Nursing facilities aim to help elderly and vulnerable individuals with their daily activities and lifestyle. However, inadequate care can tragically shorten the life of a resident, and wrongful deaths in San Diego nursing homes happen more often than people think.
If you believe that a nursing facility’s inadequate care, neglect, or abuse led to your loved one’s death, you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit with help from a compassionate attorney. Legal action can hold the facility accountable and help you gain a sense of justice for your immense loss. A lawsuit can also provide financial compensation for the damages you suffered due to your loved one’s death.
Proving Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home
A family pursuing a wrongful death action must prove that another party’s negligent, intentional, or reckless act led to their loved one’s early and preventable death. However, making this connection can be challenging, especially if the deceased was a nursing home resident already in poor health.
An experienced wrongful death attorney in San Diego might talk to the family and other residents, review the admissions contract, and analyze the nursing home medical records and care plans to gather evidence of negligence or abuse.
Signs of Neglect in an Assisted Living Facility
Medical indications that poor care might have hastened a resident’s death include:
Other indications of neglect include unsanitary conditions within the facility, poor hygiene among residents, chronic understaffing, and unresponsiveness to requests for information or complaints. Depending on the circumstances, one or more clear indicators that the nursing home was providing poor care can be enough to support a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against San Diego Nursing Homes
Two legal remedies exist for the surviving families of nursing home residents who suffered wrongful deaths. Options include a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival lawsuit. In many cases, a local nursing home attorney who handles wrongful deaths may help a family pursue both remedies simultaneously.
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure §377.60, the nursing home resident’s next of kin or personal representative may bring an action seeking damages for their loved one’s wrongful death. A surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, child, or grandchild could be the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit. If there are no immediate family members alive, the decedent’s heirs would be the plaintiffs.
Damages in Wrongful Death Actions
The funds from a wrongful death lawsuit do not pass through the deceased person’s estate. Damages in a wrongful death action could cover funeral costs and the amount the family expected the deceased person to contribute to a household had they survived.
Wrongful death damages also include compensation for the loss of the loved one’s companionship, advice, and emotional support. In a 2022 change to the law, plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit can receive damages for their loved one’s pain and suffering prior to death.
Survival Actions for Deceased Nursing Home Residents
A survival action is similar to a personal injury action that a nursing home resident could have brought if they had survived the incident. If the nursing home’s actions caused immediate death, there is no basis for a survival action. However, if the deceased person survived for even a brief interval after the nursing home’s negligent or abusive act, a survival lawsuit may be appropriate. A seasoned San Diego attorney can advise a family about whether there are grounds for a survival action after a wrongful death in a nursing home.
Rather than the deceased person’s family, the plaintiff in a survival action is the person who is administering their estate. That person might be a family member, but it could also be a friend, an attorney, or someone appointed by the Probate Court.
Damages in Survival Actions
Damages in a survival action include losses the decedent experienced because of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse, such as medical expenses and property damage suffered before their death. A 2022 change in the law allows damages in survival actions to include payments to compensate for the deceased person’s suffering in the interval between the wrongful act and death.
Importantly, an estate may also seek punitive damages on behalf of the decedent. All damages from a survival action are paid to the decedent’s estate. After the estate settles the decedent’s debts, the administrator of the estate distributes any funds remaining to the decedent’s heirs.
Consult a San Diego Attorney on Wrongful Deaths in Nursing Homes
If your family is grieving a loved one’s wrongful death, it may be difficult to know where to turn or how to seek justice. Remember that you are not alone. A compassionate lawyer who handles wrongful deaths in San Diego nursing homes can advise you on your options for holding the facility accountable.
Bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent nursing home could provide the closure you need after your loved one’s death. Schedule a consultation with a dedicated member of our team by calling us today.