Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers Serving Hialeah
Deciding to put our loved ones in a nursing home is a big decision. We encourage clients to conduct due diligence and weigh the available nursing home benefits. While some long-term facilities treat their residents as they should, some fail to provide proper care. Hialeah nursing home negligence lawyers regularly witness a rise in nursing home neglect and mistreatment of elders.
Long-term facilities must provide a safe and pleasant living environment for their residents. Sadly, nursing home negligence and mistreatment is a tragic but all-too-common problem in Hialeah. Unfortunately, many of our aged loved ones experience abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. Regrettably, those who take advantage of them are the individuals entrusted to cater to their needs.
The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that two million elders are abused in the United States. Sadly, victims fail to report abuse and negligence for fear of retaliation or shame. Thankfully, elders and families can take legal action to seek justice and compensation for the harm that was done.What Is Nursing Home Negligence?
Nursing homes are staffed with medical professionals around the clock. Our loved ones can access highly trained care providers with suitable nursing facilities. The care providers must render daily task assistance to their senior residents. This includes dressing, bathing, meal service, housekeeping, medical care, etc.
Nursing home negligence occurs when elderly residents don’t receive the expected proper care. Failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or protect them from harm is neglect. Hence, neglect is characterized by the lack of action to fulfill certain caretaking obligations. The act is not intentional, but it can be just as harmful to residents.
Older residents need basic life necessities such as food, hygiene, medical care, water, etc. Refusal or failure to provide this can have a devastating physical or mental health effect on seniors. Care providers should be held responsible if their actions lead to injuries or wrongful death of those in their care.
From our experience, we have deduced several factors contributing to nursing home negligence. Firstly, due to inadequate staffing, caregivers can be overworked or stressed. This can affect the quality of care needed to keep residents healthy and safe.
For example, in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 15,000 U.S. nursing homes were understaffed. As a result, there was a shortage of doctors, nurses, aids, etc. Impossible workloads lead to overworked staff who cannot fulfill their duties and make harmful mistakes.
In addition, some nursing homes fail to run background checks on the staff they hire. As a result, they can employ unqualified personnel, which can be dangerous for vulnerable residents.Types of Nursing Home Negligence
Older residents with disabilities or who are frail are at a heightened risk of negligence and abuse. Due to their condition, they cannot safeguard themselves from harm or danger and can be exposed to different types of neglect and abuse.
Nursing home negligence can take several forms. We discussed them below.Medical Negligence
Affected residents suffer medical negligence when their caregivers fail to meet their health care needs. Nursing homes should be held accountable for failing to provide adequate medical treatment in line with the medical standard of care. Medical neglect may include:
- Failing to administer medications when needed
- Not reporting signs of illness or infections to doctors or nurses
- Failure to chart, assess, or monitor changes in the conditions of a resident
- Improper medical care for existing health issues
- Failure to adhere to a resident's dietary restrictions
- Not regularly moving bedridden elders, putting them at risk of bed sores, pain or infection, etc.
The most common form of nursing home negligence that causes residents to suffer is the neglect of basic needs. It is neglect when residents are not given food, water, shelter, clothing, and medical care. This can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss or gain, or worse health conditions.
Neglect also includes failing to keep the facility and its amenities hazards-free and safe. It also covers inadequate maintenance of health and safety policies, including not keeping the residents’ rooms and common areas clean.Social and Emotional Neglect
One of the advantages of nursing home facilities is the avenue to socialize with the older community. Our aged loved ones have the opportunity to make friends in their facilities. Social interaction can improve their mood and overall mental health.
Nursing homes can commit social and emotional neglect when they prevent residents from socializing. In addition, isolating residents and failure to provide canes and wheelchairs for elders with mobility issues can constitute neglect.Neglect of Personal Hygiene
Poor personal hygiene in nursing homes can have devastating consequences. This includes urinary tract infections, respiratory problems, skin infections, etc. When staff members neglect to care for residents' hygiene, their appearance and health are affected.
Examples of this kind of neglect include:
- Failing to change the resident's clothes regularly
- Irregular or not bathing a senior properly
- Not brushing teeth or combing the hair of residents
- Not changing the beddings of seniors who soiled themselves, etc.
We cannot discuss nursing home negligence without talking about elder abuse. While neglect is classified as abuse, it differs from other kinds of nursing home abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as the intentional act that poses a risk of harm to an older adult. The abuse occurs at the hands of caregivers or a person the victim trusts.
Nursing home abuse can affect a victim physically and psychologically. Often, affected residents can suffer from injuries, anxiety, lasting disabilities, or premature death. It can also worsen existing health problems. Nevertheless, victims should not be afraid to report their abusers so that they can seek justice and compensation.
There are several types and signs of elder abuse recognized in Hialeah. However, the indication of abuse is presented differently depending on the case. Factors such as the type, degree, duration, and context of abuse experienced influence the signs of abuse.
Common types of elder abuse include:Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is when an elder suffers injuries, impairment, pain, or death due to the intentional use of physical force. This includes hitting, shoving, pinching, burning, slapping, biting, etc.
It also includes excessive or unnecessary physical or chemical means to restrain or confine an elder. Examples are force feeding, physical punishment, etc.
Common indications of physical abuse include:
- Bruises, lacerations, rope marks
- Head trauma and bone fractures
- Bite marks, burn marks
- Unexplained slips and falls, including broken eyeglasses
- Medication overdose or chemical restraints
- Open wounds, cuts, untreated injuries
- Sudden behavioral changes, etc.
Sadly, elders are exposed to forced or unwanted sexual interactions from their caregivers. This may include sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, fondling, unwanted touching, etc., through force, threat, or exploitation of authority. The vulnerable victims are elders who often cannot give consent.
Common signs of sexual abuse include:
- Bruises, lacerations around the breast or genital area
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or genital infections
- Restlessness, disturbed sleeping or eating patterns, agitation
- Unexplained bleeding
- Increased anxiety, depression or withdrawal from usual activities, etc.
This kind of abuse refers to the verbal or non-verbal behaviors that inflict psychological trauma such as mental pain, fear, and anguish on the elder adult. Examples include humiliation, insults, disrespect, threat, isolation, harassment, etc.
Signs of emotional abuse include:
- Depression, anxiety, panic attacks
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Emotional distress or agitation
- Lack of communication or non-responsive
- Feelings of despair, low self-esteem, sense of worthlessness
- Lack of self-care, etc.
This abuse involves the illegal or improper use of an elder's money, property, or assets. This includes stealing their possessions and coercing or deceiving elders into signing documents such as wills and contracts. It also includes the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, and power of attorney.
Financial abuse manifests as:
- Sudden changes in the elder's bank account
- Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money or addition of signatories
- Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained transfer of assets, the disappearance of valuable possessions or funds, etc.
The failure of caregivers to fulfill their obligations and duty of care to an elder is neglect. This includes not providing necessities such as food, water, clothing, hygiene, medical care, personal safety, etc.
Common signs of neglect include:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Unsafe living environment, etc.
Despite the signs, neglect and abuse can be challenging to detect. Many affected victims are afraid to report because they fear being punished by their abusers. They are also ashamed for talking about their experiences to their loved ones.
It is more complicated if the victim has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, which affects their memory. As a result, they may be unable to remember or tell their story.
Thankfully, with the help of a Hialeah nursing home negligence lawyer, victims can prove neglect. This way, the perpetrators or the nursing home facility can be held responsible for their actions.Who Can I Report Nursing Home Abuse To in Hialeah, Florida?
One of the factors that can decrease the risk of elder negligence and abuse is reporting the incidence. Florida law requires reporting known or suspected neglect or abuse of vulnerable adults. Nursing home neglect and abuse are severe and shouldn't go unreported.
Victims and concerned family members can report elder negligence and abuse to:Local Authorities
The fastest way is to report abuse and neglect to your local police by calling 911. This allows EMS responders to treat the victim as quickly as possible.Florida Adult Protective Services (APS)
This is the most widely used intervention to address nursing home negligence. The agency is responsible for investigating allegations of neglect and abuse and facilitating remedies for victims.Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The long-term care ombudsman also investigates allegations of abuse in facilities. In addition, they serve as advocates who act on behalf of residents to help protect their rights, address complaints, and improve problems in long-term care.Florida Agency for Health Care Administration
The Complaint Administration Unit receives complaints about the quality of care provided in health care facilities. Victims can contact the agency on 1-888-419-3456 or use the licensed health care facility complaint form.Florida Department of Health
File a report with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) if you suffer from or suspect nursing home abuse or negligence. In addition, victims can file a complaint online via the Florida Healthcare Complaint Portal.Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
We believe reaching out to a nursing home negligence attorney is the best option. The above administrations will not be able to help you in a civil matter if you want to recover damages. A lawyer knows how to report abuse and neglect within the legal system. They can file against the facility and parties responsible for the injuries or loss of a loved one.
In addition, they can build a strong case against the negligent party to seek the maximum compensation possible. Victims can bring closure to damage caused by negligence.When Should I Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence?
Injured victims can hold nursing homes liable for their actions or inactions through civil lawsuits. It is recommended to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer first. The legal team at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers can review your unique situation and build a solid case to help you seek the best outcome (by appointment).
Filing a lawsuit should be done immediately to protect the victim’s right to financial compensation. Many people contact our firm asking how long they have to file their claim in Hialeah, Florida. The time frame victims have to file their lawsuit is called the Statute of Limitations.
Victims have two years from the date of neglect to file their nursing home negligence case in Florida. Failure to file within time precludes them from exercising their right to legal action. Delaying legal action is never a good idea.
You and your lawyer need time to:
- Gather evidence of the neglect
- Speak to witnesses or past employees about the incident
- Document as much of the negligence as possible
- Prepare a demand letter to the insurance company
- Negotiate with the nursing home or at-fault party’s insurance company
- Prepare for trial if necessary
However, you can still contact our firm if the deadline has elapsed. Your case could fall under an exception of the deadline. For the best chances, you should never unduly delay filing.How Can a Hialeah Nursing Home Negligence Help Me?
While many victims choose to pursue their claim themselves, it can be detrimental in the long run. This is because the victim has the legal burden to establish liability and fault of the negligent party to be entitled to compensation. From our years of experience, we have seen victims' claims fail due to failure to prove their case.
The nursing home and its insurance company will look for ways to avoid liability. They will try to deny any wrongdoing or blame the resident. A lawyer with in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws can significantly impact your case.
We can help you gather compelling evidence against the nursing home and the negligent party. In addition to this, we can help in the following ways:
- Explain the law to you and present the possible legal options
- Investigate the details of the negligence by getting statements from witnesses and past employees
- Gather compelling evidence to build a solid case
- Determine who is liable for the harm caused
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company
- File a lawsuit when necessary
The law allows victims and family members to recover compensatory damages against a facility. Several factors come into play when valuing the worth of a victim’s claim. The court considers the offending facility's conduct and its impact on the resident.
Other factors to be considered in valuing a nursing home negligence case include:
- The extent of the victim’s injury
- Past and future medical care
- The law relating to elder abuse and neglect
- The insurance coverage policy of the nursing care facility, etc.
Additionally, no two nursing home negligence case is the same. Each case is unique and treated on a case-to-case basis. Generally, the types of damages victims can recover include:
- Medical expenses such as the cost of medication, surgery, counseling, therapy, hospitalization, etc.
- Relocation costs
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other psychological condition
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- In extreme cases, punitive damages, etc.
If you have been harmed because of someone else’s carelessness, there is no substitute for having dedicated legal representation on your side. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we are committed to helping injured victims. Our firm has over 40 years of combined experience handling accident and injury cases, and we know what it takes to try and prove a negligence claim. You can expect the utmost respect and professionalism from our licensed attorneys and legal staff.