Those who perpetuate nursing home abuse in Fort Pierce are going to continue to do so until they know that such actions are going to be swiftly and severely punished under the law.
Our Fort Pierce nursing home abuse lawyers know that while we do have certain criminal laws that serve this purpose, it can sometimes be difficult to prove. The standard of proof in civil cases is sometimes lower, which is why families who don’t find the justice they sought in the criminal justice system seek out a private nursing home abuse attorney. While we don’t make promises, we do point our clients to our proven record of success.
That said, we still welcome any strengthening of the criminal and civil laws with regard to those who commit nursing home abuse and neglect. These crimes are especially heinous because they are carried out against some of our most vulnerable residents, who often can’t speak out for themselves when they’ve been victimized.
The state of Vermont is now taking such steps, and we hope politicians in Fort Pierce and across Florida will take note.
House Bill 413 was signed into law by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. Basically, what this measure does is hold nursing home administrators civilly accountable in cases of abuse or neglect in which there had been a pattern of such actions within the facility that administrators failed to address.
One example that was mentioned was a man who had been at a nursing home facility less than two weeks when he was attacked by another resident. He subsequently died as a result of injuries sustained in that attack – bruises covering his face and body in the funeral home.
According to the victim’s family, the attacker had been previously identified by staff as violent. He had in fact carried out attacks on other residents. He was deemed mentally unstable. And yet, nothing was done to remove him or to protect the other residents in the facility.
It’s this type of case in which administrators could be held liable in court.
Specifically, the language of the law reads that the bill will allow the attorney general to file civil action against a caregiver or person who abuses, exploits or neglects a vulnerable adult. Additionally, it allows civil action to be filed against a caregiver or person who “negligently allows” another person or caregiver to do the same.
Those found liable under this statue would be subject to a $5,000 fine if the alleged incident results in no bodily injury. They’ll be subject to a $10,000 fine if there is bodily injury, a $20,000 fine if there is serious bodily injury and a $50,000 fine if someone dies as a result of the abuse or neglect.
Anyone who tries to impede the civil investigation or hide information or falsify records will be subject to an additional $5,000 fine.
The person will have the right to a trial by jury.
Furthermore, all of this is considered separate to any additional criminal investigation that may take place.
If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Holding nursing home owners accountable, By Gina Bullard, WCAX TV