I always assumed that personal injury cases where pretty straight forward. After being in an accident, any financial losses that you suffered would be reimbursed by the liable party's insurance company. Unfortunately, things only work this way in a perfect world. In the real world, personal injury cases are extremely complex and getting the insurance company to pay a fair settlement requires the expertise of an experienced injury lawyer. Unfortunately, it took me several months to finally seek out the legal assistance I needed. As a result, I waited much longer than necessary to get the compensation I so desperately needed. During this time, I learned more about personal injury law than I ever thought I would. It is my hope that this blog will allow me to share that knowledge with you so that you can avoid making some of the same mistakes that I did.
Wrongful death claims are legal actions brought by someone's close relatives or estate (depending on the circumstances). Many people think of wrongful death actions as a way for family members to recover their losses when a household's primary wage earner or primary caretaker dies. The money from the wrongful death claim replaces that person's income or allows the family to pay for someone to do the things that the deceased once did, like childcare.
What about cases where the deceased was long past his or her most productive years? Do the lives of people killed through wrongful actions and neglect in nursing homes have value?
Absolutely. If your relative died as the result of nursing home abuse or negligence, a wrongful death claim is still appropriate and still has value. Here's what you should know.
Survival Actions And Wrongful Death Claims Often Work Together
In many cases, survival actions are filed in conjunction with a wrongful death claim.
For example, the estate of a woman who died from complications caused by neglect recently filed a claim against a New England nursing home that included a significant survival action. Well before the actual incident that brought about her death, the woman had been denied her oxygen by an aide. The aide had moved the woman's oxygen out of reach while the woman was assisted to a bedpan. When the woman asked for her oxygen back, the aide simply couldn't be bothered, telling her, "You're fine, you don't need it." Ultimately, the woman ended up going into respiratory arrest.
While she survived that incident, she ultimately didn't survive the mismanaged care of an abdominal wound. The nursing home was ordered to treat the wound with a "wound vac," which is supposed to speed healing. While the wound vac was used, it was left in place instead of being removed between uses. That allowed an infection to get into her wound, ultimately leading to sepsis and death.
The survival action hopes to hold the nursing home accountable for the "physical pain, mental pain, the pain of worsening infection and fear of death" that she endured for the days and weeks leading up to her death -- all of which can be compensated under the law. Although the deceased can no longer benefit from the claim directly, her estate can do so on her behalf.
Burial And Hospital Costs Are Also Involved In Wrongful Death Claims
Another reason to file a wrongful death claim even when someone didn't provide significant contributions to a household is that acts of negligence often leave victims and their families with large medical bills and funeral costs.
In the case mentioned above, for example, the victim incurred a total of $137,679 in medical expenses as a result of the negligence she suffered. In addition, her family had to pay an unspecified amount of burial costs.
Never assume that you don't really have losses that can be valued in a wrongful death claim until you've spoken with a wrongful death attorney. An experienced attorney knows how to evaluate your situation and can best protect your interests.Share