Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem plaguing the elderly residents of Florida. Although family members believe their loved one will be in the best care possible at one of these facilities, for a number of reasons, this may not always be true. For those with family members or loved ones in a nursing home, this concern can be alarming. It’s crucial for those family members to be aware of this issue, and to know what to look for.

According to Florida law, all abuse and even the suspicion of abuse must be reported immediately. There are many options when it comes to reporting abuse and taking legal action. It’s important to understand what these options are, so you are prepared should you ever find yourself in this situation. Here’s what you need to know about how to report Tampa nursing home injuries and abuse.

Call 911

If you suspect elder abuse, the first thing you need to do is take steps to ensure the safety of the nursing home resident. If you suspect that your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911.

Related: Nursing Home Abuse: How to Spot It

Alerting the authorities is the best way to ensure your loved one and other residents are immediately protected from further abuse. In fact, the Department of Justice has specifically trained law enforcement officers on the best methods for responding to calls involving abuse of the elderly.

Call Florida Department of Children and Families

The Florida Department of Children and Families has a division devoted entirely to the protection of the elderly. Their mission is to work in partnership with families and the community to protect the vulnerable, as well as promote strong families. Almost all nursing home abuse and neglect concerns should go through Florida’s Department of Children and Families, as this is considered adult protective services.

When you call adult protective services, an investigation is conducted. During the investigation, authorities will determine if abuse, neglect, or exploitation have occurred and if it’s still occurring. It is also meant to assess the risks of abuse and neglect for all of the individuals in the facility.

The Florida Department of Children and Families will assess the situation and take the necessary steps. Some steps may include:

  • Police involvement
  • Moving abused individuals
  • Working with the facility to ensure abusers are terminated
  • Working to restore living conditions

The Florida Abuse Hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day. You can make a report online or call 800 962-2873.

Filling Out a Report

Information provided to the police or adult protective services is critical in an investigation. Be sure to gather as much information as possible. Ask, look, listen, take pictures, and write down information as you receive it to ensure no details are missed.

You will be asked to provide an explanation of why you suspect abuse. Additional information should include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Approximate age
  • Location of the person you are concerned about

Investigators will take the information provided to them and work as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Florida’s Elder Abuse Laws

Not only is nursing home abuse a matter of life, safety, and a violation of civil law, it can also be a crime. Florida law 825.102 prohibits abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of vulnerable adults. The law defines abuse as intentionally physically or psychologically injuring a vulnerable adult or doing something that’s likely to cause a physical or psychological injury.

Even when the act doesn’t result in any actual harm, it’s still a serious felony under Florida law. When the abuse is aggravated, it’s a first-degree felony. To be aggravated elder abuse, it usually requires torturing a vulnerable adult or inflicting great bodily harm.

Florida law also contains a prohibition of neglect against vulnerable adults which applies to all caregivers. A caregiver violates this law when they fail to provide a person in their care with appropriate food, nutrition, clothing, and other necessities. Neglect of a vulnerable adult is also a felony.

Civil Recourse

In addition to going through law enforcement and adult protective services, you can also work with a civil attorney to bring a claim for your loved one’s damages. Florida law allows them to bring a claim for recovery against the person or company that’s responsible for the abuse.

A civil claim can help fairly compensate those affected. Although no amount of money can ease the emotional or physical pain, it can help offer justice to those involved. Bringing a claim can also help prevent further abuse of other nursing home residents in the future.

Why Bring a Civil Case?

Even if you plan to pursue the case through law enforcement channels, there are still important reasons to work with a civil attorney to bring an action for nursing home abuse. First, the burden of proof in a civil case is lower than it is in a criminal case.

Even if you are unsuccessful in the criminal case, there’s still a chance that you can win the civil case. That’s because you only have to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence instead of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Also, there’s a greater range of damages you can collect in a civil action for nursing home abuse than in a criminal action. In a civil case, you can ask for pain and suffering and mental anguish compensation. In most criminal cases, you can only ask for out of pocket expenses like medical bills.

Working with an Attorney

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can guide you through the steps of making reports to the right people and organizations when you suspect nursing home abuse. Once you’ve secured your loved one’s immediate safety, they can help you bring a claim for compensation for your loved one. This can help your loved one find justice and peace of mind. It can also hold abusers accountable and prevent abuse of others.

If you suspect nursing home abuse and need help understanding what actions to take to protect your loved one, call the skilled legal team at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys today. Jack Bernstein is highly experienced in protecting the rights of the elderly and can help you understand the options available to you. Call (813) 333-6666 to schedule your free consultation today. There is no fee unless we win.

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