Legal question: Wrongful death lawsuit against my dad's SNF for "witnessed fall?"

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Has anyone brought a suit against a SNF for their parent falling and dying due to staff negligence? My beloved dad had already fallen more than once at his SNF. As a result, it was understood that he needed and imperative that he receive standby assistance at all times when ambulating with his walker. Last week, in spite of his documented fall history, he was allowed to fall hard, becoming unconscious for 1-2 min, even with TWO staff members in his room WITH him. He sustained horrible injuries that were indisputably deemed the cause of his untimely death days later. The fall was medically determined the cause of death as it was in the police report. Dad would still be with us today. The family is grief-stricken and in disbelief that we entrusted him to this SNF to ensure his safety and two staff members couldn't manage to at least ease his violent impact. He had become a tiny, lightweight man - easily caught or at least his descent to the floor slowed IF and only IF, the CNA/RN had been next to him, as were the clear requirements of his/her job. Clearly, no one was anywhere near him. We are a reasonable family. We understand that things can happen quickly and of course, that there are no guarantees. We all do our best. But this was flat out wrong. It was complacency. These staff members rolled the dice by not being where they were supposed to be and this time, it resulted in the worst, most tragic outcome. My assessment may sound clinical but the our grief and sorrow that he had to suffer in so much pain for days on end - and that it was absolutely preventable - is unbearable, as anyone here who has helplessly watched a loved one in their care suffer to their death can attest. Please, if anyone has experience or any insights to share re how we may move forward, your thoughts would be most appreciated. I would also greatly appreciate any references to a trusted Wrongful Death/Personal Injury attorney that you have personal experience with. Many thanks and many blessings to you for taking care of your beloved parent(s)!

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Thank you, CountryMouse. Bless you, your sage advice and your horse whip!
Yes I agree that a personal reference to an attorney would be best if only to get some basic guidance but to date I have not been able to find one. Those who cropped up were responding to my quest for a free consultation ~ but they do seem especially hungry and that alone puts me off. I'm not up for a long, protracted fight and certainly not for money. In my heart of hearts, I just want there to be some justice but hey, we want a lot of things in this world. Perhaps with some time to heal (& sleep) I will find more peace around it all. I wish the best for you and your loved ones as well...and no falls! In appreciation.
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Emotionally charged is right. I think we all understand the desperate anxiety and frustration around falls - on paper they should be so straightforward to prevent, but oh goodness, one split second and there you are.

And the damage! The slightest bump and your poor elder looks as if she (in our case) has been hit by a truck.

If those three attorneys have just popped out of the woodwork now, for two pins I would go over there with a horsewhip and see them off. Taking legal advice might be no bad thing anyway, but get it from an attorney you have known - or people you trust have known - for a long time from experience in other, less emotionally sensitive matters.

How dare those people exploit your grief and shock. How dare they. It's sickening.

If they persist, please report them to the legal standards authorities in your area.
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Country mouse Yes, I will certainly ask and have been only civil in the few exchanges I have had with the facility since the incident. It has only been 2.5 weeks. I have had 3 attorneys wanting to take this on but I want to think long and hard before going down a long, painful legal road. It will not bring him back and I we are not looking for $ - it was just simply wrong. I appreciate the even voices of this community in such an emotionally charged time. Thank you!
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GardenArtist and freqflyer, Many thanks for kindly sharing your experiences and expertise. I will sleep on this. Perhaps our energy is better spent honoring dad's memory in a more peaceful way. Your thoughts have been most helpful and indeed, a comfort. Much appreciated.
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Don't sense. Ask. What's more, ask civilly - request that the NH sends you the records and, assuming they don't refuse, ask when you can expect to receive them.

If you do decide to pursue this claim in court, which I am not sure a reputable lawyer would encourage you to do, give thought first of all to what outcome(s) you hope to achieve.

I am extremely sorry for your family's loss and for the distressing way in which it happened. How long is it since your father passed away?
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GardenArtist and drew flyer, many thanks for this very helpful info. It sounds as if my requesting the records myself initially could be fruitless. I do sense their willingness to cooperate will be limited considering their lack of communication this far. Would anyone happen to have worked with or know of a good southern CA medal attorney? Much appreciated!
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LoveourMamas, perhaps the most efficient way to obtain records would be through a medmal attorney. The ones I worked for had a specific company that did nothing but request records; it was a very efficient method, and it worked.

Individual requests can fall to the bottom of the pile, but in my recollection, the company request was much faster. Attorneys also know the proper verbage to use (typically all inclusive records, i.e., "any and all ..... including but not limited to...") to ensure that the entire chart is copied, or these days, a CD might be created.

In my best recollection, subpoenas were issued for the records, but it has been quite a while and I don't recall for sure.

If a record copy service issues a subpoena, the facility would have to comply b/c it's a legal request, sometimes pursuant to an action (complaint filed) already in process. Otherwise, an injunctive order directing them to comply might be considered.
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Shane, I'd like to share some insight on determination of medical negligence, as I remember it from a few decades ago. Standards may have changed, but at the time I worked in medmal law firms, the standard was based on a "deviation of care" in the area.

I.e., if it was standard for a 2 person assist in facilities of a similar nature and with patients of similar medical issues, then a 1 person assist might be considered a deviation of the standard of care.

Another deviation might be (as we experienced), failing to get higher level support for an IV which was removed b/c it infiltrated. My understanding is that if the floor nurses can't re-insert it, they contact Anesthesiology for staff with more experience in inserting IVs. They don't just leave or deny the patient (who in this case was also NPO) w/o fluids for several hours. That would be a deviation from standard of care.

I don't ever recall a standard including the intent to harm, but then I haven't kept up on medmal standards. "Intent" is not easy to prove, whether in civil or criminal cases, so a lesser standard of care deviation would be easier to prove.
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LoveourMamas, I believe it is up to the Attorney to request said records.

One would think the doctor from the facility would have your Dad's records on the his laptop, as most medical facilities have such records in their computers. I know my primary doctor can pull up my file from any where in the world if she has her laptop with her.
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Thank you for your insightful answers. I do understand that falls can happen quickly and anywhere.
Can anyone give me guidance on how to officially request Dad's medical records from the SNF do that they are legally bound to do so in a timely manner? I called his doctor - who the SNF required him to take on as he is one of the few who services the facility - and the doctor said he doesn't have physically her medical records but the SNF has them all on their premises. Do I need to send a Certified Letter to the SNF director requesting them? Is the SNF legally required to release them to the family? I fear some push back as the director took days to contact me when dad was dying in the hospital after his fall and she was very guarded with me right up front. Thank you so very much for any guidance on this and for the time you've already taken to help!
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