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Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes

Wrongful death refers to legal situations when the actions or neglect of one person caused the death of someone else. Wrongful death lawsuits can apply to many different situations, but many are filed against hospitals and nursing homes because those are places where people are at a risk of death due to other people’s mistakes. In the case of nursing home wrongful death suits, these are lawsuits that are filed when a person died due to the actions or negligence of the nursing home. Lawsuits may be filed even if the person died in a different location. As long as what caused there death originally occurred in the nursing home and because the nursing home, the facility may be liable.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death lawsuits are like personal injury suits, except the person who was injured is unable to sue because he has passed away. In these situations, courts allow certain family member the opportunity to sue in place of the injured party.

Depending on the state, different people are allowed to sue in a wrongful death case. Immediate family members are able to sue for wrongful death in every state. Immediate family includes parents, spouses, and children.

In certain states, life partners, putative spouses, and financial dependents are also allowed to sue. Putative spouses are people who believe that they were legally married to the other person, but the marriage was invalid due to some legal reason. Financial dependents are usually extended family members who live with and relied on the deceased person for support.

There are some states where anyone who suffered financially from the death has standing to file a lawsuit, but there are few states that actually allow this. You will have to check the specific requirements in your state.

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Nursing home wrongful death generally is caused by the negligence of the facility and its staff, but there are also situations where a patient dies due to intentional abuse. Some wrongful death cases are also filed because the facility provided a wrong diagnosis, wrong care, or wrong medication, and this action was the cause of death.

Here are some wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes. These lawsuits represent special situations. Typically nursing home lawsuits do not result in awards that are this high; the typical award from a nursing home lawsuit is $400,000.

Holder v. Beverly Enterprises Texas

In Holder v. Beverly, an 83 year old woman was living in a nursing home and became extremely dehydrated. She was hospitalized and after getting better returned to the nursing home. While at the nursing home, she developed bed sores and had to be re-hospitalized.  The bedsores caused a serious infection that contributed to her death.

Her family sued the owners of the nursing home. In the suit, they argued that the hospitalization was due to neglect at the nursing home, and that understaffing contributed to that neglect. In the lawsuit they also alleged that the nursing home had committed fraud because they believed the nursing home had concealed the fact that the facility was dangerous and providing inadequate care. The family won the case and was awarded $83 million.

Georgia Ann Bailey Smith v. Senior Living Properties

Georgia Ann Bailey Smith was the heir of a man who died in a nursing home. He died after a number of medical complications including multiple strokes, urinary tract infections, and iron deficiency. Because the nursing home did not follow their own protocols when caring for him, did not staff the nursing home adequately, and did not contact his doctor immediately when his health worsened, Smith argued that their negligence was the cause of his death. Senior Living Properties settled the case out of court for $13.5 million.


Doherty, Shawn. “Nursing home pays wrongful death suit; victim.” Capital Times. 27 9 2010: n. page. Web. 16 May. 2013. http://host.madison.com/news/local/health_med_fit/nursing-home-pays-wrongful-death-suit-victim-s-family-hopes/article_a0baf63a-ca22-11df-a8dd-001cc4c03286.html

Michon, Kathleen, ed. “Nolo.” Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview. Nolo. Web. 16 May 2013.http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/wrongful-death-claims-overview-30141.html


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