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If your loved one has suffered abuse in an elder care facility, it is important to obtain an attorney who has the experience and resources needed to handle these types of claims. At Morgan & Morgan, our Jacksonville attorneys have decades of experience handling nursing home abuse cases and a record of success to match. It is the goal of our attorneys not only to recover fair awards for mistreated residents, but also to deter future instances of abuse in nursing homes in Jacksonville and the surrounding area.
More than one in ten elders suffer from elder abuse in their lifetime, according to the National Council on Aging. Has your loved one been the victim of nursing home abuse? If so, you should seek the counsel of a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately. Fill out our free case review form to see if our attorneys may be able to help you.
How Can A Jacksonville Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help?
When nursing homes are charged with abuse, they will attempt to delegitimize a resident’s accusations by claiming that the resident is lying, mentally compromised or otherwise unreliable. It is the job of the attorney to prove that negligence occurred within the elder care facility and that the plaintiff was injured as a result.
Given the complexity of these types of claims, it is important that you retain an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. At Morgan & Morgan, our Florida attorneys have more than two decades of experience successfully handling elder abuse claims and holding abusive facilities accountable for their negligent actions.
Since nursing homes under investigation are likely to enlist their own legal counsel to protect employees and financial interests, it is in your best interest to obtain an attorney who has the resources to effectively counter the opposing party’s arguments.
The attorneys at our Jacksonville firm are familiar with defense teams and can anticipate how they will try to deny abuse, diminish an elder’s mental capacity and block access to information relevant to the complaint. Further, we can consult with eyewitnesses and medical experts to gather evidence that negates the opposing team’s claims and demonstrates a causal link between the nursing home’s negligence and the resident’s injuries.
When Is a Florida Nursing Home Liable for Elder Abuse Damages?
The damages available in a Florida elder care abuse lawsuit can be extensive. Residents who have suffered abuse may be entitled to a recovery for medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability. The state of Florida also allows for residents and their families to recover punitive damages, which are reserved for egregious cases of abuse and intended to deter future instances of similar conduct.
For residents to qualify for a recovery, it must be demonstrated that they suffered injuries as a result of negligence committed either by the nursing home or an employee thereof. In Florida, the following may qualify as nursing home negligence and be sufficient grounds for a claim:
Nursing homes have an obligation to hire properly qualified personnel only. For many positions, the employee must have the required academic degrees and no history of abuse. When a nursing home fails to perform background checks and residents are hurt as a result, the nursing home may be found liable.
When an elder care facility is understaffed, residents can become vulnerable to neglect because staff members cannot spend an adequate amount of time treating each resident. When a resident suffers an injury as a result of understaffing, the nursing home may be found liable.
In some cases, nursing home employees are not properly trained to work with disabled or unruly residents. When a resident becomes injured because an inadequately trained employee does not provide the standard of care required by law, the nursing home may be found liable.
Third Party Responsibility Claim
Florida nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents, and therefore, may be found liable if third parties, such as family members or other visitors, cause injury to a resident.
Breach of Statutory or Regulatory Rights
Residents of nursing homes are entitled to autonomy, dignity, and privacy. When an employee of the nursing home violates one of the aforementioned rights, the nursing home may be found liable.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to see that the prescribed medication and dosage levels are administered to residents. If the nursing home is negligent in administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage, they may be found liable. In instances where the medication error originated with the pharmacy or the prescribing physician, those parties may be found liable as well.
What Types of Cases Do Our Jacksonville Attorneys Investigate?
Our lawyers are currently investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of Jacksonville area residents who suffered the following types of abuse:
Physical abuse in elder care facilities often takes the form of battery and other types of physical contact; however, it can also refer to force-feeding, overmedication and excessive use of chemical or physical restraint.
It is not unusual for physical abuse to go undetected, as residents are often intimidated into silence by their abusers or threatened with further violence if they discuss the abuse with loved ones. Therefore, it is important that a resident’s loved ones are aware of the signs of abuse. In some cases it is relatively easy to tell that an elder has been physically abused—they might have visible cuts and bruises, scars or even broken bones. Other times, abuse may be less apparent.
Some less-obvious warning signs that physical abuse might be occurring include:
- Your loved one spends an inordinate amount of time alone, removed from social activities and other residents
- Your loved one is unusually quiet or reserved
- A nursing home worker is unable to explain your loved one’s condition
- A nursing home worker is evasive when answering questions about your loved one’s condition
If you suspect your loved one has suffered abuse, our lawyers can help prevent the nursing home from blocking access to records and information pertinent to the claim. We can also work alongside medical experts who are well-versed in identifying evidence of physical abuse and can effectively articulate your loved one’s injuries and losses to a jury.
Emotional or mental abuse occurs when a nursing home worker intentionally degrades, threatens, or otherwise causes psychological anguish to a resident. Common forms of emotional abuse in Florida nursing homes include:
Verbal degradation: Verbal degradation occurs when a nursing home staff member yells or screams at a resident, makes sarcastic remarks, or insults the resident, causing emotional anguish.
Verbal threats: A stronger form of verbal degradation, verbal threats occur when a nursing home worker intimidates a resident into acting a certain way. Often, verbal threats are made so residents will act in a manner that benefits the nursing home worker and not necessarily the resident himself.
Manipulation: Many nursing home residents rely on workers for assistance with everyday activities, such as eating or using the bathroom. Such dependency makes nursing home residents vulnerable to emotional manipulation by the workers charged with caring for them. Nursing home emotional manipulation occurs when a worker deceitfully influences a resident for their own advantage to the point of distress for the resident.
Isolation: Isolation occurs when a resident is given the silent treatment, or is set apart from friends and family.
Some of the frequent warning signs of emotional abuse are confusion, mood swings, low self-esteem, seclusion, withdrawal, anxiety, odd tics or nervous behavior, and depression.
If you suspect emotional abuse is occurring, our lawyers can help investigate suspicious behavior and consult with medical experts and psychologists.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes occurs when an employee, fellow resident or family member engages in a sexual act with a resident without his or her consent. In addition to non-consensual sex acts, sexual abuse also refers to forced nudity, explicit photographing and showing residents pornography against their will.
The more apparent signs of sexual abuse include bruising around the breasts or thighs, sexually transmitted diseases, genital bleeding or infections, and trouble walking or standing. There are also less obvious signs of abuse, such as withdrawal, depression, unusual behavior, and strange sexual comments made by the resident.
If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, our attorneys can work alongside medical experts and psychologists to strengthen a claim and help ensure the future safety and dignity of your loved one.
Nursing home residents may entrust others to handle their finances, requiring them to divulge confidential information regarding their property and accounts. When the person enlisted to assist the resident uses the resident’s funds in a self-serving way, they may be committing financial abuse.
If you suspect your loved one has been financially exploited in an elder care facility, our attorneys can investigate the claim, obtain access to business records, and, if needed, help recover these funds.
Neglect refers to instances in which a caretaker fails to provide the level of care expected from a person in their position. Specifically, neglect in nursing homes may take the form of failure to assist in personal hygiene; failure to provide ample food, clothing, or shelter; failure to provide medical services; failure to address health and safety hazards; and failure to acknowledge unsanitary conditions. Signs that your loved one may have been neglected include, but are not limited to, bedsores, physical discomfort, and unexplained diseases and infections.
In-Home Care Abuse
Some families prefer that their loved ones live at home, rather than in an elder care facility. Since tending to the needs of an elder can be demanding, families will often enlist the help of an in-home caregiver to perform basic health and living services. While in-home caregivers are generally certified nursing assistants, there are some who provide non-medical assistance and are therefore not required to undergo special training.
Like nursing home employees, in-home care employees are bound by law to meet the accepted standard of care in the nursing community. If they fall short of that standard, and an elder is injured as a result, they may be held liable for damages.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, contact our Jacksonville nursing home lawyers today for a free consultation.