Nursing home staff have a duty to protect vulnerable residents under their care and minimize the risk of potential harm. When they fail to meet a procedural, professional, or statutory standard, nursing home residents may be injured. Compounding the problem is the fact that a nursing home might never advise the victim’s family when there is a problem with their care.
It’s up to you to remain vigilant. When a nursing home harms your loved one, you must take steps to protect their legal rights. Contact an experienced attorney today.
Negligent Nursing Homes Must Pay
Attorney Jerry Jenkins believes in holding nursing homes accountable for their negligent actions. Our law firm fights for vulnerable victims who can’t fight for themselves. We understand that nursing home cases can be legally complex. Injuries are often serious but difficult to detect during the early stages. And negligence allegations can be difficult to prove because nursing homes often maintain control over the responsible staff members, the medical evidence, and the injured victim.
Attorney Jenkins has extensive personal injury experience and he understands all aspects of the local court system. He uses his dedication and experience to assist his injured clients in recovering damages for their injuries.
Your Decision Matters When You Need Results
Attorney Jerry Jenkins knows that when you choose a nursing home negligence attorney you want someone who will protect your loved one’s rights. Attorney Jenkins has gained experience in the military, at the State Attorney’s office, as a prosecutor, and as an attorney in multiple court divisions. His background and diverse legal experience have helped to mold him into an experienced lawyer, an aggressive advocate, and a tough negotiator.
Jerry Jenkins has settled clients’ cases where nursing homes and their insurance companies negotiated reasonably. He’s also presented his evidence and settled cases at mediations, arbitrations, and in other alternative dispute resolution forums. Attorney Jenkins knows and understands the court system. When necessary, he has no problem presenting his cases before a judge and jury.
As each case is different, Attorney Jenkins can’t predict the outcome of any particular case. But he always promises his injured clients that he will put his skills, knowledge, and resources on the line to provide the best results possible in their case.
Nursing Home Negligence Injuries in Orlando
Based on recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 10.4 percent of Orlando’s 285,713 person population are residents age 65 and older. While most elderly residents are healthy and independent, some seniors require 24-hour assistance with day-to-day tasks. Orlando has 20 residential nursing homes with 2,789 resident beds to accommodate the city’s most vulnerable senior residents.
Busy families with no other reasonable alternatives must trust nursing homes to care for their loved ones. While most facilities provide a safe, nurturing environment, some nursing home residents deal with pressure sores, poor nutrition, dehydration, or other conditions caused by negligent care. Other residents suffer through emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, or other intentional injuries.
The Department of Elderly Affairs, FloridaHealth, the Agency for Health Care Administration and other state and federal agencies monitor Florida nursing homes for compliance with state and federal rules and statutes. The AHCA Watch List documents nursing homes that fail to meet these standards. Despite constant monitoring, nursing home injuries, abuse, and neglect still happen. Nursing home injuries are often a sign of negligent administration and management such as:
- Poorly trained staff
- Negligent hiring practices
- Inadequate patient monitoring
- Low resident to care worker ratios
- Inadequate safety and preventative procedures
- Poor nutrition and hydration controls
Negligence-related injuries are preventable with reasonable care. A 2013 Department of Justice study, An Examination of Resident Abuse in Assisted Living Facilities, determined that residents with cognitive, physical, and behavioral impairments were most often subject to abuse. A “Nursing Open” bedsores study found that simple “repositioning“ reduced bedsore frequency.
In pursuing a resident’s rights claim or a nursing home negligence claim, a victim’s family must comply with Florida Statute §400.0233. This statute details the steps injured people and their families must follow to present a claim. These include:
- Providing the nursing facility a written notice of a claim, via certified mail
- Identifying the violation or negligence
- Describing the “reasonably identifiable” injuries
- Providing an attorney’s confirmation that an investigation uncovered reasonable grounds for legal action
- Waiting 75 days before filing a lawsuit
Defendants or their insurance carriers have 75 days to evaluate a claim “in good faith.” Before the end of the waiting period, they must provide a written response either rejecting the claim or making a settlement offer. The court may extend the waiting period to accommodate pending settlement negotiations. The victim and their family must respond to any settlement offers within 15 days. If the nursing facility or the insurer fails to provide a timely response, the claim is deemed rejected and the victim and their family may move forward with a lawsuit.
Types of Injuries Caused by Nursing Homes
Nursing home negligence encompasses an overwhelming range of actions, circumstances, and injuries. Over the years, multiple agencies have sought to create clear standards to describe the numerous types of neglect, abuse, and related injuries that can occur in a nursing home. The 2016 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study Elder Abuse Surveillance provides a set of uniform definitions. It characterizes senior injuries and harm under the following five categories:
- Physical: Injuries such as burns, lacerations, abrasions, fractures, internal injuries, organ damage, overmedication, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, preventable illnesses and diseases, sexual abuse, and fatal injuries
- Cognitive: Deterioration of problem solving, memory, decision-making and other cognitive skills
- Emotional: Problems with emotional perception, expression, and regulation
- Social: Changes in relationships, roles, identities, and other social norms
- Financial: Increased medical bills, added financial obligations, reduced income and earnings, and depleted assets which change a senior’s ability to participate in discretionary activities
A harm sometimes continues until nursing home staff or a family member detects the problem. The injuries sometimes worsen until the resident receives appropriate medical treatment or is removed from the harmful environment. Nursing home residents often incur additional medical and hospitalization costs over and above the amounts they or their families paid for nursing home care.
Who Is Legally Responsible for Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing homes are responsible for 24-hour care for seniors who need full-time personal care, health care, and living assistance. This unique situation allows a nursing home staff to maintain control over the injured person and the circumstances under which an injury occurs. Nursing home staff control their residents’ housing, medication, food, and water. They’re responsible for their residents’ emotional and social interactions. But despite this control, it is not always clear who or what entity bears responsibility for the resident’s injuries.
Florida Statute §400.022, Residents’ Rights, describes a nursing home resident’s rights and the circumstances under which a nursing home may be considered negligent. Florida Statute §400.23, Civil enforcement, establishes a vicarious liability cause of action under which a nursing home “licensee” is responsible for a nursing home’s negligent actions. The statute further defines a licensee as:
- An individual, corporation, partnership, or other entity that is legally responsible for a nursing home’s operations.
- A management or consulting company that has a contractual or for-fee arrangement with a licensee. Their responsibilities include hiring/firing administrators and directors, “controlling or having control over” all levels of facility staffing, control over the facility budget, or implementation or enforcement of facility policies and procedures.
Additional responsible parties can include:
- Employees: Inadequately trained or unqualified workers, long employee shifts, and high turnover rates sometimes contribute to negligence issues.
- Administrators/managers: Any entity that’s responsible for hiring, training, monitoring, and controlling employees is responsible for their negligent acts.
- Doctors and nurses: Medical professionals who cause, prevent, or fail to diagnose or treat a medical condition are responsible for any resulting issues.
- Independent contractors: When a non-employee or healthcare worker provides services under a contract, they often have independent responsibility for their actions. Their contracts may include a duty to defend, indemnify and hold a nursing home harmless for their actions.
Once detected, a nursing home’s negligence often becomes obvious. That doesn’t mean that they will admit to committing negligent acts. Injured patients, their families, and their legal representatives must prove their case based on the following traditional negligence standard:
- The nursing home had a duty to prevent harm
- They breached that duty
- The breach of duty was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff sustained damages
What Damages Are Included in a Nursing Home Negligence Settlement?
A nursing home negligence settlement usually includes economic and non-economic damages. Attorneys may also win a punitive damage award under certain circumstances.
When we take on a case at the Law Offices of Jerry Jenkins, we calculate economic damages based on medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses. If an injured victim has a condition that may require long term treatment, we have an economic expert calculate the potential future costs. These can include:
- Doctor bills
- In-patient hospital costs
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Prosthetics and mobility equipment
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Funeral and burial expenses
Non-economic damages are often difficult to resolve as they are based on the injured person’s subjective experience. In determining what to request in non-economic damages, our law firm evaluates an injury’s emotional, psychological, and social effects, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal relationship
- Diminished family relationships
- Lost bodily functions
- Scars and disfigurement
- Wrongful death
A jury may award punitive damages as punishment to a defendant. As required by Florida Statute §768.72, the plaintiff must present “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant was guilty of “intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”
Your Attorney Will Need to Know the Nursing Home’s Tricks
Even though a nursing home controls everything about an injured victim’s care and it is clear that they are responsible for the victim’s injuries, nursing homes still defend themselves when a family discovers their negligence. The same control that gives a nursing home the opportunity to harm a vulnerable resident gives them control over the evidence that proves their culpability.
A nursing home can take advantage of inconsistencies in an injured senior’s testimony. They can rely on a cognitively and behaviorally disabled senior’s inability to recall or explain the facts. In a negligence case, a nursing home has the same defenses available as in other negligence cases. These are:
- No negligence: A nursing home attempts to prove they did nothing wrong to cause a resident’s injuries.
- Comparative negligence: The defendants can reduce the plaintiff’s damages if they prove the defendant contributed to their own injuries. Florida’s pure Comparative Fault Statute §768.81 allows a jury or insurance company to reduce a plaintiff’s award by their percentage of fault in causing the accident.
- Damages: A nursing home may defend a case by alleging that the victim’s injuries aren’t as serious as they claim or that they occurred elsewhere.
- When a non-employee or a contractor causes an injury, the nursing home may seek to avoid liability by proving they had no responsibility for the negligent person’s acts.
Orlando Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer
If your loved one has been injured due to a nursing home’s negligence, choosing the right attorney is a critical first step in protecting your family’s legal interests. Attorney Jerry Jenkins is a dedicated legal professional. He has put his experience on the line to recover damages for his injured clients. He wants the opportunity to determine if he can help you. Call the Law Offices of Jerry Jenkins at (407) 287-6757 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.