A Nursing Home Caused My Loved One’s Death. Can I File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?


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When aging family members can no longer be cared for at home, we often have to trust a nursing home or long-term care facility to care for them. Residents and their family members expect a high standard of care, but this standard is not always met. When a resident dies prematurely due to a nursing home’s neglect or mistreatment, their family may be entitled to compensation. 

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Nursing Home?

Nursing homes have many obligations, but they all center around keeping their residents safe and respectfully providing any care they may need. More specifically, nursing homes have a duty of care to:

  • Provide residents with appropriate medical care, including infection-control measures.
  • Keep residents safe from their environment, themselves, staff, and other residents.
  • Provide enough staffing to ensure that all residents are supervised and have the care that they need.
  • Enforce rigorous standards for hiring, training, and supervising their staff.

How Might A Nursing Home Fail In Their Duty Of Care?

When a nursing home staff member, facility owner, or administrator is responsible for a breach of even one of the above duties, they can be held liable for any deaths or injuries that occur. These failures are sometimes obviously the fault of a nursing home, but it’s often difficult to determine who can be held liable.

Apparent examples of failing to meet their duty of care:

  • Hiring staff without background checks.
  • Withholding medication or treatment or giving the wrong drug or dose.
  • Inadequate staffing, such that residents are unsupervised and may go for long periods without the help and care they need.

Less obvious examples of failing to meet their duty of care:

  • Neglecting to train staff members on preventing the spread of contagious diseases within their facility adequately.
  • Not recognizing soon enough that a resident is acting differently or feeling poorly, thus resulting in delayed treatment of a disease.
  • Forgetting to put the guard rail up on a resident’s bed, resulting in a fall.

Frequently, it’s difficult to initially determine if a nursing home resident’s injury or death could have been prevented, so it’s important to get all of the facts from multiple sources as soon after the incident as possible.

What Is A Wrongful Death?

Whenever a nursing home resident dies due to a person or organization’s negligence or misconduct, their death is considered wrongful. In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death lawsuit seeks to compensate family members for any losses they will suffer because their loved one has died. While filing a wrongful death claim doesn’t take away the pain of a loved one’s mistreatment, it can bring justice to victims and families and hopefully ensures that safeguards will be enacted so that it doesn’t happen again.

What Compensation Is A Family Entitled To After A Wrongful Death?

When it comes to wrongful death suits, settlements are the most common outcome. Through a settlement, victims’ families can be compensated relatively quickly without a trial. While trials have the potential to award more in compensation if won, settlements are often reached to maintain privacy, eliminate the stress of a trial, get compensation quicker, and reduce expenses in legal fees.

Types of losses for which family members can seek compensation include:

  • Financial support the deceased person may have been expected to contribute to the family.
  • Work the deceased person would have contributed to the home, such as child care, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Loss of the deceased’s guidance, companionship, and comfort.
  • Spouses can claim loss of affection and love.
  • Punitive damages if it can be proven that the nursing home’s behavior was egregious and extremely reckless.

Only the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased are entitled to file a wrongful death suit in Pennsylvania. Survivors are not required to be Pennsylvania residents, and if there are no surviving family members, then a personal representative can file a claim instead.

The actual amount that can be awarded in a settlement varies significantly from one case to another.

What Should I Do If A Family Member Died While In The Care Of A Nursing Home?

When someone dies unexpectedly, it’s crucial to find an attorney as soon as possible. Wrongful death claims are often complicated and overwhelming to handle independently. Navigating complicated issues of liability can mean that your case may take months, or even years, to conclude. Also important to note, there is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases, so it’s imperative to establish the facts of the case early. The outcome of a lawsuit depends on the strength of the evidence you and your legal team uncover. Things like medical records, witness statements, photographs, autopsy reports, and interviews with current and former staff members at the nursing home can help to prove your case for wrongful death.

Why Should I Choose Ross Feller Casey?

If you have lost someone to nursing home neglect or abuse, you should contact the experienced lawyers at Ross Feller Casey today. As the preeminent wrongful death law firm in Pennsylvania, we have what it takes to find the truth and get justice for your loved one. We have a leading team of doctors right on our staff, so we understand the complex circumstances that can lead to wrongful death. Over the past five years alone, Ross Feller Casey has recovered over $1 billion for our clients, including many multimillion-dollar recoveries in wrongful death cases.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get paid if we win. Contact the expert team at Ross Feller Casey today for a free consultation. Holding nursing homes accountable can help prevent a similar situation from happening to another family.

About the Author

Daniel McGrath focuses his practice on representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of medical malpractice, hospital negligence and defective products.

Daniel McGrath

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.