Florida Governor Approves Law Limiting Liability For Nursing Home Abuse

Our Miami nursing home abuse attorneys have previously discussed unfortunate incidents in which elderly individuals were the victims of nursing home abuse and/or neglect. In August, we discussed a case in which a Florida jury awarded more than $1.1 billion to the son of a woman who had suffered abuse at the hands of a negligent Polk County nursing home.  Apparently, that was not the first time the operators of that nursing home were under fire for such misconduct as a different Polk County jury awarded a $114 million verdict against the companies in another nursing home abuse case.

Falls Can Be a Sign of Nursing Home Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury death and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma in adults over 65. Further, the CDC estimates that 20-30% of falls result in moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas, and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Perhaps most disturbing are the statistics on the frequency of falls occurring in nursing homes. According to the CDC, a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls every year, however, many falls go unreported. Somewhere between 50-75% of nursing home residents experience a fall each year, more than double the rate of falls for adults over 65 living outside nursing homes. Many patients fall more than once with the average at 2.6 falls per person annually.

Despite these alarming statistics, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law a bill that shields the owners, investors, managers and other employees and individuals of nursing homes from liability for their failure to protect, and to ensure the well-being and rights of home residents. S.B. 670 does several things, including:

  • Prohibiting “passive investors” from being named as defendants in lawsuits against nursing homes. A passive investor is an “an individual or entity that has an interest in a facility but does not participate in the decision making or operations of the facility”; and
  • Requiring plaintiffs seeking punitive damages to demonstrate upfront, before trial, that there is reasonable basis for recovery of such damages. A judge would make such a determination before hearing the full weight the evidence during a trial.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is an ongoing issue throughout Florida. The Florida Health Care Association estimates that about 72,000 elders rely on nursing homes for long-term care. Nursing homes have duty to their residents to ensure that there are sufficient measures in place to prevent falls and adequate staff to supervise patients. A nursing home’s failure to satisfy these obligations may render them liable for any resulting injuries.

Contact an Attorney Today

The Miami elder abuse attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. have decades of experience handling matters involving nursing home abuse. If you believe that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or as been harmed or injured due to negligence of a nursing home, contact the Miami elder neglect attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.


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