Causes of Wrongful Death in Kansas City Nursing Homes
Trusting our loved ones to the care of a nursing home is a difficult decision. Many families struggle to determine if it is time to place their loved one in a long-term care facility. The horror stories we hear about nursing home abuse make the decision even more difficult. While all the stories may not be true, it is a fact that individuals are seriously injured and killed because of abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
If you believe your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you can call 911 if the individual is in immediate danger. In Missouri, you can call the adult abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-392-0210. In Kansas, call the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services at 1-800-842-0078.
If your loved one died while in a long-term care facility, call our Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer at 816-203-0143 for a free consultation with a Kansas City nursing home attorney. Our attorney can discuss filing a wrongful death lawsuit to seek justice for your family.
Common Issues That May Result in a Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home
Many of the causes of wrongful death in nursing homes are linked to abuse and neglect. However, the signs of abuse and neglect in nursing homes may be so subtle that you do not notice them until it is too late.
Some common forms of nursing home abuse and neglect that may result in a wrongful death include:
- Physical Abuse and Neglect — Physical abuse can end in death or it can cause death from a complication related to the abuse. For instance, a resident is struck repeatedly on the head, resulting in a concussion that leads to death. Neglect can also lead to death from complications arising from bed sores or pressure ulcers, cuts, illnesses, and other health-related matters that are not promptly and correctly treated.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration — Elderly patients may not have a strong appetite or desire to drink a lot of water or other liquids. If the nursing home staff does not monitor food and liquid intake, a patient could starve to death. Without sufficient hydration, a patient could fall into a coma, have seizures, or experienced kidney failure.
- Medication Errors — Elderly patients need their medication at the correct dose at regular intervals. Dispensing the incorrect dosage or incorrect medication can be fatal. Skipping medications could also result in death.
- Falls — Many elderly patients lack coordination and strength to stand or walk. If staff members do not regularly monitor and assist patients, patients can fall. Complications from falls that might result in death include head injuries and broken bones.
- Lack of Supervision — Some residents wander away from the nursing home, which could result in death. Nursing homes should have adequate policies and security features in place to ensure residents cannot leave the facility without supervision.
In some cases, one incident may contribute to a wrongful death. However, a combination of several factors could contribute to the cause of your loved one’s death. To be successful when filing a wrongful death claim against a nursing home, you must identify the act or acts of abuse and neglect that led to the death.
An experienced Kansas City wrongful death lawyer investigates the underlying factors that led to the wrongful death to gather evidence that proves the nursing home breached its duty of care.
Proving the Nursing Home Was Responsible for Your Loved One’s Death
To hold the nursing home accountable for the death of your family member, you must prove all legal elements required by the state’s wrongful death laws. In Missouri and Kansas, you must prove the following legal elements in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Duty of Care — The first element to prove is that the nursing home owed your family member a duty of care. In most cases, the contract signed by the nursing home accepting your family member as a patient establishes the duty of care to provide services, care, and safety.
- Breach of Duty —A breach of duty indicates that the nursing home was negligent or guilty of wrongdoing that violated its duty of care. For instance, the nursing home failed to screen employees for criminal records. Another example would be failing to monitor patients for illnesses or conditions that needed treatment.
- Causation —To satisfy the third element of a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the act or omission by the nursing home led to the death of your loved one. Negligence is never acceptable. However, negligence is not sufficient to establish a wrongful death claim. The negligence must contribute to the cause of death of the patient.
- Damages — The final element is to establish the damages caused by the wrongful death. Damages in a wrongful death claim may include funeral expenses, medical costs incurred before death, and loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, and counsel.
It can be difficult to calculate the value of a wrongful death claim. No amount of money replaces a family member. Our Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney understands the complexities of valuing a wrongful death claim and how to use the facts of the case to maximize the value.
Money is not the sole reason for filing a wrongful death claim. However, the larger the amount, the more pressure you place on the nursing home to never allow the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death to occur again. A large monetary award can have a significant impact on the measures the nursing home takes in the future to protect its residents so that it can avoid another wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact a Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney for More Information
Wrongful death claims must follow strict legal requirements. The wrongful death statutes for both Kansas and Missouri have strict guidelines dictating when a lawsuit must be filed and who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. You need an experienced legal advocate working on your behalf who understands the laws governing both wrongful death and nursing home claims.
The Law Office of Kevin J. McManus works with families to hold nursing homes liable when their negligence and wrongdoing results in the death of a resident. Call 816-203-0143 for a free consultation with a Kansas City wrongful death and nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your case and get information and guidance on your legal rights. Don't wait -- call today.