An article in the Florida Times-Union caught my eye because it describes what seems to be a clear example of negligence that ultimately killed an older woman. The Jan. 12 article says a brother and sister have filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of their mother, who fell in the shower and sustained second-degree burns covering 24% of her body. Madge Weaver, 87, of Lake Placid wore a necklace from a company called ResponseLink, which connects to an emergency alert system when the user presses a button. But her children say ResponseLink failed to respond to Weaver’s repeated pages with a 911 call, instead calling Weaver’s home repeatedly while her bathtub filled with scalding-hot water. Daniel Weaver of Callahan and Cheryl Pifer of Lake Placid sued ResponseLink Jan. 11 for wrongful death.
Madge Weaver had used her ResponseLink pendant once before, and the operator that time called 911 for her. But this time, the family’s Central Florida wrongful death attorney said, the ResponseLink operator tried to call Weaver’s home to see if she needed help. Weaver was unable to answer the phone because she had fallen in the shower with her body blocking the drain, and couldn’t reach to turn the water off. Weaver paged the service at least eight times in 10 minutes, but nobody came to rescue her until the operator thought to call Pifer, who lived nearby. Pifer arrived six or seven minutes later and immediately called 911, but it was too late. Weaver died two days later of severe burns. The family’s lawsuit alleges that Weaver would have sustained no serious injuries if the operator had called emergency services right away.
As a Coconut Creek wrongful death lawyer, I am disturbed to read that this emergency alert system failed so drastically. People may joke about services like ResponseLink, but they’re valuable tools for older people who want to live independently. In fact, they are designed for exactly this kind of incident — emergencies in which the victim can’t reach the phone to call for help. ResponseLink and its operator surely must have known that, but by calling Weaver’s home instead of 911, they undermined the point of the system and left a client helpless. As a result, Weaver suffered under a scalding-hot shower for more than 15 minutes and died an avoidable death, with emergency workers just a few minutes away.
If your family has lost a loved one to negligence, carelessness or intentional actions like these, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn for help. Our Lauderhill wrongful death attorneys understand that no amount of money can ever bring back someone who was taken too soon. However, in cases like this — where prosecutors cannot bring charges, or decide not to — a civil wrongful death lawsuit may be the only tool families have to demand justice. A Florida wrongful death claim can also help families deal with the sometimes enormous financial consequences of a death, including a sudden and irreversible loss of income as well as high accident-related medical bills. And in a lawsuit, families can also claim compensation for their own grief and personal losses.
Cohn, Smith & Cohn offers free, confidential case evaluations to potential clients, so you risk nothing by speaking to us about your case. To set up a consultation, you can call us at (954) 431-8100 or send us an email.