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Wrongful Death: Jury Awards $1 Million in Nursing Home Fall

A jury recently awarded over $1 million in damages to the family of a woman involved in a wrongful death case. After having back surgery, the 69-year-old woman was admitted to the Heather Knoll Retirement Village, on a temporary basis, while she recovered.

The jury found that at the time of the fall, the woman was anemic and had a urinary infection. Because of these conditions, she was confused and unable to understand or follow instructions. The nursing home staff knew she was at risk for falling, but they did not install an alarm system that would have alerted a staff member if the woman tried to get out of bed.

During the woman's stay in the Ohio nursing home in 2006, she got out of bed to use the restroom. No one knows if she ever got there. While out of bed, she fell and fractured a wrist and her hip. She also hit her head. Within a week she was dead.

The woman's husband of over thirty years, and her two sons, were devastated by her death.

The jury found the nursing home negligent and in violation of the state's Patients' Bill of Rights. The official damage award was $1,001,540.

The jury also found that an arbitration agreement signed by all patients entering the facility, including the woman involved in the wrongful death lawsuit, was not enforceable. Many institutions force this type of agreement on patients in an effort to prevent lawsuits, but Miami wrongful death attorneys point out to clients all the time that they should not assume that such an agreement is airtight. These agreements can be overcome, as they were in the Ohio nursing home case.

The Heather Knoll nursing home continues to deny liability and says it will appeal the court's decision.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal "Family awarded $1 million in nursing-home death" 1/21/2011

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