What If I Believe a Family Member Has Died a Suspicious Death at a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly?


Last Updated on: 4th November 2021, 03:21 pm

Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) are non-medical facilities that are designed to provide housing, personal care assistance, and supervision to elderly persons who are unable to care for themselves. Also known as assisted living centers, RCFEs are regulated by the California Department of Social Services and Community Care and Licensing. While RCFEs are not required to have nurses or medical professionals on staff, they can be held liable for certain injuries. If you believe that your elderly family member died in a RCFE due to a suspicious reason, such as elder abuse, the following provides an overview of things you need to know:

What Duties Do RCFEs Have to Residents?

RCFEs are not required, as mentioned above, to have nurses or doctors on staff. Further, they are prevented from housing patients with certain medical conditions. What’s more, there are only minimal qualifications for the staff: the passage of a state exam, completion of a 40-hour certification program, and maintenance of continuing education every two years. As such, RCFEs have few, if any, medical duties to patients.

However, RCFEs are required to provide a sufficient number of staff members for patient needs. Further, for night supervision, if there are 15 or fewer residents, there must be one staff person on call and on the premises; if there are more than 15 residents, there must be one person who is awake on the premises, and there must be another person who is on call and ready to respond.

RCFEs also have a duty to maintain the premises in a safe condition, and have a duty to assist residents with personal care assistance, such as taking medication, bathing, eating, housekeeping, transportation, and healthcare management.

When a Residential Care Facility Is Responsible for an Elderly Person’s Death

A death may be deemed suspicious, and the RCFE may be held liable for the death of an elderly person when one of the duties above is forsaken and negligence occurs. Examples of negligence include:

  • Failure to maintain and adequate staff-to-patient ratio;
  • Failure to maintain the required number of staff members on call during the night;
  • Failure of staff to assist elderly persons with needs, such as failing to administer an elderly person’s medication;
  • Failure to exercise the duty of care expected by the California Department of Social Services; and
  • Failure to maintain the property in a safe condition – i.e. a dangerous condition causes an elderly person to slip, leading to death.

Report the RCFE and Contact an Attorney

If you believe that your elderly loved one’s rights were violated and that he or she would not have died but for negligence, you should immediately report the RCFE to the California Department of Social Services. Then, you should pick up the phone and call an experienced San Diego Residential Care Facility for the Elderly attorney who can help you to investigate your loved one’s cause of death and file a personal injury claim for damages. At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our attorneys are ready to get to work on building your case today, and will advocate for your family’s rights throughout the entire process. To learn more, call us today at 858-350-8855.

About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others.

Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.

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Attorney Bill Berman

William M. Berman, Esquire
Berman & Riedel, LLP
12264 El Camino Real, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92130
ph: (858) 350-8855
fax: (858) 350-9855
web: www.bermanlawyers.com