Filing a Lawsuit for Nursing Home Abuse
Placing a loved one, usually a parent, in a nursing home is often the last stop in a long line of other care options having been explored and rejected. Leaving a family member entirely in the care of strangers is a difficult situation that requires a large amount of trust. This trust relationship really only works if the administrators of a nursing home thoroughly verify, train and monitor their caretakers as part of a standard operating procedure. Unfortunately, not all facilities live up to their responsibilities, and nursing home abuse is a result. Nursing home operators are responsible for the actions of their employees, and if a resident is abused or neglected, the facility can be sued for negligence and potentially forced to pay the injured resident compensation. An employee of a St. Petersburg nursing home was recently arrested for beating a male resident with his own leg brace. Administrators contacted authorities after the abuse was discovered on a surveillance video. Video monitoring is one method commonly used by facilities to monitor employee interactions with residents in order to catch inappropriate behavior and to serve as a deterrent. However, in cases of abuse or neglect, prior to filing a lawsuit, an additional step must first be satisfied.
As noted above, if a nursing home resident suffered an injury and wants to assert a claim for negligence against the facility, he/she must first complete the pre-suit procedure mandated by state law. This process requires one to first notify the nursing home of the negligence claim and hold off on filing a lawsuit for 75 days while the nursing home evaluates its potential liability. Once notice is received, the nursing home must initiate an investigation of the claim using a procedure established for this purpose. During this period, all parties are able to request documents related to the negligence claim and consult with experts on the merits of the case. By the end of this time period, the nursing home must provide the injured party a written response to the claim that either rejects or offers to settle it. If settlement is offered, the injured party has 15 days to accept it, or it is considered rejected. Importantly, once the nursing home completes its investigation and responds to the injury party, he/she has just 60 days to file a lawsuit, so quick action is necessary. However, before suing, the parties are required to meet in mediation within 30 days of receiving the nursing home’s response to discuss liability and money damages.
Who May Sue
Normally, only the injured party has a right to sue someone for an injury, but many nursing home residents suffer from varying states of mental and/or physical disability that hinder their ability to effectively participate in or understand the legal proceedings. Consequently, Florida law says that, in addition to the resident, the following parties can file suit:
- a resident’s legal guardian;
- an individual or organization acting on the resident’s behalf who has the permission of the resident or his/her guardian; or
- in the case of death, by the personal representative of the estate.
Get Legal Advice
If you or a loved one suffered abuse at the hands of a nursing home employee, consult an lawyer focusing on nursing home abuse about taking legal action so this behavior does not continue. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado understands the feelings of betrayal and sadness, and will fight to hold the responsible parties accountable. Contact us for a free consultation.