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A wrongful death action is a form of legal recourse available to people whose loved one was killed as a result of another party’s negligence. In this article, we’ll define the term “wrongful death action” and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • A wrongful death action is a civil action against somebody who can be held liable for a death
  • People who may be able to bring a wrongful death action typically include survivors of the deceased person and their representatives, with the exact law varying from state to state
  • Damages for wrongful death may include the cost of funeral expenses, loss of consortium, medical bills, and more
  • When a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home abuse, there may be grounds for a wrongful death action 

What Is Wrongful Death Action?

A wrongful death action is a civil legal action against someone who can be held liable for a death on the grounds of any tortious action that caused somebody’s death. Each state’s wrongful death laws determine how and when wrongful death actions can be brought and the kind of remedies courts can provide for wrongful death.

Wrongful death actions can be brought for both intentional and unintentional actions including:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Assault
  • Abuse 

Note that while wrongful death actions can be related to criminal conduct, they are civil lawsuits separate from any criminal prosecution. 

In most states, the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is two to three years after the date of the deceased person’s death. 

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?

The exact law about who may bring a wrongful death action varies from state to state but is generally limited to survivors of a deceased person and representatives of the estate on the behalf of survivors.

People who may be able to bring a wrongful death action include:

  • Life partners
  • Financial dependants
  • Putative spouses, or a person who had a good faith belief that they were married to the deceased person
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • A person who suffered financially from a death
  • Parents of a deceased fetus

How Much Is a Wrongful Death Action Worth? 

The value of a wrongful death action depends on the details of the case including:

  • The deceased person’s age
  • The deceased person’s income
  • The deceased person’s life expectancy
  • The nature of the plaintiff’s relationship with the deceased person
  • The state’s wrongful death law

The damages for wrongful death can be calculated on the basis of:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Punitive damages
  • Medical bills 
  • Pain and suffering

Wrongful Death Action and Nursing Home Abuse

When a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home abuse, there may be grounds for a wrongful death action against the nursing home and its staff. 

Possible causes of wrongful death in a nursing home include:

  • Neglect of bedsores
  • Medication errors
  • Failing to maintain the facility in a safe way such that preventable falls occur
  • Physical abuse
  • Failure to treat medical conditions 
  • Causing malnutrition or dehydration 

If somebody you are close to died as a result of nursing home abuse, it is recommended that you speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. They will be able to review your case and guide you through a lawsuit in order to pursue justice.

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