Nursing home residents are vulnerable to neglect and abuse at the hands of their care providers. And when a resident passes away from a preventable accident or illness, these negligent parties can responsible for a wrongful death.
Families struggling with this situation should consider some critical questions to help them understand their legal options.
Are there grounds for a claim?
A death in a nursing home is not always legally improper. For a death to be wrongful, the following components must be in place:
- Negligence, which is carelessness or recklessness that causes harm to a person
- A duty to the victim, or a legal obligation that a person breached
- Proof that the failed duty caused a person’s death
- Damages, both financial and non-financial, that parties suffered as a result of the death
Working with an attorney can help you assess whether these factors are in place.
Is it a state or federal case?
There can be legal complications that arise which can confuse loved ones. For instance, is the matter a case for state courts or federal courts?
The answers to questions like these are not easy to determine. Currently, courts are weighing whether nursing home wrongful deaths related to COVID-19 belong in state or federal courts. In other words, the legal setting for your case can be entirely out of your hands.
How do you calculate damages?
Families can struggle enormously to cope with wrongful death. And attempting to put a price on that loss and its impact can seem impossible. However, doing so is necessary for the purposes of a wrongful death claim.
There are different types of damages:
- Financial costs, like medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages
- Non-financial losses, like loss of consortium
- Punitive damages, which are specifically to punish the wrongdoer
Calculating these damages can require legal and financial acumen that individual survivors may not have, but it is crucial to arrive at a fair outcome.
Is a lawsuit necessary?
When someone is taking care of a loved one, you expect that person to take their responsibility seriously. You expect caregivers to treat them with dignity and deliver the services they are paid to provide.
When this does not happen, pursuing a wrongful death claim can hold these parties liable and hopefully prevent similar tragic events from hurting others.