No one should suffer the grief that accompanies a nursing home wrongful death. A nursing home should be a safe place for elderly individuals to receive care. Tragically, thousands of nursing home residents are neglected yearly in Missouri. Some cases end in death.
If you lost a loved one due to nursing home neglect, Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen has the skill and resources to hold negligent facilities accountable.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Under Missouri law, a nursing home is responsible for the harm that results from its negligence. If there’s a connection between a nursing home injury caused by negligence and the victim’s death, it’s worth investigating. You may have a viable wrongful death claim.
Sometimes, the negligence is apparent, and at other times, it’s unclear.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Signs of nursing home neglect vary widely. But signs of neglect can include the following:
- Weight loss;
- The general decline of physical or mental health;
- Changes in behavior;
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, or burns; and
Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents. They have a legal duty to provide a safe, clean facility. They also have a legal duty to provide adequate care for residents. Adequate care can range from providing sufficient staffing and training to implementing procedures that result in unnecessary suffering, illnesses, and wrongful death. When nursing homes fail to adhere to the applicable standard of care, they may be liable for nursing home negligence.
Not All Nursing Home Deaths Mean the Nursing Home Was Negligent
When someone dies in a nursing home, it does not necessarily mean the nursing home should be blamed. Elderly nursing home residents lose their lives daily. Unexpected deaths, however, are a cause for concern. The relevant inquiry is, Did the nursing home’s negligence cause the death?
Common Causes of Nursing Home Neglect
Common wrongful death claims for nursing home neglect arise from any of the following:
- Neglect of medical needs,
- Slips and falls,
- Medical malpractice,
- Broken bones,
- Respiratory failure,
- Neglecting basic and personal hygiene needs,
- Bedsores or infections from bedsores, and
- Necrotizing fasciitis.
This list is not exhaustive. If your loved one would still be alive had they received proper medical care, you may have a viable wrongful death action.
How to Prove Nursing Home Negligence
The burden of proof for nursing home negligence rests with the person bringing the action. Proving negligence involves gathering evidence to support each element of a negligence claim. The elements of a negligence claim under Missouri law are:
- The nursing home owed a duty of care to the nursing home resident;
- The nursing home breached the duty of care; and
- The nursing home’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your loved one’s death.
Nursing home residents may have compromised health due to age or a weak immune response. However, these risk factors are not a defense to negligence. The nursing home has a duty to provide the standard of care that a reasonable nursing facility would provide in similar circumstances.
Evidence to prove wrongful death for nursing home neglect often includes the following:
- Obtaining and reviewing medical records,
- Interviewing witnesses,
- Consulting medical experts,
- Researching complaints against the nursing home and staff, and
- Reviewing the nursing facility’s records of inspections and licenses.
If a party can prove all elements of a negligence claim resulting in a wrongful death, a plaintiff may be able to hold the nursing home accountable through a lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit
When the negligence or wrongful act of another causes death, it is known as “wrongful death.” Any circumstance where the decedent could have brought a personal injury claim if they had lived is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlements
If you have a viable claim, your attorney will likely begin by issuing a demand letter for compensation and entering into negotiations with the nursing home’s insurer. They will gather evidence and make the best case possible to get a fair settlement for your losses. If negotiations fail, however, your attorney can file a lawsuit and pursue the case in court.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Missouri law specifies who may bring a wrongful death action. The statute prioritizes several classes of individuals who may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The first class of individuals who may file a wrongful death claim are:
- The victim’s spouse,
- The victim’s children, and
- The victim’s living parents.
A second group may file suit if the deceased dies without a spouse, children, or living parents. The second group consists of the offspring of deceased siblings.
A court-appointed plaintiff can file if all the other individuals with higher priority do not file a claim. This court-appointed plaintiff files on behalf of those entitled to compensation.
There can be only one wrongful death lawsuit. If multiple people in a class seek to pursue a claim, they must join together as one party. An individual bringing the claim must do so within three years after the death. The court will likely decline the lawsuit if no one files a claim within the relevant timeframe.
Missouri’s wrongful death statute allows you to pursue a variety of damages. These may include the following:
- Funeral and burial costs,
- Medical expenses,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Loss of comfort.
Several factors determine the value of your wrongful death lawsuit or settlement. Factors that impact the value include:
- The type and severity of the injuries,
- The conduct of the nursing home or caregivers, and
- The quality of representation.
Your attorney must build a strong case for trial or to obtain the highest settlement possible.
How Our Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
If you lost a loved one due to nursing home negligence, please contact Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen. Our skilled and highly experienced attorneys have represented the seriously injured and their families since 1986.
Our legal team includes lawyers and full-time medical professionals. We will put our legal, medical, and investigative resources to work for you as we pursue your wrongful death claim.
Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen has earned a reputation as the premier law firm in Missouri for medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases. We hope that you will never need to use our services. But if you do, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can explain your legal options as you navigate this difficult time.Contact our nursing home wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation.