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When a family member dies it is 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. This is especially true if there are often health complications or other factors that mean it becomes difficult to know what your loved ones’ rights were.

If you’re confident that their death could have been avoided or personal injury was caused that resulted in death, it might be time to speak to a legal professional.

Perhaps you feel the nursing home was dismissive or held information back from you at the time of their death and you’re unsure of what to do next. We’ve put together a guide to help cover some of the common circumstances that may occur where you should definitely file a wrongful death lawsuit to help understand your legal rights as well as the support that is available should you need to take legal action;

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 or moving around
  • Medication errors
  • Health complications directly caused by factors that can be resolved
  • Violence either between residents or staff and a resident
  • Sexual assault

All factors listed that are caused by the care home staff are awful and tragic deaths that may happen as a direct result of someone else and could have been prevented, leaving families who are affected often feel completely helpless when they do happen.

While these are just some of the more common examples of when a wrongful death lawsuit would be appropriate, we understand there are many more situations where someone has died unnecessarily from something that could have been avoided within a nursing home setting.

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 your family member passed away.

It’s important to file the legal case within the two-year timeframe as your case will not be considered if it is left after this time. 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 have filed previous 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.

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.

What are the usual outcomes for 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 that a family can expect from a successful outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Some examples of 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 your wrongful death claim will depend on a few external factors but typically financial compensation is the more common that you might expect. 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 your case as an opportunity to shape change.

Who will be held responsible if I file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Depending on your individual case, there may be a few different options when it comes to holding someone or an organization responsible for wrongful death.

As nursing homes will have liability insurance in place, their insurer will probably offer more compensation to families in terms of financial compensation, than say suing an individual carer.

Ultimately, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona can be a rather complex legal case so choosing the right attorney working on behalf of you and your family will help ease the stress and pressures legal cases can bring. Due to the very nature of wrongful deaths, cases are often lengthy and can cause emotional distress so working with the right attorney to represent you really matters.

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 fault that directly results in death which is why a legal representation can really help.

Recognizing your loved one’s death may have been prevented during a time of immense grieve is one of the biggest emotional challenges you’ll face and we understand this which is why we handle every wrongful death case with great sensitivity throughout. Why not speak to one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys today and find out whether your legal case can be dealt with.

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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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