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My mother-in-law fell 3 times in a nursing home and passed away a couple of weeks after that. can I sue the nursing home ?

Bridgewater, NJ |

My mother-in-law fell 3 times in a nursing home within a 3 weeks span and passed away a couple of weeks after that. On one of the falls she broke her hip and had to have an operation to repair it. She was 89 yrs. old. And on top of that ( Medicaid had not kicked in because she was there less than 2 months ) they sent us a $6000.00 bill. I think they are liable for her death . Can we sue the nursing home and pay them with the money from the lawsuit ?

Attorney Answers 4


You should seek the advice of a NJ attorney that is excellent in this area of the Law, asap. You may wish to contact Steven Schwartzapfel. When We handle Nursing-home neglect Cases in New York, we incorporate theories of liability which include the standards which require Nursing Homes to properly evaluate and care for the patient, scientifically as to the level of supervision required to safeguard them at all times. They are vulnerable people, and cannot fend for themselves. I would suggest you get into the attorney's office immediately. Even if the falls did not cause the death, there is likely a lawsuit which should be pursued. I would not pay that bill until you have had that consultation, and indeed it may well be that it will also be a subject of any litigation you pursue. I am so sorry for your loss.
Bob Brenna Jr.
Brenna Brenna & Boyce PLLC
Rochester, New York 14614

Bob, Robert L. Brenna, Jr. No relationship is intended, agreed upon or accepted by answering this general question Brenna Brenna and Boyce PLLC Rochester, New York

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David W. Terry

David W. Terry


Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in nursing homes across America. Far too many nursing homes are understaffed and do not adequately provide for their residents. As a fall risk, your mother-in-law should have had measures provided for her to protect her from falling. It does not sound as though that happened. As to your specific question regarding the $6,000 bill, you might consider talking with a New Jersey lawyer about the option of sending the nursing home a letter and telling them that you are not going to pay the bill because it was their negligence that caused her injury in the first place. This option comes with some risks, though. They nursing home could pursue a collection case against you or they may back off. Do not sign any agreement with them though without first talking to an attorney because you don't want to give up any rights you may have to moving forward with a wrongful death case. The two best attorneys in New Jersey for nursing home cases are Saul Gruber and David Cohen. Feel free to call either one for assistance. Good luck to you!


Nursing home liability requires much more detailed information about the facts and circumstances of your mother in law's falls and possible neglect. Your attorney would need to know the name of the nursing home during the consultation to determine whether it is private or quasi public which carry different notification time lines in terms of the NJ Tort Claims Act. Additionally, the records of the nursing home would be very important as each incident should have been documented in writing and investigated. Also medical staff would have been involved as well as ambulance records. Tragically, a hip fracture at her age with surgery more often than not results in death. Questions such as how did she fall and were safety protocols violated once they knew that she had fallen are important questions that will have to be investigated. Your attorney may choose to retain an expert that will review everything and determine if these falls could have and should have been prevented. Also what is that nursing homes history of violations? If an attorney takes the case, he or she may be able to convince the nursing home to hold off on the collection of the 6k bill until the underlying civil litigation is concluded.

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Nursing homes are required to evaluate patients upon admission and develop a plan of care that provides patients with assistance in activities of daily living. If your mother was a patient who presented as a fall hazard (and she certainly sounds like she was) then the nursing home should have had policies, procedures and protocols in place to prevent your mother from falling while a patient in the home.

I would need more information to determine whether your mother has a viable nursing home negligence case. I would have to evaluate your mother's admission records. Ordinarily, a broken hip is not a death sentence so it is not clear to me why you think that injury and operation is related to her passing. That aside, the multiple false suggest repeated negligent care, and you may have a cause of action for the broken hip alone.

It is highly unlikely that the nursing home will agree to wait to be paid the $6000 owed at of the proceeds of your lawsuit. Any action against the nursing home would be a separate issue. Of course you could refuse to pay the bill, but that may impact your credit if you agreed to be a person responsible for paying the bill.

Please note that by attempting to answer your question, I am not acting as your attorney. I will do nothing further to protect or preserve your interests in the absence of any additional discussion with you about this matter. John Ratkowitz, Esq. Starr, Gern, Davison & Rubin, P.C. 105 Eisenhower Parkway Roseland, NJ 07068 Office: (973) 830-8441 Cell: (732) 616-6278 Fax: (973) 226-0031 Skype: john_ratkowitz Web:

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I'm sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I would advise you to obtain a copy of her nursing home records and contact an attorney in your state that handles nursing home neglect cases to review them. You may have a case but, in order to determine this, an attorney experienced in these matters would have to review the records and possibly consult with medical professionals.

Falls are often preventable when the proper interventions are implemented in the nursing home. To determine whether you have a case, an attorney would need to review your mother-in-law's records to determine whether the nursing home adequately assessed and/or re-assessed her risk for falls, developed and adequately revised a care plan commensurate with her risk, and correctly implemented the necessary interventions - such as bed or chair alarms, floor mats, side rails, physical assistance, etc. - to prevent her falls.

The cause of your mother-in-law's death, would have to be determined by a medical professional. Research suggests that elderly persons who sustain hip fractures have an increased risk of dying, especially in the 6 months following the fracture. Therefore, it is quite possible that a physician would opine that your mother-in-law's fall was a proximate cause of her death.

I would recommend that you contact a nursing home neglect and abuse attorney immediately to review your case.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss and I wish you and your family the best of luck.

Please be advised that this response is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship. Oftentimes, additional facts and information may have been omitted from the question which would significantly alter the response thereto. It is therefore recommended that you fully discuss any potential case with an attorney licensed in your state in order to ensure that you receive the appropriate legal advice. Jason E. Hammond is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and does not hold himself out to be an expert in other jurisdictions.

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