Did your loved one sustain injuries from abuse or neglect in a nursing home? Was it due to the negligent or intentional misconduct of the facility or an employee? If so, call the Florida personal injury lawyers of Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. to discuss the incident and learn about your legal options. You might be entitled to compensation for the losses you suffered.
It is difficult to imagine the suffering an older adult must endure when they become the victim of abuse. You likely performed extensive research to ensure your loved one’s safety before moving them into a nursing home. Unfortunately, staff members and others can take advantage of vulnerable patients, causing injury, illness, and even death.
Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. understands the harsh reality of finding out your loved one suffered abuse at the hands of a trusted caregiver. We empathize with your desire to be their advocate and seek justice for what they have been through. It can be a stressful and time-consuming process to hold the abuser liable for their actions, however this is something you do not have to face alone.
Our Florida nursing home abuse lawyers can relieve your burden by taking over the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on protecting your family member and getting them the treatment they need. We can file an insurance claim and negotiate for the highest settlement possible. If necessary, we have the resources to take the case to court. You can depend on our legal team to fight for you and your relative, and to recover the compensation necessary to cover medical bills and other expenses incurred from the injury.
Call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. for a free consultation at 561.689.8180 right now.
Common Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Around five million older adults in the United States become victims of abuse each year. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are susceptible to instances of abuse and neglect. This is due to the fact that most residents suffer from cognitive illnesses or physical disabilities and rely on others for assistance. Because they cannot take care of themselves, they rely on staff members to help them shower, dress, and walk.
The most common types of nursing home abuse include:
- Financial exploitation – Financial exploitation is also known as financial abuse. It occurs when someone uses a patient’s personal property, assets, or money without permission or consent. For example, a nurse might steal cash from a resident’s room.
- Physical abuse – Physical abuse involves using physical force against an older adult to inflict bodily injury or death. Kicking, punching, and shoving are common examples of this form of abuse.
- Neglect – Neglect occurs when a caregiver withholds their patient’s basic needs, such as a clean bedroom, water, and medication.
- Psychological abuse – Psychological abuse involves using verbal or nonverbal acts to cause emotional pain, trauma, or distress. A nursing home employee who regularly harasses a patient or isolates them from others is a good example.
- Abandonment – Abandonment and neglect are similar. This happens when a caregiver does not live up to their responsibilities of caring for an older adult. Bed-ridden patients need to be turned often to prevent bedsores. It’s considered abandonment if a nurse leaves them unattended for hours.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse refers to a person using coercion, threats, or force to engage in unwanted and nonconsensual sexual activity with a patient.
The Nursing Home Reform Act establishes rights afforded to individuals living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Residents should receive the care they need to maintain mental, physical, and psychosocial well-being and never be subjected to abuse, neglect, or other forms of mistreatment.
Warning Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes
It isn’t always easy to notice signs of abuse. Since many older adults can’t speak for themselves, it’s up to you to be their advocate and watch for red flags that might indicate they have been abused or neglected.
The most common signs of nursing home abuse are:
Typically, you can spot financial abuse if there is any unusual activity with your relative’s finances or legal affairs. Common examples include:
- Unknown signature on a power of attorney
- Unauthorized account transfers
- ATM withdrawals the patient could not have made
- Unusual charges to a credit card
Physical abuse is one of the easiest forms of abuse to notice. Signs are usually visible and involve unexplained injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
- Tooth loss
- Cuts and burns to the skin
- Dislocated joints
Neglect often involves visible warning signs. Examples include:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Inadequate treatment of injuries
When someone suffers psychological abuse, there is typically a decline in emotional well-being and withdrawal from loved ones. Some of the most common signs are:
- Depression or anxiety
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Mood swings
- Avoiding eye contact
Warning signs for abandonment are often similar to neglect. Common signs include:
- Unclean bedding
- Appearing disoriented or confused
Sexual abuse can cause a range of symptoms that are physical or psychological. Some examples are:
- Low self-esteem
- Bruising around the genitals or anus
- Pelvic injuries
- STD diagnosis
If you believe your loved one has become the victim of abuse, do not hesitate to take legal action. You need to ensure their safety and seek the money they’re owed for the abuse they endured. You should not be forced to pay for their hospitalization, rehab, and other medical costs if someone else were entirely at fault for their injuries.
Who Is Liable for Nursing Home Abuse?
Since your family member probably encounters a significant number of people every day, multiple parties could be responsible for abusing them. It can be a challenge to determine who you can hold liable in a case like this.
The individuals and companies often at fault for injuries and illnesses in nursing homes include:
- Administrative employees
- Maintenance staff
- Physicians assistants
- Other residents
- Owner of the facility
- Contractor or subcontractor performing work at the nursing home
- Manufacturer of a defective medical instrument, assistive device, or part
Florida statute 400.141(q) requires nursing homes to maintain liability insurance at all times. However, there isn’t a specific coverage amount they must purchase. Unfortunately, this lack of regulation means you might not be able to cover your total losses.
For example, if the facility only carries $50,000 in coverage but your loved one incurred $75,000 in expenses, there will be $25,000 in costs that you might have to pay for out of pocket if the insurance carrier agrees to the total available settlement.
Filing a claim might seem like a simple process, but it can become complicated when looking for adequate coverage. Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. can request a copy of the insurance policy to determine the amount of available liability and if there are other options for recovering the compensation you need.
Possible Compensation in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Your loved one probably suffered various losses from the abuse. If you file a claim with the nursing home’s liability insurance carrier, you could pursue compensation to cover those losses, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Past and future medical expenses
- Damage to personal property
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
You may also have the option of seeking punitive damages if you decide to file a lawsuit against the facility or specific individual responsible for causing the injury. This is a form of punishment against the at-fault party instead of compensation for the victim’s losses. You could receive this financial award as long as you show the jury clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Statute of Limitations to File a Lawsuit in Florida
The courts strictly enforce the deadline to initiate legal action against another party. Florida law requires you to file your lawsuit by the four-year statute of limitations. That means you have four years from the date of your relative’s injury to sue the at-fault facility or individual. You could lose your right to recover compensation if you don’t adhere to this timeframe.
What Can I Do if My Loved One Died?
If your loved one died from nursing home abuse, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, only the personal representative of the estate is allowed to initiate the case in court. That person is typically a close family member, such as a spouse or adult child. Whoever files suit must represent the interests of the estate and surviving relatives.
The compensation you receive could cover the losses suffered, such as:
- Mental pain and suffering
- Funeral and medical expenses paid by the estate and surviving family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and instruction if you lost your parent
- Loss of protection, services, support, and companionship
- Wages and benefits lost between the injury date and the day the victim passed away
- The value of benefits and wages the deceased could have earned if they were still alive
The window for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is much smaller than that for a regular lawsuit involving an injury or illness. You would only have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to initiate your case. Even if they sustained an injury from the abuse and didn’t pass away until later, the two-year timeframe would still be from the date they died instead of the injury date.
Seek Justice with Help from Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A.
Call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. today at 561.689.8180 if nursing home abuse caused your loved one’s injury or death. We can start working on the case and determine the possible options for holding the negligent party liable for their wrongdoing.
One of our experienced and knowledgeable Florida nursing home abuse lawyers can discuss what happened with you during a free consultation. Don’t hesitate. Call 561.689.8180 today.
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