No one wants to entrust their elderly loved one’s care to an unqualified and neglectful nursing home. While most nursing homes have a compassionate and professional staff, not all facilities deserve your trust. Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys are committed to holding nursing homes accountable for their negligent or abusive conduct and helping to ensure that other Tampa-area residents are less likely to suffer from elder abuse.
We have witnessed the harm that results from nursing home abuse and are dedicated to helping residents assert their legal right to a safe living environment. While each case is different, our attorneys seek to ensure our clients are fully compensated for their losses, and most importantly, find an end to the abuse.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you may have legal recourse. To learn more about how our Tampa nursing home abuse attorneys may be able to help, please complete our free case review form today.
How Can a Tampa Nursing Home Attorney Help?
If you have suspicions that your family member is being neglected or abused in their nursing home, you will need proof to support your claim, should you elect to take legal action. Contacting a nursing home attorney is an important first step in filing a claim or lawsuit.
The investigations specific to your claim will depend on the type of abuse you allege; however, there are steps our attorneys may take in each case, regardless of its nature, including:
- Reviewing the history of any previous complaints about the facility
- Interviewing other nursing home residents
- Visiting and gathering their own information to know which areas on which the investigation should focus
- Ensuring the facility is following mandatory legal regulations
- Consulting with regulatory agencies for past violations
- Interviewing staff members
The steps your attorney will take during the investigation process may vary based on the type of abuse alleged. These steps can include:
- Evaluating the condition of the victim
- Comparing pre-claim and post-injury medical charts
- Evaluating the extent of detail included in the resident’s medical charts
- Photographing any injuries the victim claims to have suffered
- Interviewing employed health care professionals
- Having the patient evaluated by a psychiatrist unaffiliated with the home
- Asking family members to compare pre-admission and post-admission behavior and mood
- Interviewing the victim, and other residents, about how their time is spent, to determine whether isolation is a factor
- Investigating the manner in which nursing home workers treat residents
- Inquiring about activities and time spent with others, and the encouragement of the staff to engage
- Reviewing medical charts to determine if any medications have been administered which may alter the resident’s mood
- Reviewing treatments and care the resident has received to determine whether they were necessary
- Reviewing invoices to ensure all information is valid and submitted properly
- Determining if the home has a history of over-billing or charging for unperformed services
- Interviewing staff to determine whether the billed expenses were actually performed
- Determining whether procedures, medications, unrequested luxuries, and other billable services were necessary
Our Tampa attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to collect evidence to substantiate your beliefs. For instance, we have established relationships with experts and the agencies which periodically review nursing homes’ compliance with mandatory regulations. These relationships can supplement our attorneys’ investigation and help further substantiate your claim.
Nursing Home Residents’ Rights
In an attempt to protect nursing home residents and allow them to maintain control over many important aspects of their lives, Nursing Home Reform Amendments made to OBRA in 1987 set guidelines that must be honored, and hung visibly, by nursing home staff.
The Amendments aim to maintain quality of life; provision of services and activities; participation in facility administration; and guaranteed access to the ombudsman program.
Specific Rights Accorded to Nursing Home Residents Include:
- The right to self-determination (choosing a doctor, access to medical information, etc.)
- Personal and privacy rights (practicing the religion of choice, confidentiality of personal information, etc.)
- Rights regarding abuse and restraints (may not be restrained or mistreated as a means of punishment, restraint only under doctor’s orders, administration of medication according to doctor’s orders, etc.)
- Rights to information (facility inspection results, prior notice of room changes, knowledge of which services are covered and which are at an additional fee, Medicaid benefits, etc.)
- Rights to visits (visits by their primary care physician and family, visits by friends ‘subject to reasonable restriction,’ visits by ombudsmen by permission, etc.)
- Rights of transfer and discharge (right to remain in the facility unless discharge or transfer is in their best interest or the health and security of others is threatened, etc.)
- Protection of personal funds (facility may not force residents to hold the resident’s money, abide by written rules established by contract, etc.)
- Protection against Medicaid discrimination
If these rights are violated, you should contact an attorney immediately to help determine your legal options. Changes in legislation have made filing a claim against a nursing home, or its staff, difficult. A Tampa nursing home abuse attorney will be able to navigate the complicated process of filing suit to seek compensation for your loved one.
Types and Signs of Nursing Home Elder Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse is the intentional infliction of distress or harm on a resident. Elder abuse can take many forms, including, but not limited to the following:
This is the intentional infliction of fear, degradation or anguish on another person through verbal or non-verbal acts. Signs of emotional abuse or neglect may include:
- Unusual behavior such as sucking, rocking, or biting
- Depression or development of other psychiatric disorders
- Unusually low self-esteem
- Unexplained confusion
- Irrational fear
This includes the intentional or negligent infliction of harm or injury to the resident. In some cases, it can be difficult to identify nursing home residents who have been physically abused. Very often, members of the nursing home staff will claim that the resident’s injuries were the result of a fall rather than the actual cause–nursing home abuse. Some signs include:
- Unexplained bruising
- Use of excessive restraints
This occurs when the facility or caretaker uses the money or assets of a resident for their own personal use. Factors that may contribute to the ability to financially abuse a resident include:
- Residents not having access to or control over their funds
- The use of threats or manipulation
Examples of financial abuse may include:
- Forged signatures on important documents or checks
- The sudden disappearance of valuable possessions
- Unexplained or frequent withdrawals from a bank account
- The appearance of new names on the resident’s bank card
- Sudden changes to the resident’s wills, deeds, or trusts
- Provision and payment of unnecessary services
Neglect is the failure of a caretaker to execute the degree of care expected from a person in their position. This can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening health problems. While abuse is committed with intent, nursing home neglect is the result of negligence and indifference. Some of the most common forms of nursing home neglect can include:
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Inadequate food, clothing, and shelter
- Failure to provide medical treatment for physical and mental health issues
- Unsanitary conditions
- Unexpected death
In-Home Care Abuse
In some cases, families may elect to provide their loved one with in-home care instead of placing them in a nursing home. This choice may be for financial or personal reasons, or because they fear their elderly relative may be abused or neglected in a nursing home. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect can occur with in-home care providers, as well.
Talking to your family member periodically about the care they are receiving can be helpful in finding evidence of abuse or neglect. If they do not speak, or you think they fear to speak honestly, you may suspect they are being abused or neglected. If this is the case, look for traditional signs of abuse and neglect which are seen in nursing homes.
As with nursing home abuse and neglect cases, document any evidence you may find. A Tampa attorney can provide assistance by investigating the in-home caretaker and/or the caretaker’s company, reviewing your documents and preparing a legal claim for abuse or neglect.
Who Can I Sue?
There are several parties who may be held responsible for injuries resulting from abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Parties which may be responsible for the injuries may include the nursing home, nursing home staff, the owner of the facility, and government agencies who failed to regulate the home properly.
How Much is My Case Worth?
If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation for damages sustained as a result. Compensation to which you may be entitled can include economic damages to cover medical, financial, and any other tangible injuries sustained. You may also be entitled to non-economic damages to cover pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other intangible losses.
What have our attorneys in Tampa won for our nursing home abuse clients? Here are a few examples.
- $875,000 settlement for an assisted living facility resident who was not properly assessed for their placement in the facility, and was diagnosed with a severe pressure ulcer.
- $675,000 settlement after a facility failed to adequately plan for the discharge of a patient. This case was settled one week into the trial.
If you have a family member who you believe is being abused or neglected by their caretakers, you may have the right to file a claim to recover compensation. While no amount of money can erase the physical and emotional damage your family member may have suffered, it can help pay for medical bills, therapy sessions, and other expenses to help your loved one regain normalcy in his or her life.
To have an experienced Tampa nursing home abuse attorney review your claim today, please complete our free case review form.