Roughly one out of every 14 instances of elder abuse are reported to local and state authorities.
It’s estimated that upward of 2 million elders face abuse in various ways each year. Abuse is defined as mistreatment, exploitation, harm, or neglect.
Abuse in nursing homes is a growing concern. It’s difficult enough to place an elderly family member in a nursing home, but when the staff mistreats them our trust is broken.
We can’t always provide our elderly family members the care they need, but we can come to their defense and aid when someone takes advantage of them.
If elderly abuse happened to one of your family members, then it’s time to sue. Nursing homes and staff need to be held accountable for their actions. After all, it is their job to care for and enrich the lives of our loved ones.
Of course, no one wants to go through the process of suing. But, with preparation and sound legal advice suing is possible and just.
Read on to learn how to sue a nursing home in Florida and to know what to expect throughout the process.
How to Sue a Nursing Home in Florida
You and your elderly loved one has rights. To protect those rights after abuse occurs, it’s time to sue. Know your rights and follow these tips when seeking justice against a nursing home in Florida when your loved one is abused.
1. Safety First
Prior to seeking legal recourse, make sure to remove your loved one from the nursing home to ensure their safety. If you believe your loved one is in danger, then call 911.
Lawsuits take months to settle and get through the legal process. So, first and foremost, protect your loved one from the abuse and get them somewhere they will feel safe.
Notify the nursing home in writing about the abuse. The nursing home should follow up with you and conduct an in-house investigation. Keep a copy of the incident report for your records and keep track of dates, times, and contact with the nursing home representative.
Include in your letter all the names, dates, and facts you know about the incident. Inform them in your letter of the medical state of your loved one and the effects of the abuse. For example, if your loved one has dementia and you discover that they were allowed to walk around the facility without supervision, fell, and broke a bone then state this in your letter.
Also, consider notifying Adult Protective Services. APS will conduct their own independent investigation into the abuse allegation.
3. Compile Evidence
Compile evidence pertaining to the abuse. Take photos of your loved one’s injuries, make a copy of correlating medical records, and any names of witnesses. Gather any contracts signed by you and the nursing home facility to verify the amount and type of care agreed upon.
Thoroughly read through the contract prior to speaking with an attorney. Some nursing home contracts mandate that mediation must occur prior to seeking a lawsuit. So before spending money and time to meet with an attorney, read this document to make sure that you have a right to sue.
4. Speak with an Attorney
Your attorney will offer you guidance as to what kind of lawsuit to pursue. Personal injury, malpractice, and/or damages are common. Based on the guidance provided by your attorney, you may need additional documentation and evidence.
Your attorney may also advise you to gather documentation of wages lost due to seeking a lawsuit and dealing with the abuse and accounts of pain and suffering in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or general emotional distress.
Your attorney will then file your complaint with the civil court and the legal proceedings will begin.
5. Prepare for a Settlement
Most lawsuits against nursing homes are settled out of court. This means that your lawsuit will be negotiated without a trial. Your attorney and the attorney representing the nursing home will have a meeting and decide on how to settle the case.
By agreeing upon an amount of money to be paid to the party filing the complaint, the case is no longer able to be seen by a judge. Once a case is settled, no further action within a civil court is allowed.
Rest assured, your attorney will fight on your behalf to receive any compensation you and your loved one deserve. Attorneys will also be paid from the settlement amount.
6. Prepare for Trial
It’s rare for a nursing home abuse lawsuit to go to trial, but it does occur. If your case goes to trial, then your attorney will argue your case.
The first part of the trial process is an investigation. Each party’s attorney will correlate facts and witness testimonies. In the next phase of the trial, a judge cross-examines witnesses and analyzes evidence. Your lawyer will also be able to interview witnesses under oath during this phase.
During this phase, a judge may decide to rule that the case needs to go to mediation to avoid an expensive trial. If the judge feels the matter needs a further review then another investigation of new information occurs.
After, these investigations a pre-trial occurs in which each parties’ lawyers determine a strategy for winning the case. Next, is the trial itself where your lawyer argues your case in front of a judge and jury.
The jury will determine the verdict of the case and the severity of abuse. Based on these two components, the jury and judge decide on an amount of compensation.
How to Sue a Nursing Home in Florida and Taking Action
Knowing how to sue a nursing home in Florida is only the first step in seeking justice. The next step in seeking justice is taking action by hiring an attorney.
Speaking with an attorney who specializes in nursing home lawsuits can help you to get the money you and your loved one deserve. Find an attorney in your county and begin the process of legal proceedings as soon as possible.