Ocala Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Florida is the country’s most popular destination for retirees. While early retirement is a time for joy and relaxation, eventually many of us will require nursing care and may be forced to move into an assisted care facility.
We fully expect that when our loved ones need to move into a nursing home, they will receive thoughtful and thorough care. Florida has even gone so far as to enact a nursing home Resident Bill of Rights enshrining these ideas into law. Still, some facilities, even those in Ocala, operate at a substandard level that can result in residents becoming injured or fatally harmed.
An Ocala nursing home abuse lawyer can work with residents and their families to investigate allegations of nursing home abuse and to pursue civil damages on behalf of their loved ones. To learn more or discuss filing your claim consult with a personal injury attorney in Ocala today.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, abuse in Ocala nursing homes is relatively common. Even though we trust these businesses to take care of our elderly loved ones—and Ocala law compels them to do so—thousands of residents suffer abuse every day. This abuse can take on many forms, both intentional and as the result of neglect.
an Ocala nursing home abuse lawyer could elaborate further on the types of abuse in Ocala nursing homes, and lead the fight to hold the responsible facilities legally liable in court and recover damages for people who suffered injury.
What Counts as Nursing Home Abuse in Ocala?
Abuse in nursing homes falls into two distinct categories. The first involves abuse that occurs as a result of neglect. While neither the facility nor their employees intend for the resident to come to harm, harm occurs nonetheless.
This usually results from facilities employing undertrained staff or failing to maintain the premises. Abuse that results from neglect can take on the form of malnutrition, bedsores, sickness from unsanitary living conditions, nursing home falls, and depression or anxiety.
The other category of abuse involves the intentional harming of residents. In this scenario, staff members usually take deliberate action to injure or belittle their patients.
Florida enacted a resident bill of rights under Florida Statute 429.28 which makes it illegal for a nursing home to:
- Use any unnecessary force to restrain a resident
- Withhold food or water
- Isolate the resident from other residents or their family
- Deny medical care or medication
Any of these actions can be the grounds for both a civil suit and a criminal charge against the worker. Even in cases where a criminal court tries and convicts a nursing home employee, the resident or their family must still pursue a civil case against the nursing home to recover compensation for their damages.
What Can a Resident Do When They Suffer Abuse?
The first step a resident can take is to inform the head nurse or administrator at the facility. It is possible that the abuse is the act of a lone employee who will face punishment. However, if the abuse is systemic, the resident may have to report the abuse to other authorities.
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs investigates all allegations of abuse or neglect that happen in Ocala.
When the neglect or abuse is intentional, a call to the police may be appropriate. In these situations, the abusive employee may face criminal charges. The facility may also be liable in civil court for negligent hiring practices or for allowing the abuse to continue under their watch.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Florida Statute 400.022 guarantees the rights of all nursing home residents to many protections, including:
- Conducting private and uncensored communications
- Participating in resident groups and religious activities
- Presenting grievances about the care they are receiving
- Being informed about their medical conditions and care
- Being free from any form of mental or physical abuse
Any violation of this bill of rights, including in ways not listed above, can be grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit and should be addressed with the help of an Ocala nursing home abuse attorney.
According to Florida Statute 400.023, a plaintiff must prove the following elements in order to successfully hold a nursing home accountable in a court of law:
- The defendant had a duty to care for the resident
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breach caused an injury or death
- The defendant suffered actual damages
All assisted living and care facilities have a duty to care for their residents. By association, all employees within these organizations have that duty as well. Therefore, plaintiffs and their Ocala nursing home abuse lawyers can hold both the abusive employee and the facility as a whole accountable for any harm done.
The most often contested element of negligence is whether the duty of care was, in fact, breached. According to a concept of law known as negligence per se, if it can be demonstrated that a defendant was violating a law that led to an injury, the defendant is assumed to be negligent. If the defendant is cited for a violation of the Resident Bill of Rights, for example, it will be assumed that the duty was breached.
The statute also allows guardians and personal representatives of the injured resident to bring the suit on their behalf. Because of the resident’s assumed poor health and the potential that the abuse resulted in a death, the law specifically allows for a wider pool of potential plaintiffs.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Any time a person must move into a nursing home or assisted care facility, they are often already struggling to take care of their personal needs and require help to do so. Nursing homes in Ocala must provide this care on both a routine and emergency basis.
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents suffer injuries, illness, and even death every year due to neglect. However, residents who are unfortunate enough to experience this maltreatment are not without options.
An Ocala nursing home neglect lawyer could help residents and their families recognize the warning signs of nursing home neglect in Ocala. Furthermore, they could help victims and their families hold these facilities liable in civil court.
Laws In Ocala Against Nursing Home Neglect
The state of Florida enacted a resident bill of rights that outlines the responsibilities for all nursing homes regarding how they must care for their residents, listed in Florida Statute 429.28. Among other things, it requires nursing home facilities to:
- Provide access to outside communication
- Not use undue physical force to restrain residents
- Provide adequate and appropriate medical care
- Maintain a properly clean and safe living environment
If a nursing home violates any of the provisions included in the statute, the facility may face a government investigation and be civilly liable for any resulting harm.
How can a Relative Recognize Neglect?
Not all abuse is easy to recognize. Either by carefully covering their tracks or intimidating residents, it can sometimes be difficult to discover neglect. Instead, patterns of behavior or inexplicable events may have to suffice as initial evidence.
Intentional abuse is the most insidious form of neglect, involving a worker intentionally withholding food or medication or doing nothing to address a medical problem of which they are or should be aware. In these cases, family members should examine residents for bruising or sores. When suspected poor medical care is at issue, an outside doctor could help determine neglect.
Side effects resulting from neglect can be more difficult to spot. In some situations, even the resident is unaware that the abuse is taking place. Family members should know the rights of nursing home residents and the obligations of nursing homes.
Individuals may be able to resolve some instances of neglect with a strongly worded letter or phone call, while others may require outside intervention. Either way, family members should stay aware of their loved one’s condition and any sudden or unexplained changes to it.
Let an Ocala Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Fight for You
Senior citizens are especially vulnerable when their lives are placed in the hands of nursing facilities. Florida recognized this fact and created a bill of resident rights that all facilities are required to follow. Indeed, if this law is violated, there is a specific cause of action to file a civil lawsuit.
An Ocala nursing home abuse lawyer can lead the fight in bringing negligent nursing facilities to justice. We work with residents and their families to investigate claims of abuse and pursue the responsible parties for maximum compensation.
Together, we join with families to make their loved ones’ golden years more comfortable and to hold abusive nursing homes responsible for their actions.