Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home
Georgia has specific nursing home abuse laws designed to go beyond the federal regulations to better protect residents of nursing homes. One requirement is that the facility is a safe place to live. If that right is violated, a resident can sue the facility, which would then face financial penalties or even a loss of certification. The facility must also discuss these regulations carefully with a resident and his or her family when they enter the home.
If the facility is not safe and a resident dies as a result, the resident’s family members can sue the nursing home for wrongful death. Georgia state law defines wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another person or entity, which includes a nursing home.
Arbitration Agreements Are Non-binding
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, issued a rule that bars nursing homes from requiring residents to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of admission to the facility. The reasoning behind this rule is that such forced arbitration agreements prevented nursing home residents and their family members from filing a lawsuit against the nursing home when the resident was injured or killed. Thus, even if a resident signed an arbitration agreement with the nursing home, his family may still sue the home for wrongful death.
Falls in Nursing Homes
In the United States, one in three seniors age sixty-five and older will fall during a given year according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of seniors who fall during a given year, 25,000 die from those falls. The state of Georgia saw fifty-two seniors die from falls in 2010. The CDC estimates that over forty percent of seniors who move into assisted living homes do so because of falls.
Moreover, seniors who have a fear of falling increase their chances that they will fall.
The CMS provides the following statistics regarding seniors falling in nursing homes:
- Approximately five percent of adults sixty-five or older live in nursing homes yet nursing home residents account for twenty percent of slip and fall deaths amongst seniors.
- A nursing home with one hundred beds annually generally reports between one hundred and two hundred falls per year. There are likely many more that go unreported.
- Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall every year.
- Approximately thirty-five percent of falls occur among people who have difficulty walking.
Nursing Home Duty of Care
Nursing homes can be liable for wrongful death because they have a duty of care to their residents. They must make sure that the facility is safe. Dangerous conditions include failure to install proper railings, lack of available staff to assist residents, failure to promptly clean spills, and poor lighting.
In addition, inadequate medical treatment, weak rehabilitative programs, and lack of proper nutrition can be factors in causing a wrongful death in a nursing home.
Contact Attorney Joel Williams if a Loved One Has Been the Victim of a Wrongful Death
If you have a loved one who has been a victim of wrongful death in a nursing home, contact a lawyer who will zealously fight to get you just compensation. If you have questions or would like to discuss your case, please call our office in Kennesaw, Georgia today at 833 – LEGALGA for a free consultation.