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Nursing Home Cannot Benefit From Concealing Cause of Death

Often times it becomes necessary to entrust the care of a loved one to those employees and professionals of residential living and nursing homes. Unfortunately, however, mistakes and accidents can happen, often affecting the health and safety of those loved ones. Therefore, it is critical that we continually advocate on behalf of our loved ones to ensure their care and treatment are provided for properly. The recent case of Alldredge v. Good Samaritan Home illustrates why it is important to monitor the care a loved one receives while in a nursing home. The Alldredge case was filed on behalf of Venita Hargis, a resident of a nursing home owned and operated by The Good Samaritan Home, Inc. On November 17, 2006, a nurse employee of Good Samaritan told Venita’s family that she had fallen at the nursing home and had been taken to the hospital due to vomiting episodes occurring several hours after the fall. Venita’s family believed the nurse’s story about the fall because Venita had a prior history of falling during one of her mini-stroke episodes. On November 26, 2006, Venita died as a result of the head injury she received in the fall. Nearly 3 years after Venita’s death, on November 24, 2009, a former Good Samaritan employee contacted Venita’s family and informed them that Venita’s head injury was not the result of a simple fall but instead occurred after Venita had been attacked and pushed to the ground by another resident of the nursing home. Acting on this new information, Venita’s family decided to pursue a wrongful death claim against Good Samaritan and twenty three months after learning the truth regarding Venita’s fall, her family filed suit. Good Samaritan argued that the case should be dismissed because Indiana’s Wrongful Death Act requires cases to be brought within two years of the date of death. Venita’s family argued that the Fraudulent Concealment Statute should be applied to provide for a new full two years to file a claim from the date the concealment is discovered. The trial court agreed with Venita’s family that the Fraudulent Concealment Statute should apply; however, the court disagreed that a new two year time period for filing should be applied. On appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the Fraudulent Concealment Statute does apply to the Wrongful Death Act because it would be unjust for a defendant to take advantage of his or her own misconduct. The Court went on to find that when a defendant fraudulently conceals the existence of a wrongful death action beyond the two year deadline, the decedent’s personal representative shall be allowed to bring the action within two years from the date the concealment is discovered, or should have been discovered. As a result, Venita’s family was allowed to bring their claims against Good Samaritan. The Alldredge case shows how important it is to question and confirm what health care providers say in order to ensure that the information is correct and reflects the best possible treatment. It also illustrates the importance of acting quickly if a mistake does occur in order to avoid having any potential lawsuit dismissed as not being timely. If you or a loved one were injured by a health care provider for which compensation may be owed, please call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427 for a free consultation with one of our top personal injury attorneys.

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