In 2014, Florida had 73,275 nursing home residents, the sixth-largest population of nursing home residents in the nation, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Unfortunately, this means nursing home abuse is much more likely to occur in Florida than in many other states.
If your loved one has suffered some form of abuse or neglect at a nursing home, you need a qualified lawyer to help you recover the compensation your loved one deserves. The West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys at Gordon & Doner have decades of experience defending the rights of the injured. Multiple attorneys at our firm are members of prestigious national organizations, including the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group composed of less than one percent of all U.S. lawyers. Founder Robert Gordon is also a past president of the Palm Beach Justice Association and was a member of the board of directors for the Florida Justice Association.
When you contact our skilled attorneys, we will evaluate your claim through a free, no obligation consultation and immediately begin working to build a robust case on behalf of your loved one.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys have decades of experience representing victims who have suffered from all types of nursing home abuse, including:
Neglect is probably the most common form of nursing home abuse. It occurs when a caretaker or medical professional fails to meet established standards of care or expectations from family members.
Neglect can include failure to assist with hygiene or depriving a patient of basic necessities like food, water, medication and safety. Some of the warning signs of neglect include:
- Lesions or rashes on skin
- Physical abuse
- The smell of urine or feces, either on the resident or in their room
- Health or safety hazards in the resident’s living space
Abuse of this nature includes not only physical contact or battery, but also other actions that can cause physical harm to a resident. This can include:
- Excessive restraints
- Improperly restraining
- Denying food or drinks
Physical abuse can leave warning signs, such as cuts, broken bones, bruising and other markings.
Sexual abuse is considered any form of unwanted or nonconsensual sexual activity with a resident. In some circumstances, the resident is too weak or unable to communicate and is taken advantage of. Perpetrators can include staff members, visitors and even other residents.
Sometimes a sign of sexual abuse is withdrawal from usual social interactions or depression.
Any action, verbal or nonverbal, that causes emotional pain and suffering to an elderly resident is considered psychological or emotional abuse. Some common examples include:
- Verbal abuse
- Bullying and making threats
- Ignoring a resident
- Yelling and shouting
The signs of emotional abuse are often the most difficult to identify. Victims may exhibit mood swings, withdrawal, low self-esteem, and anxiety or depression.
Financial abuse can occur when the person responsible for an elderly person’s finances takes advantage of their position and misappropriates the funds. This can include stealing physical cash or belongings, stealing funds, mismanaging assets, delaying bill payments, and cashing checks without consent. It can also include forcing a resident to sign access to funds, power of attorney, or a will or other legal contract.
Signs of financial abuse include frequent withdrawals from bank accounts, lost property, new loans or mortgages, and recent revisions to wills and other important legal documents.
No matter of the type of abuse, if you believe your loved one is a victim, you may have legal recourse. Contact our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys today to discuss your legal options.
Find out if you have a case. Call 1 (855) 722-2552.
Holding Nursing Homes Accountable
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys are prepared to hold nursing homes and staff members accountable if they have abused or neglected your loved one.
Florida Statute 400.023 allows victims of nursing home abuse to file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation. The lawsuit can be filed by:
- The resident
- The resident's guardian
- A person or organization acting on behalf of the resident with the resident's consent
- The personal representative of the deceased resident in cases where the resident died
Your West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney must establish the following things to show that negligence occurred:
- The person who abused or neglected your loved one owed them a duty of care – A duty of care is a legal obligation to act as a reasonable person would if he or she were in a similar situation. In a case of nursing home abuse, a reasonable person would uphold a resident's rights under federal and state law.
- The defendant breached the duty of care – This simply means that the defendant was negligent or reckless, which caused a breach of the duty of care.
- The breach of the duty of care caused your loved one to suffer damages – Your West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney must show that the breach of the duty of care was the primary cause of your loved one's injuries or death. Also, your lawyer has to show that the breach of the duty of care led to damages, such as medical expenses or pain and suffering.
Examples of Nursing Home Negligence
Some common types of nursing home negligence can include:
Negligent hiring practices – It is the nursing home’s responsibility to hire qualified staff who have the proper education, pass a background check, and meet all state and federal requirements. When a resident is injured because of a staff member who was not properly educated or had a criminal record, the facility can be held liable.
Inadequate training – Nursing home facilities can be held accountable for patients who are injured because of poorly trained staff who are not taught how to properly administer medications or how to handle unruly patients.
Understaffing – If a nursing home does not have an appropriate staff-to-patient ratio, quality of care will decline. When there are too few staff members, they are unable to spend adequate time with each patient, which can lead to neglect, medication errors and other forms of abuse.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel. Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys will evaluate and investigate your claim to determine if you have a case. If you do, we will do everything in our power to hold the responsible parties accountable and recover compensation for your loved one’s suffering. Get started today with a free consultation.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form to get started on the path toward justice.
Nursing Home Reform Law
Nursing homes that participate in Medicaid or Medicare are required to comply with the federal Nursing Home Reform Law passed in 1987. The law requires nursing homes to care for residents in a way that respects and promotes individual dignity, choice and self-determination.
The Nursing Home Reform Law lists the following rights for nursing home residents, including:
- The right to be treated with respect, freedom and dignity – This means residents have the right to live free from any kind of abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, or physical or chemical restraints.
- The right to make their own choices – This includes choosing what to wear, how to spend free time, making decisions about medical care, whether to participate in activities inside and outside of the facility, and how to manage financial affairs.
- The right to be informed about medical issues – Residents have the right to be informed about all changes in their medical condition, to refuse medication or treatment, to refuse physical or chemical restraints, and to review their medical records.
- The right to be informed about nursing home policies and procedures – This includes the right to receive a written copy of your rights and facility rules and regulations, advance plans of a change in roommates or rooms, and the cost of all available services.
- The right to bring grievances – Residents must be allowed to complain to nursing home staff without fear of retaliation. When residents complain, the facility must quickly make an effort to resolve the complaint.
- The right to privacy – Residents must be able to have private, unrestricted communication with anyone they choose. Privacy must also be respected with personal, financial and medical affairs.
If any of these rights have been violated, you may have a valid claim for nursing home abuse. Contact our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys today for a free, no obligation consultation.
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Florida's Resident Bill of Rights for Nursing Homes
Nursing homes have to comply with Florida law as well as the federal Nursing Home Reform Law. Under Florida's resident bill of rights (Title XXX Chapter 429.28), residents are granted many of the same rights provided by the Nursing Home Reform Law.
Some of the differences include:
- The right to private, unrestricted communication with anyone the resident chooses between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. This includes phone calls and in-person meetings with visitors.
- The right to use his or her clothes or personal property unless the facility can show that doing so would be impractical, unsafe or infringe on the rights of other residents.
- The right to receive 45 days' notice about a transfer or expulsion from the facility. If the resident was determined to be mentally incapacitated, the resident's guardian must receive this notice. Facilities can only terminate residency without notice by showing good cause in a court of law.
- The right to be notified about the facility's grievance procedures and have access to ombudsman volunteers and advocates.
- Residents must be granted reasonable opportunities for regular exercise several times each week.
Gordon & Doner's West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys are well-versed in state and federal laws on the rights of nursing home residents. We know how to uncover violations of these rules and can hold liable partners accountable. Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys will fight for fair compensation for residents who have been abused.
Call our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers today. 1 (855) 722-2552
How do I Investigate Potential Nursing Home Abuse?
The first thing to do if you suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected is to contact the facility and discuss your concerns or allegations.
Staff members should be willing to work with you to find out if your loved one's rights were violated. The facility should have its own procedure for dealing with complaints or allegations of abuse and staff members should initiate that process when you contact them.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also requires staff members to report any allegations of mistreatment, abuse or neglect to the facility administrator, state survey and certification agency, and any other officials as required by state law. If the investigation reveals that abuse occurred, the facility will be required to take corrective action.
You can also report abuse to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs by phone or by fax:
- Call 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) or 1-800-453-5145 on a telephone device for the deaf
- Fax a Florida Abuse Hotline fax reporting form to 1-800-914-0004.
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs works with the Department of Children and Families, the Aging Network and Adult Protective Services.
The facility or these other organizations may take action to put a stop to the abuse and punish the person or persons responsible. However, no matter what happens when you report your allegations, investigations by the state and these other organizations will not provide compensation for the damages your loved one has suffered. That is why you need to contact a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney right away.
Live Chat or call our experienced legal team at 1 (855) 722-2552.
What Forms of Compensation Are Available for Nursing Home Abuse?
Depending on the specifics of your case, our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys may be able to recover various forms of compensation in a lawsuit, such as:
This covers quantifiable damages your loved one dealt with because of the accident, including:
- Hospital bills
- Transportation in an ambulance
- Physical therapy services
- Doctors’ office visits
- Durable medical equipment
- Home healthcare services
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees
- Prescription medications
According to Florida statutes, non-economic damages do not have a defined dollar amount assigned to them, including:
- Physical pain caused by the abuse
- Emotional suffering experienced after the abuse
- Physical impairment
- Loss of capacity for enjoyment of life
It is difficult to recover this form of compensation because it is reserved for situations where the abuse or neglect was particularly egregious. These damages are meant to punish the offender and deter others from engaging in the same type of abuse or neglect.
Florida does not place a cap on economic or non-economic damages in nursing home abuse cases. That means there is no limit to the amount of economic or non-economic damages your West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney can recover.
However, punitive damages are limited by Florida Statutes Title XLV section 768.73. This law says that you can recover a maximum of $500,000 in punitive damages or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever amount is larger.
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys are ready to fight for all of the compensation your loved one deserves.
Florida's Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse
A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit before the relevant statute of limitations expires, you lose the ability to do so.
Florida's statute of limitations for nursing home abuse claims is two years from the date of the incident, the date when the victim or his or her representatives learned of an injury caused by the incident, or when the victim or victim's family should have reasonably been aware that an incident caused an injury.
The statute of limitations may be extended if it takes a long time to discover the injury. However, the statute of limitations will not be extended past six years.
Click to contact Gordon & Doner's West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys.
How do I Find a Safe Nursing Home for my Loved One?
The Nursing Home Compare tool at Medicare.gov provides detailed information about every nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid. Each facility is rated from zero to five stars for quality, staffing and health inspections.
Each facility has a detailed report about all three areas. For instance, you can view the full report on a facility's most recent health inspection. The report will note all of the deficiencies that were discovered, which could include:
- Mistreatment of residents
- Violations of residents' rights
- Nutrition and dietary issues
- Environmental problems
You can also review staffing levels and the amount of time staffers spend with residents at the facility compared to Florida and national averages.
The nursing home report also measures the quality of care received at the facility. For example, you can find out the percentage of residents who made improvements in function, were re-hospitalized after being admitted or were discharged back into the community. The report notes the percentage of residents who experienced one or more falls that caused injury, were physically restrained, displayed symptoms of depression or received an antipsychotic medication.
You can also review information about the facility gathered by the State of Florida, including the most recent inspection reports, which lists any deficiencies that were uncovered.
Despite your best efforts to find a facility where your loved one will receive quality care and not suffer abuse or neglect, your loved one could still suffer abuse.
If you think your loved one has been a victim of abuse, contact our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys today.
Call 1 (855) 722-2552 or Live Chat with a representative.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you believe a loved one has been neglected, injured or abused in a nursing home, contact Gordon & Doner for help getting the justice you and your elderly loved one deserve.
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of the elderly and will work tirelessly to recover just compensation for a loved one’s injuries or death. We offer complimentary consultations, and only get paid when our clients obtain a recovery for their claim.