Legal Options for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

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Miami is the second-most populated city in Florida with the largest senior population. A 2016 study showed that Miami-Dade County’s older population (65 years and older) faced unprecedented healthcare challenges, including an increase in acute illnesses and chronic diseases.

As a legal requirement, Miami nursing homes must ensure that residents are cared for by maintaining adequate staff levels. Sadly, Miami’s nursing homes do not always provide proper care for these high-risk patients. As a result, resident abuse and neglect occur.

If you observe something at a nursing home that could be a red flag that abuse or neglect is occurring in the facility, take action immediately.

Abuse in Miami Nursing Homes: How to Detect It

Nursing home abuse in Miami is defined as intentionally harming or mentally torturing a long-term care facility resident. It is sadly common for nursing home staff to abuse or neglect residents, but the abuse often goes unreported. Many nursing home residents cannot defend themselves and suffer alone.

Neglecting nursing home residents is unlawful conduct that can be classified as civil or criminal. Family members trust nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide quality care. Abusers must be held accountable if they fail to protect their residents.

How Does Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Occur?

In situations of neglect, a caregiver fails to provide a patient with necessary food, medication, clothing, and medical care. The neglect may be intentional (active), when a caregiver knowingly withholds food and water from a patient or unintentional (passive), when a caregiver simply doesn’t take the time to address a patient’s needs.

Signs of neglect:

  • Lack of hygiene and poor physical appearance.
  • Dehydration or malnutrition.
  • Weight loss without explanation.
  • An unsafe or unsanitary living environment.
  • Clothing not suitable for the weather.
  • Having no access to medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids).
  • Unexplained medical conditions (e.g., bed sores).
  • Medication errors.

Do the Elderly Suffer Financial Abuse?

Yes. Financial abuse involves misusing a resident’s assets, belongings, and money. Theft of personal belongings, unauthorized use of credit cards, and falsification of financial documents may constitute financial abuse of a nursing home resident. Some signs of financial abuse are:

  • Bank withdrawals that are unaccounted for.
  • Credit card transactions that are unexplained.
  • Loss of belongings.
  • Documents with forged signatures.
  • Inconsistent financial records.
  • Financial habits suddenly change.

What Physical Abuse of the Elderly Looks Like

An act of physical abuse involves deliberately inflicting pain, causing injury or impairment to a nursing home patient. Slaps, strikes, kicks, burns, and pinches are among some of the actions that constitute physical abuse. Some signs of physical abuse include:

  • Broken bones.
  • Unexplained injuries (e.g., a cut, burn, bruise).
  • Broken eyeglasses.
  • Marks from restraints or grips.
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

A sexual abuse incident occurs when a person engages in non-consensual sexual activity with another person. Verbal sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sodomy, coerced nudity, and rape are all examples of sexual abuse.

A patient who cannot give valid consent (e.g., someone with mental disabilities like dementia) is also considered a victim of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse signs in vulnerable populations may manifest in the following ways:

  • Loathing touch or being touched.
  • Breast and/or genital injuries that are not explained.
  • Genital infections.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Anal or vaginal bleeding that is unexplained.
  • Behavioral or personality changes that occur suddenly.
  • Refusal to spend time alone with certain people.

Laws Protecting Elders from Abuse in Miami

Florida law penalizes abuse and neglect of the elderly in Miami nursing home abuse cases. In other words, elder protection laws may apply to unintentional but negligent acts that harm the elderly. Florida has enacted a Nursing Home Bill of Rights to address this heightened responsibility and the vulnerability of the elderly.

Abuse can happen to anyone. Abusing an older person knowingly or willfully without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement is a third-degree felony.

Laws relating to elder care in Miami are highly specialized and focus on the specific needs of elderly residents. Choosing the right elder law attorney is extremely important.

Nursing Home Abuse Victims: What Damages Are Available?

Nursing home abuse in Miami can cause significant harm and is difficult to quantify in monetary damages. But the families of victims and the victims themselves are entitled to recover compensation for financial and non-financial losses.

Economic damages, or financial losses, could include:

  • Medical expenses in the past and the future.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Loss of wages and income when taking care of the victim.
  • Nursing care facility relocation costs for the affected resident.
  • Financial exploitation restitution.
  • Psychological counseling
  • Any other expenses incurred.

Non-financial losses are more challenging to evaluate. Our law firm hires experts who help us assess the full extent of the damage. Compensation for non-economic damages may include:

  • Emotional distress.
  • PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of consortium.

A careful analysis is important for determining how much the victim is entitled to after hiring a personal injury attorney. Each client is unique, and injuries differ from person to person. It’s for this reason that our lawyers take the time to evaluate each case on an individual basis.

We Can Help with Nursing Home Abuse Cases in Miami

When nursing homes abuse their patients, an experienced lawyer can help protect the victims and hold the facility accountable. Count on our years of experience in this narrow subspecialty to get justice.

Upon discovery of nursing home abuse, Miami residents should contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Aigen Injury Law.

This article was reviewed by the Aigen Injury Law.