Nursing homes are meant to be a place where loved ones are cared for. It is a difficult choice for many families to make. You must reach the decision that your elderly loved one can no longer care for themselves and, therefore, needs constant medical supervision.
People place a level of trust in nursing homes and other elderly care facilities to care for this vulnerable population of people. That trust is why, when a nursing home harms someone you care about in their care, legal action may be warranted.
The question is, when can you sue a nursing home for negligence if your loved one is harmed while in their care? Read on to find out.
Neglect in an FL Nursing Home: What Is It?
Negligence constitutes a very serious offense in any setting, but it seems especially egregious in a nursing home. It is defined as “the failure or refusal of nursing home staff to fulfill their duties and obligations to the residents”.
It includes the failure to:
- Provide medical care
- Provide adequate clothing, shelter, and food
- Comply with safety standards
- Keep residents properly hydrated
- Help a resident when they ask for it
- Provide a clean, safe facility free from hazards
- Maintain adequate safety and health policies
- Provide proper supervision
- Hire and properly train employees
When Can You Sue?
It’s a sad truth that many cases of neglect and abuse occur in nursing homes each year in the United States, which is why laws have been made to protect the elderly. Many nursing homes are designed to hopefully protect their residents from harmful situations.
During emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of older people are at risk because of possible complications from illness.
It is the responsibility of the facility that cares for them to take appropriate actions to protect residents, no matter what. Nursing homes should have and still should take precautions to ensure their residents are protected — from all kinds of diseases.
In addition to the spread of illness, there are many other things that family members should watch out for that can constitute negligence or abuse:
- Lack of nutrition
- Loss of interest in previously-enjoyed activities
- Pain or damage to sexual organs and surrounding areas
- Bad hygiene
- Unexplained injuries
- Problems with conditions that should be controlled by their medication
What Are the Potential Results of Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
Obviously, your most important goal in acting against negligence and abuse aimed at your loved one is to make it stop and prevent those behind it from engaging in the same behavior with others.
Beyond this, however, there is also financial compensation to consider. If your loved one suffers injury, it is quite likely that there will be costs involved in attempting to heal them. In personal injury cases, these costs are called damages.
Damages that can be awarded in cases of negligence include:
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of income (by the family who had to respond to the situation)
- Permanent adverse health impact
- Mental trauma
How to Prove Negligence in FL
Under the law, negligence must be proven to have occurred for a case to be successful. Negligence can be established by showing that a nursing home did not fulfill a legal duty. In general, the steps to prove negligence are:
Establishing a Duty of Care
It must be established that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the patient. This is often demonstrated by state or federal standards for nursing home care.
The Duty was Breached
Once you have established that a duty was owed, you must then show how that duty was breached. For instance, if the nursing home failed to provide a safe and clean environment for its residents, that could be seen as a breach of duty.
No damage awarded can take away the trauma of your loved one being harmed — or even dying. However, you can take steps if you think the nursing home was negligent to make things right.
Understand what duty was owed to your loved one and take steps to hold the facility accountable if they didn’t meet it.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.