When a nursing home abuse or neglect results in the death of a resident, the victims’ family can file a wrongful death claim. The claim will typically be filed against the nursing home. For Orange County incidents of this kind, an Orange County wrongful death attorney can help you with the claims process.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is fairly common across California nursing homes. In fact, complaints involving gross neglect, exploitation, and abuse in California nursing homes are at about 13% of all complaints received by the California Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman. This is nearly thrice the national average.
Given these figures, it is important for the families of nursing home residents to know their rights. If you have a beloved who has died due to nursing home negligence, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensatory damages. These damages are a way of holding the nursing home accountable, and making the administration wary of repeating the mistakes in the future.
When Is a Nursing Home Liable?
To hold a nursing home accountable in a wrongful death claim, you must show that one of its employees committed negligence. Not only that, you must also be able to prove that this negligence ultimately resulted in the illness or injury that finally led to the death of your loved one.
The elements of liability in this case are similar to those of any personal injury claim. These include:
Duty of Care
The nursing home employees owe a duty of care towards the residents. This means that the residents should take reasonable care to look after the health, well-being, and safety of the residents.
Breach of Duty of Care
A failure to properly look after the nursing home residents constitutes a breach of the duty of care of nursing employees. For instance, if an employee doesn’t provide a prescribed medication on time, or provides the wrong medication, this constitutes a breach. Similarly, when an employee fails to regulate the air-conditioning or heating for the residents, this is an example of the breach of duty of care.
The next element is to directly correlate the breach with the injury or illness that caused the death of a nursing home resident. Using the examples above, a wrong medicine or excessive heating can cause medical complications. If these complications directly result in the death of an elderly resident, causation is established.
The final element of liability is to demonstrate that you have suffered losses. The death of a loved one is a tragic loss and if you can prove the other elements of liability, this one is relatively straightforward.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Nursing Home
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:
California laws require that nursing homes must offer at least 3.2 hours of nursing care to each resident every day. However, many nursing homes are understaffed or simply negligent about this. As a result, residents end up receiving little to no care on a daily basis. Negligence towards the food, medication, hygiene, exercise, and other aspects of well-being results in medical complications that can result in death.
In some cases, the employees of a nursing home may exhibit aggressive behavior and use physical violence on elderly residents. At other times, one resident may violently attack the other resident and inflict fatal injuries. It is the responsibility of a nursing home to prevent both types of violence.
Insufficient Safety Measures
A nursing home is responsible for ensuring that its residents don’t end up accidentally hurting themselves. For instance, an elderly patient who can’t descend the stairs shouldn’t be allowed to climb down the stairs. If the patient ends up falling on the stairs and suffering fatal injuries, a wrongful death claim can be brought against the administration.
Some nursing home employees willingly deprive the patients of the food, care, medication, therapy, and other forms of help that they need. If such willful deprivation results in fatal illness or injuries, wrongful death claim can be filed.
How Can an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a nursing home employee, you can seek damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. Here at the Crockett Law Group, we help you file a claim and recover the maximum amount of compensation for your tragic loss. Reach out to us today to discuss your wrongful death claim with our lawyers.