The decision to move a loved one to a nursing home — and the choice between various facilities — is often a difficult one that comes after extensive discussion and research, as well as onsite visits. These decisions also require a significant amount of trust and even faith in nursing home operators and their staff. Unfortunately, not all of them live up to their responsibilities, and that’s when a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer can step in to help.
Nursing home neglect and abuse is a real threat to seniors and their families in Florida and across the country. Nursing home residents are often some of the most vulnerable members of a community, yet the homes and staff entrusted with helping keep them safe are often found to be failing their jobs.
At Searcy Denney, we help people and families hold nursing homes responsible for abuse and neglect. A West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm will help you understand your rights and options for seeking compensation for any injuries.
What is Considered Abuse in West Palm Beach Nursing Homes?
Nursing home abuse is a general term used to describe a wide range of harmful behavior, from neglect that leads to bedsores to sexual abuse of residents by nursing home staff.
Nursing home residents are often highly dependent on others for daily care and assistance. As a result, certain neglect that might not be legally actionable in other settings can have life-altering consequences when it happens in a nursing home. Failure to help a nursing home resident eat and drink, for example, or to ensure that they get the medication they need can result in serious injury and even death.
A West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney at our firm will tell you that some of the more common forms of abuse are those connected to neglect. These wrongdoings include:
- Leaving residents unattended for long periods
- Declining to help residents use the restroom and clean up after bodily function accidents
- Forgetting or refusing to administer medication; improperly administering medication
- Failing to provide food and water
- Failing to clean rooms
- Refusing to provide regular baths
- Forgetting to change bed sheets
- Ignoring residents’ complaints
- Failing to report resident’s injuries or illnesses
- Negligent security and inadequate safety precautions
Then there is active abuse. The sad fact is that some nursing homes and their staff take physical, mental, and emotional advantage of their residents. That can happen in many different ways, including physically harming a resident and using threats or abuse to take control of the person’s finances.
Common Injuries for Nursing Home Residents
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney sees a variety of injuries in nursing home residents, including the following:
- Striking, punching, kicking, pushing residents
- Causing residents to strike each other
- Using physical restraints
- Isolating residents
- Name-calling, insults, threats
- Controlling residents’ communication with family, friends, and others outside of the nursing home
Regardless of the type of neglect or abuse, nursing home residents and their families have the right to take action against home operators who allow it to happen. That includes seeking compensation for any injuries, illnesses, and other medical conditions caused or made worse by neglect or abuse, as well as filing complaints with local police and regulatory authorities.
A West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer can help you take legal action against those responsible for abuse and neglect and obtain the full compensation available under the law.
What Laws Protect Florida Nursing Home Residents?
A variety of federal and state laws require nursing home operators to provide a certain level of care to residents. These laws also make operators legally liable for any harm they cause when they do not live up to their responsibilities.
The Nursing Home Reform Act, for instance, is a federal law that generally requires all nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds to ensure that they are providing a reasonably safe environment for residents. Federal regulations enforcing the law are specifically designed to ensure that residents get a certain quality of care and enjoy a certain quality of life at a nursing home while also being safe and secure.
The NHRA and the regulations specifically ban physical and mental abuse, as well as corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and any physical or chemical restraints used for discipline or convenience. Some restraint may be needed in certain situations to treat a resident’s medical symptoms or prevent the person from being injured. However, nursing home staff must use the least restrictive option for the least amount of time necessary and regularly re-evaluate whether the restraint is necessary.
Nursing home operators are also expected to take steps to combat abuse and neglect in their hiring and training of staff. That means doing criminal history and background checks on prospective employees and declining to hire applicants who have previously been cited for abuse, neglect, exploitation, misappropriation of property, or mistreatment. It also means training staff on proper care, signs of abuse and neglect, and reporting abuse and neglect.
The NHRA and Affordable Care Act also imposes certain reporting requirements on nursing home operators and staff. The ACA specifically forces staff members to report certain crimes to law enforcement within strict deadlines and protects reporters from being retaliated against for contacting authorities.
Similarly, Florida law gives nursing home residents many specific rights, including the right to access to legal, medical, and other caretakers, the right to privacy and the right to be treated courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity. State law also prohibits a wide range of mental and physical abuse, along with corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints.
When to Hire a West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Nursing home residents who have been subjected to abuse or neglect have the right to take action against those responsible. That includes filing a lawsuit and reporting the nursing home to law enforcement and regulatory authorities.
Lawsuits can include several claims, depending on the circumstances. For example, nursing home residents – and those representing them – can allege claims like assault, battery and false imprisonment in cases involving physical abuse. They can also pursue claims like fraud, theft, and intentional infliction of emotional distress for certain types of other abuse and neglect.
Generally, nursing homes are liable for legal violations by their doctors and staff members as long as the person is acting within the scope of their employment at the time. That is important because these companies have legal responsibilities to protect residents and are likely to have more extensive insurance policies available to cover the full extent of any compensation awarded to a nursing home resident and their family.
Breaking Down Negligence Claims Involving Nursing Homes
Many nursing home abuse and neglect cases involve negligence claims. This is a legal theory that holds people and entities responsible for not living up to a specific standard of care. The standard of care is higher in nursing homes than in other settings because of the trust they are afforded by residents and because of their obligations under federal and state laws.
To prove negligence, you have to be able to specifically identify how the nursing home and/or its staff failed to meet the standard of care and prove that this failure caused you to be injured. Common forms of nursing home negligence include failing to keep the premises safe, clean and sanitary, as well as negligent hiring, supervision, and training of staff and failure to provide adequate medical care or treatment.
You also have to be able to show the harm caused by the nursing home’s negligence. That often requires detailed medical records and other evidence.
In the tragic event that a person dies due to nursing home abuse, certain family members have the right to take action by suing for wrongful death. Although a lawsuit will not bring your loved one back, it can ensure that negligent nursing home operators are held fully accountable.
A West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney at Searcy Denney can help you build the strongest possible case.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney at Searcy Denney can help you understand your rights and explore your options for seeking compensation.
Our injury attorneys help injured people and their families fight back against abuse and neglect. Our previous successes include a nearly $1.6 million settlement with a nursing facility that failed to properly monitor a resident’s medical treatment and a nearly $550,000 settlement for the family of a neglected nursing home resident.
We are pleased to offer contingency fee arrangements, which means we do not get paid unless you win your case.
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Tampa and Tallahassee. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyer today.