Nursing home abuse is a fairly broad category that encompasses a wide variety of behaviors, from negligence to intentional abuse. Some of the most serious examples of nursing home abuse are intentional acts, where someone you trust to take care of your loved one intentionally harms them. In legal terms, most intentional nursing home abuse can be described as assault and battery, including:
- Emotional abuse
- Inducing fear
Whenever you visit a loved one in a nursing home, you should always check for signs of intentional abuse. This is not always an easy task, as nursing home employees who intentionally abuse a patient will do everything in their power to hide this abuse from you. However, there are a few tell-tale signs, including:
- Bruises, cuts, and other wounds
- Fractures and broken bones
- Loss of hair
- Torn or bloody clothing
- Depression or anxiety
- Sudden mood swings
Once you believe that you have all the evidence you need you to show that your loved one has been intentionally abused, you may pursue legal action against the nursing home either in civil court or by filing criminal charges. The state of Florida has some of the toughest criminal elder abuse laws in the country. They revolve around three types of crimes: abuse, aggravated abuse, and criminal neglect. Chapter 8251 of the 2016 Florida Statutes concerns abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of an elderly person. Because we are primarily concerned with intentional assault, let’s take a look at both abuse and aggravated abuse, the first two crimes outlined in the statute.
Abuse – For purposes of the statute, “abuse” means:
(a) intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult,
(b) an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult; or
(c) active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult.
For those found guilty of abuse, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in jail.
Aggravated Abuse – Aggravated abuse is a much more serious charge than ordinary abuse. “Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult” occurs when a person:
(a) commits aggravated battery on an elderly person or disabled adult,
(b) willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages, an elderly person or disabled adult; or
(c) knowingly or willfully abuses an elderly person or disabled adult and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the elderly person or disabled adult.
Aggravated nursing home abuse is a first-degree felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Contact a Clearwater, FL Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is a very serious problem. If you suspect that a loved one has been intentionally abused, please contact the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.