Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence: Do you have a Wrongful Death Claim?
Each year, thousands of Americans are forced to make tough decisions regarding the continuing care and treatment of a loved one. Many decide that a nursing home is better able to provide the around the clock care that is necessary to treat your loved ones needs. Unfortunately, many nursing care providers take actions that fall below the appropriate standard of care, putting a vulnerable group of people at even more risk for injury or death. Elder abuse takes many forms, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment. If you believe that a loved one was the victim of abuse while under the care and supervision of a nursing home facility, reach out to an attorney for help.
Warning Signs of Abuse
According to the Administration on Aging, there are some clear indicators of elder abuse. These signs include:
- Physical indicators – If your loved one continuously appears to have unexplained bruising, broken bones, and/or cuts this may be a sign of elder abuse. In addition, if there are signs of poor hygiene such as bed sores, odors emitted from bedwetting, or significant weight loss, your loved one could be a victim of abuse or neglect.
- Emotional indicators – If there is a drastic change in mood or an unexplained withdrawal from daily activities and events, this may be a sign of emotional abuse. Extreme depression is also a sign that emotional abuse may be present in the facility.
- Neglect – if your loved one is frequently falling, lacking supervision, or is experiencing serious infections, there may be neglect present in the nursing facility.
In some instances, physical abuse is so severe that it results in the victim’s death. In these instances, there may be a claim for wrongful death.
When is recovery permitted?
Florida law permits recovery when your loved one’s death was due to someone’s wrongful act or negligence. You may have a cause of action to seek justice on your loved one’s behalf if the person would have been able to maintain an action on their own behalf. To prove that an act of negligence occurred, you must be able to show (1) a duty existed, (2) there was a breach of that duty, (3) the breach was the direct cause of the injury, and (4) damages were suffered as a result of the breach.
Who may assert a claim?
The action for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative for the decedent’s estate. A personal representative is the individual appointed by the court to administer your loved one’s estate.
What type of damages may be recovered?
Typically, medical or funeral expenses may be recovered by any individual who has paid for the services. In addition, a surviving spouse may be entitled to recover for mental pain and suffering that has occurred as a result of the wrongful death. Other relief may be available depending on the survivor’s relationship to the decedent.
Speak with an Experienced Attorney
Cases involving wrongful death occurring as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect are complex. Often times, the family members of a victim do not know what actually occurred in the nursing home. When foul play is suspected, an investigation is necessary as there is often many ways nursing facilities attempt to cover up the real cause of death. The Port St. Lucie attorneys at the Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. have handled cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect. Contact us for a consultation to determine the course of action in your case.