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Nursing Home Negligence in a Wrongful Death

Home » Nursing Home Negligence in a Wrongful Death
January 11, 2018
Edward Smith


Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home

When nursing home abuse causes a wrongful death, the staff and the nursing home can be held accountable. Let’s look at what is needed to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those who were charged with caring for a loved one.

Determining Neglect or Abuse in a Wrongful Death

Because this issue is complex, a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in nursing home abuse can determine what led to the person’s demise. Initially, the attorney must review medical documents if the person died in a hospital or was seen by a physician. However, if detailed documents do not exist, the cause of death on a death certificate may not tell the whole story. Some telltale signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse are:

  • Bruises in multiple areas: If the wrists and/or ankles are bruised, it is likely the person was restrained to their bed. Bruises can also be a sign of mistreatment or intentional physical abuse.
  • Decubitus Ulcers also known as bed sores: Bedsores should be absent if the person was cared for properly. Bedsores often lead to localized or massive systemic infection, which can lead to a person’s death.
  • Frequent falls: A history of frequent falls may be due to improper supervision or failure to provide an appropriate ambulation device. Falling out of bed may indicate that the individual was not given assistance when attempting to use the restroom.
  • Dehydration: This may indicate a failure on the part of the nursing home staff to make sure the person drank during the day. Simply providing a glass of water or other beverage does not mean the nursing home resident will consume it.
  • Uncared for illness: Nursing home residents should be seen by a health care professional when they are ill. Waiting to do this or not doing it at all can lead to serious complications and death. Follow-up care is necessary also.
  • Medication mistakes: This may be difficult to spot, but if a medication was suddenly listed on the person’s medical record, it might be a reason to question his or her doctor. It could be the medication was never prescribed for the person and given to them mistakenly.
  • Repeated fractures: A history of repeated fractures can indicate inadequate supervision or abuse.

Observe the Conditions at the Nursing Home

If you see a problem such as dirty conditions at the nursing home, this should be reported immediately to prevent problems for a loved one and other residents of the facility. If not, an attorney can check complaint records by others or certification inspections of the nursing home. If complaints indicate that residents were subjected to moldy or unclean conditions, it places the nursing home in a bad light. This can be used in the lawsuit as proof of neglect.

Recovering Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, the following persons may bring an action for wrongful death:

  • Spouse, putative spouse or domestic partner
  • Children of the decedent
  • Any minor children who received 50 percent or more of their income from the decedent and live in the house
  • Children of any deceased offspring of the decedent

Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death

In order to file a claim, survivors of the decedent must be able to prove

  • that the victim was owed a duty of care,
  • that the duty was breached,
  • that the actions taken by the defendant in the case (physician, nurse, hospital) directly led to the loss of life and
  • that the death cause financial damages leading to the lawsuit.

Related Articles by Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorney Ed Smith

Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death attorney. Losing your loved one is heartbreaking; however, when the death was caused by nursing home negligence, it is devastating. When you have lost a member of your family because of negligence, call me. I would be honored to help by giving you friendly and free advice. Outside the calling area, phone me at (800) 404-5400 or feel free to use my contact form located on my website at

I’ve worked as an injury lawyer for Sacramento and in Northern California for 35 years, assisting to obtain appropriate compensation for many types of personal injuries, from vehicular accidents, including traumatic brain injuries, to other types of medical lawsuits such as products liability.

Reviews of my practice by former clients and information on some of my previous cases can be found at:

I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates as a member from California. This group is composed of trial lawyers who have a record of client settlements/verdicts of $1 million or over.

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