When a person loses their life because of the actions of others, surviving family members may bring a wrongful death claim. When a wrongful death occurs in a nursing home, the surviving family may hold the facility accountable for what happened by bringing a claim.
Proving wrongful death in a nursing home can be challenging. The facility is often in possession of documents that they don’t want to reveal. Witnesses may be reluctant to come forward. However, it’s critical to build the evidence to prove the case.
Proving wrongful death in a nursing home
As nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers, we help our clients prove wrongful death. By diligently building the evidence and preparing it for presentation, the surviving family can prove what happened and the legal fault of the nursing home for the loss of their loved one.
Steps to proving wrongful death in a nursing home
To understand how to prove wrongful death in a nursing home, let’s look at the elements that need to be proven to succeed in the claim:
- The nursing home breached its duty of care
- A death resulted
- The death was the result of the breach of duty of care
- The amount of compensation that is appropriate
Each of these elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. There are various pieces of evidence that can establish each element:
The nursing home breached its duty of care
A wrongful death claim begins with proving that the nursing home breached its duty of care. A nursing home has a high duty of care for the safety and well-being of its residents. Proving the breach of the duty of care may be done with:
- Rules and regulations that show what the nursing home should have done
- Records of standard practices and procedures
- Care records for the individual involved
- Witness testimony
- Experts to explain how the care received breached standards
A death resulted
To have a wrongful death claim, a death must have occurred. This is typically proven with a death certificate.
The death was the result of a breach of duty
The negligence of the care home and care providers must be the cause of the victim’s death. Proving causation may be done with witness testimony and documents that may include:
- An autopsy report
- Expert testimony for medical information or accident reconstruction
- Medical records and emergency care received
- Video surveillance
- Visitation records
- Other personal items
- Testimony from residents, caregivers, and other witnesses
- Employee logs and training records
- Information about prior incidents
- Statements of the defendant through depositions, interrogatories, and admissions
Factual evidence must be specific to the circumstances. For example, if the death was the result of a fall, the evidence should focus on what happened leading up to the fall, the dangers and conditions that caused the fall, photographs of the accident scene, and whether a risk assessment was conducted.
The amount of compensation that is appropriate
Once you establish the wrongful death of the victim, an equally important step in proving the claim is identifying the appropriate amount of compensation. Wrongful death is a personal and emotional loss. In the claim, the plaintiffs should present evidence of any financial costs associated with the wrongful death like medical bills and funeral expenses. Pain and suffering and loss of companionship should also be compensated.
These losses can be proven with documents, testimony, and other forms of evidence. It’s important not to overlook the amount of damages as part of proving the wrongful death case.
Building a case for wrongful death in a nursing home
As lawyers for nursing home abuse and neglect, we carefully build each case. For wrongful death in a nursing home, we take full advantage of legal discovery to gather records. Because the plaintiff has the burden to prove the case, we work to identify potential evidence, secure it and prepare it for use in the case.
If your loved one has been the victim of wrongful death, or you need help investigating the death of your loved one, contact our law firm. We offer confidential consultations with our friendly and professional team. Learn more about your case and see how we can help you receive justice for your loved one.