Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Nursing Home Facing Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Resident Leaves and Freezes to Death

Posted by Charles Gilman | Feb 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

A fatality at a nursing home has turned into a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that the nursing home's negligence and failure to report a missing resident led to his death from exposure.

Nursing Home Resident Wanders Off and Dies in the Cold

The situation happened in Ohio. A resident of a nursing home in Canton, Ohio, who suffered from dementia that had been induced by a heart-attack, wandered off the nursing home's premises during the evening of April 15, 2018.

The nursing home, though, failed to report their resident as missing to the police or to his family until the morning of the 16th, nearly 12 hours later.

In the meantime, temperatures were in the low 40s, with the wind chill below freezing. The resident was poorly clothed, wearing only indoor clothing.

He was found two days later, frozen to death next to a dumpster nearly four miles from the facility.

Now, his family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home, claiming that its negligence and failure to report the resident as missing led to his death.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Nursing Home

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the nursing home breached its duty of care by letting someone they knew suffered from dementia, and who had a history of trying to leave the facility, to walk out unimpeded. The fact that the resident had been living at the facility for three years in largely the same condition served as strong evidence that the nursing home was on notice about his limitations and tendencies.

Then, to make matters worse, the home did not report his absence until early the next morning, stalling the manhunt until it was too late.

A Vague Standard of Care for Nursing Homes

Personal injury lawsuits – including those that are for wrongful death – rely on establishing a duty of care for the defendant, showing that the defendant breached that duty and that the breach was the cause of the injuries suffered.

Unfortunately, in nursing homes, the details of the standard of care that they have to provide can be vague, at best. While there are federal laws that require all nursing homes that accept federal money – often through Medicare – to uphold certain standards of care, these standards are ill-defined. For example, the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees nursing home residents the right to be “treated with dignity,” but provides little description of what that means.

Just because the standard of care is poorly-defined, though, does not mean that it cannot be established in particular cases with the facts that are presented.

Gilman & Bedigian: Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Maryland

The personal injury lawyers at the law offices of Gilman & Bedigian strive to legally represent those hurt in a variety of accidents – including nursing home abuse and negligence. By representing you or a loved one both in and out of court, we can fight for your rights to compensation after an accident. Contact us online to get started.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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