If your elderly parents were in a senior care facility that was directly in the path of a wildfire, you’d probably expect the staff to hasten everyone out of there.

If your parents were a resident in a senior community owned and staffed by one California management group, the only thing you could expect was for the staff to take care of themselves.

At least, that’s what the family members of thirteen residents are alleging. In fact, they allege that the only reason any of the residents are still alive is because one resident’s relatives took it upon themselves to check the rooms and evacuate the seniors they found.

It’s unclear whether any of the staff remained to help.

It is clear that several of the residents suffered injuries due to the management company’s failure to make adequate plans for an emergency evacuation — something that any facility of its kind should be prepared for and trained to handle.

At least two residents were seriously injured during the chaos. Both later died from their injuries. Attorneys for their families are now pursuing wrongful death claims in addition to personal injury claims.

In addition, the lawsuit against the management company alleges that it tried to buy the silence of any employees who did have a conscience. The management firm offered employees $750-$1,500 apiece — but only if they agreed to keep any legal complaints about what had happened at the facility to themselves.

The employees were asked to sign an agreement that would keep them from reporting their concerns about what happened to various federal agencies and courts. It also asked employees to give up any rights that they might have to file any complaints on their own behalf regarding their employment conditions.

The management group was likely concerned that at least a few employees might file a complaint over the inadequate staffing they were given to handle the number of seniors under their care.

When the reckless disregard for the care of an elderly person results in that person’s death, people can be held accountable for their actions through a wrongful death claim. If you believe this is what happened to your relative, explore your legal options right away.

Source: McKnight’s Senior Living, “Wildfire lawsuit adds more plaintiffs, charges of wrongful death,” Lois A Bowers, Senior Editor, Jan. 22, 2018