Tampa Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Helping Plaintiffs in Florida
Nursing home neglect often is considered to be one particular kind of elder abuse. In some cases, nursing home neglect is intentional if a staff member at a nursing home or assisted living facility willfully fails to provide adequate care for a patient. In most cases, however, nursing home neglect occurs because a facility is understaffed and does not have enough employees to provide proper attention to each patient.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that as many as 1 out of every 10 Americans aged 60 and older have been victims of some form of elder abuse, and it is possible that the rate of elder abuse is even higher due to underreporting. To be sure, some researchers estimate that only about 1 in every 14 cases of abuse is properly reported to authorities who investigate allegations. If you are concerned that an elderly loved one has suffered injuries as a result of nursing home neglect, the compassionate Tampa nursing home neglect attorneys at Goudie & Kohn, P.A. can speak with you about your options for filing a claim.
Defining Nursing Home Neglect Under Florida Law
Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 825.102) provides definitions of both elder abuse and elder neglect. While this specific law in Florida is designed to allow for the criminal prosecution of individuals who are responsible for nursing home abuse and neglect, it can also be helpful in understanding how these actions of defined more generally under state law.
The statute defines the “neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult” as one of the following:
- Caregiver’s failure or omission to provide an elderly person or disabled adult with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the elderly person’s or disabled adult’s physical and mental health; or
- Caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect an elderly person or disabled adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
In Florida, elder neglect can refer to repeated conduct, or it can refer to a single event (or omission) that results in an elderly person sustaining an injury.
Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Neglect in Florida
Identifying signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect can be complicated in some cases. Often, seniors who have been the victims of neglect show physical signs, but in other cases negligent can result in emotional or psychological injuries. To be sure, different people may have very different signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect.
The NCOA suggests that the following are some of the more common signs and symptoms of elder neglect:
- Broken bones or fractures;
- Evidence of falls;
- Head injury;
- Senior appearing upset or angry;
- Senior appearing withdrawn;
- Senior showing any signs of behavioral shifts that are unexplained;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Bed sores (pressure ulcers);
- Poor hygiene;
- Missing medical devices, such as glasses or dentures;
- Unsanitary conditions;
- Unattended medical needs; and
As you can see, signs and symptoms of neglect can range from indications of physical injury to signs that a senior simply has not received sufficient care for an extended period of time. Whenever you notice signs of neglect, it is important to report your concerns and to speak with a Florida nursing home neglect attorney about options that may be available to you and your elderly loved one.
How Self-Neglect Can Also Be a Sign of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes and many assisted living facilities have a duty to check on patients or residents regularly, to provide medical care in certain cases, and to help with activities of daily living. Even when a senior is in an assisted living facility, elder neglect can result in serious injuries for which staff or the facility itself may be responsible. In other words, elder “self-neglect” may mean that the facility is liable for nursing home neglect.
The American Society on Aging defines self-neglect as a “hidden problem” in many senior communities. It refers to a situation in which a senior is unable to provide “essential self-care” due to physical or mental limitations, such as a broken hip or Alzheimer’s disease. When a senior can provide for his or her own care, “self-neglect” may result in injuries. But when that elderly adult is living in a nursing home or another type of long-term care facility, it is important to understand that the facility has a duty to check on the senior and to ensure that she or he is receiving adequate care. When signs of elder neglect exist, family members should always learn more about the facility’s responsibilities to its residents to determine whether the nursing home may be liable for injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Nursing Home Abuse Claims in Tampa
The Florida statute of limitations for most personal injury claim arising out of negligence is four years. Accordingly, for most nursing home neglect or nursing home negligence claims, the patient or her family will need to file a lawsuit within four years from the date of the injury or injuries. Failure to file a claim within this time period can result in the claim being time-barred, or the plaintiff losing the right to sue for damages.
Four years might seem like a long time, but it can go quickly. In particular, when it takes a long time to recognize that an elderly loved one may have been the victim of nursing home neglect, months or even years may have passed from the initial date of injury. As such, if you suspect nursing home neglect, you should speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Seek Assistance from a Tampa Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
Nursing home neglect can cause serious injuries, and in some cases the harm can be deadly. If an elderly loved one in your family has suffered injuries caused by nursing home neglect, it is important to speak with a dedicated Tampa nursing home neglect lawyer about your case. Contact Goudie & Kohn, P.A. to learn more about how we can help with your Florida nursing home neglect claim.