Nursing Home Choking Accident Attorney, San Francisco Bay Area

Susan Kang Gordon, a Professional Law Corporation, provides compassionate and forceful representation in nursing home choking accident cases. Call us today to protect your loved ones and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
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2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year
Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association
2022 Trial Lawyer of the Year
San Francisco County TrialLawyers Association

Steadfast Advocacy for Nursing Home Choking Accident Victims

We make it our mission to support victims of choking accidents in nursing facilities.

Our capable legal team offers high-caliber representation, placing empathy and professionalism at the forefront of every case. We’re committed to ensuring that those at fault see the consequences of their actions. This commitment is exemplified by the favorable verdicts and significant compensation we’ve won for clients over the years.

Our in-depth knowledge of the legal issues surrounding these cases enables us to effectively champion our clients’ rights while pushing for systemic improvements within the nursing home industry.
$13.5 Million
Jury Verdict 2021
$6 Million
Jury Verdict 2021
Over $40 Million
Recovered for Families
Learn More About Us

The Prevalence of Choking Fatalities Among the Elderly

Recent data from the National Safety Council reveals a surprising and concerning statistic: choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths in the country, ahead of drowning and fires.

This threat is especially pronounced for older adults and nursing home residents. In 2017 alone, over five thousand people lost their lives due to choking incidents, with a substantial portion of these victims being aged 74 and above. Figures like these underscore the heightened vulnerability of this age group to such life-threatening accidents.

Choking Hazards for Older Individuals

Choking poses a serious threat to the elderly due to various age-related physical changes and medical conditions.

As people age, saliva production often decreases, complicating the processes of chewing and swallowing — a condition known as dysphagia. A dry mouth and throat can cause food to become lodged in the esophagus or airways. Many seniors use hard candies to stimulate saliva production, but these can also become choking hazards.

Here are some of the other key factors that heighten the risk of choking in older adults:

  • Dental Problems: Missing teeth and poorly fitting dentures can interfere with chewing, making food more likely to become lodged.
  • Eating Habits: Consuming food too quickly or without thorough chewing can lead to choking.
  • Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the mouth and throat muscles can impair swallowing.
  • Medical Conditions: Stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers of the mouth, neck, and throat can all exacerbate the risk.
  • Postural Issues: Poor posture can misalign the throat and esophagus, making swallowing more difficult.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also contribute to choking.
  • Oral Hygiene: Poor oral hygiene can impact the ability to chew and swallow effectively.
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome: This common autoimmune disorder leads to dry eyes and dry mouth, making it harder to process food safely.

Mouth sores resulting from certain injuries, illnesses, and infections can further complicate chewing and swallowing.

Don’t Let a Choking Death Go Unanswered

A qualified personal injury lawyer can hold the responsible parties accountable and help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

Recognizing Choking Incidents in Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities

Choking accidents may not always be as immediately apparent as they are in the movies. Sometimes, in fact, they may escape the notice of caregivers altogether.

Indications that a nursing home resident may be experiencing a choking incident include:

  • Grasping the throat
  • Gesturing toward the throat or using hand signals
  • Having difficulty speaking or breathing
  • Coughing, wheezing, or making other unusual sounds
  • Displaying a visible change in skin color
  • Losing consciousness or collapsing

If not treated promptly and correctly, choking can result in severe injuries, death, or neurological damage due to oxygen deprivation. Unfortunately, these events can go unnoticed due to caregiver inattention, such as when staff members are engaged with their phones or dealing with other distractions during meal times.

Caregivers in assisted living facilities must remain vigilant to prevent choking incidents among residents and respond effectively when they occur.

The Role of Nursing Home Staff in Preventing Choking Deaths

Direct caregivers are crucial in ensuring the daily safety of nursing home residents. Because they work closely with residents, they’re the first line of defense in preventing accidents like choking.

Here are examples of some of their core duties:

Continuous Supervision

Caregivers are expected to perform constant and attentive monitoring. Their primary responsibilities are to ensure that residents remain safe and care schedules are followed without delays.

Individualized Attention

Nursing home staff must also carry out regular in-person checkups, hygiene routines, and welfare checks. These procedures should be tailored to each resident's specific needs.

Mealtime Assistance

Another crucial area of concern is implementing necessary safety measures during mealtimes. This involves ensuring that residents are sitting upright while eating, cutting food into smaller pieces, allowing residents sufficient time to eat without rushing them, and offering assistance as needed.

Although nursing home administrators may not be directly involved in day-to-day caregiving activities, they play a vital role in creating a safe and healthy environment for elderly residents.

Their responsibilities are wide-ranging but typically include the following:

Implementation of Monitoring Systems

Nursing home administrators are tasked with overseeing the proper setup and operation of monitoring equipment, such as cameras, to ensure adequate supervision of the facility's activities.

Employee Selection and Education

Administrators must conduct thorough background checks and hire qualified staff members. They’re also responsible for providing comprehensive training on industry best practices and emergency response procedures.

Personnel Administration

A facility’s decision-makers must ensure sufficient staffing levels to avoid understaffing, which numerous sources have identified as a significant risk factor for resident safety.

Staff Communication and Supervision

Another key aspect of administration is maintaining open lines of communication with caregiving staff. Doing so allows workers to identify potential health risks and ensure compliance with caregiving schedules and protocols.

Individualized Care Planning

Along with their managerial efforts, nursing home administrators are expected to coordinate with care specialists to create and implement detailed care plans customized to meet the unique needs of each resident.

Any negligence in these duties could potentially contribute to tragic incidents, including choking deaths.

Understanding Swallow Assessments for Nursing Home Residents

When a patient has trouble swallowing, they may need a swallow assessment to diagnose the underlying issue and prevent accidents.

As part of a basic bedside assessment, a physician examines the muscles used for swallowing and then observes the resident swallowing various substances. For residents at an increased risk of dysphagia, the test might involve real-time X-ray imaging where the resident swallows a barium-infused food mixture to enhance the visibility of throat movements.

If the assessment reveals a threatening condition, nursing home staff members will work with the physician to develop a care plan specifically designed to minimize the risk of choking and ensure the resident’s safety.

Compensation for Choking-Related Incidents in Nursing Facilities

Nursing home residents and their families may be eligible to receive compensation for injuries and losses resulting from choking accidents.

Here are some of the types of damages that may be compensable:

Healthcare and Recovery Expenses

This includes the costs associated with current and future medical treatment required due to injuries sustained from choking. It also covers expenses for rehabilitative services for conditions like traumatic brain injuries that may result from such an incident.

Physical Pain and Discomfort

A damage award may also reflect the physical suffering the victim experienced as a consequence of the choking event. This is especially common in cases involving injuries.

Psychological Distress

In addition to compensation for the physical effects of the incident, financial restitution may be available for the emotional anguish the victim and their loved ones endured in the aftermath of the episode.

Funeral and Burial Costs

In cases where a choking incident leads to wrongful death, the victim’s family can pursue compensation for expenses related to funeral arrangements and burial services.

Why Trust Us with Your Nursing Home Choking Case?

Recognized for her exceptional legal skills, attorney Susan Kang Gordon has repeatedly received accolades for her outstanding contributions to the field of personal injury law, including being honored as Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association (2021) and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (2022).

Such distinctions underscore our firm's unwavering commitment to delivering top-notch legal representation and securing impactful results for our clients.

We understand the profound emotional and financial toll a choking incident can take on victims and their families. With our thorough understanding of the legal and medical considerations surrounding nursing home choking cases, we’re well-prepared to unravel the complexities of these situations and hold negligent care facilities accountable.

Our Recent Cases

$13.5 Million Verdict

10 elderly residents sued a nursing home for the neglect and abuse suffered at the hands of the operators. They alleged the failure to provide proper care for fall prevention, wounds, nutrition and hydration and medication management.

$6 Million Fee Award

For the cases which go to trial, we will always seek attorney’s fees directly from the defendant so that you do not have to pay us any fees from your award. In other words, we ask the Court to order the defendants to pay us our hourly fees. Fee awards are not granted for cases that result in a private settlement.


Confidential Settlement - resident is found dead in a bathtub. - $1,675,000.


Confidential Settlement - fall in residential care facility. - $1,500,000.


Confidential Settlement - fall in residential care facility - $975,000.


Confidential Settlement - A physical therapist's failure to transfer body properly results in hairline fracture to the leg - $800,000.



Susan did an amazing job representing our family in a complex and emotionally challenging legal matter. Susan was in it for the long haul, becoming both a trusted advisor and a voice of compassion throughout the process. Susan and her team always brought professionalism, empathy, dedication and skill to our case. She achieved a very positive outcome for us, and we couldn't have been happier with her representation. I would absolutely recommend her and SKG Law.

Tom Smith, Lafayette

Susan was great. She really cares and it shows. We won our case. We really appreciate Susan standing up for the little people.

Brent Baisch, Brentwood
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Speak with a Nursing Home Choking Lawyer Today

If you or someone you care about has suffered from a choking incident in a nursing home, it’s important to act quickly to protect your rights. Contact the seasoned legal team at Susan Kang Gordon, a Professional Law Corporation, and use our convenient online form to request a free consultation.
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