Unfortunately, when residents of assisted living facilities pass away, the cause may not always be natural. Sometimes wrongful deaths at assisted living homes take the lives of our loved ones, and tragically, those deaths could have been prevented.
An Example of a Wrongful Death in an Assisted Living Facility
Walk a mile in these shoes: Your elderly mother, who has multiple ailments and dementia, has been in a Maryland assisted living facility for eight months. At 7:30 a.m., an aide reports to a medical staff member that your mom has symptoms of fever, but the medical aide says she is too busy to check on her. Even by 10:00 p.m., no one has assessed her condition, which has worsened to include vomiting and severe diarrhea with blood loss. Aides clean her up, but she is not seen by a nurse or a doctor. Sometime after 8:00 a.m. the next day, the facility calls 911, but it is too late. Your mother has died of neglect. She wasn’t given last rites, and you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, because when they finally did call you they did not convey the seriousness of her illness. You trusted them to give her the compassionate care you paid for and which is required by law. What would you do?
This horrific scenario was recently a tragic reality for one Harford County family. They filed a wrongful death action and alleged negligent hiring, training and supervision at Hart Heritage of Forest Hill. A jury awarded them $710,000.
If you doubt you’d ever be in this situation, consider this: According to Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General, one in every five Marylanders over the age of 60 spends some time in a nursing home. It could be just a short stay for rehab after an injury or operation, but the average length of stay for long-term care is three years.
Regulations to Protect Residents from Harm
Maryland nursing homes and assisted living facilities are subject to regulation by both the federal and state government agencies. A state inspection team is supposed to survey each nursing home in Maryland at least once every 15 months, and they can arrive unannounced at any time of the day. Obviously, however, much can happen that escapes their eyes and ears.
It is crucial to note that the Office of the Attorney General does not represent the resident or advocate for the resident’s rights. They are merely an enforcement agency acting on behalf of the state of Maryland to ensure compliance with its statutes and regulations. This is why, when you suspect that your loved one is the victim of neglect or negligent care, you should call an attorney who has experience in nursing home negligence or wrongful death litigation.
Sometimes nursing homes attempt to require new residents to sign an arbitration agreement before they are admitted. This is an alternative method of dispute resolution, but it limits the rights of an aggrieved person to seek damages in court. In Maryland, you cannot be required to sign an arbitration agreement at the time of admission to the nursing home or as a condition of your continued stay. If you or a family member has been pressured to do so, contact a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and regulations applicable to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Our Attorney Can Help You in an Assisted Living Wrongful Death Case
At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, Baltimore nursing home injury lawyer, we have spent more than two decades assisting people in Maryland and the District of Columbia, vulnerable people whose care and safety were less important to nursing home owners than the organization’s profitability. We have walked the sad mile with grieving families. If we can help you seek justice from a negligent nursing home, call (877) 228-HURT (4878), to arrange a free consultation.