Tampa Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
We place our loved ones in nursing homes to keep them safe when we can no longer care for them. Unfortunately, not all facilities are equal, and poor institutions make our elderly and disabled loved ones vulnerable to abuse. The National Council on Aging reports that each year in the United States, about 10% of our nation’s citizens over the age of 60 experience abuse – some five million individuals. Yet nursing home abuse is a silent problem; there are 13 unreported cases for each one receiving attention. If you suspect a loved one is being neglected in their elder care facility, contact a Tampa nursing home abuse lawyer at Williams Law, P.A. to get the justice your loved one deserves.
Nursing home abuse is a serious crime, and the wrongdoer should have to answer for his or her actions in a court of law. If a nursing home staff member has abused or neglected your loved one, you may be able to file a civil suit to pay for damages. For more information about filing a personal injury lawsuit against a Tampa nursing home, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
Defining Nursing Home Abuse
The National Council on Aging defines nursing abuse as any offense that hurts a person physically, emotionally, financially, or mentally. Though many nursing home residents are elderly, abuse also affects those with special needs, such as the mentally or physically disabled. There are several types of nursing home abuse:
- The law considers neglect as abuse when it can lead to possible or actual harm. An example of neglect in a nursing home setting is bedsores, which result from failing to turn patients regularly.
- False imprisonment occurs when a staff member prohibits a resident from leaving a designated area, such as their room or a common area. A person committing false imprisonment may keep residents from their wheelchairs or walkers if they fail to follow certain directives.
- Emotional and mental abuse may involve any kind of manipulation or harm that leads a resident to fear for his or her own safety or the safety of others.
- Financial abuse is becoming more common in nursing homes. A staff member may commit financial abuse when they coerce a resident to modify a deed, change a will, or charge excessive fees to their account.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Researchers do not have accurate statistics on nursing home abuse or neglect, largely due to lack of reporting. Many victims never come forward regarding their experiences or perpetrators. Some studies estimate one in 14 cases of elder abuse reach the authorities, while others estimate as little as one in 25 cases. Some victims are afraid of retaliation from their abusers, while others suffer from dementia and other conditions that render them incapable of seeking help.
Estimates on nursing home abuse in the country, however, approximate between 2% and 10% of the elderly population suffer some form of abuse. As many as five million senior citizens suffer abuse each year. That breaks down to about one in 10 elders experiencing abuse over the age of 60. One study estimates almost one fourth (24.3%) of nursing home residents experience at least one instance of physical abuse. Recent research found 7-10% of elderly individuals in the study had experienced abuse in the past year.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Our Tampa nursing home abuse attorneys know not all cases of elder abuse look alike. In fact, some experienced abusers may be able to mask some of the outward symptoms of nursing home abuse. However, there are some “red flags” that might indicate a loved one needs help:
- Bruising or bedsores.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Mood swings or sudden changes in behavior.
- Broken bones.
- Any suspicious injury resulting from a “fall.”
- Changes in spending habits or modifications to a will.
- Excessive fear.
- Avoidance of certain people within a facility.
- “False dementia,” when a person may mimic the symptoms of dementia to control stress.
This does not encompass every symptom of nursing home abuse. If you suspect your loved one is in trouble, take immediate action. Call the nursing home abuse lawyers at Williams Law, P.A. as soon as possible.
Florida Laws Surrounding Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Abuse
If you have an elderly loved one suffering from nursing home abuse in Florida, your family has rights. Laws surrounding elder abuse and neglect in the state can help you hold the perpetrator and establishment responsible for their actions. Florida Statutes Section 400.022 states nursing home resident rights, as well as facility responsibilities. The long list of resident rights includes the following key points.
- The right to civil and religious liberties
- The right to knowledge of available choices and to independent decision-making
- The right to private and uncensored communication
- The right to bring grievances to nursing home staff or others without discrimination or retaliation
- The right to manage his or her own financial affairs
- The right to be fully informed of services available at the facility
- The right to refuse treatment or medication
- The right to courteous, fair, and dignified treatment
- The right to be free from mental and physical abuse, involuntary seclusion, and unreasonable restraints
A violation of any resident right by the nursing home or one of its staff members is grounds for disciplinary action. An agency will investigate the nursing home to determine whether it is adequately upholding residents’ rights. If a violation exists, the nursing home may be subject to fines and other punishments. It will then have to right its wrongdoings to residents.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
When you suspect someone is abusing your loved one, it’s essential to take swift action. Take the following steps:
- Corroborate his or her story with other members of the nursing home and ask for medical records from the facility. Take photos of any injuries you might notice and ask for a list of current prescriptions.
- If you suspect nursing home abuse, remove them from the situation as soon as possible.
- Contact the police. Call the district attorney’s office or the police station and ask to file a report. If they find enough evidence, they may be able to convict the abusing staff member with a crime.
- Contact a Tampa nursing home abuse attorney. Filing a civil suit to pay for damages with the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer can help maximize your claim.
Proving Elder Abuse
An elder abuse victim (or his or her Tampa nursing home abuse attorney) will have to prove an abuse case to qualify for financial compensation or medical bills and other damages. Proving elder abuse or neglect takes demonstrating four main elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The plaintiff’s attorney will have to establish the defendant’s duty of care to the elderly individual at the time of alleged harm, the defendant’s failure to fulfill the accepted standards of care for the situation, and the defendant’s fault for causing the plaintiff’s damages.
The average plaintiff will need photographs, witness statements, expert testimony, medical or other records, police reports, and many other types of evidence to win an elder abuse case. Hiring a Tampa nursing home abuse lawyer removes the burden of proof from the plaintiff. Instead, it is placed on the law firm. Trusting your case to a lawyer can give your family peace of mind while your attorney takes care of complicated legal matters on your behalf.
A civil case against a Florida nursing home could result in financial recovery for the victim and his or her family. Recovery may cover all economic and non-economic damages the plaintiff suffered as a result of abuse. These could include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, legal fees, court costs, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. Although each case is unique, reviewing our past results could give you an idea of how our hard work can pay off for clients. Our team of Tampa personal injury lawyers have secured multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts in Florida.