Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence in Florida
Fighting to protect the rights and dignity of elderly residents against nursing home abuse in Tampa
Tampa is known for its many reputable nursing homes, like Brighton Gardens of Tampa, Canterbury Tower, and Promise Pointe at Tampa Oaks, where families entrust their elderly loved ones to professional care with the expectation of safety, respect and compassionate treatment.
However, despite the high standards of many facilities, the sad reality is that elder abuse can happen in any setting, including the most esteemed nursing homes.
At Palmer Lopez, we’ve found that families often get an instinctive feeling when something isn’t quite right with the care their loved one is receiving in a nursing home, yet they may be unsure of where to turn for help or answers.
That’s where we come in. Our dedicated Tampa nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to offering empathetic legal support and expert guidance. We understand the nuances of elder abuse cases and are equipped to investigate and address any concerns you may have regarding the care of your loved one.
Our team will work tirelessly to uncover the truth, protect your loved one’s rights, and seek justice and compensation for any harm suffered. We believe in holding responsible parties accountable and ensuring that your family member receives the dignity and respect they deserve.
If you’re worried that your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, don’t let your questions or suspicions go unanswered.
We never charge a fee unless we win your case.
What is elderly abuse?
Elderly abuse, or elder abuse, refers to the intentional or negligent actions by a caregiver or other trusted person that result in harm (or could result in harm) to a vulnerable person over the age of 60. This abuse can take various forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial exploitation, as well as neglect and abandonment.
The victims are often older adults who may have physical or mental impairments that make them dependent on others for care and support. Elder abuse not only causes physical harm to the individual but also undermines their dignity and violates their basic rights, making it a significant social and public health issue.
Elder abuse statistics
How serious of a problem is elder abuse?
Unfortunately, elder abuse is a significant problem in Florida and across the U.S. The National Council on Aging reports that as many as 5 million adults over the age of 60 suffer some form of abuse in the U.S. each year. That’s about 1 in 10 elderly adults.
While the type and severity of elder abuse can vary, the effects of such abuse can result in serious injuries and even death. In fact, from 2002 to 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 643,000 older adults were treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. for nonfatal assaults, and another 19,000 were fatally injured by a caregiver.
How common is elder abuse in nursing homes?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), elder abuse in nursing homes has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. They report that abuse against elderly individuals is particularly prevalent in institutional settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 out of every 3 staff members admitting that they’ve committed some form of abuse within the previous year.
What is the most common abuse in nursing homes?
Emotional or psychological abuse is the most prevalent form of elder abuse in nursing homes and similar institutions, affecting more than 33% of residents. This type of abuse includes actions that cause mental anguish, such as verbal insults, threats, humiliation and isolation from social interactions.
Other common types of elder abuse in nursing homes include:
- Neglect. Often seen as the failure to provide necessary care, neglect can include not providing adequate food, hydration, or assistance with personal hygiene. It can also include denial or mismanagement of medicine, such as incorrect dosage (too high or too low), resulting in medication errors that can have serious health implications for residents.
- Physical abuse. This involves causing physical harm to elderly residents through actions like hitting, slapping or improper use of restraints as punishment. This type of abuse can result in severe and even catastrophic injuries for the victims.
- Sexual abuse. Any form of non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly resident falls under this category.
- Financial exploitation. This involves the unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds, property or assets, often for personal gain.
Each of these abuse types can severely impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of elderly residents, highlighting the need for vigilant care and oversight in nursing homes.
What are red flags for elder abuse?
Due to the prevalence and seriousness of nursing home abuse, it’s crucial for family members to be on the lookout for signs that their loved one may be suffering from elderly neglect or abuse. Key indicators to watch out for when visiting your loved one in a nursing home include:
Physical signs. Look for unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or bedsores. Frequent infections, unattended medical needs, or sudden weight loss can also be signs of neglect.
Changes in behavior or mood. Sudden changes in behavior, such as withdrawal, depression or anxiety, can indicate emotional abuse. Also, be alert for fearfulness or hesitation around certain staff members.
Poor hygiene. Neglect may be evident if your loved one is not bathed regularly, is in soiled clothing, or lives in unsanitary conditions.
Financial discrepancies. Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, changes in financial documents, or missing belongings could signal financial exploitation.
Environmental hazards. Unsafe living conditions, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe furniture or a lack of safety devices in bathrooms, can indicate neglect.
Medication issues. Watch for any signs that your loved one might be overmedicated or undermedicated, which can manifest as physical or behavioral changes.
Malnutrition or dehydration. Signs like cracked lips, dry skin or overall weakness could indicate that the staff is not providing adequate food or water.
Social withdrawal. If your loved one is isolated or is not allowed to interact with others, this could be a sign of abuse or neglect.
Frequent illnesses or hospital visits. A pattern of unexplained, frequent illnesses or emergency room visits may indicate ongoing neglect or abuse.
Reluctance to speak. If your loved one is reluctant to speak in front of caregivers or seems fearful when they’re around, it may be a sign of abuse.
Monitoring these signs and maintaining open communication with your elderly loved one can help detect and prevent abuse or neglect in care facilities. If you suspect abuse or neglect, it’s crucial to take immediate action by reporting your concerns to the appropriate authorities and enlisting the help of an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Concerned that your loved one may be suffering from elder abuse?
Protect their rights by scheduling an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Tampa nursing home abuse attorneys today.
Consultations are always free and confidential.
Can I file a lawsuit against a nursing home for elder abuse?
Yes, depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to file a lawsuit against a nursing home for elder abuse. This type of legal action is typically a civil lawsuit for negligence or, in more severe cases, for intentional harm.
To successfully pursue a lawsuit, you’ll need to prove that the nursing home or its staff failed in their “duty of care” toward the resident and that this failure directly resulted in harm or injury.
The term “duty of care” means that the nursing home did not provide the standard of care that a reasonable facility would under similar circumstances, leading to harm. In cases of intentional abuse, the lawsuit would allege assault, battery or emotional abuse.
How to prove fault in a nursing home abuse case
Proving fault in a nursing home abuse case involves demonstrating that the facility or its employees acted negligently or intentionally caused harm. This includes establishing that the nursing home had a duty of care, breached this duty, and caused harm as a result.
Evidence such as medical records, eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony (often from medical professionals), and documentation of the abuse (photos, videos, etc.) will be critical.
In cases where systemic issues or policies in the nursing home contributed to the abuse, these factors must be highlighted to establish institutional negligence.
Given the complexity of these cases and the need for specialized knowledge in both elder care and legal procedures, it’s highly advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse cases to guide you through the process and negotiate a fair settlement or represent you in court if necessary.
What compensation can my loved one receive from a nursing home abuse claim?
Damages in elder abuse cases can include medical expenses for treating injuries resulting from the abuse, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and sometimes punitive damages if the conduct was particularly egregious.
In cases of wrongful death resulting from nursing home abuse, families can also seek compensation for funeral and burial costs, loss of companionship, and other relevant damages.
Were you injured by a nurse in a Tampa hospital or healthcare setting? Our medical malpractice attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for nursing home abuse in Florida?
In Florida, the statute of limitations (time limit) for filing a lawsuit for nursing home abuse generally follows the same guidelines as those for medical negligence. This means you typically have 2 years to file a lawsuit, but this period can vary depending on the specifics of the case:
- Standard time limit. The 2-year statute of limitations usually begins from the time the injury is discovered or should have reasonably been discovered. This acknowledgment is particularly relevant in nursing home abuse cases, where signs of abuse or neglect may not be immediately apparent.
- Fraud or concealment. If there is evidence that the nursing home or its staff actively concealed the abuse or negligence, the time limit to file a lawsuit may be extended up to 7 years from the date of the injury in some cases, with the period beginning when the abuse is discovered or should have been discovered.
- Wrongful death. If nursing home abuse leads to the death of a resident, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is generally 2 years from the date of death. However, if the link between the death and the nursing home’s actions is not discovered or established within 2 years, the time limit for filing a lawsuit can extend up to 5 years in certain circumstances.
Because these time frames are general guidelines and specific details of each case can affect the applicable statute of limitations, you should always consult with an attorney specializing in nursing home abuse as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected and that any legal action is taken within the appropriate time frame.
Looking for the best Tampa lawyers for nursing home abuse? Look no further—Palmer Lopez is here to help.
If you suspect that your family member is experiencing any form of neglect or abuse in a nursing home, whether it’s physical, emotional or financial, it’s crucial to take action to protect their physical and emotional wellbeing.
At Palmer Lopez, our Tampa medical malpractice attorneys specialize in cases involving nursing home abuse, so you can rest assured we have the knowledge and skills to investigate your case, prove liability and obtain the justice and compensation your loved one deserves.
We understand the emotional and physical toll nursing home abuse can take on families, and we’re here to provide the legal support and guidance you need during this challenging time. Let Palmer Lopez be your advocate in ensuring the safety and rights of your loved one are protected.