Determining Liability for Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
Elder abuse is a serious issue that occurs much too often. According to the National Centeron Elder Abuse (NCEA), occurrences continue to increase even in the midst of growing educational campaigns and more accessible reporting options. The elderly population is at an all-time high, with the aging of the baby boomer generation. As of the 2010 Census, 13% of the total population is over the age of 65-years-old. That percentage will expectedly rise to more than 20% by the year 2050.
This growing population of elders also increases the need for care. To meet this need, caregivers often turn to nursing homes, day care programs and other family members to provide supervision and handle the day-to-day needs of older loved ones. Unfortunately, the people trusted to give care are often the main perpetrators of abuse. According to NCEA, the most abuse occurs at the hands of a spouse or adult child. However, professional nursing facilities are also a common source of abuse, especially when adequate regulations and standards are ignored.
Types of Abuse
The NCEA defines elder mistreatment as “intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder.” The mistreatment can take on a variety of forms, including:
- Physically striking or battering an elder;
- Mentally abusing an elder through threats of abuse or intimidation;
- Failure to provide for an elder’s basic needs;
- Failure to protect an elder from harm;
- Sexual assaults;
- Exploitation of an elder’s finances; and
- Abandonment of an elder by a person who assumed responsibility.
Nursing Home Incidents of Abuse
In 2010, there were more than 16,000 nursing homes in the United States, with close to 2 million beds. According to the NCEA, nearly a third of all nursing homes were previously cited with violations of federal regulations and more than half of all nursing home employees admit to the mistreatment of elderly patients. These businesses are subject to numerous regulations, regarding the upkeep of the facility and the continuous training of employees. When these rules are not followed, instances of abuse are likely to occur.
Within the state of Florida, the Department of Elder Affairs works with Adult Protective Services to investigate allegations of abuse and work towards prevention of future incidents. A 24-hour hotline is set up to take calls about allegations of abuse. Once the complaint is received, the Department of Family and Children Affairs investigates and makes a determination about the need for protection. When appropriate, law enforcement officers are contacted. In addition to criminal penalties, these facilities may also face civil liabilities as victims file lawsuits. Proceedings across the country have resulted in million-dollar awards and the closure of inadequate facilities.
If your elderly loved one has been injured while residing in a nursing home, call Miami based Pita Weber Del Prado at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation. Let us use our experience to get you the compensation you deserve.