What Is Needed To Prove A Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit?


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When there is a case of neglect or abuse in a nursing home that results in a patient's death, an experienced wrongful death attorney should be consulted by the victim's family. The nursing home or other care facility may be held liable for the death for its failure to have appropriate policies to protect residents, as well as for the actions or nonactions of its employees. While it will not bring a loved one back, taking legal action might be essential for surviving family members. It can help with the financial burden of their loved one's death, and perhaps, it will prevent the same tragic situation from happening to another family. 

What Happens When A Nursing Home's Negligence Causes a Death?

There are many cases of nursing home negligence or abuse that cause injury or illness in a patient. However, there are also more devastating cases in which the patient dies as a result. When this occurs, the family can bring a wrongful death claim against the nursing home. Family members such as the victim's spouse, children, siblings, parents, or others who are entitled to inherit the victim's intestate line of succession can file the claim.

Proving A Nursing Home Wrongful Death

Many wrongful death claims that involve a nursing home or other care facility are settled before going to trial. Nursing home companies usually don't want to bring negative attention to these cases, so they opt to settle with victims' families. However, sometimes nursing home wrongful death lawsuits do go to trial, and the family's legal team is responsible for proving several things, including: 

  • that the nursing home was required to provide a duty of care to the patient (this is nearly always a given because there is a care contract signed when a        patient is admitted to the facility) 
  • that the facility or its employee violated the duty of care (they failed to do something they should have, or did something they shouldn't have)
  • that as a result of that action or inaction, the patient died 

When nursing home abuse is the cause of wrongful death, the legal elements may be different, and a criminal case may occur. 

Which Damages Can Be Sought In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

When all of the above elements are proven in a nursing home wrongful death case, the family's attorneys must then prove the specifics of the damages suffered. Damages are monetary compensation intended to make up for the harm that was sustained due to the death. Several types of damages may apply in wrongful death cases, including: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of wages or income

Lost wages may not be a factor as nursing home residents don't work. However, there may still be income or other economic loss that resulted from their death. Family members may also be awarded compensation for lost companionship, and in some claims, punitive damages. 

How Do Wrongful Death Attorneys Prove Damages? 

To be awarded damages, attorneys must show evidence that there was a financial loss that resulted from the wrongful death of the nursing home resident. Typically, this is easy to do in negligence or malpractice cases because documented medical records identify the patient's complaints, treatments, and history. In other words, there is a paper trail. 

However, it may be more challenging to prove in nursing home abuse cases because there isn't a documented paper trail. The evidence of abuse is harder to document and is often related to the patient's physical or emotional condition when the abuse occurred. Some of the evidence in these situations may include: 

  • journals or diaries the patient or close family members kept at the time
  • notes that detail conversations with staff or other residents
  • photos of the patient's injuries
  • notes that outline family members' observations of the emotional or physical conditions of the patient

A Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

Ross Feller Casey is Pennsylvania’s preeminent law firm litigating wrongful death cases, including those involving nursing homes. Our lawyers are experienced in these types of cases, and we will fight to make sure that your family's interests and rights are represented.  

We have the expertise and resources to take on nursing home companies and win. Our attorneys will work diligently for you, and we have a team of medical doctors right on staff to review and analyze all medical issues. Your family is not alone, and we can help. 

Contact us for a free case evaluation. We handle all our cases, including nursing home wrongful death lawsuits, on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay any fees until a financial recovery is made.

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.