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Florida Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers Serving Florida (FL)



Nursing homes should be a place of safety and care for their residents.  More than 1.4 million Americans reside in nursing homes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), and this number will continue to rise as the country’s population ages.  While many Florida nursing homes work hard to provide excellent care for their residents, elder abuse and neglect incidents are unfortunately commonplace throughout the state and the rest of the country.  According to the World Health Organization (“WHO”), the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this widespread problem.  One US study cites a nearly 84% increase in reports of elder abuse since the outset of the pandemic.

Nursing home abuse can arise from a multitude of environmental factors.  According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, nearly 90% of all nursing home facilities are chronically understaffed, putting residents at an increased risk of experiencing abuse.

Studies suggest that nursing home residents “are particularly vulnerable because most suffer from several chronic diseases that lead to limitations in physical and cognitive functioning and are dependent on others.”*  This massive breach of trust between a caretaker and their charges is not only emotionally detrimental to an individual, but is also seriously dangerous, putting the safety and wellbeing of a nursing home resident at great risk. 

Proving abuse and neglect can be extremely complicated and difficult, but at Montlick & Associates, our attorneys know what it takes to bring justice to Florida victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.  Whether the mistreatment comes from nursing home staff, residents, or the facility itself, our knowledgeable attorneys can help you or a loved one get the compensation you deserve.  

Types of Nursing Home Abuse in Florida

According to the WHO and CDC, approximately 1 in 10 older adults have been victims of elder home abuse.  While the types of abuse can vary, it is important to recognize that the breach of trust between the caretaker and the individual is also a source of trauma in addition to the abuse itself. 

Some examples of common forms of nursing home abuse include:

Neglect: Neglect is one of the most common and insidious forms of nursing home abuse.  Neglect typically involves the failure of nursing home staff to meet the basic needs of nursing home residents, including food, fluids, shelter, medication, security, and exercise.  Neglect is the hardest type of nursing home abuse to spot since neglect does not cause visible signs of harm.

Physical abuse: Physical abuse of a nursing home resident involves the willful infliction of injuries or making threats to cause bodily harm.  In Florida, it is a felony to harm someone over the age of 65 years of age. Common signs of physical abuse, include bruises, fractures, fear or anziety around certain nursing home staff.  Withholding food or water from a nursing home resident, unless ordered by a doctors, is a form of physical abuse.

Overmedicating: Many nursing home residents will take prescription medications to assist in a wide variety of ailments.  Some residents have been prescribed medication with tranquilizing effects to help with the stress and anxiety associated with memory loss and aging.  Nursing home staff are required to monitor residents' prescription intake and ensure their safety.  However, overmedicate residents to make them more manageable is dangerous and is a violation of Florida of law.  

Psychological and emotional abuse: This form of nursing home abuse involves the willful infliction of emotional pain upon residents using spoken or non-spoken means.  This may include making cruel statements to residents, and isolating or ignoring residents. 

Financial abuse: Nursing home staff members often have access to residents’ possessions, including cash, credit cards, and other valuables, and residents themselves might be physically or mentally unable to prevent caregivers from stealing those possessions.  There are reported instances of staff pressuring residents to changing their wills to leave the staff member as a beneficiary and pressuring residents to sign over their bank accounts to nursing home staff.

If you or a loved one reside in a nursing home, it is important to stay aware of the common types of nursing home abuse and neglect in order to be the best possible advocate for yourself or your loved one. 

Below is a non-exhaustive list of warning signs that could indicate mistreatment or neglect, according to the National Center for Elderly Abuse (NCEA):

  • Emotional distress, depression, agitation, anxiety, lower self-esteem, feelings of despair, or a sense of worthlessness
  • Non-responsive and uncommunicative,
  • Withdrawal from normal daily life and activities,
  • Unusual behaviors commonly attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
  • Bruises, welts, abrasions, rope marks, or lacerations,
  • Head trauma
  • Bone fractures
  • Cuts, open wounds, untreated injuries in different stages of healing
  • Bites, burn marks, strangulation marks, or patterns of injury
  • Sprains or dislocations,
  • Internal injuries/bleeding,
  • Fall injuries,
  • Broken eyeglasses or frames,
  • Physical indications of punishment, including evidence of physical restraints
  • Medication overdose or chemical restraints
  • Sudden changes in the resident's bank account or unusual banking practices, such as an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money, or new signatories to a resident's bank signature card,
  • Abrupt changes to financial documents or wills,
  • Unexplained disappearance of valuable possessions, funds, or a sudden transfer of assets
  • The purchase of unnecessary services
  • Evidence of poor financial decision making
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unattended or untreated health problems, such as untreated bedsores
  • Unsafe and/or unsanitary living conditions

Contact a Florida Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Today

 If you believe your loved one could be at risk for nursing home abuse, it is important to be aware of these warning signs.  Additionally, visit the nursing home often and at unexpected times.  Ask questions of the care team and advocate for your loved one’s needs.  The Nursing Home Abuse Justice organization suggests taking detailed notes of interactions with facility staff and caregivers.  If you suspect abuse is occurring, contact a Florida nursing home abuse attorney at Montlick Injury Attorneys as soon as possible to learn about the legal rights and options for yourself and your loved one.  Do not delay seeking justice for yourself or a loved one.

For more than 38 years, the attorneys at Montlick Injury Attorneys have fought on behalf of injured victims and their families.  Our lawyers will fight hard on behalf of you and your loved ones to defend your rights.  Our attorneys are only a phone call away and will even come to you no matter where you are located.  Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at Montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33518464/

https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/29/1/58/5033581?guestAccessKey=482da8b7-f9f4-4205-811d-0dd9788cdbb1

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/elder-abuse

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK98786/

https://ncea.acl.gov/About-Us/What-We-Do/Policy/Government-Reports.aspx

https://ncea.acl.gov/What-We-Do/Research.aspx

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0784/Sections/0784.08.html



Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.