Can You Sue A Nursing Home For Neglect
Yes, in many situations you can sue a nursing home for neglect. Florida law allows nursing home residents to pursue legal claims against a facility, providing victims the right to file nursing home negligence claims. Nursing homes must provide a certain level of care to their residents, and when these facilities fail to meet that standard of care, they expose themselves to liability
In order to succeed in a nursing home negligence claim, the nursing home resident (the plaintiff) will have to demonstrate that the facility (the defendant):
- Owed a duty of care
- Breached their duty of care
- The resident sustained injuries or damages because of that breach
Nursing home patients are particularly vulnerable. Many of the individuals living in these facilities suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, physical ailments, or other disabilities. As such, you hope your loved ones will get the care and support that they need when you place them in these homes. But that doesn’t always happen. Learning that your family member suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home can be devastating, as a result. Nursing home abuse cases intend to help the victim and their family get the compensation and justice they deserve. This blog breaks down what you need to know to file a nursing home abuse claim.
Nursing Home Abuse Is A Common Problem
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse cases rarely are reported, and most nursing homes lack adequate staff to provide a high level of care. One study indicated that approximately 1 out of every 12 older adults suffers from elder abuse. Researchers report that the numbers are much higher in cases of patients with dementia. Critically, as much as 50% of individuals with dementia suffer from some form of abuse.
Given how common nursing home abuse is in the United States, families need to take a number of steps to ensure their loved ones are protected, and in the case of abuse, obtain justice against a bad nursing home.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
If your loved one lives in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, then you should look out for certain indicators of carelessness or abusiveness towards patients. Some common signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Bruises, especially those located on the arms or limbs, indicate that someone may have restrained or otherwise handled the individual roughly or aggressively
- Bedsores, which often arise when a resident is restricted in their movement and not receiving the attention needed to reposition them to avoid such injuries
- Lack of proper hygiene, which indicates that the facility is not helping to care for the individual and see that they are bathed
- Unexplained injuries, including those that the facility failed to provide proper documentation or records of, or that otherwise strike you as suspicious
- Weight loss, especially if your loved one loses considerable or sudden weight as this may indicate that they do not receive proper nutrition
- Injuries related to falls because facilities that care for elderly and disabled patients should be providing proper assistance to avoid predictable types of accidents on their premises
- Indications that the facility is using chemicals and medications to subdue your loved one so that they avoid requesting or pursuing medical attention or care
- Signs of bleeding, as this sometimes results from sexual abuse or other misconduct (e.g., scratching, clawing)
- Indications of missing funds, changes to an estate plan, and other signs of financial abuse
Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes: Can You Sue?
Abuse is bad enough, but what happens when a loved one dies in a nursing home?
Florida law allows families of nursing home residents to file wrongful death claims if the resident dies because of the nursing home’s negligence. Plaintiffs in wrongful death lawsuits allege that the facility owed their loved one a duty of care, breached that duty, and their loved one died because of this (e.g. a nursing home negligently maintains their air conditioning system, and the failure of that system to function causes the resident to die from a heat stroke).
Sometimes, a nursing home resident's poor health will make it harder to prove that the facility breached its duty to them. But if the resident suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, unsanitary conditions, or abuse, even if they had poor health to begin with, a court may determine the nursing home’s actions or inactions contributed to the resident’s death.
Damages in Florida Nursing Home Cases
If you sue a nursing home for neglect and prevail, the facility will owe you damages. Damages in Florida nursing home abuse cases may include compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering. In wrongful death cases, damages could include loss of companionship, loss of support, and funeral expenses. If the facility engaged in egregious behaviors, the victim’s family may even recover punitive damages also.
Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
Florida's statute of limitations places time limits on when plaintiffs may file their claims. In most cases, the victim or their loved ones (e.g., spouse, son, daughter) files the nursing home abuse claim within 2 years of the date of the injury. This 2-year limit will begin on:
- The date that the victim suffers an injury
- The date that the victim or their family discovers that the injury resulted from an incident at the nursing home
- The date that the victim or their family should have known about the injury caused by the nursing home
No one can file suit once the statute of limitations passes, even if a family brings a valid claim. For this reason, it is crucial to speak to an attorney sooner rather than later so they can investigate your claim and build a solid legal strategy.
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from abuse at the hands of caregivers, then you should reach out to a Florida nursing home abuse attorney.
Hire A Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from abuse at the hands of their caregivers, consult with an attorney to help hold the wrongdoer accountable and make them pay for the harm that they have caused. Nursing home abuse cases are complex, which is why you need our seasoned personal injury firm in your corner. The Watson Firm, PLLC works to bring nursing home abuse lawsuits on behalf of victims. You can rely on our experienced lawyers to aggressively pursue all available remedies against those who are responsible.