Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is often a difficult one. Families place their trust in these facilities to provide quality care and a safe environment for their most vulnerable members. However, when a resident dies due to suspected negligence on the part of the nursing home, the pain of loss can be compounded by feelings of anger and injustice.  In such cases, families may wonder: can you sue a nursing home for wrongful death?

The answer, in many cases, is yes. Wrongful death laws allow surviving family members to seek compensation when a loved one dies due to the negligence or recklessness of another party.  In the context of nursing homes, this could apply to situations where a resident's death resulted from:

Potential Causes Of Wrongful Death


Inadequate staffing, poor supervision, or failure to address fall risks in the resident's care plan can lead to serious falls with potentially fatal consequences.

Medication errors:

Wrong medication, incorrect dosage, or medication interactions due to negligence can be life-threatening.

Malnutrition or dehydration:

Failure to provide adequate nutrition or hydration can lead to serious health complications, especially for vulnerable residents.

Pressure sores:

Untreated or improperly treated pressure sores can become infected and lead to sepsis, a potentially fatal condition.


Inadequate security measures or failure to address a resident's wandering tendencies can lead to accidents or exposure to the elements.

Building a Wrongful Death Case

Suing a nursing home for wrongful death requires proving several key elements:

Duty of Care: The nursing home owes your loved one a legal duty to provide a safe environment and proper care based on their individual needs and medical condition.

Breach of Duty: The nursing home failed to meet this duty of care through negligence or recklessness.

Causation: The nursing home's breach of duty directly caused or contributed to your loved one's death.

Damages: Your family suffered financial and emotional damages due to the wrongful death.

Evidence Needed In A Wrongful Death Case

Medical Records: The medical records document your loved one's pre-existing conditions, medications, and the circumstances surrounding their death.

Accident Reports: These reports, compiled by the nursing home staff, should detail the incident that led to your loved one's injury or death.

Witness Statements: Statements from other residents, staff members, or visitors who witnessed the incident or your loved one's condition leading up to their death can be valuable.

Expert Opinions: Consulting with a medical professional specializing in geriatric care can provide expert testimony on the standard of care expected in nursing homes and whether it was breached in your loved one's case.

Evidence of Negligence: Photos of the accident site, documentation of safety hazards, or a history of complaints against the nursing home can strengthen your case.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit vary by state. Generally, spouses, children, and sometimes even parents or siblings of the deceased may be eligible to file. The wrongful death lawyers at Smith LaCien LLP strongly suggest reaching out to an experienced attorney in your area who can advise you on the specifics of your state.

Benefits of Taking Legal Action

Suing a nursing home for wrongful death is not just about seeking financial compensation. While a lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, it can serve several important purposes:

Holding the Nursing Home Accountable: Legal action sends a message to the facility that negligence has consequences and encourages them to improve safety standards.

Deterrence: A successful lawsuit may deter the nursing home and others from future acts of negligence.

Financial Compensation: A lawsuit can help recover costs associated with medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income due to your loved one's death.

Closure and Justice: While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, seeking legal action can provide a sense of closure and justice for your family.

The Role of an Attorney

Nursing home wrongful death lawsuits are complex legal matters.  An attorney experienced in elder law and nursing home negligence can navigate the legal process, gather evidence, build a strong case, and represent your interests in court or negotiate a settlement.

If you believe your loved one's death in a nursing home resulted from negligence,  consider contacting an attorney specializing in nursing home wrongful death cases.  A consultation can help you understand your legal options and determine the best course of action to seek justice and compensation for your loss.  Remember, time limits for filing a lawsuit may apply depending on your location, so it's important to act quickl.

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