Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
When you trust a nursing home to care for an elderly family member, you hope your loved one will be safe and well cared for. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many nursing home residents do not get the quality care they deserve, and far too many are victims of abuse and neglect.
Sadly, an estimated 2.1 million U.S. seniors are injured due to nursing home abuse or neglect each year. The negligent and abusive care they receive ranges from staff forgetting to provide necessary care and treatment to careless, abusive lifting, hitting, grabbing and moving of patients.
If you or a loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect in a nursing home, the attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA want to help you get the justice you deserve. We have been helping families hold negligent/abusive parties accountable for their actions for more than 25 years and have the experience and knowledge you can rely on to fight successfully for you.
How Prevalent is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
When you trust a nursing home to care for a loved one you expect the facility to provide a safe and caring environment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Consider the following facts and figures from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA):
- For every one instance of elder abuse that is reported, experts believe that at least another 14 go unreported.
- Almost half (40%) of nursing home residents have reported abuse.
- More than 90% of nursing home residents report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Complaints of abuse, exploitation, or neglect account for 7% of complaints given to Ombudsmen at long-term care facilities.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants employed be nursing homes admit verbally abusing the elderly residents at the facilities.
How Do I Know If a Loved One Is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?
One of the most frustrating aspects of nursing home abuse is that it can be difficult to know when a loved one is being victimized. Often, nursing home residents are suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and cannot communicate effectively. Even if your loved one can communicate, studies find that seniors often fail to speak out when they are the victim of elder abuse because they are ashamed or embarrassed to be a victim.
With that in mind, vigilance and knowledge of what to look for are key to identifying and addressing the problem. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, but there are common signs that will help you determine if abuse is occurring. These signs include:
- Dramatic mood swings
- Depression, withdrawal, or isolation
- Uncharacteristic anger or hostility
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Bruises that are frequent and/or unexplained
- Signs that restraints have been used on the ankles or wrists
- Unusual or unexplained medical problems
- Urinary tract infections or other signs of sexual abuse
- Evidence that prescription medication is missing or not being taken as prescribed
- Money or other personal items missing
What Can I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you have a loved one in a nursing home facility or another long-term care facility and you suspect that abuse is occurring, talking to your loved one about your concerns is an initial option. If communication is difficult or your loved one shuts down when you try to communicate about the issue, you should make an appointment to speak to the facility administrator. This may lead to a legitimate and productive investigation; however, you should not count on that happening.
Sadly, many facilities are much more concerned with making profits and avoiding liability than protecting residents. Therefore, you should also consult with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Most importantly, if you suspect neglect or abuse, you should trust your instincts and act on them to save your loved one from additional pain and suffering.
Florida Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Lawsuits
Under Florida law, a nursing home is required to provide reasonable care to its residents. If the nursing home fails to do so or fails to follow industry standards and that failure causes injury to a nursing home resident, the victim may have grounds for a negligence lawsuit.
With a negligence lawsuit, you can hold a nursing home facility liable for acts of negligence, neglect, or abuse that have harmed a resident. A negligence lawsuit may arise from issues such as:
- Failing to keep the premises safe. The facility and staff should be aware of foreseeable dangers such as slip and fall risks or unsanitary conditions that could lead to the spread of infection. In some situations, the staff or management cause the dangerous situation. In other cases, they knew or should have known about the danger but did nothing about it.
- Failing to provide adequate medical care or treatment. Nursing homes are obligated to meet the standard of medical care for their patients. Medication errors, failing to turn a resident to prevent bedsores, and failing to treat injuries or illnesses are examples of care that could be considered substandard.
- Negligent Hiring: Nursing homes have an obligation to hire personnel who are qualified for their positions and have no record of abuse or violence. If a nursing home hires employees without conducting background checks, they are putting their patients at risk and can be held liable for negligence.
- Inadequate Training: In some cases, nursing home employees are not trained to handle disabled or disobedient residents, so they may provide substandard care. If inadequate staff training results in a patient being seriously injured, the nursing home can be held liable.
- Understaffing: The average nursing home staff-to-patient ratio is 1 staff member to every 1.64 patients; however, many facilities need more staff because their patients require extensive care. If a nursing home is understaffed, patients may be neglected because there is no one available to care for them or because staff members are overworked and stressed. If a patient suffers an injury due to understaffing, the nursing home can be held liable for the injury.
- Third-Party Responsibility: Nursing homes can also be held liable for injuries caused by third parties within the facility. For example, if a patient is injured by another patient or a guest at the facility, the nursing home is legally responsible if they failed to provide adequate security to prevent such an incident.
Getting help from an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer is important when a loved one has been injured due to negligent, abusive nursing home care. The attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA have the experience and know-how to help you understand your legal rights and do everything possible to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Get Help from an Experienced Florida Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, please contact the experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Making sure you protect yourself or loved one and hold the negligent parties accountable for their negligence is our main concern.
Many lawyers will do everything in their power to settle outside of court, but we never back down. We will leverage our extensive trial experience to fight for justice and the compensation you deserve. Working with the attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates means being supported through the entire legal process.
Call us at 855-LAW-DENNIS or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (30 Nov. 2018). CMS strengthens nursing home oversight and safety to ensure adequate staffing.
Florida Health Care Association. (2017). Facts about long term care in Florida.
National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.). Statistics and data.