Family Files Wrongful Death Against VA After Man Dies of Ant Bites
You can’t ever really say that a case is open and shut just based on the allegations alone, but this one is going to come close. A veteran died in a VA long-term care facility after being bitten repeatedly by fire ants. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital as well as the hospital’s exterminator, Orkin.
The medical examiner determined that the man died of ant bites, so that’s an established fact, not an allegation. Since the nursing home has a duty of care to ensure that all of its patients are safe, they are liable for the death having failed that duty of care. However, this is not a medical malpractice lawsuit simply because it’s been filed against a hospital. It is actually a premises liability lawsuit because no incompetent medical decision resulted in the veteran’s death. In this case, incompetent maintenance of the property itself exposed at least one patient to a serious danger that he later died from. Since the dangerous condition was in place, the facility knew about the dangerous condition, and someone died because of the dangerous condition, it would be difficult to establish any defense to the allegations that a jury would find reasonable.
Lawsuits Against the VA
When still in office, President Trump signed a measure that allowed claims against VA hospitals to move forward. Prior, veterans were prevented from filing medical malpractice or other lawsuits against the VA due to laws in place that protected the federal government against tort claims filed by soldiers who were injured in the line of duty. This law was broadly interpreted to prevent any action against the military. This led to a situation where the VA was heavily underfunded and mismanaged resulting in several patient deaths.
No longer is the VA insulated from such lawsuits. However, damages are paid from taxpayer coffers leaving many to wonder if these suits will have any impact on the quality of care at VA hospitals.
The Case Against Orkin
Orkin was hired by the VA to conduct pest control services onsite. Orkin released a statement saying that they are reviewing the allegations against them, but they were hired only to perform limited onsite pest control services. In other words, they contend that the VA never paid them to remedy dangerous onsite conditions, so they are not responsible for it.
Even if Orkin was hired to manage the ant problem, it’s unclear what their liability would be. Pest control services don’t enter premises, do a bit of magic, and then the pests are gone. It generally requires multiple sprays or onsite baits, which would have been explained to the VA. However, they left the patient in an area that the ants had infested, and that ultimately led to the man’s death.
Contact a Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Not all lawsuits against hospitals are medical malpractice lawsuits. However, MichieHamlett can file both medical malpractice and simple negligence lawsuits against hospitals. For more information on our services, please contact our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys today!