Nursing home abuse is a growing problem in our society. Seniors and the disabled are often hurt by the very people who are supposed to help them. Vulnerable adults often suffer in silence. There seem to be countless scams that target the elderly, when they’re supposed to be enjoying the best years of their life.
Senior abuse can take many forms. It can be physical abuse or neglect of care. It can be personal abuse or financial exploitation. Too often, the results of nursing home abuse are tragic. Because caregivers hold a position of trust, others might not realize what’s going on until it’s too late.
If you suspect that your loved one might be suffering from caregiver or nursing home abuse, our team of experienced St Pete’s nursing home abuse lawyers can help. Florida has state agencies that exist with the purpose of ensuring the safety of the vulnerable in our society. There are also state laws that may be able to help your loved one receive compensation for their losses.
Florida nursing home abuse laws
Florida law prohibits nursing home abuse. In most cases, nursing home abuse is a crime that’s classified as a third-degree felony. Anyone convicted of the offense can expect to spend significant time in jail in addition to other penalties.
Nursing home abuse charges can result from physical injuries, mental injuries or neglect. Under the law, any time a person purposefully injures a senior or a disabled adult physically or mentally, they’ve committed the crime of nursing home abuse. Even if the person doesn’t mean to cause the injuries, if they commit acts or omissions that are likely to lead to the injuries, they’ve committed nursing home abuse.
In addition to personally inflicting injuries, if a person encourages another person to take actions that are likely to cause injuries, they too are guilty of nursing home abuse. An example of where this might be an issue is with management. If nursing home managers require or encourage their employees to take actions that amount to abuse or neglect, the managers can be guilty of abuse just like those who provide direct care.
Florida’s nursing home abuse laws don’t just protect the elderly. Adults who are vulnerable because of a disability have protection under the law too. Both seniors are the disabled have protections under Florida law when they suffer nursing home abuse.
Nursing home liability
In addition to holding the abusers responsible, you may also have a claim for damages against the nursing home. Too often, the nursing home’s management directs or encourages practices that result in abuse. Sadly, poor leadership can result in harm to the vulnerable adults that the nursing home should capably serve. There are many ways that a nursing home may be liable for abuse:
Negligent hiring – A nursing home must hire qualified staff. If they fail to conduct appropriate background checks or properly screen employees for qualifications, they can face liability. Each nursing home should carefully screen applicants and hire only highly qualified caregivers.
Failure to train – Each nursing home should carefully train its staff in appropriate procedures. They should have written policies for handling certain situations. Staff members should receive continuing education as necessary to provide appropriate care.
Inadequate supervision – A care facility needs to supervise its employees. Too often, nursing home abuse occurs because care providers think that they can get away with it. Cameras, job reviews and audits are all important ways that nursing homes should keep a watchful eye on their employees. A nursing home can also face liability when they don’t have enough employees to adequately provide care.
Failing to investigate – When complaints occur, a nursing home should take those complaints seriously. They should put the safety of those entrusted to their care first. If a nursing home fails to investigate a claim or terminate an unqualified employee, the nursing home can face liability.
What types of recovery does Florida law allow?
To fully recover for your damages, you can bring a case under Florida’s civil laws. There are a number of different types of damages that may be available to you. If you suffer from physical injuries that result in out-of-pocket expenses, you can hold the abuser accountable to pay for those expenses. This might include bills for medical treatment that’s needed because of the abuse. Out of pocket expenses that are a direct result of the injuries are called economic damages.
Non-economic damages are available too. This can include pain and suffering. You may have mental anguish because of the abuse that you’ve endured. You may have loss of enjoyment of life. All of these things are damages that you can ask your abusers to fairly compensate you for under Florida law.
Types of abuse
There are many different signs that may be warnings of nursing home abuse. These include:
Physical injuries – Bed sores, bruises and bleeding can all be signs of physical abuse. If a victim suddenly looks disheveled or is always wearing the same clothes, there may be abuse. It can be the result of both intentional actions and neglect.
Mobility is another thing to watch. A nursing home patient should be as active as possible. Their care providers should provide them with mobility aids or personal assistance as needed in order to have a reasonable quality of life. If your loved one finds themselves spending long hours in bed with little to no attention, this can be abuse.
Changes in the victim’s behavior – Victims of nursing home abuse are often ashamed by what’s happening to them. They might become angry or irritable. They could suddenly refuse visits that they welcomed before. Even unusual changes in sleeping or eating patterns can indicate abuse.
Changes in caretaker behavior – Caretakers often go to great lengths to hide abuse. That might mean that they’re suddenly unwilling to coordinate visits with loved ones. They might refuse to answer questions or provide medical records when family is used to having access to them.
Caretakers should also be willing to provide open access to financial records. If you find that your loved one’s finances are suddenly secret, you have cause for concern. Those responsible for your loved one should provide an honest and forthright accounting any time that you ask for it.
A warning sign of abuse is often small. Abusers try to hide their behaviors. You shouldn’t ignore a warning sign or a flicker of intuition that something’s wrong.
Contact our St Pete’s Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
If you’re concerned about nursing home abuse, please contact us. There’s no worry that’s too small, and we’re happy to speak with you about your case. Together, we can make a plan to ensure you or your loved one’s safety and seek fair compensation. Call us today, so that we can get started on your case.