I Think My Loved One Has Been Abused or Neglected: Choosing the Best Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Near Me
Learning that your loved one suffered abuse at the hands of their trusted caregivers is devastating. Families must quickly figure out how to protect their loved ones from further mistreatment and hold abusive caregivers and institutions accountable.
If you have noticed signs of abuse, you should always report your concerns to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. You should also alert law enforcement to help protect your loved one.
Additionally, you should contact an experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorney to discuss: your rights and options, how your loved one can receive compensation for their injuries, and how to hold the nursing home responsible for the abuse.
The nursing home abuse lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, have a proven track record of ensuring that our clients receive the best possible legal recourse and financial compensation.
Steps to Take After Florida Nursing Home Abuse or Negligence
If negligence leads to financial abuse and your loved one hasn’t suffered physical injury, you should report it to the police and contact a personal injury attorney. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence often leads to troubling physical and emotional consequences.
If you suspect your loved one is suffering abuse in a Florida nursing home, you need to take immediate action to stop the behavior before you worry about accountability.
The following steps can help you stop abuse and neglect and prevent the facility or caregiver that caused harm from hurting other residents of nursing homes in the future:
- Call 911 if the nursing home resident you love is in immediate danger. The police will arrive and get the ball rolling for a criminal investigation into abuse and neglect.
- If your loved one isn’t in immediate danger, contact the nursing care facility’s administration immediately by phone and in writing. This allows management to monitor your loved one’s caregivers. Keep impeccable records of this communication in case you need to file a lawsuit for their inaction.
- Document all conversations with your loved one and with their caregivers. Document injuries by taking photos of visible injuries and any hazards or conditions which led to the illness or injury. Keep all financial statements and receipts that suggest financial abuse, if applicable.
- Keep all bills associated with medical treatment for physical and emotional injuries resulting from nursing home negligence.
- Contact Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) to file a complaint. You can inform DCF of abuse via their Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96ABUSE or file a complaint online. DCF will initiate an investigation, gather evidence, and make a determination about the case. If they find abuse, they typically share information with the State Attorney, who is responsible for pursuing criminal charges.
- Set up visits at other facilities and arrange a transfer for your loved one. If DCF finds your loved one has been a victim of neglect or abuse, you will likely want to change nursing homes.
- Consult an experienced Florida nursing home abuse lawyer to guide you through the complexities of filing a lawsuit. An attorney can advocate for your loved one, hold the nursing home accountable, and handle the details of the case while you support your loved one during this traumatic time.
How to Choose the Best Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Near Me
After you report the abuse or neglect, you should speak to an experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorney in your community. But how can you know if you are choosing the best attorney for your case? Selecting the right attorney to represent you and your loved one is a highly personal decision.
For starters, you need a compassionate lawyer that has experience representing abused nursing home victims and their families. You also need a law firm with the resources and time to tackle these complex cases. Finally, while most cases eventually settle out of court, you want to be sure that the nursing home abuse lawyers you select have experience negotiating settlements and litigating cases in court.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we want the opportunity to show you why so many families in Florida choose us to represent them in their darkest hours. We offer compassionate yet aggressive legal representation to injured people across Florida.
With offices from coast to coast, including Boca Raton, Clearwater, Miami, and Tampa, we are there when you need us most. You can stop by any one of our offices or set up a virtual meeting to make things easier.
We offer free initial consultations and case reviews. Our goal is to give you the honest answers you need to explore all your legal options.
We have consistently been recognized as providing top-notch legal representation in the following practice areas and jurisdictions:
- Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Florida
- Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Tampa
- Nursing Home Wrongful Death Florida
- Abuse of Power of Attorney Florida
- Nursing Home Abuse Attorney PA
- Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blue Bell PA
- Boston Nursing Home Lawyer (Boston, Massachusetts)
- Winter Haven Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
- West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
- Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Fort Lauderdale
- Louisville Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Near Me 833-552-7274
Holding Nursing Homes Liable for Negligence
Long-term care facilities, including the health care administration of such facilities, can be held liable for the actions of their employees and for other negligent acts that may have led to the abuse or allowed the abuse to occur.
The following are some typical claims of nursing home negligence:
- Negligent hiring of potentially dangerous or unqualified individuals
- Failing to train staff members adequately
- Failing to provide adequate security and quality of care for residents
- Failing to properly monitor staff, impose rules and policies against abuse, or appropriately discipline staff members for violating policies
- Not providing the necessary shelter, food, water, or medication for residents
- Not providing necessary medical care
- Allowing hazards or dangerous conditions to exist in the nursing home, leading to falls or other injuries
If a nursing home has allowed any of the above to occur, it has not met the standard of care it owes to all of its residents and should be held responsible for any abuse, neglect, and related injuries to residents.
For a free legal consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer serving Florida, call 833-552-7274
Florida Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
As our beloved parents and elders go through their golden years, a time comes when they can no longer care for themselves. We must decide the best course of action for their care at this critical moment.
Choosing to help our loved ones move into a nursing home is a difficult decision but also a common one. We expect the administration and caregivers to provide exceptional care and prioritize the best interest of our loved ones. This, however, is not always the case.
If your loved one has suffered injuries from the negligence of a Florida nursing home, or you suspect injuries are a result of negligence, you need to take steps to stop the abuse. Consult with an experienced Florida nursing home negligence lawyer to learn about the best course of action for you and your family.
Until you have that chance, we have compiled answers to some frequently asked questions we receive about Florida nursing home negligence.
What Is Nursing Home Negligence in Florida?
Nursing home negligence includes a variety of actions or failures that cause illness, injury, or death to nursing home residents. These actions and failures can occur at an individual or administrative level. In either case, nursing home residents suffer.
Some examples of scenarios that constitute nursing home negligence include:
- Intentional acts of physical and emotional harm
- Failure to provide clean clothing to residents
- Failure to provide personal hygiene and related items to residents
- Improper nutrition and hydration
- Failure to supervise residents
- Enabling abuse or neglect by caregivers
- Stealing money or property from residents
- Poor hiring practices, including failure to screen new caregivers and other staff
- Poor training practices
- Failure to take action on complaints or implement a proper grievance policy
- Failure to provide access to needed medical or dental care
- Failure to maintain a clean environment, which can introduce bacterial and viral infections and illnesses to residents
What Rights do Florida Nursing Home Residents Have?
Florida law clearly states the rights of nursing home residents under the Resident Bill of Rights. Many physical and emotional injuries that result from nursing home negligence are also violations of these rights.
The Florida Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights includes:
- The right to a “safe and decent living environment, free from abuse and neglect.”
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect for individuality and privacy.
- The right to use personal property as long as it does not threaten the safety of other nursing home residents.
- The right to private communication with others and unrestricted access to telephones.
- The right to visit with anyone between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- The right to maintain independence and participate in the nursing home’s activities.
- The right to manage financial affairs if able.
- The right to share a private room with a spouse.
- The right to exercise and spend time outdoors.
- The right to attend religious services.
- The right to get help to obtain healthcare.
- The right to complain or request changes in nursing home policies without fear of retribution.
Under Florida law, if a nursing home, a staff member, or a caregiver violates a resident’s rights, the court can impose a $2,500 fine. Florida law also permits residents to take legal action by bringing forth a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages in civil court.
How Long do I Have to Take Legal Action for Nursing Home Negligence in Florida?
Florida law provides a time limit for residents to take legal action if they have suffered from nursing home negligence. The exact time frame, legally referred to as the statute of limitations, varies depending on the circumstances of the injury and whether it led to death.
In most Florida nursing home negligence cases, you, or someone on your behalf, must bring a lawsuit against the facility within four years from the date of injury. Yet, Florida law permits delayed discovery.
An injured nursing home resident can’t always communicate with administration or family members. Therefore, a caregiver, nurse, doctor, or family member must notice signs of abuse, neglect, or other injuries and bring them to light. In these instances, courts permit the statute of limitations time clock to begin when someone discovers the abuse.
Victims of nursing home negligence, or someone on their behalf, have two years to file a lawsuit from the date of discovery. In some cases, the court might extend the two-year limit, but the law places an absolute four-year statute of limitations from the date of discovery to take legal action.
When nursing home negligence leads to the wrongful death of a resident, surviving family members have a two-year statute of limitations to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility to seek compensation for losses related to the loss of a loved one. In rare cases, nursing homes and product manufacturers might share liability in a nursing home negligence lawsuit.
For example, a nursing home resident suffers physical injuries because the machine used to lift them out of bed broke, or a resident suffers permanent damage from a defective medical device.
If properly monitoring a resident, the nursing home should notice something is wrong and ensure the resident gets needed medical treatment. These types of product liability cases typically have a four-year statute of limitations.
Your Florida nursing home negligence attorney can evaluate your claim and provide a legal case review to advise you on which time limit applies. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we offer free initial case reviews.
How do I Know If My Loved One Has Suffered Injuries from Florida Nursing Home Negligence?
Many nursing home residents do not tell others about their injuries, especially those resulting from neglect and abuse. Sometimes residents cannot communicate, and other times they are afraid to report their injuries and suffer retaliation from an abuser.
If you have a loved one in a Florida nursing home, you need to watch for signs of neglect and abuse stemming from nursing home negligence. These do not automatically mean the nursing home has been negligent, or your loved one has suffered abuse, but they should give you pause to pursue further investigation.
Physical signs of potential Florida nursing home negligence are often the easiest to detect. Family members and others may notice:
- Abnormal skin color
- Weight loss
- Sunken eyes, which could indicate dehydration and malnourishment
- Bruises, welts, and cuts
- Poor hygiene, including body odor, constant bad breath, and unclean clothing
Abuse or neglect are traumatic for seniors who rely on and trust nursing homes to provide the exceptional care they need. Even when physical signs are not present or are covered up, certain behaviors sometimes indicate abuse or neglect.
Behavioral issues sometimes occur because of other problems, so it’s essential to investigate thoroughly. You should especially worry about abuse or neglect when your parent or another elder you love starts behaving in a way that is abnormal for them.
Some behavioral signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Social withdrawal from normal activities
- Showing fear or hesitance in speaking when caregivers or nurses are present
- Making comments about death, dying, or suicide
Financial abuse of nursing home residents doesn’t cause physical harm, but it certainly causes emotional trauma and financially devastates victims and their families. So if you handle your elder’s finances, you need to keep a close eye out for financial exploitation or abuse.
Financial signs of abuse to look for include:
- Missing cash, coins, or checks
- Missing valuable property such as jewelry or family heirlooms
- Unexplained charges on credit or debit cards
- Unauthorized changes of address on brokerage or bank accounts
- Newly opened accounts that you or your loved one didn’t authorize
- Unexplained changes in your loved one’s credit score
What Losses Can I Recover on My Loved One’s Behalf After Injuries from Florida Nursing Home Negligence?
Florida law permits your loved one to file a lawsuit in civil court against those who caused harm, including the nursing home, their insurance carrier, and the individual(s) directly responsible for the injuries.
Your lawyer will advise you on who should be named in your family’s circumstances. If your loved one cannot bring a lawsuit, someone can take action on their behalf.
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, the losses your loved one might recover include:
- Medical treatment costs and mental health services related to the abuse or nursing home neglect, including hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, x-rays, medication, and behavioral therapy
- Costs of transferring to another nursing home
- Future medical treatment when nursing home negligence leads to a permanent illness or injury requiring ongoing treatment
- Damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Punitive damages when nursing homes or their employees cause intentional harm or engage in fraud or gross negligence
If your loved one died because of Florida nursing home negligence, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This will allow you to recover burial expenses and funeral costs in addition to the damages listed above.
Florida law allows eligible survivors to take legal action after the wrongful death of a loved one. Your Florida nursing home negligence attorney can advise you on the viability of your claim and your eligibility to receive compensation.
Facts About Long-Term Care Facilities in Florida and Nursing Home Abuse
How many nursing homes are there in Florida? Currently, people ages 65 and older make up approximately 20% of Florida’s total population. There are 691 licensed nursing homes in the state of Florida. The total estimated number of residents is around 71,000, constituting about 85% occupancy at any given time.
Long-term care facilities in Florida, including nursing homes in Clearwater and St. Petersburg nursing homes, contribute an estimated $27.07 billion in revenue to Florida’s economy and generate $3.62 billion in state and federal tax revenue.
When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Elder Abuse and Neglect?
A nursing home or its employees can be held liable for any damages resulting from their negligent actions. Nursing home malpractice lawyers and nursing home malpractice attorneys specializing in medical malpractice claims will work to ensure that you receive compensation for all damages sustained, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Some states also allow for punitive damages in rare cases to deter the liable party and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
The following may be grounds for filing a nursing home abuse claim or medical malpractice claim against the health care administration of a long-term care facility and its employees:
Nursing homes must hire suitably qualified personnel with the proper academic degrees and certifications, with a clean prior record indicating no history of elder abuse or violence. Long-term care facilities that do not perform such background checks put their residents at risk and can therefore be held liable in instances of abuse.
Understaffing, Inadequate Training, and Medication Errors
A CDC report indicates that the average ratio of residents to staff is one nursing home staff member for every 1.64 residents. Therefore, a long-term care facility that fails to maintain a reasonable and adequate number of workers puts its residents at immediate risk of nursing home neglect and may be liable for any resulting injuries.
In some cases, employees are not equipped with the proper training to deal with disabled or non-compliant residents, resulting in the level of care not meeting the standards implemented by law and expected by family members. In such instances, nursing home facilities may be held accountable when inadequate training results in injury to a resident.
Medications are part and parcel of older age, and nursing home residents can suffer if they aren’t provided the correct medication dosage at the right time. If a prescription drug error injures the resident, you may be able to hold the physician, pharmacy, or pharmacist accountable.
Third-Party Responsibility Claim
Any abuse or injury caused to residents by a third party within the physical residence of the facility can also lead to a long-term care facility being held liable due to their failure to comply with the duty to provide a safe environment for their residents.
Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights
Nursing home residents are entitled to autonomy, dignity, and privacy. When a nursing home employee violates these fundamental rights, this is another potential cause for liability.
Examples of Accidents and Negligence in Nursing Homes
Nursing home abuse can take several different forms, all of which can cause physical, mental, emotional, or financial injuries. The following are the main kinds of incidents that may lead to a nursing home abuse case:
Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home
Using physical force against an elderly resident in a Florida nursing home is a serious issue.
Physical abuse in a nursing home can involve inappropriate use of medications, physical punishments, forcing an elderly resident or patient to eat, holding back meals, or using physical restraints.
Some signs of physical abuse can include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Bruising, cuts, and welts
- Open or unhealed wounds
- Scars or signs of old wounds that have healed
- Unsanitary conditions when you visit
- Soiled clothing
- Room too cold or too hot
- Lack of necessary items
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Untreated health issues
- Untaken medicines
- Medicated health issues not improving or worsening
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Sexual abuse of the elderly is any type of sexual contact or behavior involving a resident that is not consensual. This type of abuse can involve unwanted and inappropriate touching and exposure of private parts.
Sexual abuse in assisted living facilities often involves sexual contact with a person unable to consent because of incapacitation or mental deficiency. This is one of the most egregious forms of sexual abuse.
Some signs that your loved one is experiencing sexual abuse in a nursing home can include:
- A new diagnosis of STDs or genital infections
- Bruises or bleeding on genitals
- Stained or torn underwear
- Sudden changes to your loved one’s personality or behavior
- Refusal to have visitors
Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home
Emotional abuse of a person in a nursing home can be defined as using words or other actions to inflict emotional pain or distress. This can include humiliation, threats, insults, intimidation, and isolation from others.
A majority of emotional abuse in a nursing home involves treating the elderly person like a child or as if they are a nuisance.
Signs that your loved one is suffering from emotional or psychological abuse in a nursing home may include:
- Being agitated
- Lack of communication or unresponsiveness
- Unusual behavior or statements
- Sudden changes to your loved one’s personality or behavior
- Refusal to have visitors
Financial Abuse in a Nursing Home
Financial abuse of an elder is defined as stealing valuables from a nursing home resident or using deceptive tactics to gain access to financial accounts for the abuser’s wrongful personal gain. Of course, it is illegal to take money from an older person under one’s care.
Elderly financial abuse can also include forging a signature, asking for cash, using the elder’s checks, or abusing a power of attorney.
Signs your loved one is being financially exploited in a nursing home include:
- Finding or receiving financial documents with the caregiver’s name on it
- Caregiver’s name on elder’s bank card
- Missing money in a bank account
- Misleading fees or services
- Undiscussed changes to a will
- Missing ATM card
- Missing possessions
- Seemingly forged signatures on documents
All of the above forms of abuse can cause lasting damage to a victim of nursing home abuse.
Knowing When to Contact Nursing Home Injury Lawyers
Nursing home abuse can be particularly dangerous because many victims do not tell others that they are being abused. Some nursing home residents do not have the mental or physical capacity to report abuse, while others may be too afraid to do so.
Nursing home abusers may threaten additional harm to the resident or their families or may otherwise intimidate abuse victims to keep them from reporting their injuries.
Because so many nursing home abuse cases go unreported, family members and other loved ones should always keep a close eye on nursing home residents. They should know how to recognize the signs of different types of nursing home abuse.