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Elderly murder victim's family sues nursing home for negligence

The family of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient in Whippany, New Jersey, who was murdered by a fellow patient, is suing the home for failing to properly care for her. The family alleges that the victim had informed staff at the home that the male resident was stalking her and that he had threatened her. The family's suit alleges that the nursing home staff simply told the woman to avoid the man.

According to documents, the woman was attacked by the man on Oct. 3, 2010, and died days later from her injuries. The woman's family alleges negligence on the part of the nursing home resulting in wrongful death. The suit says that the nursing home failed to protect the resident from the attacker and render appropriate care for hours after her attack, an allegation that the nursing home disputes and says it plans to address in a court of law.

Nothing is more personal or more painful than losing a loved one or a family member due to the negligence of another. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the situation is that the death could probably have been easily avoided had the institution exercised a reasonable duty of care towards the resident. In addition to the emotional issues, family members must deal with the financial aspects as well, such as hospital bills and any relevant medical expenses.

Fortunately, family members of accident victims have the option of seeking legal redress in the form of a wrongful death civil action. Under New Jersey law, family members of negligence victims are allowed to recover damages for the emotional pain and suffering incurred if it can be proved that the accident resulted in a wrongful death. While nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, such a suit may provide some solace and sense that justice has been served.

That could be important in a case like this where the attacker may have be as much a victim of brain degenerative illness as the victim.

Source: Daily Record, "Whippany assisted living facility sued in 85-year-old resident's death," Peggy Wright, Sept. 20, 2012.

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