Just like the young, the oldest members of our society are some of the most vulnerable to abuse. Even though seniors move to nursing homes to get the care and comfort that they need, too often, their trust is violated, and they become the victims of nursing home abuse.
When this happens to you or a loved one, you may not know where to turn. Those who suspect nursing home abuse will need to work with a qualified nursing home abuse attorney to build a case for liability and hold those who are responsible accountable. Here’s what you need to know about Florida liability in a nursing home abuse case.
Both Florida Statutes and Common Law Help Nursing Home Abuse Victims
Florida law is serious about stopping nursing home abuse. There are two sets of laws that apply in Florida nursing home abuse cases. There are general legal rules about negligence and liability when a nursing home breaches their duty to care for their residents properly. Additionally, lawmakers also passed Florida’s nursing home bill of rights to make sure that victims have the necessary avenues to protect themselves and receive compensation for their losses.
Both sets of laws work to protect nursing home victims. The two sets of statutes work together and in addition to each other. Both sets of laws might apply to your case, or only one set of laws might apply. Your nursing home abuse attorney can help you accurately assert your rights under each type of law.
Florida’s Nursing Home Bill of Rights
Florida law 400.022 is Florida’s nursing home bill of rights. The law aims to require nursing home operators to provide a minimum level of competent care. It also seeks to hold wrongdoers accountable and provide a remedy when they fail to comply with the law. Patient rights under the nursing home bill of rights include:
• Private communication without monitoring from employees
• Receiving unopened mail
• Overnight visits outside the facility
• Visitation from people outside the facility
• Interacting and socializing with other patients in the facility
• Examining records of inspection for the facility
• A personal accounting of the patient’s finances and bills
• Appropriate healthcare
• Medial privacy
When a nursing home violates any provision of Florida’s nursing home bill of rights, there are a variety of penalties they may face. State administrative agencies may inspect the nursing home, penalize it, and even close it. They may issue fines and dictate orders to make changes.
Victims also have the right to bring an action against their nursing home for violating the nursing home bill of rights. Florida law 400.023 allows nursing home victims to bring a civil action to enforce the law. You can ask the court for an injunction, for financial compensation, or both.
An injunction is a court order that mandates that the nursing home change their behavior. Financial compensation is monetary payment for your financial losses or physical and emotional suffering because of the abuse. Florida law 400.023 also allows an abuse victim to claim punitive damages and attorney fees in some cases. The victim or their guardian can bring an enforcement action under the nursing home bill of rights.
Related: Nursing Home Abuse: How to Spot It
What About Wrongful Death Laws?
In 2003, a nursing home challenged Florida law 400.022 by saying that it doesn’t apply in wrongful death cases. In the Florida Convalescent Centers v Somberg case, the court ruled that lawmakers intended for the nursing home bill of rights to overrule Florida’s wrongful death laws. The ruling enforced Florida law 400.022 and protected the rights of nursing home victims to recover fully for their damages.
Civil Negligence Laws
In addition to Florida’s nursing home bill of rights, you can also establish liability in your nursing home abuse case through traditional civil negligence laws. Nursing home operators have a duty of care to their patients.
Because a nursing home exists to provide competent care to patients, the nursing home operators must give reasonable and competent care to their patients. When they fail to do their duty, and someone gets hurt as a result, they’re legally liable to the victim or their representatives for the victim’s losses. Just a few of the ways that a nursing home can breach their duty of care include:
• Isolating patients from friends, family, and other residents
• Not giving them healthy meals
• Neglecting proper medical care
• Failing to address needs for daily living
• Assault and battery
• Emotional abuse
The elements of a nursing home abuse case are the same as they are in all civil negligence cases: duty, breach, causation, and damages. A nursing home always has a responsibility to their patients to act reasonably as they provide care. You must show that the nursing home breached their duty and that the breach resulted in the victim’s damages. A victim may recover for the full range of damages available in civil negligence cases when they suffer from nursing home abuse.
Who Do I Bring My Claim Against?
When you suffer from nursing home abuse, you bring your claim against the nursing home owner, the operators or their employees. You don’t bring your claim against individual, hands-off investors that aren’t involved in care or managing care. Your attorney can help you determine who to name in your case.
Statute of Limitations
There are time limits to bring a case for nursing home abuse in Florida. The general limit is two years, but in some cases, you can extend it for up to six years from the time of the abuse.
If you think that you or a loved one may be the victim of abuse, don’t wait to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney for nursing home abuse cases.
Working With Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys
If you’re concerned about the care you or your loved one is getting in a nursing home, the skilled legal team at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys is here to help. We have helped countless clients successfully pursue nursing home abuse cases, and we are dedicated to protecting the rights of the elderly.