We’ve come a long way in the treatment of individuals that are addicted to drugs, but drug dependency is more of a problem than ever due to the on-going opioid crisis. The growing demand for treatment options has led to a rehab industry where patient care takes a backseat to profit margins. In a peer-reviewed study published in the February 2021 issue of “Health Affairs,” it was noted that many of these programs sign up patients without evaluating their medical needs. This can be extremely dangerous if the patient has thoughts of suicide or has attempted suicide in the past.
The cycle of negligence often continues once they’re at the clinic. Tamara Beetham, head of the study published in “Health Affairs,” found that most of the places they reviewed did not provide evidence-based care using medications like methadone and buprenorphine. Without this quality of care, a patient is even more likely to commit suicide due to their mental and physical agony.
Did your family member, spouse, or domestic partner pass away from committing suicide while they were at a drug rehabilitation center? Tragically, this is not an uncommon occurrence, and the level of negligence by facility owners and staff is astounding in most of these cases. Typically, these centers argue that they’ve taken all the necessary precautions to prevent such a tragic incident. However, investigations into these facilities reveal the lack of oversight and regulations that are endemic in the rehab industry.
Without a doubt, this is a painful and difficult chapter in your life, and you are in need of answers as to who is responsible for your loved one’s death. We are here for you if you have found yourself asking “What are my rights?” For legal advice and information on how to proceed with a claim for wrongful death, contact our office and speak with a suicide in drug facility lawyer.
Who can File a Lawsuit for a Drug Rehab Center Suicide?
You assume that your family member is safe and sound if they are under supervision by counselors and doctors at a drug rehab facility. Unfortunately, far too many facilities in the U.S. regularly fail their patients, as well as their family members. When a drug center is lax in their duty of care, a lawsuit for wrongful death may be filed by the victim’s loved ones.
Can families of victims file a lawsuit?
Yes, families of victims that died from suicide while under supervision at a drug counseling center may file a lawsuit for monetary damages. A lawsuit can also be filed by the victim’s spouse or registered domestic partner, according to California’s Code of Civil Procedure 377.60.
Can I sue if my child committed suicide while under supervision of a drug rehab center?
If your son / daughter committed suicide while they were on suicide watch at a drug rehab center, you may be able to sue the facility based on an act of negligence. If your child was a minor at the time, the facility has a heightened duty of care to supervise the patient, as children have less impulse control and coping mechanisms than adults.
Can I sue if my parents died in a drug rehab facility?
Yes, you may have grounds for a lawsuit if your parent committed suicide while under supervision of a drug rehab center. Statute of limitations, or the amount of time you have to seek legal action, depends on whether you were an adult or a minor at the time of your parent’s death. For more information on this topic, please scroll down to the section titled, “Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits.”
Proving Liability for a Drug Rehab Facility Suicide
A drug rehabilitation service provider has a duty to protect those under their care, which includes assessing their risk of suicide. Certain protocols must be followed from the moment the patient is checked into the facility. This includes an interview with a psychiatrist or licensed drug counselor, and constant monitoring (suicide watch) to ensure that the patient does not engage in self-harm. The patient should also be kept away from objects that can be used to commit suicide, like razor blades and ropes.
Of course, one has to acknowledge the fact that suicide is difficult to predict. Many people struggle with suicidal thoughts throughout their life, yet they never act on those thoughts. On the other hand, there are numerous studies that show the increased risk of suicide when someone is struggling with drug addiction. Those with opioid addictions are especially vulnerable to suicide, which “can increase maladaptive coping behaviors and hinder self-regulation,” according to the National Library of Medicine.
These risk factors must be taken into consideration when a patient is admitted into a drug treatment facility. In essence, these places are responsible for taking reasonable precautions that can protect a patient from taking their own life. This is the main issue at hand when you are attempting to prove negligence by a rehab center or a professional that’s employed by the facility. These professionals include psychologists, drug counselors, social workers, nurses, and anyone else that’s responsible for the patient’s care.
Liability may also fall on the owners of a drug rehabilitation center if conditions on the property led to a patient’s suicide. For example, there should be limited access to areas like the roof at these places, due to the increased risk of suicide among those with substance abuse issues. If a door that led to the roof was unlocked or the lock on it was broken, the owner may be sued due to their failure to inspect and maintain their property.
These examples are not the only ways that a drug rehab center can be liable in a patient’s suicide. We will help you understand who is responsible for your loved one’s passing and the legal process we can undertake to bring you compensation. Call DTLA Law Group and schedule a free case review.
What can I ask for in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A settlement for wrongful death against a drug facility is meant to pay for certain expenses that are associated with your loved one’s passing. In addition, you can be compensated for emotional losses, like the love and companionship you will no longer receive from the decedent. Damages that you can ask for in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Funeral / burial expenses
- Medical costs
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of expected wages and/or benefits
- Legal fees
Most of these damages cover long-term losses, so it’s crucial to fight for the maximum amount you are entitled to. Our lawyers have what it takes to go up against the drug facility and bring you the highest possible settlement.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The state of California sets a time limit of two years for all lawsuits involving wrongful death. The clock starts ticking from the date of your loved one’s death, but there is one notable exception known as the discovery rule. Under this rule, the statute of limitations does not begin until the date that you learn of your family member’s suicide. This is not unusual in death cases at rehab facilities, as many addicts lose touch with family and friends for long periods of time. There is also a separate rule for minors, or those who are under 18 when they lose a parent due to negligence by a drug rehab center. In these cases, the child is given two years from the day they turn 18 to file a lawsuit.
If you’re confused about the statute of limitations that applies to your case, please reach out to one of our attorneys.
Average Value of a Drug Facility Suicide Case
Based on our experience, it’s difficult to quote an average value for wrongful death claims due to the number of factors that are involved. However, values are generally high for these lawsuits, ranging anywhere from $500,000 to over $4.5 million dollars, though it really depends on individual factors that are specific to the decedent. Basically, we have to look at the losses that remaining family members are left with due to their loved one’s unexpected death. If the victim had a spouse and children and was the main breadwinner of the household, the lost wages, love and support, and various other benefits can be well over a million dollars. Then, you have to consider the family’s pain and suffering, which can be tremendous when they trusted a healthcare facility to keep their loved one safe.
Due to the personal nature of these lawsuits, you would need to speak with an attorney, who can calculate a fair case value based on your economic and non-economic losses. Our lawyers are ready to assist you, so don’t hesitate to give us a call.
How long does it take to Settle a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims are some of the most complicated cases in the field of personal injury law, and even more so when a suicide is involved. When a client comes to us for representation, it’s our goal to settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company within the first 6 to 8 months. However, the settlement timeline largely depends on the rehab facility’s willingness to admit liability. Even if they do, these places are private companies that are driven by profit. That means they are far more interested in protecting their image than they are in rectifying a situation that was caused by their negligence. That’s why it can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to work out a payment amount that both sides can agree on. However, if a fair amount of compensation cannot be negotiated, your case may go to trial. You may still be able to negotiate a settlement before the trial date, but getting to that point may take 2 years or longer.
We offer Free Second Opinions
As someone with a pending wrongful death claim, you are hopefully getting the time and attention you deserve from your attorney. If not, we are happy to answer your questions during a second opinion consultation. Many people come to us to ask about their legal options, which include switching their attorney. This is a big decision when you’re in the middle of a case, and we will make sure that you understand the consequences of finding new representation. If working with our law firm is in your best interest, we will handle the entire transfer process and get right to work on recovering the settlement you deserve. If you’re interested in a free second opinion on your case, please contact our office.
Speak to a California Wrongful Death Attorney
Admitting that you need help and calling a rehab center is an incredibly brave decision, and people who are admitted to these facilities deserve the highest quality of care. As addiction-related deaths continue to surge, family members see these places as a beacon of hope, but in reality, many of these centers offer sub-standard care. As a result, patients are left to fend for themselves, and many of them end up taking their own lives.
If your loved one passed away from suicide at a drug rehab center, it’s essential to learn about the legal actions that are available to you. Our lawyers will take immediate action on your case and fight zealously to ensure that justice is achieved on your behalf. You can also count on us to protect your finances, as we offer free legal services under the Zero fee guarantee. Our expenses are covered by the party that wronged you, and that only happens if we win your case. If we don’t win, you will not be charged for any legal fees.
A lawyer experienced in wrongful death lawsuits is ready to speak with you, so please call us at your earliest convenience.