the resident’s death. Some wrongful deaths result from a sudden event; others occur after long periods of abuse and neglect.  Causes of wrongful deaths in nursing homes include infection, falls, malnutrition and dehydration, medication errors, physical abuse, and medical malpractice. 

Residents of nursing homes have rights and nursing homes have obligations to their residents that are established by federal and state laws.  Long-term care facilities have a duty of care, meaning a legal obligation, to avoid causing harm to patients in their care. Nursing homes have a duty to provide a minimum standard of medical care, cleanliness, and safety to residents. Negligence occurs when nursing home employees or administrators fail to meet the duty of care owed to their residents. Nursing homes are liable for the wrongful death of residents as a result of the facility’s negligence.

If the victim’s family can show a staff member’s actions or inactions led to the death, this usually means that a case can be brought not only against the staff member but also against the nursing home itself. This is because the staff member is viewed as an agent of the nursing care facility and thus is considered to have been acting on behalf of the nursing home itself. If a loved one has died as the result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you and your family deserve justice and compensation.  The attorneys at Dworken and Bernstein can help.

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