Elderly people and their families trust nursing homes to provide them with the care they need in their later years. Although most nursing homes keep their residents as safe and healthy as possible, sometimes nursing home negligence can result in serious injuries or even death. When a resident dies due to nursing home negligence, their family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim against the facility.
Negligent nursing homes that allow residents to suffer injuries or die under their watch must be held accountable for their negligence. If your family has lost a loved one due to nursing home negligence, the dedicated Las Vegas nursing home wrongful death lawyers of the Cottle Firm are here to help. Contact us today at 702-722-6111 to learn more about your family’s legal options in a free consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims are similar to personal injury claims in the sense that both are filed based on negligence. But in a wrongful death claim, negligence resulted in a preventable death, rather than preventable injuries. Nevada state law (NRS 41.130) states that a party may be considered negligent if they owed a duty of care to the victim, failed to meet this duty of care, and this failure directly resulted in injuries (or death) to that person.
According to Nevada state law (NRS 41.085), “when the death of any person, whether or not a minor, is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, the heirs of the decedent and the personal representatives of the decedent may each maintain an action for damages against the person who caused the death.”
Essentially, wrongful death occurs if a resident would have still been alive if they had been given proper medical care or not been abused or neglected. When a nursing home resident dies because of negligence or intentional, harmful acts at the facility, the family members of that resident may have grounds for a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the facility.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only the following parties are permitted to file a wrongful death claim under Nevada law:
- The personal representative (also known as the executor) of the estate of the deceased
- Surviving spouses or domestic partners
- Surviving children
- The parents of the deceased, if they had no surviving spouse or children
- The siblings of the deceased, if they had no surviving spouse, children, or parents
- The next closest family member, if there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings.
If the deceased person had a will, the claim is typically filed by the executor of their will, or by their closest living relative. Unfortunately, other parties close to the deceased, such as a close friend or unmarried partner, are unable to file a wrongful death claim under Nevada law.
Common Forms of Negligence in Nursing Home Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful deaths can occur in nursing homes due to numerous factors. Most of these cases involve nursing home negligence, but wrongful death can also occur due to abuse. Below are some of the most common examples of wrongful death in Las Vegas nursing homes.
Falls are among the most common causes of wrongful death in nursing homes. People of all ages are vulnerable to serious injuries in falls, but older adults are at the highest risk of severe or fatal fall-related injuries. Nursing homes have a legal duty to keep their facilities safe and do everything in their power to minimize the risk of falls and related injuries.
Some falls are simple accidents, while others only occur due to nursing home negligence. For example, a nursing home would likely be considered negligent if a resident fell on a slippery surface that should have been addressed. If the resident suffers serious injuries in such a fall, they could have grounds for a personal injury claim. If the fall is fatal, their family could have a case for a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility.
Many nursing home residents are prescribed vital medications, and failure to administer the proper doses can be fatal. Medical professionals in nursing homes must be meticulous and make sure that each patient receives the medication they need. Prescription drug errors – such as missing a dose or administering the wrong drug – can result in the preventable deaths of nursing home residents.
Malnourishment and Dehydration
Nursing home staff must make sure that all residents receive enough water and healthy meals. But sometimes, nursing home neglect can lead to malnourishment and dehydration when staff members fail to properly feed or provide water to residents, which can be fatal.
Bed sores are one of the most common nursing home injuries. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10% of nursing home residents have had them.
Also known as pressure ulcers, bed sores develop due to excessive, unrelieved pressure on the skin. They are serious medical conditions and nursing homes have a legal duty to institute measures for bed sore prevention.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, bed sores raise the risk of life-threatening bacterial infections, such as cellulitis and septicemia. In severe cases, bed sore sufferers may develop sepsis or require amputation of the affected limb. Each year, more than 24,000 people die due to complications caused by bed sores.
Infections are extremely common in nursing homes, with an average of 2 million infections each year. Older adults are especially vulnerable to life-threatening complications caused by infections, so nursing homes must have stringent measures in place to minimize the risk for residents. If a fatal infection occurs due to negligence, such as poor hygiene practices by staff, the victim’s family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
What Is the Statute of Limitations For Wrongful Death in Nevada?
According to Nevada state law, family members who wish to file a wrongful death claim must do so within two years of the date of their loved one’s death. It is best to act as quickly as possible, as waiting too long can affect your chances of filing a successful claim. The process of filing a claim can be lengthy and complex, so your lawyer will need ample time to prepare a strong case and file a lawsuit against the facility.
What Damages Are Available in a Nevada Wrongful Death Claim?
In Nevada wrongful death cases, economic, non-economic, and punitive damages may be available. The surviving family members can seek damages for all losses they suffered as a result of their loved one’s preventable passing. These damages may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits of the deceased
- Grief of the surviving family members
- Pain, suffering, or disfigurement of the deceased
- Loss of support or companionship
- Loss of benefits to surviving family members
In some cases, courts award punitive damages to penalize the facility for especially heinous conduct that led to the death of a resident. For example, punitive damages are often rewarded in cases involving physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
Discuss Your Legal Options With Our Las Vegas Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyers
If your family lost a loved one due to nursing home negligence, you have legal rights. At the Cottle Firm, our nursing home wrongful death lawyers help families take legal action by offering compassionate legal guidance throughout the process of filing a wrongful death claim. Contact us today at 702-722-6111 to discuss your family’s legal rights in a free consultation.
Related: Las Vegas Nursing Home Negligence