Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence
Watching a family member grow older and start to lose their independence due to mental or physical decline is a hard process to observe. Many families, at some point, have to determine if they can provide the necessary care or need to find a facility with the staff and training their loved one requires to maintain a satisfactory level of physical and mental health. Choosing a nursing home should be a careful and deliberate process given the amount of trust a family is placing in the administrators and medical staff. But, even families that thoroughly vet these facilities cannot eliminate the possibility that nursing home abuse c0uld occur. Because nursing homes house some of the most vulnerable members of society, taking advantage of residents seems especially wrong. While abuse includes obvious types of behavior, like physically hitting a resident or committing sexual assault, it also consists of neglect where a resident does not receive proper care that results in physical, mental, or emotional harm. Certainly, it is important for the guilty individuals to be prosecuted for their crimes, but it is also equally critical to hold the facility responsible for failing to oversee the guilty party’s work and/or not sufficiently examining their backgrounds for history of abusive tendencies. This is accomplished through a civil lawsuit that charges the nursing home with negligence, and asks for monetary damages to compensate the victim and the victim’s family for harm they suffered. One recent unfortunate example of neglectful and negligent behavior occurred at an assisted living facility in Bradenton when an 80-year-old woman died due to untended ulcers that became infected. While an assisted living facility is operated somewhat differently than a nursing home, this negligent behavior can occur in either type. An overview of how to initiate a lawsuit for negligence, and what a plaintiff must prove in court, will follow below.
Filing a negligence suit against a nursing home is different than typical negligence cases because the law requires plaintiffs to give the nursing home notice of the negligence claim and an opportunity to investigate the allegations before a lawsuit may be filed in court. This extra requirement is intended to facilitate settlement of these claims and reduce litigation. The nursing home has 75 days to conduct its investigation, and at the end of this period must present the plaintiff with a written rejection of the allegations or a settlement offer. The plaintiff then has 15 days to accept or reject the offer. If no settlement is reached, the plaintiff is then free to file a lawsuit in court.
All nursing homes have a duty of care toward their residents that they must seek to maintain. Because a nursing home provides medical care, this duty means the home is responsible for offering the same level of care a reasonable and prudent medically-trained individual would offer in similar situation. If the home breaches this duty by doing something it should not, like pushing a resident, or failing to do something that it should have, like giving medication, it could be liable if the resident suffered harm as a result. These issues – duty of care, breach, and harm – must be proven in all negligence cases to win at trial. How to specifically show the existence of these elements will vary with the facts of each case.
Talk to an Lawyer
If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff, it is important to take the steps needed to hold the facility accountable. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado understands the damage such acts bring to family and will fight to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation.