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Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes

The loss of a loved one is never easy, but the loss can be particularly emotional when your loved one’s death was caused by abuse or neglect in a nursing home. We entrust the staff and administrators in nursing homes with the care of our most vulnerable people — elderly people or people with disabilities who require more care than they can provide for themselves, or that they can receive at home with family. When that trust is violated, you may feel shock, anger, and grief.

You also may wonder what you can do when you suspect that your loved one’s death was the result of abuse or neglect. In Illinois, the Nursing Home Care Act sets a number of rules for nursing homes and states the rights that nursing home residents have with regard to their care in nursing homes. Chief among those is the right to be free from abuse and neglect, but rights also include a nursing home resident’s right to choose his or her own physician, participate in his or her own medical care, to be free from physical or chemical restraints, and to manage his or her own finances.

When a nursing home resident’s rights are violated and the resident is alive and competent to handle his or her own affairs, the resident can file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for losses caused by the violation of his or her rights. However, when the resident dies because of the abuse, neglect, negligence, or other actions by the nursing home staff or administration, the resident’s surviving next of kin may be able to make a claim for compensation under the Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180, and/or the Survival Act, 755 ILCS 5/27-6.

A Chicago personal injury attorney with experience handling nursing home wrongful death claims can discuss with you the circumstances of your loved one’s death and whether you might have a claim for compensation. A lawyer also can help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim, negotiate a settlement of your claim, or try your case in front of a jury to get your family the compensation you deserve following the loss of your loved one.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes

People who live in nursing homes tend to be vulnerable to injuries and illnesses because of age or disability — which makes them even more susceptible to suffering harm as a result of abuse or neglect. Some common forms of abuse or neglect in nursing homes that may result in a wrongful death include:

  • Physical Abuse — This can lead to broken bones or internal injuries that can be fatal for a senior or a person with disabilities, particularly when their health already is fragile.
  • Bedsores — When bedsores go untreated, they can cause long-term damage or become infected. Elderly or disabled people can be especially vulnerable to infections that may become fatal.
  • Falls — Falls also can result in broken bones or internal injuries from which an elderly or disabled person is unable to recover.
  • Choking — People in nursing homes may be vulnerable to choking on food or other objects.
  • Infections — Nursing home residents may be prone to suffering from infections such as MRSA, pneumonia, or other types of infections that their immune systems are unable to fight.
  • Suffocation — Nursing home residents may become suffocated by the improper use of physical or chemical restraints, or when oxygen or breathing equipment isn’t properly maintained and malfunctions.
  • Medical Negligence — Nursing home residents may be the victims of medical malpractice, including being overprescribed medications or being prescribed the wrong medications, or failing to have medical conditions properly diagnosed.

Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Damages in wrongful death cases are covered under two possible statutes: the Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act. The Wrongful Death Act allows the next of kin to recover monetary damages for his or her losses stemming from the death of a loved one. The Survival Act allows the next of kin to pursue compensation for any damages that the deceased person might have been able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit if he or she had survived.

In general, the types of monetary damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case include:

  • Funeral Expenses — You may be able to recover any expenses you incurred to bury or cremate your loved one.
  • Lost of Economic Support — This includes the value of the loss of any economic contribution that your loved one made to your family.
  • Medical Expenses — You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses that your loved one incurred prior to his or her death when those expenses were caused by the abuse or neglect at the heart of your claim.
  • Loss of the Relationship With Your Loved One — This is also known as loss of consortium. You may be able to recover compensation for the loss of your family member’s companionship, or the loss of your marital relationship if you are a surviving spouse.
  • Grief, Sorrow, and Mental Anguish — You may be able to receive compensation for the emotional distress you have experienced as a result of your loved one’s death.

What types of damages you might be able to recover will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. An experienced Chicago personal injury attorney can explain what might be available to you if you decide to pursue a claim, and what kind of outcome you may be able to expect.

Contact Chicago personal injury attorney Jared Staver at today for a free consultation.