legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is a growing public health issue across the US. Thousands of vulnerable individuals suffer physical, psychological, sexual abuse, and even financial harm from the people who are supposed to keep them safe and healthy.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is also a problem in Orlando. Among the 309,000 residents in the city, 10.1% are seniors, and 6.9% are people under 65 with a disability. Many of these individuals live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities equipped to meet their unique needs.
Sadly, some nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect instead of thriving despite their conditions. For this reason, the affiliate Florida personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC is pushing back against negligent nursing homes and holding them accountable for their actions.
Are you or a loved one a victim of nursing home abuse? Our seasoned Orlando nursing home abuse lawyers can help. Call us at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation regarding your nursing home abuse claim.What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a single or repeated act that causes physical, psychological, or financial harm to a nursing home resident. It can result from negligence, carelessness, or malicious intent and may be intentional or unintentional.What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act or inaction that causes harm to an older person aged 60 and above. It can occur in any relationship wherein there is an expectation of trust.
Since over 90% of nursing home residents are senior citizens, elder abuse is the most common type of nursing home abuse.What Law Protects Nursing Home Residents?
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act specifies what services nursing homes must provide residents and solidifies standards for these services. This law aims to protect the legal rights of nursing home residents, including:
- Freedom from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment
- Freedom from physical restraints
- Accommodation of physical, psychological, medical, and social needs
- Participation in resident and family groups
- Be treated with dignity
- Exercise self-determination
- Communicate freely
- Participate in one’s care plan review and be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or status change in the facility
- Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
The state law determines residents' rights if federal statutes do not regulate the nursing home. Laws regarding nursing home abuse vary from state to state.What are the Types and Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse takes many forms and reveals itself in different ways. Family members should know the types and signs of abuse in nursing homes to differentiate them from the typical changes with aging.
Common types of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities:
Physical abuse involves the deliberate use of physical force against a nursing home patient, causing pain, injury, or impairment. It includes but is not limited to actions like slapping, striking, kicking, burning, and pinching. The use of restraint without medical reasons is also considered physical abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Unexplained injuries (e.g., cuts, burns, bruises)
- Broken eyeglasses
- Restraint or grip marks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychological abuse, also known as mental or emotional abuse, involves verbal and non-verbal acts that cause psychological harm to a resident. These acts may include verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, gaslighting, and geographical or social isolation.
Signs of Mental or Emotional Abuse
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Depression or anxiety
- Being extremely withdrawn
- Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
- Bouts of anger
- Difficulty sleeping
Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual act done to another person. It can take many forms, including verbal sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sodomy, coerced nudity, and rape. Sexual contact with a patient that cannot give valid consent (e.g., a mentally-disabled person) is also considered sexual abuse.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Reluctance or refusal to be touched
- Unexplained bruises around the breasts or genitals
- Genital infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Refusal to be alone with specific individuals
Financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s resources, including money, belongings, and assets. Financial abuse occurs in different ways, such as forging checks, stealing valuables, and making unauthorized transactions on credit cards.
Signs of Financial Abuse
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
- Unexplained transactions on credit cards
- Missing belongings
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- Inconsistencies in financial records of the facility
- Sudden changes in financial habits
Neglect is the failure of a nursing home staff member to provide a patient’s basic needs, including food, medication, clothing, and medical care, creating or increasing the risk of harm to a patient.
Signs of Neglect
- Poor physical appearance and hygiene
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
- Inadequate clothing for the weather
- Lack of medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids)
- Unexplained medical conditions (e.g., bed sores)
- Medication errors
The signs of nursing home neglect and abuse may mimic mental illness or dementia indicators. For instance, some signs of elder abuse are similar to those of dementia, such as mood or personality changes and social withdrawal.
Moreover, indicators of abuse may also be mistaken for a mental illness. Some nursing home abuse victims undergo behavior or personality changes with depression or anxiety.
Considering these similarities, family members must pay close attention to their loved ones’ health and well-being while in a nursing home. Consult a professional if you are unsure whether your disabled or elderly loved one has dementia, mental illness, abuse, or something else entirely.Who is Most at Risk for Nursing Home Abuse?
All patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not entirely safe from abuse and neglect. However, some individuals are more vulnerable, including:
- Patients with physical or mental disabilities
- Patients with special needs
- Patients with access to an abundance of wealth
- Dementia patients
- Women and children
- Patients in understaffed nursing facilities
Many victims of nursing home abuse suffer severe and long-term consequences from negligent nursing homes' actions (or inaction).
The following are some common effects of nursing home abuse, neglect, and mistreatment:
- Physical injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Mental anguish
- Financial losses
- Loss of quality of life
- Reduced family or social ties
- Increased risk of illnesses
- Wrongful death
Severe Complications Caused by Elder Abuse
An older person is likely to suffer more severe consequences due to increased physical and mental vulnerability. Minor injuries like bed sores can develop into severe illnesses such as sepsis or bone infections. More severe injuries, such as head trauma, can lead to permanent disability or even death.
With that in mind, pay close attention to your elderly loved one every time you visit. The signs of elder abuse may be less obvious, but they are easily noticeable if you know what to look for in a possible victim.What Causes Nursing Home Negligence?
Nursing home abuse often stems from multiple factors, such as:
- Underqualified Staff: The vulnerable patients in nursing home facilities require a certain level of care. If a nursing home hires employees that do not have the right qualifications, it could increase the risk of abuse, neglect, and even medical malpractice.
- Lack of Training: A nursing home facility that does not provide proper employee training could put its residents at risk of mistreatment.
- Understaffing: A lack of staff members creates high-stress environments and situations wherein there are not enough people to care for all residents.
- Poor Management: A substandard management team can create abusive or negligent staff members due to a lack of accountability and supervision.
Take action immediately if you think your disabled or elderly loved one is being mistreated in their nursing home. Giving the nursing home the benefit of the doubt can make way for more severe consequences for your family member.
Report known or possible abuse to the Orlando Police Department as soon as possible. But if you think your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger, call 911.
File a report to agencies in Florida that investigate abuse occurring in nursing homes, such as:
- Florida Department of Children & Families Abuse Hotline
- Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Department of Health (DOH)
Central Florida nursing homes may lose their licenses or certifications if state or local agencies find evidence of widespread or egregious abuse and neglect.How do You File an Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
Injured victims and their families can file personal injury claims against negligent nursing homes to recover financial compensation for their damages. If you or a loved one are a victim of nursing home abuse, talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The Role of Your Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Filing a personal injury claim without legal help could prevent you from receiving fair financial compensation. That said, hiring a lawyer is often necessary for cases like yours.
Your Orlando nursing home abuse lawyer can help you:
- Establish the liability of responsible parties
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Handle all claim-related paperwork
- Negotiate settlement values
- File your case in civil court, if necessary
The first step to establishing the liability of the nursing facility is to determine who is responsible for the abuse or neglect. Liable parties can be:
- Nursing home staff
- Other residents
The owner or administrator of the nursing home will also be held liable for your damages, even if only one staff member or a nursing home resident is responsible for the abuse or neglect.
Your nursing home abuse lawyer will help determine who should be liable for your loved one’s injuries.
Personal injury cases require substantial evidence to prove the fault of responsible parties. Your nursing home abuse attorney can help gather the following forms of proof:
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Medical records
- Psychological evaluations
- Incident reports
- Police reports
- Financial records, in case of financial abuse
- Witness accounts from nursing home employees, visitors, or other patients
- Expert testimony
Filing a personal injury claim could help your family recover compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for the cost of treating your loved one’s injuries, including hospitalization, medication, therapy, surgery, emergency transportation, etc
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your loved one becomes disabled from abuse or neglect. These damages may include loss of quality of life, mobility aids, lost income, and rehabilitation.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including bodily pain and emotional suffering.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for your loved one’s reduced quality of life after the abuse or neglect, which may manifest in loss of enjoyment in daily activities, decreased independence, reduced societal ties, etc.
- Wrongful Death: Payment for death-related damages if your loved one dies as a result of the abuse or neglect. These damages typically include funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, grief, etc.
- Punitive Damages: Charges on top of compensatory damages, aiming to punish negligent nursing homes for their actions or inaction.
The value of your settlement may depend on your damages; the more losses you incur, the higher the compensation. However, the case’s circumstances can also influence how much you receive.
Your nursing home abuse lawyer will discuss how much you should receive in compensation during your free case evaluation.
Your nursing home abuse attorney will negotiate a fair settlement with the nursing facility’s insurance company. Most nursing home abuse cases settle out of court to avoid hefty legal fees and drawn-out court trials.
However, your lawyer could file a civil case if negotiations are unsuccessful or if the nursing home denies fault for the abuse. If that happens, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both sides and then determine a verdict.
The Statute of Limitations
Personal injury victims have four years from the date of the underlying incident to file a case. (Florida Statutes Section 95.11) If the abuse leads to wrongful death, plaintiffs have two years to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Filing your case as soon as possible is key to recovering fair compensation. A delay in filing could result in a loss of evidence. If you miss the deadline but still file, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss.Hire an Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Resolve Your Case
Did you or a loved one suffer abuse or neglect from nursing home staff, visitors, or other residents? Did the mistreatment result in significant injuries, trauma, and financial losses? If so, the experienced attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC will fight the legal battle for you.
Our skilled nursing home abuse lawyers continuously represent victims of physical violence, sexual assault, financial exploitation, and other forms of abuse in nursing homes. Our experience and expertise can help your family recover fair monetary compensation through litigation or an out-of-court settlement.
Contact our Central Florida law offices at (800) 926-7565 for a free consultation about your nursing home abuse case. All information you share with our premises liability attorney during your confidential consultation will remain protected under an attorney-client relationship.
Furthermore, our nursing home abuse lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency basis, meaning our legal services are free unless we win.