Nursing homes promise to provide a caring, comfortable environment for the elderly. However, they often deliver something that is far different: the neglect, mistreatment, and abuse of residents. In severe cases, nursing home negligence can even lead to the wrongful death of a resident. Tragically, those impacted are often the most vulnerable members of the population, such as residents who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
If your mother, father, or grandparent died at a nursing home in Maryland, you deserve a detailed and truthful investigation into what took place. If the death was caused by negligence or abuse, the nursing home should be held liable for your family’s losses. If you believe that a nursing home in Maryland caused your loved one’s death by failing to provide them with proper care, Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you explore the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. To talk with an experienced nursing home negligence lawyer in a free legal consultation, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291, or contact us online today.
Elder Abuse Statistics in Nursing Homes
Elder abuse is widespread in the United States. While some reside with family members or in their own homes, many victims live in nursing homes, which provide 24-hour care to seniors who cannot live independently.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), “Approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 [or older] have experienced some form of elder abuse.” However, the real figure is likely far higher, since, as NCOA also noted, researchers have estimated “that only one in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.” The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one out of every six people aged 60 or older “experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.”
Some risk factors may make certain seniors more vulnerable to abuse and neglect than their peers. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), major risk factors for nursing home neglect or abuse include:
- Being female, African American, or below the age of 70
- Having a prior history of traumatic events or experiences
- Having dementia or other serious health issues
- Not having a spouse or partner
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence in Maryland?
Because nursing homes cater to some of the most vulnerable members of our population, they are required to meet very high standards of care that are established by federal law. For example, the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), which was passed by Congress in 1987, requires nursing homes to create written care plans outlining ways to achieve “the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident.” The NHRA also sets forth a Bill of Rights for nursing home residents, which requires conditions like:
- Avoiding medication errors in nursing homes
- Ensuring that residents are properly hydrated and nourished
- Ensuring that the nursing home has an adequate number of staff members
- Preventing the development of bedsores (pressure sores), and providing appropriate medical treatment if bedsores do develop
If a nursing home, its individual employees, or other parties violate the law and fail to meet residents’ needs, they can be held liable for resulting deaths or injuries. If you believe that a nursing home was negligent in providing care for your loved one, you should discuss the situation with an attorney as soon as possible. Other than making medication errors, allowing residents to become malnourished or dehydrated, and failing to treat or prevent bedsores, additional examples of nursing home negligence include:
- Failure to assist residents who need help walking, using the bathroom, bathing, or feeding themselves
- Failure to diagnose, treat, or properly manage conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease
- Failure to maintain proper medical records
- Failure to provide safe, sanitary accommodations that are free from pests or hazards (such as insect infestations or fire hazards)
- Improper use of physical restraints on residents
- Overmedication or improper sedation of residents
Deadline to File a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
The statute of limitations is an important regulation that creates a deadline for filing your lawsuit. The Maryland statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years, which means that, with a few exceptions, the plaintiff must generally file his or her case within three years of the victim’s death.
It’s also important to note that, under state law, only certain people may file a wrongful death claim. It depends on the nature of their relationship to the victim when he or she was alive. For example, “primary beneficiaries” include the victim’s surviving children, parents, and spouse, while “secondary beneficiaries” include his or her siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Generally speaking, a secondary beneficiary can only file a wrongful death lawsuit if:
- None of the primary beneficiaries wish to sue
- There is no primary beneficiary
Maryland Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney Offering Free Consultations
Maryland nursing home death lawyer Randolph Rice can help you understand your legal rights if you have lost a loved one to elder abuse or negligence. For a free legal consultation, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291, or contact us online today.