Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
We all have elderly parents, friends, and relatives. When our loved ones get older, they often develop special needs. For example, it could be that the elderly person requires assistance to move around. In addition, they could need consistent medical attention, such as reminders to take their medication.
Sadly, many Americans cannot afford to dedicate all their time to caring for their elderly relatives. This is where nursing homes for senior citizens come in. Nursing homes are care facilities for the elderly and disabled. Usually, these establishments employ professionals to cater to the unique needs of their residents.
Unfortunately, some homes and their workers exploit and abuse elderly residents. Like all forms of abuse, this could have permanent and scarring consequences. Fortunately, Florida law protects our senior citizens from abuse. But, first, consulting with an excellent Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse attorney is recommended.What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
It is essential to know what a nursing home is and to understand what nursing home abuse is. Nursing home abuse refers to any harmful actions against the residents of nursing homes.
Notably, such harm could be intentional or unintentional. In addition, nursing home abuse can cause:
- Health challenges and emergencies, or
Therefore, we must monitor our elderly loved ones after admission into nursing homes. Several factors contribute to nursing home abuse, such as:
- Understaffing of facilities
- Lack of adequate equipment
- Insufficient training
- Wrong hiring practices
Whatever the cause, there’s no excuse for nursing home abuse. That’s why it’s an offense under Florida law.Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Florida law makes the abuse of an older or disabled adult a felony. However, nursing home abuse occurs in different ways. Each of these examples has varying degrees of consequences for the victims. However, all the forms of abuse below are illegal.Physical Abuse
This includes all forms of assault on residents of nursing homes. Usually, the goal is to inflict physical pain and injuries on the victims. Physical abuse includes kicking, biting, pushing, slapping, and hitting residents.Sexual Abuse
Sexual assault is more extensive than physical forms of abuse. It includes any non-consensual sexual contact with the residents of nursing homes. This covers:
- Unwanted touching
- Actual sexual intercourse – rape
- Consensual sex, where consent is obtained with threats or force
- Sexual relations with nursing home residents who cannot give consent
Emotional abuse is another type of abuse that affects the victims’ emotions. Typical sources of such abuse include:
- Verbal assaults
- Threats of physical abuse
- Infliction of pain, anguish, and distress with verbal or nonverbal actions
Americans don’t just leave their loved ones at homes for the elderly without financial provisions. Instead, they often send them funds for their continuous upkeep. Sadly, many nursing homes exploit their residents financially.
Typical instances of financial abuse include:
- Misusing the funds or other possessions
- Forcing or deceiving older people into signing away or giving up their money
- Withholding the nursing home residents’ resources
As the name implies, this occurs when the older adult is unlawfully restrained. This form of abuse also involves isolating the resident from others. Suppose such isolation or restraint is because of medical grounds. Then, it wouldn’t amount to abuse.Neglect and Wilful Deprivation
Residents of nursing homes rely on their caregivers for necessities, including food, clothing, and healthcare. Therefore, suppose a nursing home negligently doesn’t provide these elements. Then, it can amount to abuse.
Worse of all, many nursing home employees deprive residents of their necessities. For instance, such deprivation could pressure them to give into other forms of exploitation, such as sexual abuse. Willful denial thus exposes the victim to further dangers. Neglect and deprivation can also extend to care, supervision and services.Should I Be Worried About Nursing Home Abuse?
There are 691 licensed nursing homes in Florida alone. Furthermore, these homes account for about 84,448 beds. What’s more, the Florida Health Care Association estimates that there are roughly 71,000 residents in these nursing homes.
Therefore, thousands of Fort Lauderdale residents have loved ones in nursing homes. Unfortunately, while we think they’re safe, this isn’t always the case. Instead, the statistics state otherwise. For instance, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) references two critical studies.
One study reported high levels of abuse in care institutions for elders. Notably, 33.4% of this abuse was psychological, and 14.1% was physical. In addition, a CNN investigation also revealed a scourge of elder rape in the US. Therefore, elder abuse in nursing homes is a significant issue that should worry anybody with loved ones in a care center.How to Detect Nursing Home Abuse
Worrying isn’t enough. You must do something to protect your loved ones living in nursing homes. Moreover, you can use those periodic visits to a nursing home to check for signs of abuse.
Fortunately, all types of abuse leave some signs. However, many such symptoms aren’t physical. You’ll thus have to be extra careful to detect them. In addition, the warning symptoms of nursing home abuse depend on the type of abuse. Below, we list the significant signs of elder abuse.Warning Signs of Physical Abuse
- Unexplained and unusual weight loss
- Open wounds
- Signs of physical restraints
- Indications of punishments
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken bones and fractures
- Bruises and burns
- Torn skin
- Other bodily injuries
- Poor personal hygiene
- Proof of falls, such as loss of eyeglasses
- Depression and anxiety
- Emotional withdrawal and unresponsiveness
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Emotional distress
- Lack of self-care
- Bruises and injuries around private parts, such as breasts
- Inappropriate touching with nursing home staff
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Vaginal or anal bleeding
- Genital infections
- Sudden changes in financial standing, such as account statements
- Lack of amenities you already paid for
- Unexplained and unreasonable changes to a will
- Sudden transfers of assets, money, and other valuable properties
- Poor personal hygiene
- New changes to a power of attorney and representatives
- Untreated medical problems
- Dirty surroundings
- New or increasing infections
- Unchanged or filthy clothes
- Inconsistent application of medication
Suppose you notice any of these signs. Then, it’ll be best to initiate steps to protect your loved one.Do I Need a Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?
Suppose you know a victim of nursing home abuse. Then, finding a lawyer for them is an excellent decision. Nursing home abuse is a felony in Florida, so the responsible parties will likely face stiff penalties.
However, elderly abuse significantly affects its victims. For example, you may have to spend money on medical treatment and therapy. In addition, there may be other long-term effects of abuse.
Therefore, imprisonment or fines cannot help the victim. Therefore, the law allows you to file a claim against the responsible parties. If you decide to take your case to court, it is well-advised to do so with the help of an attorney.
Below are the top ways a Fort Lauderdale nursing home lawyer can help you.Investigating the Claims of Abuse
No court or insurance company will blindly accept your claims of abuse. Therefore, you have to prove the allegations with evidence. An investigation is necessary to uncover vital sources of evidence that can help your claim. However, the abused nursing home resident likely cannot conduct this investigation.
Fortunately, our lawyers have spent years handling these issues. We can conduct this investigation on your behalf. You can also trust us with evidence protection and confidentiality.Allowing You to Focus on Your Abused Relative
Nursing home abuse requires extensive treatment. Therefore, it’ll be challenging to provide the care your loved one needs and pursue legal claims. Fortunately, a nursing home abuse lawyer allows you to focus on the crucial issue.
Other services your attorney can do to help your case include:
- Evaluating previous investigation reports into the nursing home
- Analyzing the home’s hiring and employee retention process
- Understanding the extent of harm from medical professionals
- Calculating the accurate amount of compensation you deserve
- Interviewing nursing home employees and residents
- Setting up measures to ensure that the nursing home doesn’t destroy critical evidence
After investigating, your lawyer can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit if you qualify. On the other hand, you can accept a settlement if one is offered to you. Nursing homes generally don’t like lawsuits. Therefore, they can sometimes agree to settle with you out of court.
Settlement negotiations will generally involve the facility’s insurer. Whichever the case, you’ll have to prove that the alleged victim suffered abuse. Generally, you can prove nursing home abuse by showing that:
- The nursing home owed the resident a duty of care
- The nursing home breached this duty of care by neglecting or harming the resident
- This legal breach then caused the victim’s injuries and other losses
Evidence is critical in nursing home abuse cases. Therefore, you can rely on the following to prove your case:
- Medical records and bills
- Photographic and video evidence of the abuse
- Eyewitness testimony from other residents
- The nursing home’s training and personnel records
- Staff reports
- Incident reports
- Administrative or police reports of investigation
- Account statements for financial abuse
Victims of abuse don’t just need money. Instead, they require other forms of care to ensure that they fully recover. It’s best to know how you can help them achieve full recovery. The tips below can also help you detect and prevent nursing home abuse.
- Reviewing nursing home facilities and history before choosing them
- Maintain contact with your loved ones in nursing homes
- Stay vigilant and watchful for abuse signs
- Listen to and believe nursing home residents when they complain about abuse
- Report the abuse to the police and other relevant regulatory agencies
- Quickly relocate the resident to your home or a safer space
- Provide professional help, including medical care and therapy
- Assure them that the abuser will face the consequences of their actions
Florida law limits the period you can approach the court. This law is known as the Statute of Limitations. A Statute of Limitations specifies time limits for civil litigants to file their claims. In Fort Lauderdale, FL, you have only two years to initiate a lawsuit. The time starts counting from the date of the abuse.
However, suppose the victim’s family doesn’t recognize the abuse early enough. Then, their statutory window opens when they discover that the abuse hurt their senior relative. Furthermore, the two-year window applies to wrongful death that results from nursing home abuse.
If you miss this deadline, you’ll lose your right to compensation. The at-fault parties will inform the court of your default. Then, the court will likely bar your case. Therefore, it’s best to work with experienced attorneys who are very familiar with the statutory limitation.Who Can Be Liable for Nursing Home Abuse?
Several parties may be liable for the abuse you or your loved one suffered. Firstly, the nursing home bears primary liability. This is because they owe a duty of care to protect their residents.
However, the following people may also face legal consequences:
- Other healthcare professionals
- Government agencies that defaulted on their oversight responsibilities
The nursing home is generally responsible for the acts of its staff too. This is because they have a responsibility to hire only qualified personnel. Even if they fulfilled their hiring obligations, they could still be liable. This is because of the principle of vicarious liability. This rule holds an employer accountable for the actions of the staff when acting in their professional capacity.Possible Damages From a Nursing Home Abuse Compensation Claim
Suppose you win your nursing home abuse lawsuit or insurance claim. Then, you can recover a range of damages. Compensation here tries to put you in the position you would have been in but for the abuse.
In addition, damages can help deal with the consequences of the abuse. Below are the types of compensation our attorneys can help you seek.Medical Bills
Physical and psychological abuse may require medical treatment. Therefore, you can seek to be compensated for the necessary medical bills from the at-fault parties. Additionally, this can include the cost of therapy and counseling sessions.
Suppose the abused elder requires long-term medical care. Then, you may also claim future medical expenses. Other types of medical expenses you can seek include:
- Cost of hospitalization
- Ambulance fees
- Pharmaceutical bills
- Cost of medical equipment such as wheelchairs
- Surgery and corrective procedure costs
These kinds of damages primarily apply to financial abuse. For example, the court can order a refund if the abuser extorted or wrongfully used a nursing home resident’s money. Suppose the abuser also amended the victim’s will or power of attorney. Then, such powers and gifts can be revoked.Burial and Funeral Costs
Nursing home abuse victims sometimes don’t survive. In such cases, you can take legal action against the nursing home to account for funeral and burial bills. After the death and burial, you could also claim these non-economic damages in a wrongful death action:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance
Fort Lauderdale courts can also award punitive damages. They use this to punish the victim for their bad conduct. Therefore, punitive damages aren’t compensatory.
In addition, no insurance company will pay you punitive damages. This is another reason why choosing to file a lawsuit may be better. You can only seek punitive damages where the defendant is guilty of:
- Intentional misconduct, or
- Gross negligence.
Intentional misconduct will cover cases where the abuser intentionally hurt nursing home residents. Conversely, gross negligence applies where the nursing home neglects the residents. It could also be that they were so reckless that they disregarded the consequences of their actions.Contact the Best Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Have your parents or relatives suffered abuse in a Fort Lauderdale nursing home? You may have a legal right to compensation against the nursing homes if they have. However, many such homes run chains of businesses, and proceeding against them can be challenging.
That’s why you will benefit from the best Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse attorneys. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our legal team has spent decades protecting Florida’s senior citizens and has gained significant skills and experience in this field.
We’ve also helped our clients bring closure and seek financial compensation. You can be confident that your case will be in good hands. Call us today at (561) 800-8000 for a complimentary consultation.