Nursing home abuse is an atrocity, a violation of the residents’ legal rights, and a crime. Unfortunately, this can result from facilities placing profits above patients’ safety and welfare. Senior adults are vulnerable not only to the trials and tribulations of aging, but also to neglect, victimization, and exploitation by the caregivers they are supposed to trust. According to some estimates, more than 30 percent of nursing home residents experience some form of abuse, yet the National Council on Aging estimates that “only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.”
Your loved one has an undeniable right to safety. At the Dolman Law Group, we understand that dealing with nursing home abuse produces tremendous stress. If you suspect abuse or neglect, speak to one of our qualified attorneys. We are here to listen, address any concerns you may have, and help you explore potential legal solutions.
When a skilled nursing facility agrees to assume the responsibility of providing care to an elderly person, they can, and should, face legal liability if they fail to honor their obligations. Federal and state law protect nursing home residents’ rights. Nursing homes have an obligation to:
- Hire qualified staff
- Properly train and supervise employees
- Maintain health and safety regulations
- Follow regulatory agency standards of care
Nursing home neglect is often difficult to detect. Be on the lookout for signs of:
- Weight loss is a sign of malnutrition, dehydration, poor diabetic management, and overmedication.
- Skin conditions like bed sores, rashes, and scabies indicate substandard care. Bruises, lacerations, and welts may signal improper hygiene and physical abuse.
- Agitation and confusion can indicate problems. Look for changes in behavior, like a fear of touching, or uncharacteristic anger.
- Broken bones, marks from restraints, and injuries from falls are all warning signs that a nursing home may have abused your family member.
Due to restricted mobility, general weakness, and impaired cognition, elderly persons are at risk for sexual assault. These physical limitations make it almost impossible for residents to defend themselves, or communicate what is happening to them. Signs of sexual abuse include bruising, bleeding, or infection in the genital areas, symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, or difficulty walking or sitting.
Intimidation, threatening, yelling, or making the resident feel guilty can result in psychological trauma. The staff members at a long-term care facility hold a unique position of power over the residents. Your loved ones must depend on these caregivers for all of their physical needs. Often, elderly patients resist disclosing this abuse for fear of retaliation.
Nursing homes may subject their residents to the following types of psychological abuse:
- Seclusion; deliberate isolation from other residents in the facility
- Not being allowed to participate in social activities
- Being lied to
- Being threatened
- Being made fun of, or being laughed at
- Being left alone
Warning signs of psychological abuse include depression, changes in personality, and agitation. In addition, family members may notice:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite or refusal to take medications
- Increased susceptibility to injury
When elders are no longer able to manage their financial affairs independently, they are often highly susceptible to fraud. Nursing home employees often assist residents with reading mail and managing bank accounts, and in that capacity have access to sensitive information. The types of financial abuse include:
- Bank account theft and identity theft
- Charitable organization scams
- Healthcare fraud
If You See Signs of Nursing Home Abuse…
Before making any formal accusations against a nursing home, gather as much documentation as possible. Develop a detailed log of your suspicions. Include photos and records of interviews with witnesses who will substantiate your concerns. Include documentation of whom you spoke to at the facility about the problems. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you through all of these processes.
If you suspect a nursing home is abusing your loved ones:
- Keep them safe. Take steps to remove them from the facility if you believe they are in danger.
- Tell someone in the nursing home that you trust. Give them an opportunity to conduct an internal investigation.
- Report it. Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs has a 24/7 number at (800) 96-ABUSE, or (800) 962-2873. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at (888) 831-0404 works with volunteers to investigate complaints, confidentially and free of charge.
- Contact an attorney with elder law and personal injury experience.
Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse
In the event of abuse, Florida law may entitle your loved one and your family to compensation. The value of a potential claim is based on:
- The severity of injuries. The severity of the injuries is determined by the medical expenses incurred to treat the condition(s), both current and projected. This includes, but is not limited to, out of pocket costs for hospitalizations, physician’s fees, surgical costs, rehabilitation, and the cost of medications.
- Emotional distress. Pain and suffering incurred as a result of the abuse.
- Disability costs. When injuries to the elderly result in complications or disability, the lifetime costs involved can be staggering. An experienced attorney will try to include expenses for 24-hour skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, medications, physical therapy and even the cost of transporting the victim to and from appointments into any compensation you receive. Usually, the projected lifetime care costs are annualized and multiplied by the life expectancy of the abused resident. This amount is often substantial.
- Punitive damages. Under certain egregious conditions, a plaintiff may recover punitive damages to punish the nursing home for the abuse it inflicted.
Call Sibley Dolman if You or a Loved One Suffered From Nursing Home Abuse in Fort Lauderdale
Florida places time limit restrictions to initiate a civil claim against a long-term care facility, and plaintiffs must follow specific procedures. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you meet these requirements.
Nursing home cases are among the most heinous personal injury cases our law firm sees, and our team is eager to hold perpetrators of elder abuse accountable. The attorneys at Sibley Dolman have firsthand knowledge of the significant impact that abuse cases have on victims and families. If your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse, we can help. Contact our Fort Lauderdale office at (754) 208-1130 to schedule a free case review, and learn what you can do to keep your loved one safe.
100 SE 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
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