Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
At The Turnbull Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to place an elderly or disabled family member in a nursing home, retirement community, or long-term care center. The transition from living at home to assisted living can be emotionally charged at the best of times, but we make this change in the hope that our loved ones will be better off. We expect these facilities to provide our family members with the care they need and that our loved ones will be free from harm. That is why nursing home abuse is such a grim and awful subject when it arises.
The Turnbull Firm has years of experience investigating nursing homes for signs of abuse and neglect, and in making sure that nursing homes are held responsible for perpetuating abuse against residents or allowing it to occur. If you have reason to suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, it is vital that you do not delay in taking action. Call a dedicated Orlando nursing home abuse attorney for advice and representation, and allow us to help you ensure the safety of your family.
Nursing Home Neglect vs. Abuse
Nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse are two separate but equally harmful problems. At The Turnbull Firm, we represent clients who have experienced either or both. Neglect refers more specifically to a lack of appropriate care provided to nursing home residents, a failure to provide for residents’ basic needs such as food, water, cleanliness, hygiene, clothing, physical activity, medical treatment or medication, and other physical and emotional needs. Failing to provide residents with these basic necessities violates the rights of patients and the duties owed to residents by nursing homes.
In Orlando, nursing home abuse refers to affirmative, harmful conduct perpetrated by nursing home staff or other individuals. Abuse is equally, if not more, despicable than neglect, and represents the intentional infliction of harm, often by the use of physical force. Abuse can involve physical conduct such as hitting, biting, scratching, sexual abuse, or inappropriately restraining residents, or mental harm such as belittling, demeaning, harassing or threatening residents. Abuse can take the form of deliberate neglect, such as denying residents food, water, clothing, or shelter as a form of punishment. Abuse can even be financial if staff steals or cons money from residents. Nursing homes or long-term care facilities whose staff intentionally cause residents physical harm or mental anguish or deliberately permit visitors, residents, or other third parties to do so must be held accountable for their abusive conduct.
Orlando Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Happens With Shocking Frequency
As horrible as it may seem, Florida nursing home staff mistreat residents much more than we would like to think, even in Orlando. Nursing home abuse statistics gathered by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) demonstrate that abuse occurs at an alarming rate nationwide. According to the NCEA:
- Over 30 percent of adult women with disabilities residing in long-term care facilities and nursing homes have experienced some form of violence, and 40 percent of women without disabilities have experienced violence.
- When expanded to include any perpetrator, nearly 70 percent of disabled women have suffered physical abuse in their lifetime, and half experience sexual abuse.
- Disabled men also face elevated rates of abuse: Half of disabled men experience physical abuse in their lifetime, and at least ten percent experience physical abuse by a personal assistance or care provider.
Nursing home abuse cases in Florida are rising at an alarming rate. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the total number of verified cases of abuse and neglect statewide increased from 1,448 in 2011 to 2,525 in 2015, a 74 percent increase in only five years. In Polk County, 25 defendants were charged with elder abuse or neglect, and 16 convicted.
Nursing home abuse is a serious, pervasive, and continuing problem both in Florida and nationwide. Reach out to a qualified, passionate, and aggressive Central Florida nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance if you have witnessed or suspect any form of nursing home abuse.
What can you sue a nursing home for?
During your free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse attorneys, we can go over what type of compensation you may be able to recover based on the circumstances of your case and the extent of the injuries suffered by the resident.
The types of compensation that you could be eligible for include punitive damages and compensatory damages.
There are two types of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. Usually, nursing home abuse and neglect lead to additional health problems or new health problems that need treatment. The resident may need to be moved to another facility, which can be expensive to arrange, and may also require therapy. By providing proof of your Orlando medical expenses and other expenses related to the abuse and neglect, our nursing home abuse lawyers at The Turnbull Firm can fight for you to get the compensatory damages you deserve.
On the other hand, Punitive damages are used to punish a defendant for negligence or intentional conduct. Your attorney will have to provide evidence of gross and reckless disregard for human life or the safety of persons exposed to that environment.
The work of the attorney is to provide evidence that the defendant knowingly engaged in intentional misconduct or negligence and that senior staff knew about it but did not correct it. Whether it is a director or a manager, sometimes the nursing homes work very hard to protect themselves and not the people in their care. So when you need a skilled Florida nursing home abuse attorney, call The Turnbull Firm.
Punitive damages punish a defendant for an intentional tort, negligence, or willful conduct that risked injuring and killing another party.
What is the average settlement for nursing home neglect?
There are many good reasons to accept a fair settlement rather than go to trial. First, there is no guarantee of how your case can go. The uncertainty of a verdict could add extra stress to your life. It will also add additional time for you to wait to move on from this case. You could also save an enormous amount of money in legal fees. Your attorney will exhaust the resources to get you the settlement that you deserve.
However, there are times where either party cannot agree on the settlement amount or in the case goes to trial. If your case goes to trial, a judge or a jury will have to reach a verdict to determine how much in damages you are owed, if you receive anything at all. During your free consultation, we will go over the general personal injury process and how it relates to your circumstance.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
The Winter Haven nursing home abuse lawyer at The Turnbull Firm has years of experience identifying the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect. If your loved one is a resident at a nursing home in Central Florida and you suspect that they are the victim of abuse or neglect by staff, visitors, or other residents, it is vital that you act as soon as possible. If your elderly relative may be the subject of negligence or abuse, you need to determine the facts as soon as possible and get them out of the situation where necessary.
Nursing home neglect attorney Sanga Turnbull is ready to help you investigate any suspected abuse or neglect and will ensure that any long-term care facility, nursing home, or other parties responsible for harm to your loved ones are held accountable. Some of the signs of nursing home abuse are obvious, while others may be more subtle. Below, we provide a few of the more common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you identify one or more of these symptoms, contact a Winter Haven nursing home neglect and abuse attorney for help to protect your family.
Confusion or disorientation
You know your loved one, you know their temperament, and you know their level of cognition. If they appear to be more confused, disoriented, drowsy or sleeping all the time, and you know that to be unusual, it may be a sign that they are over-medicated or under-medicated. The staff may be ignoring the negative side effects of their current medication regime, failing to make appropriate adjustments.
Unexplained physical injuries
Everyone experiences a few bumps and bruises here and there, but when you visit your loved one, be on the lookout for unusual, extreme, or unexplained personal injuries. If you notice broken bones, cut lips, black eyes, or bruises on the arms, neck, legs, or wrists (signs of shackling), make sure to ask the resident and the staff what happened. Such injuries are unusual; perhaps one incident can be explained away, but regular injuries such as these are almost certainly signs of abuse. Moreover, even a single broken bone, if not explained to your satisfaction, may indicate abuse.
Malnourishment and dehydration
Nursing homes have a responsibility to keep residents well-fed and hydrated. If you find that your elderly relative appears malnourished, such as if they are emaciated, lack energy, experience sudden weight loss, have sunken eyes, or otherwise appear to have not been eating right, it may be a sign of abuse or neglect. Additionally, look for signs of dehydration: cracked lips, dry skin, croaked voice, etc. Nursing home staff are trained to identify these kinds of conditions and respond accordingly. If the resident is left untreated, it may be because the staff is simply negligent and ignoring your loved one, or a malicious staff member may be denying them food and water as a form of punishment.
Unsanitary conditions and poor hygiene
Nursing homes are responsible for keeping residents clean and comfortable. They must keep the premises well-kept, such as by washing sheets, clothes, and towels, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, emptying trash cans, and otherwise keeping the residents out of filth. They are also responsible for ensuring that residents are bathed and clean, that they brush their teeth, and are otherwise hygienic. Look out for unsanitary conditions such as mold, mildew, old garbage, old food, and ensure that your loved one does not appear dirty, unwashed, unkempt, with untrimmed nails or unbrushed teeth.
Bedsores and other untreated maladies
Nursing homes must keep residents mobile to avoid problems such as bedsores. Even immobile residents should be turned over or moved around on wheelchairs to keep them somewhat active. Likewise, incontinent residents must be cared for, toileting assisted, and disposable briefs changed regularly. Look out for bedsores, open wounds, smells of feces or urine, or frequent urinary tract infections, which can be a sign that a resident is being ignored or medical attention is being withheld.
Signs of emotional abuse
Not all abuse is physical. Overworked, overstressed, or otherwise angry or mean nursing home staff may lash out at residents. They may belittle, demean, intimidate, or humiliate residents. Signs of emotional abuse include the following: unusual fear or aggression towards staff or people generally; rapid mood switches; fear or anxiety, especially about speaking around staff; feelings of depression, anxiety, or isolation; appearing withdrawn; or any other significant change you notice about their demeanor or disposition.
What can I do about nursing home neglect?
All people deserve to spend their last years living with dignity. Unfortunately, some of them become victims of abuse and neglect. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse at a nursing home in Orlando, FL, there are some things that you can do.
First, you can’t report nursing home abuse to local law enforcement. Because the elderly are often unable to perform normal activities of daily living or provide their own care or protection due to their age, disability, or even dysfunction, they are protected under Florida Adult Protective Services.
You can call the Elder Abuse Hotline. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anyone who suspects elder abuse, whether it’s neglect, exploitation, or abandonment, can call 1-800-962-2873 to report abuse.
In accordance with the Older Americans Act, every state is required to have a long-term care ombudsman who works to resolve any problems related to the health, safety, and welfare of residents in nursing homes.
File a grievance. Any facility that accepts payments from Medicare or Medicaid must have a grievance procedure to hear complaints formally. You can report Orlando nursing home abuse by filing a grievance. You may be able to contact a manager at the Orlando nursing home to find out more.
Alternatively, you can reach out to our nursing home abuse attorneys and report abuse that you suspect is occurring in an Orlando nursing home. The attorneys will know what next steps need to be taken.
Why does nursing home abuse happen?
The most common reason why elder abuse occurs is that facilities are short-staffed to save costs. Understaffing and overworking qualified nurses can lead to safety issues. Not every person who works in a nursing home is a medically trained registered nurse (RN). While other employees may hold licenses and certifications, they do not hold a bachelor’s degree and may be working a very low-paying, entry-level position that requires only 6 to 12 months of training. An RN has a bachelor’s degree, has passed the board examinations, and will require a higher hourly wage than someone with fewer credentials.
Only staff with certain credentials are capable of performing certain medical procedures and daily tasks that residents will need. For example, only nurses can administer medications, such as insulin, draw blood or provide other services. Those are very important parts of their job that require concentration. Some nurses are required to care for up to 30 senior citizens a shift. Even the best Orlando nurses from top universities cannot possibly handle multiple patients, and when they are overworked, there is a higher risk of error and resulting injury. Many nurses report being burned out and feel that their concerns are ignored by administrators. In fact, the nursing home might even argue that your loved one’s medical condition was so bad to begin with that it led to the unfortunate outcome.
A Florida nursing home that is adequately staffed can provide a positive home for residents. At The Turnbull Firm, we fight to bring justice to those who trusted nursing homes and care facilities to meet all professional standards of care but were egregiously let down.
Wrongful Death in a Florida Nursing Home
In the state of Florida, it is the right of surviving family members of the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit whenever a loved one’s death was the result of willful or negligent actions taken by the nursing home and their staff. A wrongful death claim is usually filed when the victim would have otherwise been entitled to filing a personal injury claim.
In all wrongful death cases, personal injury attorneys must prove that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. Then they must prove that the defendant, in this case, a nursing home, breached their duty of care to the resident. This breach of duty was the cause of injury (physical, mental or financial) or death of the resident and caused the resident to suffer damages as a result of the breach.
Proving wrongful neglect can be difficult because of the issue pointed out earlier that many nursing home residents often have serious underlying medical conditions. Assisted living facilities argue that the resident’s bad health was the cause of their death, not abuse and neglect. It is up to an intrepid and experienced attorney to conduct a thorough investigation into the victim’s medical history and the facility’s policies.
If a health insurance company paid for treatment of the injuries that were sustained at the nursing home, then the health insurer must be paid back from the damages that you receive for the care they covered before the decedent’s death.
Personal injury law is a type of tort law that allows an injured party to seek compensation from the person or entity that caused the injury. This applies to physical injuries, mental injuries, and property damage. But personal injury law spans a wide range of civil complaints, from cruise ship slip and falls to car accidents. Orlando nursing home abuse lawyers focus on a particular area of personal injury law. So before you talk to any Orlando, Florida lawyer, check out the practice areas online to ensure that they are nursing home abuse attorneys rather than practitioners in another form of law.
Nursing homes in Orlando, Florida are legally required to comply with specific policies and procedures. Failure to do so or to follow these procedures incorrectly could result in a case of elder abuse. A Florida nursing home abuse lawyer is able to help victims in Orlando FL and their families to hold assisted living and nursing home facilities accountable.
It is possible to sue a nursing home or long-term facility and hold them legally responsible for acts of negligence, neglect, or abuse. There are numerous accidents, failures to act, and intentional acts that could make a nursing home or care facility liable for injuries. They include:
- Insufficient supervision of residents, which led to falls or other injuries
- Negligence in hiring by bringing an employee on board who has either been improperly trained or was not sufficiently evaluated before hiring.
- Failure to maintain clean and sanitary conditions in common rooms and individual resident rooms
Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse in Central Florida
The Winter Haven nursing home abuse attorney at The Turnbull Firm does not tolerate abuse in Florida nursing homes. If you have any reason to believe that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, call us to immediately begin an investigation and get your family member to a safe space. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that your family is protected and that the nursing home, long-term care facility and any other parties responsible for hurting your family are forced to compensate you for the damage they have caused. Nursing home residents have the right to be safe and free from harm, and families have the right to be secure in the safety of their elderly or disabled kin. We work with clients to make sure that these rights are satisfied. Contact the Winter Haven nursing home abuse lawyer at The Turnbull Firm today at 863-324-3500 for a free consultation.