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South Carolina Personal Injury Law Blog

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Family sues nursing home for death of elderly man after fall

The family of a World War II veteran is suing the Cherryville, North Carolina, nursing home for his death in January 2017, a week after suffering a fall in which he broke his leg. The 98-year-old grandfather, who had once been a Teamsters union leader, had been living in Carolina Care Center for over six years.

The lawsuit for pain and suffering and wrongful death was filed last month on behalf of the man’s estate by a South Carolina attorney. According to the suit, when the man moved into the facility, he had mobility issues. By the time he died, he was also suffering from cognitive deficiencies including memory loss and disorientation and was blind in one eye. He had difficulty communicating verbally as well.

According to the facility’s own documents from 2016, the elderly man was determined to be at risk for falls because of his medical issues and past falls. The fall that broke his right femur was his second one that month.

After the second fall, the staff initially determined that he had injured his right hand and shoulder. Some seven hours later, when he was screaming in pain, they x-rayed him and treated the leg injury.

He was transported to a hospital and then transferred to a hospice care facility. He died there a week after he suffered the fall.

The lawsuit claims the facility, in addition to not properly evaluating the man after his fall, failed in its duty to ensure a safe environment for all of its residents. The family’s attorney says, “Apart from ensuring that his family receives justice, our goal is to hopefully make health care feel better for the citizens of (Gaston County).” The president and administrator of the nursing home are named in the suit along with the facility itself.

When an elderly nursing home resident dies, it may seem like a challenge to prove that the death wasn’t the result of the person’s age, declining health and frail condition. However, these facilities have a responsibility to provide the best possible care to their residents and to take proper precautions to protect their safety. When they fail in those responsibilities, families can and should explore their legal options for holding them accountable.