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Palm Harbor Nursing Home Abuse
When we move a loved one into a nursing home, we want them to receive the best possible care and live out their remaining years with the dignity, respect, and attention they deserve. Unfortunately, unlawful elder abuse may be much more widespread than current figures suggest, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
Abuse and neglect can have horrific consequences for a defenseless nursing home resident and lead to emotional distress, bedsores, malnutrition, broken bones, and, in the most severe cases, an untimely death. However, victims could have legal recourse and hold a nursing home accountable for abuse and neglect.
Morgan & Morgan’s compassionate and dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers in Palm Harbor are here to help. We can assess your case, walk you through your legal options, and identify the best course of action. Contact us now to determine whether you have a claim and qualify for compensation.
What Qualifies as Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can come in many different ways and affect a senior emotionally and physically. Common types of elder abuse include:
Long-term verbal and emotional abuse can be as devastating to a senior as physical abuse. A verbally abused individual may develop a fear of caregivers, depression, and socially isolate themselves. Emotional and verbal abuse can include:
- Ignoring requests
- Social isolation
- Yelling at a senior
Examples of physical abuse and violence in the nursing home can include hitting a senior, improperly restraining them, and other physical violence with the intent to harm. Physical abuse could lead to severe and life-changing injuries and result in high medical costs for a senior and their family. Signs that your loved one is experiencing physical violence include unexplained injuries and bruising, as well as character changes.
Neglect is a form of nursing home abuse. Most nursing home residents are highly dependent on caregivers to help them with the necessary tasks of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating, and drinking. Neglecting a resident’s basic needs can threaten their life. If your loved one in the nursing home is suffering from sudden and unexplained weight or hair loss or lacks personal hygiene, they may suffer from general neglect. A lack of hygiene and cleanliness around the facility, such as dirty floors and bathrooms, or stained bedlinen, can also point to neglect.
Sexual abuse is perhaps one of the most shocking types of mistreatment in the nursing home and can include various sexual behaviors and acts, including:
- Unwanted nudity and touching
- Sexual assault
- Taking sexual photographs or videos
Signs that your loved one is a victim of a sexual predator in the nursing home can include difficulty walking or sitting and injuries in the genital region.
What You Can Do
When you place your loved one in a nursing home in Palm Harbor, try to stay actively involved with their day-to-day life and frequently visit, if you can. Observing any personality or physical changes in your loved one can be crucial for discovering abuse. Moreover, spending time at the facility can also help you get a general feel about the home. When visiting, you can observe how the staff interacts with residents and whether the cleanliness of the facility is up to scratch, for example. Talking to your loved one about their day and asking them questions about their care can also reveal red flags.
Detecting neglect and abuse as early as possible and reporting any concerns can help to keep seniors safe. Morgan & Morgan is here to listen to your concerns about your loved one’s care. Our nursing home abuse attorneys in Palm Harbor and legal teams are on standby and ready to answer your questions in a free consultation.
The Nursing Home Could Be Liable
Skilled nursing facilities have contracts with their residents and are regulated by various laws, such as the federal Nursing Home Reform Act. Therefore, nursing homes must take steps to ensure that residents are safe from abuse and neglect. If your loved one experienced abuse and suffered injuries and financial losses, you could hold the facility accountable and receive compensation. A nursing home can be liable due to:
Hiring Unqualified or Unsuitable Employees
Negligent hiring practices include the failure to conduct adequate background checks before hiring caregivers or failing to check the qualifications and credentials of staff. Failing to vet and check individuals before hiring them could expose vulnerable nursing home residents to known abusers and criminals.
Lack of Training
Poor training of nursing home staff can put residents at risk. Lack of dementia training, in particular, could lead to residents being unlawfully restrained or treated without an understanding of their specific care needs.
Understaffing is a significant issue in skilled nursing facilities, where most residents require help with the basic tasks of living such as eating, drinking, and personal hygiene. Having too few caregivers can lead to dehydration and malnourishment, among other issues. Moreover, stretched and stressed employees are more likely to be impatient with residents and make mistakes, for example, when administering medications.
There can be many comings and goings in a nursing home throughout a typical day, such as contractors, visitors, healthcare providers, and others. Potentially, any visitor or contractor to the home could commit abuse. The nursing home is generally responsible for keeping residents reasonably safe from any threats to their security and safety. The home should have appropriate security protocols in place, which can include:
- Checking IDs of visitors to the home
- Security cameras
- Locks on doors and outside gates
Documenting and Proving Nursing Home Abuse in Palm Harbor
Discovering abuse or neglect of your loved one can be shocking and upsetting. You may not know where to turn or what to do for the best. However, once your loved one is safe, your efforts should shift to gathering evidence of nursing home liability. Ensure to document all your findings without skipping over any details. Steps you could take include:
- Seek medical advice for your loved one’s injuries.
- Take photographs of any injuries and evidence.
- Gather evidence such as medical records, stained clothing, and other material.
- Write down your observations in a journal, including dates and times of incidents.
- Identify potential witnesses such as family members of other residents or staff members.
Even in cases where abuse is evident, proving a nursing home’s liability can be challenging. However, our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys in Palm Harbor can help. We can analyze a nursing home’s records to determine violations or shortcomings such as understaffing, negligent hiring of caregivers, and others. An attorney may also use state records to uncover previous violations or abuse cases in the nursing home.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help
Our determined nursing home abuse lawyers can assist with pursuing a claim against the perpetrator and nursing home. We represent victims and their families in various claims, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Improper restraints
- Emotional abuse
- Malnutrition and dehydration
An attorney from our firm can analyze your case and determine your options. We can help to prove your case against the nursing home by establishing the following elements of a personal injury claim:
- The nursing home breached its duty of care
- The breach led to the abuse or neglect of the victim
- The victim has injuries and damages as a result
Your lawyer can negotiate a comprehensive out-of-court settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf to seek damages.
Many nursing homes have experience with handling neglect and abuse claims and may have a team of lawyers on retainer, ready to fight any claims. However, with America’s largest personal injury firm on your side, you are in good hands. Our tenacious trial attorneys are ready to go all the way to get justice for you and your loved one.
Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.
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Which Damages Could I Recover With a Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
Victims and their families could be eligible for various types of compensation in nursing home abuse claims, including:
- Medical costs
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Medical transportation expenses
- Costs for moving to another nursing home
A court may also award punitive damages if the nursing home acted particularly egregiously in causing harm to residents.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Palm Harbor?
One of the first steps anyone witnessing or suspecting elder abuse should take is to report their findings to the nursing home and the authorities as soon as possible. Reporting suspected abuse of a senior is mandatory in Florida and can protect your loved one as well as other nursing home residents. In the first instance, report your findings or suspicions to a supervisor or the director at the nursing home. Nursing homes generally have a grievance policy and procedure to follow.
You should also file a report at reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us or call Florida’s 24/7 nursing home abuse hotline at 1-800-96-2873 to report suspected neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a nursing home resident. If your loved one requires urgent medical help or is in immediate danger due to abuse, call 911 for assistance.
Consult with a Nursing Home Attorney in Palm Harbor
Once you have reported the abuse and your loved one is safe, consider speaking to one of our nursing home abuse lawyers to identify your next steps. An attorney can determine whether you qualify for compensation and move forward with a legal claim.
What Are the Most Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Abusers often target seniors with cognitive difficulties such as dementia. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of abuse can be crucial for discovering any mistreatment and holding the perpetrators to account. If your loved one is unable or unwilling to talk about what has happened to them, ensure to be on the lookout for any unusual emotional or physical signs pointing to abuse, which can include:
- Unexplained injuries such as fractures, dislocations, or sprains
- Rapid weight loss
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Fear of caregivers
- Unexplained bruises
- Personality changes such as withdrawal
- New depression or anxiety
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Genital bleeding or bruising
If you detect these or other worrying signs, you should contact the management of the nursing facility immediately and ask for explanations. If you believe that your loved one experienced neglect or abuse, you should also report your findings to the authorities in Palm Harbor.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit in Palm Harbor, FL?
Florida Statute §95.11 provides that plaintiffs (those bringing the lawsuit) have four years to file a lawsuit and recover damages. However, some factors may lengthen or shorten the time for filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Therefore, it can be in your best interests to contact an attorney as soon as you discover that your loved one experienced abuse.
Our motivated attorneys can start to collect evidence immediately to build your case against the nursing home. Waiting too long can make it challenging to gather relevant material to prove your claim, such as witness statements and relevant nursing home records. Letting too much time pass can also provide the nursing home with the opportunity to destroy crucial evidence such as internal paperwork.
Our Palm Harbor Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Are Here for You
Abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are not always intentional. However, when nursing homes aggressively cut their costs to try and increase profits, neglect of residents can be the result. Moreover, it is not uncommon for nursing home management to trivialize a resident’s physical or mental decline and blame it on aging rather than take responsibility for their facility’s shortcomings and failures.
Morgan & Morgan wants to help the most vulnerable in society. If your father, mother, or grandparent experienced abuse in their nursing home, we can stand by your side and work tirelessly to hold the responsible parties accountable. You pay nothing until and unless we win and you receive a settlement. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we could help you and your loved one get justice.
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