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Nursing home patient killed in altercation with staff member

While many of us here in Ann Arbor wish we could drop everything to take care of our aging parents and elder relatives when they need it, reality rarely works out that way. Today we need to enlist nursing homes to provide care and support. This makes cases of nursing home neglect and abuse all the more troubling.

A recent case from the East Coast got so far out of hand that a patient in his late seventies was killed by an aide at the facility. Reportedly, the patient wanted to get out of bed, and the aide objected. The aide, a woman in her early forties, eventually became physical with the elderly man.

As they fought, the man fell and was impaled by a metal piece on a broken table. Witnesses described the dispute as so intense that the aide had to be pulled off of the victim. He died hours later from his injuries at an area hospital. The aide has pleaded not guilty to charges including criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of an adult; she remains free on bail.

On the one hand, convicting staff members who are guilty of nursing home abuse or neglect on criminal charges is justice served. It also provides a deterrent and may help protect future would-be victims. But for families whose loved ones suffer injury or death, this may provide little comfort, let alone compensation.

That is why a civil lawsuit can proceed regardless of the status of a criminal trial. Even when nursing home staff are found not guilty, a legal professional may still help hold them liable to pay damages to families in a personal injury case.

Source: CBS New York, "Bronx Nursing Home Aide Charged In Death Of 77-Year-Old Patient," Dec. 15, 2014

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC
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Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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