Representing Families After A Tragic Loss
Rehabilitation and mental health facilities have a duty of care to their residents. Residents are often dealing with extreme situations, such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional trauma, and suicidal tendencies, making them extremely vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Often, when a facility acts negligently in its duty of care, the results can be deadly.
If you lost a loved one due to a negligent rehab or mental health facility, then you may be able to hold the at-fault party responsible in a wrongful death claim. But to ensure that a single detail is not missed, you will want to have your case evaluated by an experienced Seattle rehab facility negligence attorney at Pendergast Law. Our trial attorneys can provide thorough legal guidance throughout your case and hold the at-fault party responsible for your loved one’s death in a civil case. To learn how, contact our office at 888-539-9211.
Types Of Negligence At Treatment Facilities
When someone is going through detox, recovering from an addiction, or dealing with a mental illness, they are often in the most vulnerable state of their life. Not only is their body go through extreme distress to deal with sudden chemical changes, but they are also extremely fragile emotionally. Rehab and mental health facilities should take great care when an individual comes to them for help and provide the highest level of service.
Sadly, that is not always the case. These facilities share many of the same issues as nursing homes, including staff members who are abusive, neglectful, or poorly trained. If they seriously harm a resident, either intentionally or accidentally, they could be found liable for the resident’s injuries. But staff members are not the only issue. Facility administrators are also charged with interviewing, hiring, and training all staff to ensure that they can effectively respond to a resident’s needs. If an administrator failed to review an abusive staff member’s background or did not appropriately respond to a report of abuse or neglect, then a resident could suffer a catastrophic injury.
The types of negligent actions that can make a facility liable for injuries include:
- Improper resident evaluation: This can be dangerous, as a resident who is not properly evaluated may not receive the proper care and treatment. Staff may miss mental health issues, signs of self-harm or suicide, or key medical conditions and allergies.
- Improper medication: Rehab facility doctors may prescribe medications that are potentially dangerous if they do not account for a resident’s test results or allergies.
- Failure to provide proper care for withdrawals: Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe. When rehab facilities fail to provide the appropriate care for withdrawals, it can have disastrous consequences for the resident.
- Negligent supervision: Individuals contending with addiction or mental illnesses are extremely vulnerable and may even be suicidal. For safety, they need diligent supervision and support from staff to ensure they can recover in a healthy environment.
- Unsafe environment: Facilities must be clean and hygienic, and steps must be taken to prevent assaults from hostile residents, slip-and-fall accidents, and other types of injuries. If there is a safety hazard on the premises, the administrators have a duty to remove or fix it.
- Failure to properly screen and train staff: To live up to its duty of care, a rehab facility must ensure its staff are qualified and adequately trained. Unfit staff may cause harm to residents through negligence or intentional mental, physical or sexual abuse.
State And Federal Regulations For Treatment Facilities
In the state of Washington, residential treatment facilities are required to comply with minimum health and safety standards for licensure and operations under Chapter 246-337 WAC. They are subject to onsite surveys, complaint investigation and enforcement. Among other things, these facilities are required to:
- Perform criminal history and background checks on prospective staff
- Implement and maintain infection control programs that prevent the spread of communicable diseases
- Implement policies and procedures that protect resident safety and security
- Control the appropriate use of all drugs
- Provide meals that meet residents’ nutritional needs and are stored, prepared, and served properly
- Maintain the facility in a safe condition, free of hazards, clean and in good repair
On a federal level, residents are protected under several different laws that relate to both rehabilitation and mental illnesses. These facilities are often overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If a facility disobeys a regulation or rule outlined by these departments and injures or kills a resident, the facility may liable in a claim.
The federal laws that protect residents include:
- Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018
- 21st Century Cures Act
- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)
- Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act
Despite these laws, administrators and staff members throughout Seattle still fail to provide adequate care for residents, often leading to their injuries. In more dire circumstances, a resident can die due to poor care. However, if you lost a loved one due to a negligent rehab or mental illness treatment facility’s actions, then you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against it.
Pursuing A Wrongful Death Claim
In the state of Washington, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought in civil court when the death of a person is caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. The personal representative of the deceased may file an action against the responsible party for economic and non-economic damages sustained by surviving family members, including funeral expenses, medical treatment for the deceased, loss of companionship, and other costs.
Beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim may include the deceased person’s:
- State registered domestic partner
If there is no spouse or state-registered domestic partner and no children, a wrongful death claim may be brought for the benefit of the deceased person’s:
Wrongful death claims are often more complicated than standard personal injury claims, as you will need to clearly show how a facility caused the death of your loved one. This can be especially difficult in the case of suicide or detox errors, but not impossible if you work with an experienced attorney.
Strong Advocates For Grieving Families
There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one, especially if they were going through treatment at a rehabilitation or mental health treatment facility. These facilities are designed to help individuals recover from serious conditions and move on to the next stage of their lives. If a facility neglects that duty and seriously harms or kills a resident, then its administrators or staff members should be held accountable.
If you have lost a loved one through treatment facility negligence, then you are in need of diligent legal aid. Deaths at treatment facilities are often difficult to investigate on your own and require a thorough understanding of the law to get proper compensation from the at-fault party. But the Seattle personal injury attorneys at Pendergast Law are not afraid of a challenge and know how to run an in-depth investigation. If a facility caused the death of your loved one, then we can hold them accountable in a wrongful death claim. To begin discussing your case, contact our office at 888-539-9211 and speak with a team of skilled attorneys.