Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers Serving Pembroke Pines
When we put our loved ones or are aged and go to a nursing home, we expect the best quality of care from the caregivers. However, long-term care facility staff sometimes neglect their patients, causing personal injury to them and, in worse cases, death. When this happens, there is nursing home negligence.
Victims of nursing home negligence can file a compensation claim against the negligent party. First, it is well-advised to have the expertise of a Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyer. Working with a legal team improves your chances when seeking maximum compensation from the defendant (at-fault party).
If you or a loved one are a victim of nursing home neglect, our attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers can help you recover compensation (by appointment). Contact us today for excellent legal advice and representation.What Is Nursing Home Negligence?
Nursing home negligence is a form of elder abuse older adults suffer in assisted living facilities. It stems from the nursing home staff failing to provide the appropriate standard of care legally required to their patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home elder abuse is a public health problem in the United States. However, it is also a global problem affecting millions worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization;
- Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older have experienced some form of abuse in community settings in 2021.
- Older people’s abuse rates are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they committed abuse in 2021.
- Rates of abuse of older people have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Abuse of older people can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.
Florida is not devoid of nursing home negligence cases. The state is home to 691 licensed nursing homes, representing approximately 84,448 beds. Also, the estimated number of residents is 71,000 at any given time, roughly 85% occupancy.
There have been different reports of abuse in these nursing homes. Examples include:
- Neglecting residents with mobility issues by leaving them in a particular location for a long time
- Failing to call a doctor or nurse when needed by a resident
- Failing to change the clothes or bedsheets of residents regularly
- Not maintaining proper personal hygiene for those who cannot do it themselves
- Failing to provide adequate food and water
- Neglecting residents’ injuries or illnesses such as infections and bedsores
The problem of nursing home abuse is so prevalent in Florida that the Office of the Attorney General created the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate allegations of patient abuse, neglect, and exploitation in facilities that receive payments under the Medicaid program. This includes nursing homes, organizations for the mentally and physically disabled, and assisted living centers.
If you suspect negligence or abuse of a nursing home resident, contact the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. However, note that the unit, through the Attorney General, will only handle the criminal aspect of the case if there’s evidence of abuse and neglect.
Contact our Pembroke Pines Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers if you are thinking about seeking financial compensation. We will help you reach justice when you pursue the settlement you deserve (by appointment only).What Are the Types of Nursing Home Negligence in Pembroke Pines, Florida?
Negligence in a nursing home is classified into physical and emotional abuse. Physical abuse involves using violence to cause bodily harm, pain, injury, or other forms of impairment to the victim. Sometimes it includes battery and assault.
Common signs of physical abuse or neglect are:
- Unexplained wounds
- Bite marks
- Burn marks
- Bruises or visible discoloration
Emotional abuse affects a person’s psychology and is more challenging to notice than physical neglect. Also, this type of abuse can be verbal or non-verbal. At other times, a nursing home staff might ignore and isolate a resident from social activities.
Other forms of nursing home neglect are:
Abandonment happens when nursing home staff leave those they are supposed to care for without concern for their wellbeing. The law frowns against residents being abandoned by their caregivers. If this happens to your loved one, seek legal help by contacting a Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyer.
- Medical Neglect
Medical neglect occurs when medical care providers in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities fail to treat residents or offer substandard treatment. Medical negligence is a prevalent problem in the United States and is the third-leading cause of death. In nursing homes, it often manifests as bedsores, inadequate diabetic care, mobility issues, infections, and other health complications.
- Neglect of Basic Needs
Neglect of basic needs happens when nursing homes fail to provide residents with adequate food, water, or a clean, safe environment. This often causes residents to suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. They may also suffer from other issues such as falling or theft, especially if the residence is unsafe.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene is essential to our health. However, nursing homes can neglect the hygiene of their residents. This neglect includes failing to provide dental care, bathing, and laundry. When residents’ hygiene is ignored, they often wear soiled clothes and appear dirty and unkempt.What Are the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?
If you are concerned about the care your loved one is receiving in a nursing home but are unsure of how to verify the nature of neglect or abuse, there are signs to watch for. Below are ways to identify nursing home neglect.
- Loss or Lack of Mobility: Most nursing homes have programs and policies that keep their residents physically active and mobile. When nursing home staff neglect elderly persons, leaving them sitting for a long time, they might develop mobility issues.
- Poor Resident Hygiene: If you visit your loved one and notice that they have poor personal hygiene, they are likely being neglected. Always check their teeth and ask those who are coherent if they bathe regularly.
- Psychological Issues: When nursing home residents are neglected, they develop psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and fear of caregivers. They are also reluctant to talk to the nursing home staff and may exhibit bouts of anger and resentment. Some neglected patients may also distance themselves from family and friends.
- Signs of Inadequate Nutrition: If a loved one suddenly becomes malnutrition or dehydrated, it is a sign that they are being neglected. Other signs are excessive tiredness, irritability, hair loss, papery skin, and extreme cold.
- Unexplained Injuries: Physical injuries are common forms of neglect or abuse. When residents are neglected, especially those with mental health conditions, they might engage in self-harm. Common evidence includes cuts and scrapes, broken bones, and bruises. When you notice this, your loved one may be a victim of negligence.
- Unsanitary Living Conditions: This is another way to know if your loved one is a victim of nursing home negligence. Usually, you will see dirty bedding and living areas, and in some cases, mold and pests.
There are various reasons for nursing home neglect, including:Understaffing
Understaffing is a common issue in Pembroke Pines, Florida, nursing homes. When nursing homes and other assisted living facilities have inadequate staff, it increases the incidents of negligence. This is because employees will be juggling a lot of tasks at once.Negligent Hiring
It is not uncommon for nursing homes to engage in negligent hiring. Sometimes, they hire underqualified people to cut costs. Instead, nursing homes should have a stringent application process and screen applicants by checking their criminal backgrounds before hiring them.
When nursing homes fail to screen those they employ thoroughly, they might hire people with a history of neglecting or abusing seniors. They could also hire those who do not have the proper certifications, which might result in providing care below the legal standard.Inadequate Training
As mentioned earlier, improper certifications or inadequate training leads to neglect. Improperly trained caretakers can likely make medication errors, handle senior residents roughly, and create circumstances that harm residents.
Note that the facility can still be liable for negligence even if they hire qualified staff. This is because the doctrine of vicarious liability makes employers responsible for the actions of their employees. Contact a Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyer for more information on how vicarious liability affects a compensation claim.What Should I Do About Nursing Home Negligence?
You must take immediate action if you suspect or have evidence that a loved one is a victim of nursing home negligence in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Being proactive will keep your loved one and other residents from suffering from more harm.
However, if you fail to take action, the person may develop health problems, as neglect can result in depression, disability, or death. Therefore, if a loved one is a victim of negligence or abuse, contact the following agencies to file a complaint:The Local Law Enforcement Agency
Suppose you were visiting a relative when you noticed the signs of neglect. Call 911 to alert the Pembroke Pines Police Department. Also, the call would bring paramedics to the scene to give the person medical care if needed.
The police might ask you to file an official complaint, which you should. Once you do, they will launch an investigation to ascertain whether there was neglect or abuse.
If the police find evidence of abuse, they will likely recommend the case to the District Attorney’s Office. However, you can also file a civil action irrespective of any criminal charge.The Agency of Health Care Administration (AHCA)
Florida law has guidelines for nursing homes to follow. For instance, residents must have access to clean drinking water, hot water, lighting, comfortable temperature, and furniture.
Additionally, the law requires care facilities to provide social activities, exercise, healthy meals, counseling, medication, emergency care, and an abuse-free environment. Nursing homes should also provide ramps, rails, and other necessary safety features.
If you can show that the nursing home failed to meet any of these requirements and have proof of negligence, file a claim with the Agency of Health Care Administration. Call the AHCA’s Compliant Administration at 1-888-419-3456 or 800-955-8771 (TTD service).
Alternatively, you can report to the nursing home facility using the online Licensed Health Care Facility Compliant Form. Use the Unlicensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form if a caregiver performed negligent actions or abuse.Pembroke Pines Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers
It is highly recommended to contact a Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyer. Your attorney will advise you on the steps to take and how to file the compensation claim.When Should I Report a Claim for Nursing Home Negligence?
The Florida Statute of Limitations defines the time limit claimants have to report and commence a nursing home negligence or abuse case. Florida Statute 492.296 stipulates that claimants must report abuse within two years of the occurrence.
If you fail to do so, you will be statute barred from making a report or filing a compensation claim. Therefore, speak with a lawyer immediately and have them start the process before the time elapses.How Can I Prove Negligence?
When pursuing a compensation claim, there are elements you must prove to win. Typically, you will prove the four elements of negligence. You must show that:
- The nursing home owed the victim a duty of care
- The nursing home breached the duty of care by doing something they should not have done or failing to do what they are obligated to do
- The breached duty caused an injury to the victim
- The injury resulted in damages for which the victim deserves financial compensation
In addition to the above, there are documents that may prove the nursing home’s negligence. Examples of those documents include:
- Diary kept by the resident or close family members
- Photos of physical injuries such as bruises
- Notes detailing conversations between the resident and nursing home staff
- Photos of medications prescribed or given to the resident
- Family members’ notes on their observations of the resident’s physical and emotional condition
These documents are useful in criminal and civil cases and are essential when seeking compensation. Therefore, you should show them to your legal team once you discover any of these.What Compensation Can I Seek?
Most personal injury claims are based on negligence, so you can potentially recover two types of damages for nursing home negligence. They are compensatory and punitive damages.Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. The former covers losses with a fixed dollar value, while the latter is for intangible losses. As a result, economic damages are easier to calculate.
However, our Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyers can help you determine how much to claim as non-economic damages. Examples of compensatory damages are:
- Medical expenses incurred from physical injuries
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
Punitive damages are awarded when there is evidence of gross or malicious negligence. The amount is up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever amount is higher. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded to punish the negligent party and deter them and others from similar behavior.What Is the Role of a Pembroke Pines Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer?
Nursing home negligence lawyers are a type of personal injury attorney. They perform the same function. The complexity of nursing home negligence cases makes it important for claimants to have legal guidance.
Having a legal team is one way to maximize your chances of a successful outcome. The following is what to expect from Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyers:
- Investigation of the claim to ascertain the facts
- Gathering of evidence
- Filing a complaint with the relevant authorities
- Commencing legal action in court
- Sitting in on and handling settlement negotiations
- Explaining the legal process and length of the compensation claim
Before hiring a lawyer, research to ensure that they have the experience to handle the case. Also, go for an empathic legal team that will allow you to focus on recovering throughout the claims process. The law firm you hire should also have a track record of successfully handling nursing home negligence lawsuits.How Much Will a Pembroke Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer Charge?
Lawyers don’t charge as much as people think. As mentioned earlier, nursing home negligence lawyers are a type of personal injury attorney. Therefore, they usually work on a contingency fee basis.
This means you only pay a percentage of the amount awarded as a settlement if you win your case. The percentage is typically between 33% to 40%, but you can negotiate depending on the duration of your case and other factors.
Although you do not have to pay the fees until you win your case, you will pay for the administrative fees, which are distinct from the contingency fee agreement. Examples of these additional legal costs are filing fees, the cost of hiring expert witnesses, etc.Book a Free Consultation With Us Today
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we have years of combined experience helping victims of nursing home negligence seek the compensation they deserve. Our Pembroke Pines nursing home negligence lawyers will offer compassionate and aggressive representation and advise you every step of the way (by appointment only). Book a free case review today by contacting us at (561) 800-8000.