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Death in a family is always a deeply sad and emotional time, but when an older person dies in a nursing home under unknown, sudden, or unexplained circumstances it can be even more distressing. In these circumstances, you have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but it can be hard to recognize if it’s the right choice. 

If you’re confident your loved one’s death could have been avoided, it might be time to speak to a legal professional. We’ve put together a guide to help cover some of the common circumstances that occur where you should definitely file a wrongful death lawsuit;

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit case occurs when someone dies in a hospital or care home as a direct result of;

  • Abuse or injury
  • Obvious neglect eg. a person left in a soiled state or injured but unattended
  • Absence during high-risk activities such as bathing 
  • Medication errors
  • Health complications caused by things that could be avoided such as bedsores
  • Violence between residents or staff
  • Sexual assault

In these situations, death could easily be avoided if the residential home hadn’t allowed them to happen. These situations only happened as a direct result of someone else and could have been prevented, leaving families feeling completely helpless.

It can sometimes be tricky for families to know if they are entitled to filing a wrongful death lawsuit as the circumstances may be complex or information may be deliberately held back by the nursing home at the time of death.

If there is any potential that your loved one’s death could have been prevented or clearly avoided within the nursing home, you’re entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It can be difficult to understand the regulations around death in a care home setting so we would always recommend hiring an experienced attorney who can help with all aspects of your wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death attorney will work hard to represent you and your loved one and where possible, they will help to make legal changes to protect anyone else in the future.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home in Arizona?

The law in Arizona states that only the following direct relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home within the same state;

  • Spouse or partner,
  • A child
  • A surviving parent or legal guardian
  • A sibling or relative who is  legally associated with the estate

Arizona law means that carers and other health professionals can’t file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a resident, you’ll need to be a direct relative or have legal possession of their estate.

When should you file a wrongful death lawsuit?

If your family member lived in residential care in Arizona and subsequently died from unknown or preventable circumstances, you will have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit from the date they passed away. It’s important to file the legal case within that time frame, as a case won’t be considered after two years. 

Chances are if you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you’re already confident that something was seriously wrong before your family member died. If you’ve filed complaints or raised concerns about their welfare within the home before their death happened, there is every chance you have a strong case to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

What is the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit?

It’s important to remember that every wrongful death lawsuit has a slightly different outcome as every legal case is unique. There are ultimately two results; winning the lawsuit or not, but there are also varying levels of compensation and even a change in law that a family can expect from a successful outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit. Other compensation can include:

  • Financial repayments to cover funeral costs, medication and other losses
  • A change in the regulation or legislation for nursing homes
  • Individual staff members prevented from working within the care sector
  • Further financial compensation directly from the nursing home

The outcome of a wrongful death claim will depend on a few external factors but typically financial compensation is the most common result. From a legal perspective, an attorney may also be fighting for bigger changes in law or legislation to help protect others living in a nursing home, using the case as an opportunity to enforce change.

Who is held responsible if I file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Depending on the individual case, there may be a few different options when it comes to holding someone or an organization responsible for wrongful death. Residential homes will have liability insurance in place and their insurer will probably offer compensation to families, rather than sue an individual carer. 

If you have any concerns about the circumstances your family member may have died in and they live within a nursing home setting, we would always suggest having an initial consultation with an attorney. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize when a death could have been prevented or even if there has been a fault that directly results in death which is why a legal representation can really help.

Hiring an attorney that specializes in wrongful death will help you and your family members seek justice for a loved one who shouldn’t have died when or how they did. Why not speak to one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys today and find out whether you have a legal case.

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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