Death Secondary to Nursing Home Falls -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit

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Nursing home residents may be at risk for falling as a result of cognitive and physical disabilities and muscle weakness, as well as the side effects of medications.  Many falls also occur during transfers of immobile patients from or to beds, wheelchairs or Geri-chairs.  Nursing home residents may also experience falls during physical therapy or occupational therapy treatments.

Hip (or femoral) fractures resulting from nursing homes falls are especially common.  These injuries may require surgical intervention including the placement of plates and bone grafts.  There are significant risks for post-operative complications including infection, pneumonia, blood clots, blood loss, and hip dislocation.  Many of these nursing home fall victims ultimately die as a result of these life-threatening complications. 

Under Maryland law, when a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home negligence, two causes of action arise: (1) a wrongful death claim; and (2) a survivorship claim.

A sample redacted Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of nursing home negligence relating to nursing home falls follows:

COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, [insert name], Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries], by their attorneys, David L. Feldstein and Dever & Feldstein, LLC, hereby file this Complaint against Defendant Health Care Provider, [insert Defendant], and in support thereof state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

 1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiff, [insert name], has been a citizen and resident of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert wrongful death beneficiaries] are wrongful death primary beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 2. [Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 3. At all times material to this case, [insert Defendant] has been a corporation existing under the laws of the State of Maryland, engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City, Maryland, and acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
 4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

 5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert Defendant] was a licensed nursing home and rehabilitation center in the State of Maryland, holding itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of nursing home and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services.
 6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert Defendant] who participated in the care provided to [insert name] were acting on behalf of [insert Defendant] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert Defendant].
 7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to [insert name] nursing home.  On or about [insert date], Plaintiff's treating orthopedist, [insert name], determined that Plaintiff sustained a mild compression fracture of her spine and he ordered that Plaintiff required the "assistance of two people" to ambulate.
 8. On [insert date], Plaintiff requested assistance so that she could go to the bathroom.  Contrary to the above referenced doctor's order, Plaintiff was assisted by only one individual, a geriatric nursing assistant ("GNA"), who proceeded to twist her to the floor when her back gave out.  The GNA reported that she heard a "pop" sound to Plaintiff's left knee before she touched the ground.    
 9.  Plaintiff was subsequently transported to [insert name] Hospital where she was diagnosed with a complex left distal femoral fracture.  She underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery on [insert date] requiring the placement of a plate and a bone graft.  Following this surgery, she developed significant complications including ischemic colitis and pneumonia.  She required additional surgery and went on to develop respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator.  She ultimately expired on [insert date].  The death certificate lists the immediate cause of death as fracture left femur.
 10. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene investigated this matter and determined that [insert Defendant] failed to provide Plaintiff with adequate supervision and assistance to prevent accidents. 

COUNT I  (Professional Negligence)

18. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
19. Defendant, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed Plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
20. Defendant, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to Plaintiff, thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:
(a) failed to ambulate Plaintiff with the assistance of two assistants as ordered by her treating physician;
(b) failed to provide adequate supervision and assistance to Plaintiff to prevent accidents; 
(c) were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.
21. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, Plaintiff was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
22. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, Plaintiff, among other things, was forced to undergo surgical procedures and medical treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in her normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
23. Had Defendant followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, Plaintiff would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
24. The injuries and damages herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendant, with no negligence on the part of Plaintiff contributing thereto.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendant for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II  (Wrongful Death)

 25. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 26. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant's above-described negligence in causing the death of [insert name], [insert wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of training, loss of guidance and loss of education.  [Insert name]'s death is a tragedy from which they will never recover.

 WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendant for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

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Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of nursing home falls, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), dehydration/malnutrition, medication administration error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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