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Your rights if nursing home issues claim your loved one's life

If your family reached the point where there was no option other than placing a loved one in a nursing home, that beloved older adult probably had significant medical needs. Concerns about mobility, memory or even the need to administer medication can all motivate family members to place a loved one in a nursing home.

You expect that the staff at a nursing home will provide an adequate standard of care to protect your loved one and help them enjoy a decent standard of living. However, there are families every year that lose someone they love because of neglect or misconduct at nursing homes. When do family members have the right to take action after such a death?

Wrongful death claims require evidence of neglect or misconduct

If you believe that your loved one's death is the direct result of abuse they suffered at the hands of nursing home staff or neglect that allowed medical conditions to progress to a dangerous point, you may have grounds to bring legal action against the nursing home involved.

The standard for wrongful death claims usually requires that the preponderance of evidence supports the claim that neglect or misconduct led to a fatality. While you don't need as much evidence as you would for criminal proceedings, you will still need some kind of documentation to support your claims.

Forms of misconduct that could affect someone's health

Suffering physical, emotional or sexual abuse can impact somebody's mental state and willingness to care for themselves. If you can demonstrate that abuse exacerbated existing injuries or caused psychological symptoms that contributed to your loved one's death, you may be able to take action based on misconduct or wrongful acts.

Beyond abuse, it's possible that other inappropriate actions by nursing home staff members might have affected your loved one's health. For example, if they were the victims of theft by staff members, the stress reaction that they have to those circumstances could directly result in medical issues like stroke or heart attack, especially if staff stole medication from your loved one.

Neglect can lead to death in numerous ways in a nursing home

Nursing home neglect can easily become fatal. Older adults often need physical support to complete daily life tasks and may be vulnerable to severe injury if they don't have hands-on care. If your loved one fell because staff members weren't available to help them go to the bathroom, that's a sign of neglect.

If they had diminished health because they weren't receiving adequate nutrition or hydration or if they developed preventable conditions, like bed bugs or bedsores, that led to a deadly infection, these could be scenarios involving neglect. Such things can contribute to your loved one's death and leave the facility vulnerable to wrongful death action by surviving family members.

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