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The accidental death of a loved one is always traumatic and emotionally distressing, but when you’re also trying to prove their death happened due to negligence it can be even worse.

Wrongful death claims look to prove a person has died as a direct result of negligence, but what happens when the negligence is hard to prove or there is little evidence the death could have been avoided?

It isn’t as straightforward as proving negligence or identifying a guilty party, there will always be challenges an attorney will be prepared to face. An experienced attorney handling a wrongful death case will consider the difficulties when proving negligence, despite how hard it may seem to prove. 

If you’re looking to file a wrongful death case or want to prepare for some of the potential challenges you may face, our guide covers the more common issues when proving negligence in a nursing home wrongful death claim. 

Investigating the death after the funeral

If the funeral of your loved one has already taken place, you can still file a wrongful death case and the investigation can still continue. 

Your attorney will work closely with the coroner and other medical staff who have directly dealt with your family member in the process of their death.

The ongoing investigation into negligence will not be affected if you have buried or cremated your loved one. Your attorney can still work closely with the appropriate professionals such as coroners and doctors who have handled the death to build your case.

Identifying signs of negligence 

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney will know where to look for signs of existing negligence within the home you are filing the complaint about. 

If you have previously suspected any form of negligence or neglect and lodged a complaint with the management, your attorney can use this to start to build a picture.

Taking notes or photographic evidence of neglect is also something we would always recommend if you feel neglect could be taking place. If your family member is visibly distressed living in their residential care home, taking photos or keeping a diary of when their behavior changes will help for any kind of negligence case within a nursing home.

Don’t worry if you haven’t previously made any records, as your attorney will have the right experience when it comes to building a good case for negligence.

Previous concerns were never investigated

If you raised concerns about your loved one’s welfare previously and they were ignored this will only help your case further. 

It is the legal duty of a nursing home management team to investigate any complaint that involves their own residents. If they fail to do so, that is a form of negligence as they’re not meeting a legal requirement.

If your fears of neglect or any kind of negligence within the nursing home where your family member lived were not properly investigated or documented by the nursing home this isn’t a failing on your part.

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney will know exactly where to start their investigation and what other signs to look for when building your legal case.

Even if you previously reported neglect or negligence within a nursing home and it wasn’t investigated, it will not hinder or affect your wrongful death case against the nursing home in question. 

The mental capacity of the abuse victim

Several factors are considered when proving negligence in a wrongful death claim and the mental capacity of your loved one at the point they died will be one of them. 

Other factors that will be considered include:

  • Pre-existing conditions caused by neglect or negligence e.g. bruising, broken bones and other injuries
  • Other health conditions that could impair memory or decision-making
  • The environmental condition they were living in

The mental and physical state and wellbeing of your loved one before their death will be carefully reviewed in a negligence case by your attorney. 

As with the sensitive nature of a wrongful death case being that the individual involved can’t testify as they are deceased. They may have also been unable to articulate their own feelings when they were living in the nursing home or raise the alarm whilst they were alive and an attorney will take all of these factors into consideration.

Your relationship status with the deceased

Unfortunately, one challenge that can arise when proving negligence within a nursing home is the relationship of the surviving spouse or relative. 

To be able to file a formal complaint of negligence in a nursing home wrongful death within the state of Arizona, you need to be related to the deceased in one of the following ways;

  • A parent 
  • Surviving legal guardian
  • Spouse or legal partner
  • A child
  • Trustee or beneficiary listed within their will

Unfortunately, if you are not closely related or were a carer, neighbor, or in a relationship but not married, you won’t be able to file a complaint to prove negligence within a nursing home wrongful death case under Arizona state law.

How hard is it to sue a nursing home directly in a wrongful death claim?

If you’re considering suing a registered nursing home in the state of Arizona, the official legal process for negligence is considered a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit means the case will either be settled outside of court or if it does reach court, it will be pursued in a civil court of law, whereas a criminal lawsuit would be tried in a criminal court of law.

It is easy to file a legal complaint against a nursing home by contacting The Arizona Department of Health Services. Once you’ve filed a complaint and hired a specialized attorney in wrongful death claims, the process of suing a nursing home for negligence will begin.

Whilst it may seem rather overwhelming trying to prove neglect, an experienced attorney can help build your legal case. An example of a particularly tough case of neglect against a nursing home was the case of Scherrer, an adult living in a nursing home after being involved in a life changing car accident. This particular case was tricky as the plaintiff went home on days his wife didn’t work but she was confident abuse was happening when she returned her husband to the nursing home every week.

As a direct result of the car accident, the plaintiff needed 24 hour assistance and support as when left alone he often ingested items he shouldn’t. Sadly, just after his nursing home was sold to a new owner, he was visiting his wife when he suddenly became ill in the bath and tragically died suddenly. 

The post-mortem revealed a number of items including plastic bags, candy wrappers, paper towels and unopened catsup packets- all of which could have been avoided if he had received the adequate care and attention.

The ultimate compensation awarded to the estate of Scherrer and his wife was over $7million dollars, as the jury recognized the ongoing suffering and neglect was clear and his death could have easily been prevented.

Will the nursing home be able to afford damages?

All registered nursing homes in the state of Arizona will have insurance in place in the likelihood of being sued. 

This precaution offers both the nursing home financial protection should they find themselves in a legal battle, while also protecting the individual and their family members by guaranteeing a financial settlement.

If you’re considering suing a registered nursing home in the state of Arizona, the official legal process for negligence is considered a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit means the case will either be settled outside of court or if it does reach court, it will be pursued in a civil court of law, whereas a criminal lawsuit would be tried in a criminal court of law.

It is easy to file a legal complaint against a nursing home by contacting The Arizona Department of Health Services. Once you’ve filed a complaint and hired a specialized attorney in wrongful death claims, the process of suing a nursing home for negligence can begin.

The majority of negligence in nursing home wrongful death cases are successfully settled as a civil lawsuit and take between 1-4 years.

Ultimately, the nursing home in question will offer a financial settlement and it is then up to the surviving family member to either accept the amount or continue the case and take it to court.

Other challenges to proving negligence in a nursing home wrongful death case

Like any other legal battle, there are other challenges that can occur when proving negligence in a nursing home wrongful death claim. These can include:

  • Other health issues that may have resulted in the death
  • Proving the nursing home didn’t meet the minimum standard of care at any point
  • Proving your loved one suffered harm as a direct result of neglect or negligence in the home (if your case reaches court)
  • The lack of physical evidence; bruising or injury being logged by the nursing home
  • Lack of evidence of neglect happening within the home 

While it is not easy to overcome any of the challenges listed above, with the help and guidance of an experienced nursing home wrongful death attorney it is possible to win a negligence case. 

Nursing home deaths are a difficult case to represent from a legal perspective as there are many variables that can impact the outcome of a case.

If you suspect negligence may have played a part in a wrongful death within a nursing home and want to discuss your individual case, speak to one of our experienced attorneys today. We can offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your case and offer a clear plan of action to help your case get the best outcome.

It’s important to act if you feel a death could have been prevented in any way and receive justice for your loved one whose life could have been prolonged if it wasn’t for the neglect they suffered.

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Our experienced attorneys offer comprehensive guidance on all personal injury matters by phone or video conference call.

Our team of lawyers work closely with their injury clients across Arizona, communicating clearly whilst offering reassurance and empathy through an often very difficult and emotional process. During the free consultation, our lawyers will discuss your concerns before creating a comprehensive plan for you, while also assessing the strength of your claim.

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