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Who is Liable for the Wrongful Death of an Elderly Person?

Who is Liable for the Wrongful Death of an Elderly Person?

The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable in today’s society and when someone’s negligence or carelessness causes an older person harm, it can have catastrophic consequences. Even the smallest disregard for an elderly individual’s care can result in significant injury or worse, wrongful death.

Any time someone loses an older loved one due to neglect or abuse, they can file a wrongful death claim against the liable party. These claims though, are not easy to file. A New York City wrongful death lawyer can advise on these claims and help you through the process so you obtain the full financial compensation your family deserves.

Nursing Homes are Often Liable for the Wrongful Death of an Elderly Person

Nursing home facilities are there for older people who need regular long-term care their family members cannot provide. These residences are expected to provide a high quality of care that will keep elders in good health and that will provide for their overall well-being. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Nursing home staff members sometimes abuse and neglect the residents in their care and when that happens, elders suffer extreme consequences.

People often think physical abuse is the only type of nursing home abuse. Sadly, that is not true. There are many different types of nursing home abuse and they include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Abandonment
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect
  • Self-neglect

Any of the above types of abuse can result in the wrongful death of an elderly person. When a resident suffers from more than one type of abuse or neglect, the potential of wrongful death increases exponentially. Sadly, it happens all too often. When it does, family members often do not even know it.

The nursing home facility may give another reason for the wrongful death, or the family may think the elder passed away from natural causes and as a result of their age. It is for this reason that any time a person passes away while in a nursing home, loved ones should speak to a New York City nursing home abuse lawyer who can advise on the facts of their case.

Calculating Compensation After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

A wrongful death claim allows loved ones to recover compensation, legally known as damages, for their losses. In many personal injury claims, common types of damages include medical expenses, lost income, and loss of support to loved ones. In the case of a wrongful death involving an elderly person though, these damages are not always appropriate.

The courts in New York generally assume elderly individuals who are older than the retirement age do not generally have any earning capacity, so damages for lost income and loss of earning capacity are not applicable. Additionally, loss of support is not always included in a claim for the wrongful death of an elderly individual either, as their children are usually adults and can support themselves.

Still, there are many types of damages loved ones can recover after losing an elderly family member. If you can prove a nursing home staff member or other caretaker intentionally mistreated the elder, or was careless in their treatment, and the elder passed away as a result, you can recover many different types of financial compensation. The most common damages awarded in nursing home abuse and neglect cases include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, when the death was due to especially egregious conduct

A New York City nursing home abuse lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine what damages you are entitled to.

Proving a Nursing Home is Liable for a Wrongful Death

Nursing homes are notorious for regularly being understaffed. That does not only result in nursing homes that do not have the appropriate amount of staff members to provide proper care. It also results in staff members who are on duty being overtired, overworked, and underpaid. These individuals often do not provide the attentive care their residents need. As a result of a lack of care and improper maintenance, there are many conditions in nursing homes that result in harm to residents. These include:

  • Bathtubs and showers not equipped with handlebars
  • Broken or missing bed rails
  • Improper lifts and transfers from chair to toilet, bed to chair, and chair to chair
  • Improper lighting
  • Clutter and electrical cords lying in the open
  • Improper wheelchairs
  • Overmedication
  • Poor fitting clothing
  • Wet floors

If you think your nursing home or caretaker did not fulfill their duty and it resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one, it is sometimes possible to file a lawsuit against them. To do this, you must first establish the nursing home was negligent and prove the nursing home owed your loved one a legal duty to the patient who was the victim of abuse. Depending on the facts of the case, expert testimony is sometimes needed to provide this proof.

Once you have established the nursing home or one of its staff members owed your loved one a duty of care, you must then prove that they breached that duty. Some of the most common signs of this breach of care include:

  • Weight loss
  • Infection
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and bruises

In the majority of cases that involve neglect, the above signs show that nursing home staff members were poorly trained, that the facility did not hire enough staff members, or even intentional mistreatment.

Call Our New York City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult but when the loss comes at the hands of negligent or abusive treatment, it is even harder to move on with your life. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our New York City nursing home abuse lawyer can help you prove the death was due to wrongful actions so your family can recover the full compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.