Baltimore Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer
Sadly, statistics show that elder abuse is widespread in nursing homes throughout the U.S. While these facilities advertise experienced staff, wholesome meals, good exercise, and comfortable accommodations, the reality for residents is often very different.
Large numbers of nursing home residents are neglected or physically abused by their caregivers, which in some cases, has led to the wrongful deaths of residents. If your loved one died because of the abuse they experienced in a nursing home, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in Baltimore. The deadline to do this is typically three years from the date of a victim’s death. Eligible plaintiffs include a victim’s spouse and children. To prove fault, plaintiffs must present evidence against a negligent nursing home, often in the form of medical records and witness statements. Compensation is typically greater when victims go to trial, although settling might result in recovery of considerable damages for surviving family members in Baltimore.
For a free legal consultation with our Baltimore nursing home wrongful death lawyers, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291, or contact us online today.
Nursing Home Abuse Data in Baltimore
Because there are few commonalities between studies that focus on nursing home abuse and wrongful deaths from that abuse, it is difficult to get a clear view of the statistics surrounding this issue.
Elder abuse is prevalent in the United States. Although exact figures are unknown, sources like the National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimate that approximately 10% of adults age 60 or older are victims of abuse, noting that many cases likely go unreported. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that one in six adults have been abused “in community settings during the past year.”
According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, victims of abuse are 300% more likely to die in a long-term care facility than residents who are not victimized. Victims of varying kinds of nursing home abuse, including sexual, physical, and psychological abuse, might be more likely to experience worsening conditions or physical injuries that cause death.
Suppose family members of nursing home residents are unaware that their loved one has been abused. In that case, they might not question the cause of a victim’s death, especially if they were dealing with progressive medical conditions. Negligent nursing homes might go so far as to cover up the cause of a senior’s death if it was due to abuse, making it even more challenging for those studying these cases of neglect to confirm statistics.
Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Baltimore Nursing Homes
Wrongful deaths in nursing homes in Baltimore might be caused by ongoing abuse by staff members or accidents caused by a long-term care facility’s negligence.
Victims are more likely to be abused if they suffer from serious health problems, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These types of conditions, which affect memory and cognition, can also make someone more likely to be targeted for financial exploitation or sexual abuse in a nursing home. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) also reports that women, minorities, and residents who do not have spouses or partners are more likely to be abused.
In addition to abuse, accidents might result in a victim’s death. For example, seniors that need mobility aids might slip and fall, resulting in serious injuries that cause their deaths. If nursing home staff fails to provide a senior with a mobility aid or fails to ensure that the mobility aid is safe to use, and the senior dies, the nursing home can be liable in a wrongful death suit. All that is to say, not all wrongful death suits against long-term care facilities are born out of abuse.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse in Baltimore Wrongful Death Cases
If a senior close to you recently died while at a nursing home, it is important to inquire about the cause of their death, especially if you had previous suspicions of abuse.
While nursing home facilities in Baltimore should inform family members of the cause of a senior’s death, if known, they do not always do this. Alerting loved ones to a suspicious death or death caused by abuse might draw attention to nursing home negligence and result in litigation. Medical examiners typically do not automatically perform autopsies following a senior’s death unless the cause of death was violence. Many residents of nursing homes live with debilitating medical conditions, leading medical professionals to think a victim’s poor health caused their death. Others might be assumed to have died of old age.
Because of this, it is important for family members to ask questions regarding the death of a senior close to them. If the facility is not forthcoming or cannot provide the clarity you need, our nursing home wrongful death lawyers can inquire on your behalf. Further investigation might indicate that the long-term care facility acted negligently, causing your loved one’s death, or attempted to cover up negligent or malicious acts on behalf of a staff member.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death in Baltimore?
Federal regulations set high standards that Maryland nursing homes are expected to meet. For instance, the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987 establishes a Bill of Rights outlining the legal rights of nursing home residents.
To comply and make sure these rights are upheld, nursing homes must provide residents with nutritious, wholesome food, including assistance with eating where necessary. Nursing homes must make sure residents do not become dehydrated, and help residents walk, bathe, use the bathroom, and complete other basic tasks, if assistance is needed. Staff members must avoid making medication errors, such as overmedicating residents, giving residents the wrong type of medication, or forgetting to give a resident their medications. Staff also has the responsibility to prevent residents from developing bedsores (pressure sores), which occur when caregivers fail to turn or move residents, eventually interfering with circulation and damaging tissue.
If a resident of a nursing home has an accidental fall, develops bedsores, experiences organ failure, or suffers other fatal injuries or complications, it may be due to nursing home negligence and abuse. If a death was caused by neglect or abuse, you or other members of your family may be able to file a lawsuit against the liable parties, which could include the long-term care facility, individual staff members, or others. This often depends on factors like your relationship to the victim, such as spouse, child, or sibling, and how long ago the death occurred.
Who Can File a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Claim in Baltimore?
Only those with close familial relations to a senior resident of a long-term care facility can file a lawsuit for wrongful death against a nursing home in Baltimore.
There is a hierarchy regarding who can sue for wrongful death in Baltimore, regardless of who the defendant is. Plaintiffs are typically limited to a victim’s spouse, parents, and children. These are also the family members most likely to recover compensation awarded in a wrongful death settlement. If a victim does not have a surviving spouse, parent, or child, another relative might be eligible to bring a claim if they were substantially dependent on the victim.
Because victims of nursing home wrongful deaths are seniors, their children may be the only surviving eligible plaintiffs in Baltimore.
How Long Do You Have to File a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Baltimore?
It is important to be aware of the statute of limitations if you are considering suing a long-term care facility in Baltimore for wrongful death. Put simply, the statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit, and can vary depending on the location and the type of case being filed.
The Maryland wrongful death statute of limitations is generally three years, which means you have three years from the date of death to file a claim for nursing home negligence. If you attempt to sue after this time period, your claim will be barred and you will not be able to recover damages. Therefore, it is vital to act swiftly and consult if you think you might have a case.
Filing well before the statute of limitations is also important to bring validity to your case and give our lawyers time to investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death.
Although the deadline to bring a claim is three years from the date of a victim’s death, the statute of limitations might be tolled in certain instances. Maryland’s discovery of harm rule pauses the clock in cases where family members are unaware that a loved one’s death was due to negligence. Once negligence is confirmed, whether through an autopsy or further investigation, the clock will resume. Because of this, family members in Baltimore might have three years from the date of discovery to sue a negligent nursing home facility.
If you wish to bring a survival action against a long-term care facility for damages your loved one experienced incurred because of abuse before their death, you will have three years to do so in Baltimore.
Evidence in a Baltimore Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Because negligent nursing homes might want to evade liability for a victim’s death in Baltimore, it is important for plaintiffs to gather considerable and compelling evidence of fault if they plan to sue.
A victim’s medical records are key evidence in a wrongful death case against a long-term care facility. Medical records contain information about a senior’s pre-existing conditions. Prior illnesses or disorders might be totally unrelated to a victim’s death, debasing any claims from a nursing home that a victim died of natural causes.
Witness statements from other residents or staff that might have witnessed prior abuse can also strengthen a wrongful death case. As can testimony from medical experts and those close to a victim, like their friends and family.
Settling a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Claim in Baltimore
Nursing home facilities often want to settle a wrongful death case out of court to avoid attention from the media or community. This might not be the best course of action for your family.
Settling a lawsuit for wrongful death means it does not go to court. When this happens, a nursing home might offer a settlement amount to survivors. This settlement often does not encompass the damages surviving family members have incurred.
Alternatively, plaintiffs can go to trial. The prospect of going to court might convince a long-term care facility to settle at a higher amount. Surviving family members can typically recover compensation for emotional damages, such as grief and loss of consortium, in addition to economic damages when they sue a negligent nursing home or staff member. These damages might be unavailable in a settlement. The same can be said for punitive damages, which a judge or jury might award in an effort to punish an at-fault nursing home for gross negligence in Baltimore.
Baltimore Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney
For a free legal consultation, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online, or call our nursing home wrongful death lawyers 24 hours, seven days a week, at (410) 694-7291.