Nursing homes are required by law to provide elderly residents with a high level of care, but abuse and neglect take place in these settings shockingly often. If you believe a loved one was killed due to nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence, you may have the right to sue for wrongful death.
When You Can Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death
A nursing home can be held liable when a resident is injured or killed as a result of their or a staff member’s negligence or intentional harm. Nursing homes must provide residents with the reasonable level of care expected of them based on the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, Florida state laws, and industry standards. Therefore, any deviation from their strict “duty of care” can subject a nursing home to civil and criminal liability. Incidents that commonly prompt family members to pursue a wrongful death claim against a nursing home include:
- Intentional abuse, neglect, or exploitation by staff members.
- Negligent training of staff.
- Medical neglect, such as failing to administer medication or preventing regular doctor visits.
- Failure to provide daily necessities, such as food, water, personal hygiene, and clean living conditions.
- Failure to prevent or treat bedsores.
- Forcing unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints.
- Negligent hiring of staff members, such as failing to perform background checks.
- Failure to properly monitor staff.
- Negligent security.
- Failure to provide appropriate supervision and assistive devices to prevent accidents.
If negligence or intentional harm on behalf of a nursing home can be demonstrated to have caused or contributed to a loved one’s death, the facility can be held legally liable for all resulting damages. There may also be third parties involved who can also be sued in some cases. For example, a visitor who assaulted a resident after the nursing home failed to provide adequate security.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Nursing Home?
In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or an individual listed in their will may file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home on behalf of surviving family members. In the absence of an estate plan or will, the Court can appoint a representative. Those who are legally allowed to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home include the deceased’s:
- Minor Children. Under Florida law, minor children are defined as those under the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority, which includes a child born to a mother out of wedlock, but not a child born to a father out of wedlock, unless the father has recognized a responsibility for supporting the child. Minor children are entitled to higher damages than adult children.
- Adult children (if there is no surviving spouse).
- Parents (if there is no spouse or children).
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was partially or entirely dependent upon the deceased for support or services
In addition to the deceased’s estate, all potential beneficiaries from a wrongful death lawsuit must be identified in the initial complaint against the nursing home, and their relationships to the deceased individual. The types of damages family members can potentially recover include medical bills related to the injuries suffered before their loved one’s death, funeral and burial expenses, the loss of the victim’s expected income and benefits, loss of support, companionship, services, and more. A West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney can help you if you believe your loved ones’ wrongful death was due to a nursing home’s negligence.