Nursing Home Abuse & Wrongful Death LawyersDeciding to put parents or loved ones in a nursing home to ensure they get the care and attention they deserve can be one of the hardest decisions you ever have to make. Then one day, the unthinkable happens. Due to carelessness or negligence, your loved one is gone. While we know nothing we do or say can ever bring your loved one back, our nursing home wrongful death attorney can help you hold the negligent party responsible.We promise that we will uphold your family member’s rights and make sure that you and your family find justice through a wrongful death claim.To find out how to hold the facility liable in a wrongful death claim, call Tronfeld West & Durrett today: 804-358-6741.
Under Virginia law, a personal representative of the deceased must be the one to file a claim. A personal representative can be anyone the state or the deceased’s will appoints.
Surviving family members can recover compensation from the wrongful death claim. Under Virginia law, spouses and biological children come first, but the state will also consider stepchildren and adopted children.
Before we can be sure you are able to file a claim for your loved one’s wrongful death, we need to establish what wrongful death is. Essentially, a wrongful death occurs due to another party’s negligent or malicious actions.
To prove your loved one died a wrongful death, you must establish the following:
Duty of Care
The first thing you must prove is the existence of duty of care between your family member and the negligent party.
Duty of care refers to a legal obligation by one party to provide an expected level of care or service to another party.
In this instance, this means you must prove that the at-fault party (e.g., nursing home staff, on-site doctor, facility, etc.) had a legal obligation to protect your loved one from harm.
You can prove this with medical records or contracts showing that you placed your loved one in the care of the nursing home and the nursing home agreed, in its contract, to keep your loved one safe.
Breach of Duty of Care
After you have established that the nursing home owed your family member a certain level of care, you must next prove that it ignored, or otherwise did not meet, this expected standard.
For example, if your loved one has mobility issues and requires aid to move from room to room, you may have a viable breach of care if the facility allowed your loved one to walk alone and sustain an injury.
Abuse or neglect may also constitute a breach of duty of care. For example, if the nursing home hired a staff member with a known violent history, you can hold the facility liable for negligent hiring.
Causation simply means proving a link between the negligent party’s actions and the death of your family member or loved one.
In simplest terms, this means that you must prove that the person’s mistake was the direct cause of your loved one’s death.
Just proving negligence alone is not enough. You must establish that the death would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of the nursing home or its staff.
Let us consider the example above: if your loved one walked around the facility unassisted, fell, and sustained a fatal head injury, you may have a viable claim.
Proving that a wrongful death was the result of a negligent party’s actions will, of course, require evidence. You may need evidence such as:
- Medical records: Medical records may show that your loved one was suffering from abuse or that the facility was not meeting his or her needs.
- Autopsy: The autopsy or medical exam will show the true cause of death.
- Incident reports: If your loved one died from a staff member’s abusive actions, there may be an incident report detailing the abuse. There will also likely be a report if your loved one died from negligence (e.g., a staff member dropped your loved one, a staff member allowed your loved one to walk around unassisted, etc.)
- Eyewitness testimony: Residents or coworkers could testify that they saw a staff member abuse or neglect your loved one.
- Photos: Photos of the abuse, neglect, or injuries will help prove your case.
- Video Surveillance: If the facility has video cameras, one of them may have caught the negligence or abuse on video. The facility may want to keep the video surveillance from you; an attorney can help you recover it.
- Expert Testimony: You need an expert to testify that the death was not due to natural causes and was instead the result of the employee or facility’s negligence.
Figuring out whom you file against can be tricky, but in most cases, you will file against the facility itself.
This is true regardless of whether an employee or the facility itself was responsible for your loved one’s death. This is due to the doctrine of vicarious liability which states that an employer is responsible for its employees’ actions.
A Virginia wrongful death attorney can help you determine the liable party.
Valuing damages for the death of an elderly person is a little different than most wrongful death cases because it is unlikely that he or she was still working or supporting family members. Instead, you can recover compensation for the following:
- Medical Bills
- Funeral Expenses
- Lost Income and Services
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of Solace
- Loss of Protection
- Loss of Care
- Loss of Assistance
A Virginia nursing home abuse attorney can help you calculate and prove these damages.