North Miami Beach has long served as a haven for older Americans due to its balmy temperatures and welcoming economics.
As the population ages, many of them encounter challenges in performing the activities of daily living (ADL) or need care around the clock. As a result, many enter nursing homes. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of loved ones, government regulators, and concerned watchdog groups, all too many nursing home residents suffer from nursing home negligence.
If you or a loved one encounter nursing home negligence (or suspect negligence) in North Miami Beach, contact the experienced North Miami Beach Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman. We can help you determine if a family member or friend is cared for safely—and offer options for what to do if they are not. Older people often need advocates to see that justice is done.
What Is Nursing Home Negligence?
Negligence is a general legal term meaning that a violation of the standard of care expected occurred. In nursing home negligence, the standard of care residents and their families have a right to reasonably expect is arguably violated.
The Standard of Care
While “standard of care” may sound medical to some people, the term applies very broadly to all services and support nursing homes provide (or should reasonably provide). Nursing homes should offer safe and clean surroundings, for example. Nursing home residents should receive healthful and sufficient nutrition, including meals, adequate water and other liquids, and nutrition supplements, if advisable.
Staff across all categories should receive (or have completed) adequate training and instruction for their roles. Supervision of staff should adhere to high standards and complete coverage. Nursing home administrators should perform background and reference checks to ensure that the staff is high quality.
Nursing homes need to offer prompt and high-quality provision of medical care. Residents should have active care plans that are followed and updated as necessary. If they need supervision or assistance (on walks or to take medication, for example), nursing homes should know and provide care. If a resident suffers a medical emergency and needs hospitalization, medical staff should summon an ambulance promptly.
Once we understand what the standard of care is, you can see, conversely, the multiple acts (or failure to perform correct acts) that can constitute nursing home negligence. Some negligence occurs because improper actions are taken, while some occurs because proper actions weren’t taken.
Often, nursing homes are simply overwhelmed. Currently, roughly 20 percent of Florida’s residents are 65 years of age or older. Not only that, but the number of senior citizens in Florida is forecast to rise over the next several decades, from 4.5 million now to 6.5 million in 2040.
The stress on our nursing homes continues to increase—but it’s no excuse for the mistreatment, intentional or not, of our vulnerable elders.
Below is a partial list of examples of nursing home negligence.
- Failure to keep areas clean and sanitary. Improperly cleaned and unsanitary conditions are more than unsightly (although that’s bad enough)—they pose potential dangers to senior citizens. Management must instill proper and regular cleaning policies for the entire facility.
- Failure to maintain safe premises. Older people are prone to slipping and falling, and floors improperly cleaned and mopped, or containing medical equipment, pose a potential hazard. The facility and staff should take care to avoid foreseeable dangers—and certainly to avoid causing dangers. In some situations, the staff or management cause hazards. In other cases, they knew (or should have known) about the danger and took no steps to warn residents or correct the situation.
- Failure to provide comfort. Residents need comfortable and clean living areas, common areas, and dining areas. They need food and hydration appropriate to their needs.
- Failure to provide adequate medical care or treatment. Inadequate or improper medical care that harms a resident may result in arguable medical malpractice. Inadequate or improper care ranges from failure to develop or follow a care plan to errors in giving medication to errors in patient care, such as never turning a patient to prevent bedsores, to failure to treat injuries or illnesses.
- Negligent supervision. If a resident needs supervision generally or for specific ADLs, the facility needs to provide it. A patient who encounters difficulty in showering, for example, may fall and injure themselves if they lack proper supervision.
- Negligent hiring. Well-trained and compassionate staff is an absolute must for quality care. If the facility hires or fails to properly train and supervise an employee who is incapable of performing their duties or abuses a resident (physically, emotionally, or financially), the facility’s hiring process is arguably negligent.
A Word About the Coronavirus Pandemic
More than 2 million people live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities nationwide. That’s just 0.62 percent of the total population. Yet residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities constituted an estimated 42 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S. so far.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They often have pre-existing conditions and weakened immune systems, making them far more likely to contract the illness than younger people.
In addition, the close proximity of residents and staff unfortunately provides an opportunity for the virus to spread and multiply if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Many nursing homes also reduced or stopped outsider visits to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Unfortunately, that can isolate and distress residents. It also means that family members can’t personally observe their loved one, including their care and their health. Talking on the phone or via computer can only reveal so much.
If you believe a loved one contracted COVID-19 due to nursing home negligence, contacting an experienced lawyer is prudent.
Who Is Responsible for North Miami Beach Nursing Home Negligence?
Given the wide range of potentially negligent actions (or failure to commit proper actions), an equally wide range of actors is potentially responsible.
- Individual staff members, for not discharging their duties properly
- Supervisors, for failing to adequately supervise staff, resident care and life, and insufficient training and hiring procedures
- Medical staff, for failing to discharge their duties properly, medical errors, and omissions
- Custodial staff, for failing to adequately clean, maintain, and repair the facility
- Nursing home administrators, for failing to hire for failing to adequately supervise staff, resident care and life, and inadequate training and hiring procedures
- Security staff, if they let people intending to engage in criminal activity enter
What if Those Responsible Say They Didn’t Know About a Harmful Situation in a North Miami Beach Nursing Home?
Not knowing about a harmful situation is rarely a valid defense against negligence charges. Why? Because the law holds the nursing home and its personnel to a prudent person standard. If a prudent person knew (or should have known) a given situation posed potential dangers, then the nursing home and its personnel are expected to know.
In addition, many situations possess foreseeable dangers. For example, a recently mopped floor may bear traces of water. That’s known to anyone who has mopped a floor or seen one. It’s also well-known that older people, especially those using canes, crutches, or walkers, can easily fall on wet floors. Not knowing that a specific wet floor posed a danger is not an excuse.
Can My Loved One Seek Compensation for North Miami Beach Nursing Home Negligence?
If someone close to you is harmed by nursing home neglect, you can bring a North Miami Beach brain injury suit against the parties responsible. Negligent parties are liable, or financially responsible, for harm, illness, and danger they caused. If you file a suit, you and your loved one can receive monetary recompense (termed damage compensation). Pursuable compensation can vary depending on the facts of the case, but common damages pursued in nursing home negligence claims include medical bills and pain and suffering.
What if My Loved One Died as a Result of North Miami Beach Nursing Home Negligence?
If nursing home negligence caused a fatal injury, illness, or other harm that would have entitled the person to bring a North Miami Beach nursing home lawsuit had they lived, certain family members in Florida are entitled to seek damages in a type of suit called wrongful death against the responsible parties.
The family members who can seek compensation are:
- The deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents, and
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
A personal representative of the deceased’s estate must bring a wrongful death suit under Florida law. The personal representative may be one of the relatives above or someone else.
Wrongful death claims can seek damage compensation in two broad categories: losses suffered by the deceased person (their estate), and losses suffered by those remaining.
Losses Suffered by the Deceased (Their Estate)
- Medical and funeral expenses paid directly by the estate
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the person had not died
Losses Suffered by Family Members
- Medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member paid
- The value of support and services the deceased person had provided to the family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased
What Should I Do if I Think a Negligent North Miami Beach Nursing Home Injured Me or a Loved One?
Nursing home negligence is sometimes difficult to ascertain. First, Older people sometimes worsen and become ill as a natural progression of pre-existing conditions or because of changing conditions, without any negligence.
Second, some conditions that may appear to stem from negligence may stem from other factors. Older people are sometimes subject to anxiety, social withdrawal, and depression. These mental health conditions are, however, also potential signs of abuse or consistent negligence.
COVID-19 may also present an obstacle to actively checking out the environment, the personal relationships in the facility, your loved one’s health, and other factors very relevant to an assessment of nursing home neglect.
That said, take these steps. Make active use of video conferencing, phone calls, and digital communication (email, text, record sharing) if necessary.
- First, if you have reason to believe that harm caused by nursing home negligence is an imminent danger to your loved one’s life or well-being, remove them as soon as possible. Call 911 if it’s an emergency.
- Second, whether it’s an emergency or not, take detailed notes. Write down anything you consider evidence of negligence and why you believe it is negligence. Note the date and time. If there’s physical evidence, take pictures or videos. Take pictures of injury or harm as well. If it seems to stem from a specific staffer or supervisor, note the person’s name, position, and why you think so.
- Third, make an appointment with the facility’s administrators to discuss your concerns. Negligence may stem from insufficient staffing coverage, training, or supervision. Your goal is to ascertain if the administrators are open to your concerns, agree with them, and are willing to right the situation. Discuss specific solutions and steps with them.
- Fourth, follow up with the discussion. If the administrator promised your loved one would have a new nurse, for example, did that happen? If your loved one needed more help while dressing to avoid falls, did things improve? Solicit your loved one’s opinion. (Some elderly people may fear retaliation if they complain, so exercise tact and caution.)
- Fifth, if the situation does not improve, make plans to move your loved one to a different facility, if possible, or to engage care in a different setting.
- Lastly, some negligence involves criminal behavior. Financial abuse is potentially part of elder abuse. Staff or people let into the facility may steal money, assets, credit cards, bank account numbers, or even insinuate themselves into wills. If this occurs, it is criminal behavior. The proper response is to call the police, as you could with any criminal matter. Document why you think this has occurred and keep any evidence (credit card statements, checkbooks).
North Miami Beach nursing home negligence FAQ
Up to 1.5 million older people in the United States reside in nursing homes, generally because they face challenges in performing the activities of daily life (ADL), their medical conditions require care, or both. But what if the care your loved one receives in a North Miami Beach nursing home is negligent? Nursing home abuse and neglect are serious issues facing our country’s most vulnerable population, and unfortunately, North Miami Beach is no exception.
Below, we provide answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding nursing home negligence.
Legally, what is nursing home negligence?
Negligence is defined as “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” Nursing home negligence is a failure to provide a reasonable standard of care in a nursing home.
Let’s say that a nursing home resident requires assistance in bathing, for example. Yet she falls and breaks a hip while bathing, and in inquiring how, her family realizes no one was assisting her. The failure to assist someone who clearly needs care is negligence.
Negligence can stem from both failure to perform acts clearly needed, but also from omissions, such as not reviewing a resident’s care plan to see what they need.
Nursing homes are living facilities, care facilities, and medical facilities. Each of these different responsibilities carries the potential for negligence if basic standards of care are breached.
Living facilities, for example, must be clean, safe, comfortable, and secure. Cleanliness is important because unsanitary conditions can lead to illness and even death in older people. Safe conditions are important because unsafe conditions can lead to injury—a mop or debris left in a hallway can cause trips and falls. Comfort refers to the care and services nursing home residents receive. They need regular, nutritious meals, clean clothes and bedding, and adequate hygiene. The facilities must possess adequate security to ensure the safety and health of residents.
Residents need care such as assistance with ADLs, assistance if they have mobility issues, assistance bathing, and so on.
Residents need medical care consistent with their conditions. If they become ill or suffer injuries, they should receive prompt medical care, including hospitalization if necessary.
Breaches of any of these duties are arguably negligence.
Who is responsible for North Miami Beach nursing home negligence?
If a nursing home resident is harmed due to negligence, multiple parties can bear responsibility. They might include:
- Individual staff members, if they haven’t performed duties properly
- Supervisors, if they failed to supervise staff and resident care and life sufficiently.
- Administrators, for insufficient training and hiring procedures, insufficient supervision, and insufficient oversight of resident care and life
- Medical staff, if they haven’t performed their duties properly, and for medical errors and omissions
- Custodial staff, if they failed to clean, maintain, and repair the facility to a reasonable level
- Security staff, if lapses in facility security harm residents
What if my loved one suffered illness or injury in a North Miami Beach nursing home?
See to their health and safety. If your loved one became ill or suffered an injury in a nursing home, the best course of action is to see to their health and safety as quickly as possible. This is true even if you suspect negligence as a cause. Elderly people can become critically ill without adequate care, and if their health and safety isn’t the first priority, you may lose them.
First, ascertain whether they are receiving good care. Are they recovering? Are the explanations you receive from medical personnel and staff about their condition clear and understandable? Can you talk to your loved one? (The COVID-19 may have made visits off-limits in your area. If so, touch base by phone, text, or videoconference.) How do they feel? Are they comfortable with their care? Do they seem distressed in any way?
Second, if you don’t feel comfortable with the level of care they receive, their progress to recovery, or their own comfort level with it, assess your options. Would talking to the doctors or administrators change the situation? Should you arrange for hospitalization? Another facility? For a family member or in-home aide to care for them? Are these feasible, workable options?
Take notes and keep records. Third, if you suspect the illness or injury stemmed from negligence, take notes on why.
Write down answers to the following:
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- How did it happen?
- Why do you suspect negligence?
- Who is responsible, if you suspect specific people (or a group of people)?
Fourth, compile any evidence supporting this list of what, when, where, how, why, and who. Did you see bruises on a loved one, for example? Did they break a bone? Did they contract an illness in the facility? Did the medical care seem inadequate or improper?
Evidence may include:
- Pictures from a smartphone
- Video footage
- Phone calls and texts
- Medical records
- Communications from the nursing home
- Your notes
Keep all of the above related to possible negligence.
See an attorney. Once you have these notes and records, it’s prudent to consult an experienced attorney if you feel negligence occurred. Attorneys offer free consultations to discuss cases.
The attorney can review what happened to your loved one, your notes and records, and advise you on whether negligence seems likely and what your legal options are going forward.
But aren’t lawyers expensive? Nursing home negligence lawyers typically via contingency fees. Their payment is taken out of the damage compensation you and your loved one receive, rather than requiring a fee at the time of service. (Damage compensation is the payment negligent parties owe to those they injure.) So, you will not pay the lawyer directly out of your pocket; their payment is only a percentage of the damage compensation you might obtain.
What damage compensation might we receive in a North Miami Beach nursing home case?
Under Florida law, parties injured, harmed, or made ill due to the negligence of another party can seek compensation for the following:
- Medical bills, including emergency care, prescription medication, doctor’s care, hospitalization, assistive devices, home care, retrofitting a home for medically needed accommodations, rehabilitative therapy, and more
- Wages lost from work, if caring for your loved one has necessitated time off from work
- Property damage, of personal property suffered damage or loss
- Pain and suffering, for physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering of the injured party
What is the total amount of damage compensation we could obtain for our loved one in a North Miami Beach nursing home negligence case?
The total amount of damage compensation varies according to the case. There is no one amount automatically granted for nursing home negligence. But it’s a natural question to ask, and some general principles make it more understandable.
First, three of the four categories above are economic losses.
For all economic losses, the damages sought are obtained by adding up the losses that have occurred. For medical bills, the total paid is tabulated. For wages lost from work, the amount of time lost is multiplied by the wages earned. If any property damage occurred, the present value of the property is determined.
If economic losses are expected in the future, expert opinion is sought. For medical bills, the case may require expert testimony about the recommended course of treatment and how much it is likely to cost from a medical professional and expert testimony about the reasonable cost of the recommended treatment. From that expert opinion, a forecast of future costs is made.
Similarly, for wages lost from work, an estimate of the time off work needed and the future salary is made.
Second, pain and suffering is a non-economic loss. It is therefore determined a bit differently. Pain and suffering are subjective, not subject to spreadsheet totals. So how are amounts determined?
Insurance companies will try to use a mathematical formula to calculate pain and suffering. Your nursing home lawyer knows that such cold calculations never fully account for what you feel.
That said, more minor injuries or illnesses are likely to result in smaller settlements or judgments than major events likely to leave significant impacts.
If the nursing home resident fell and broke a leg while walking outside due to inadequate supervision, for example, that is physically painful, certainly. If the treatment is prompt and sufficient, however, it is likely to resolve with no lasting effects. But what if your loved one developed difficulty breathing and suffered cognitive damage as a result of lack of oxygen? Cognitive damage affects a patient’s life severely and can result in the need for more care.
The best way to understand potential damages in your case is by speaking with our experienced North Miami Beach nursing home negligence attorneys.
My loved one died as a result of North Miami Beach nursing home negligence. What should I do?
Florida allows a lawsuit called wrongful death if the injuries or harm and negligence are such that the deceased person could have brought a North Miami Beach nursing home suit if they had lived.
In our state, only a representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death suit. In other words, if you lost a parent due to nursing home negligence, you cannot bring a suit yourself (unless you are a representative of their estate). You need to discuss the matter with the representative.
The purpose of a wrongful death suit is twofold. First, they can compensate the deceased’s estate for economic loss. Second, they can compensate certain of the deceased family members for loss of emotional support, loss of financial support, and any economic loss.
Florida law restricts the family members who benefit from a wrongful death suit to:
- The deceased person’s spouse
- The deceased person’s children
- The deceased person’s parents
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
The damages sought by the estate can include:
- Medical expenses paid by the estate
- Funeral expenses paid by the estate
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings, if relevant
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to receive had the person lived
The losses suffered by family members can include:
- Medical or funeral expenses if paid by the family member
- The value of support and services the deceased person provided to the family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection offered by the deceased
If you suspect your loved one’s death stemmed from nursing home negligence, it’s very important to keep all records. Keep all communications from the facility. Keep all medical records, including diagnoses, treatment recommendations, prescriptions, and more related to their illness or injury.
Keep all notes related to your loved one’s care. Take notes on anything they indicated to make you think negligence occurred.
If you have physical evidence of the injuries or illness, such as pictures, video footage, or any other physical sign, it’s a very good idea to keep it as well.
What about COVID-19 and its effect on North Miami Beach nursing homes?
Floridians are all too aware that COVID-19 is ravaging nursing homes and their elderly residents throughout the state. Elderly people are, tragically, more at risk of this and many other preventable infectious diseases to begin with. Many older people also have pre-existing conditions that put them even more at risk.
Unfortunately, nursing homes themselves are all too likely to serve as hotbeds of COVID-19, due to the lack of social distancing available. Residents and staff often exist in close proximity, and space is limited.
Nursing homes eliminated family and friend visits to stop the spread of COVID-19, but those conditions are worrisome as well. They leave residents prone to isolation, lack of emotional and physical support, anxiety, and depression. These conditions in themselves can open the residents to more illness.
If you believe your loved one’s nursing home is not caring for them sufficiently due to COVID-19, or any other preventable, communicable disease, contact an experienced attorney for more information on what steps to take next.
Contact an Experienced North Miami Beach Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today
If you want to discuss a nursing home negligence case, or you suspect a loved one may be suffering from nursing home negligence in North Miami Beach, contact the experienced attorneys at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman or call us at 833-552-7274. We provide that advocacy, and are proud to serve as protectors and allies for the North Miami Beach community’s most vulnerable residents. Please look at our track record, then call us to see if we can help you or your loved one.
We realize that these are potentially dangerous times for the elderly. Our team of lawyers is vigilant in the pursuit of justice, and stand ready to hold abusers and negligent caregivers responsible for their actions. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at any time of the day.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162