Indiana Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorneys
Though mortality rates in nursing homes tend to be high due to the age of residents and their complex health issues, studies have shown that unnatural deaths also occur and are significantly underreported.
One such study provided by PubMed stated that, in some cases, nursing home personnel will conceal accidental deaths for fear of criminal or civil proceedings. Additionally, the report said that attending physicians are also often willing to sign death certificates without investigating the cause of death, thus leading to a high number of accidental deaths that go unreported.
While an accidental death could genuinely be an accident, meaning it was no one’s fault, accidents like this in nursing homes more often occur due to some form of negligence. Specifically, accidental deaths in nursing homes are more likely to occur when staff and management are not doing their job well enough.
When a death occurs in this way — meaning it occurred as the result of negligence — it is considered a wrongful death. As the family member of a loved one who has died due to wrongful death in a nursing home, you are entitled to financial compensation that can help you cover the damages you have suffered as a result of the loss.
At Crossen Law Firm, our nursing home wrongful death attorneys are dedicated to advocating for those who have lost a loved one in a nursing home. We understand how devastating and traumatic these situations can be and are here to help you hold the right parties accountable and get the compensation you deserve for your suffering.
If you suspect your loved one died due to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact a skilled nursing home wrongful death lawyer right away at (317) 401-8626.
How Fatalities at Nursing Homes Occur
As nursing home residents are typically elderly and even infirm, it is common for deaths to happen as a result of natural causes. However, as indicated by the report linked above, it is also possible for accidental deaths to occur due to some form of negligence in the nursing home.
Nursing home abuse and negligence that leads to wrongful death can occur in many ways including:
- Poor management and supervision
- Nursing homes being understaffed
- Staff being overworked
- Residents not being monitored adequately
- General lack of care and attention
- Medication mistakes
- Failing to provide safety equipment (i.e. bedrails or handrails)
- Not providing residents with assistive devices (i.e. walkers or wheelchairs)
- Lack of fall prevention protocols
- Inadequate care plans for residents
- Neglectful or abusive staff members
- Safety hazards that cause residents to slip or trip and fall
- Failure to provide nutritious meals
- Failure to ensure residents are staying hydrated
- Improper care of residents with bed sores
- Failure to treat medical conditions (i.e. pneumonia, infections, etc.)
In general, most accidental deaths in nursing homes are the result of residents not getting the quality care they need. For example, a resident might be more likely to fall and hurt themselves simply because they are weak and unstable, but that fall could have potentially been prevented had the staff been more careful about supervising that resident and developed a care plan for them that included fall prevention protocols.
Just because a nursing home resident is elderly and infirm does not mean their death was natural. Many nursing home deaths would be preventable if the residents were receiving a higher level of care.
What is Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Act?
Indiana legislative code 34-23-1-1 defines wrongful death as “death caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” In other words, when someone acts negligently, they can be held liable for any death that occurs as a result of their wrongdoing.
Under the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act, for a lawsuit to be filed, the following must be true:
- The victim was an adult person who died due to the wrongful act of another
- The victim left loved ones or dependents behind
- The victim’s loved ones and dependents suffered emotional and monetary losses as a result of the death
The statute of limitations under the wrongful death law states that the person filing has two years from the date of the death to pursue a wrongful death claim.
The law also covers what kinds of damages can be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, which can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical or hospital costs related to the death
- Loss of love and companionship
- Costs for counseling for those struggling with the death
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of care and guidance
These are just a few examples of the kinds of damages that could be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit. Each case is unique, and the specific damages can depend on the family or loved ones that were left behind.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Lawsuit?
Indiana law only allows certain people to bring a wrongful death claim, which includes lawsuits filed against nursing homes. The law makes distinctions about who is eligible depending on whether the victim was a child or an adult.
As nursing home residents are typically adults, then who is eligible to bring a lawsuit is limited to the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This person is usually a family member or loved one designated in the deceased’s will. However, if there is no will or if the will does not specify a personal representative, then the court will appoint an executor.
It’s important to note that the person who can file the lawsuit is not the same as who is eligible to recover compensation from the settlement awarded. When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, the damages are awarded to all who have rights under the will or the laws of succession. These can include:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents
- Financial dependents
Steps to Take After a Nursing Home Wrongful Death
The steps you take after your loved one dies in a nursing home are important and can play a role in how your case plays out. The Indiana State Department of Health has a Long Term Care Division that will accept and investigate complaints filed concerning nursing home injuries or deaths. If you suspect your loved one died due to negligence in the nursing home, your first step should be to file a complaint with this division.
Next, you should report the incident to the nursing home management, and you can even ask questions about what happened, though there is no guarantee they will give you a direct response. If possible, you should also gather any other information that you can that is related to the incident, such as who was working when the death occurred and any behaviors you noticed that you believe may have contributed to your loved one’s death.
If you are having a difficult time getting the information you need, you may benefit from hiring a lawyer. The nursing home staff will likely do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for what happened, and they will also likely have their own team of lawyers defending them. Thus, you will need your own lawyer to help you with the investigation to uncover the evidence you need to hold the nursing home liable.
How to Prove Your Claim to Win a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlement
There is something known as the “burden of proof” that must be met for someone bringing a wrongful death lawsuit to win their case. This burden essentially requires that the person filing the claim must provide sufficient evidence to prove that what they are claiming is true.
For wrongful death claims specifically, the elements that must exist and be proven are as follows:
- The nursing home had a legal obligation (duty of care) to provide a standard of care that ensured the safety of the victim.
- The nursing home breached its duty of care by failing to take necessary precautions to keep the victim safe.
- This breach of duty was the actual cause of the wrongful death.
How a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
As you can imagine, proving the above is not always easy. Again, nursing homes will fight to protect their interests and will likely have their own legal team defending them. As such, you, too will need to work with a lawyer if you want to prove your case and win the fair wrongful death settlement you deserve.
When you hire a nursing home wrongful death attorney, they can help you:
- File your claim on time and adhere to the statute of limitations
- Investigate the wrongful death incident
- Collect evidence to build a strong case
- Represent you in court and handle litigation
- Ensure you are awarded the full and fair settlement you deserve
Crossen Law Firm: Indianapolis Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer
Discussing your case with an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer can help you during this trying time. At Crossen Law Firm, our team will fight tirelessly on your behalf to help you get what you are owed. You will not owe us anything unless we win your wrongful death case.