New allegations of nursing home negligence, neglect and wrongful death in South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year are being alleged against a second facility. If you follow our South Florida nursing home injury lawyer blog or local news, you’re likely familiar with the incident in Broward County that claimed the lives of 12 people, suffering from heat-related illness after the storm knocked out power and caregivers failed to call for assistance. Now, another wrongful death lawsuit – this one in Palm Beach County – alleges virtually the exact same scenario at 114-bed facility just a few cities over.
The owner and former executive director are also named as defendants in wrongful death claim, which stems from the death of plaintiff’s 90-year-old mother. Plaintiff alleges that when he was able to reach the nursing home staff by telephone soon after the storm, he wasn’t informed that the site had lost power or that there was no working air conditioner at the facility. Within four days, plaintiff says, his mother was dead.
Although this case represents a less common example of a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, nonetheless it is one that must be taken seriously by health care providers and officials in Florida, where powerful hurricanes are an annual reality.
Causes of Florida Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Other common examples of wrongful death cases in Florida nursing homes include:
- Bed sores. Especially common among patients who are immobile, occurring when patients aren’t frequently turned as plans of care necessitate.
- Malnourishment. Although many elderly folks don’t have a major appetite, some may be deprived appropriate food or nutrition due to overworked or neglectful staff.
- Medication errors. Nursing home residents are too often given the wrong medication or the wrong dose of the right medications or deprived of the medications they need. This can have fatal consequences.
Florida Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The wrongful death statute of limitations in Florida is important to note because it’s shorter than the personal injury statute of limitations. F.S. 95.11 stipulates that while negligence personal injury lawsuits must be filed within four years of the state cause of action, claims alleging wrongful death need to be filed within two years of the date of death. Claims alleging medical negligence (as many nursing home injury lawsuits are) must also be filed within two years. The clock on that starts ticking either from the date of the incident or from the date it is discovered or reasonably could have been discovered with due diligence. The most time you have to “reasonably discover” evidence of medical negligence is four years.
How This Post-Storm Nursing Home Wrongful Death Case Was Overshadowed
The Palm Beach County didn’t make many headlines because it was quickly overshadowed by news that more than a dozen nursing home residents died at the Broward County facility in the aftermath of the hurricane. Residents baked in the heat while across the street, a fully functioning, air conditioned hospital could have brought them in. In this case, The Palm Beach Post reports officials in West Palm Beach received numerous anonymous tips saying residents at the facility may be suffering. First responders were there quickly with ice, water and sharp demands that the facility start providing better treatment. This undoubtedly saved some lives, but plaintiff says it wasn’t enough for his mother, who had been on the second floor with no air conditioning in mid-September for at least a full day, but probably longer. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, but never regained consciousness and died soon thereafter.
Plaintiff further asserts the previous director rejected offers of generators from city officials and police, declined to move residents from the second floor to the first (where it was cooler) because many were in wheelchairs and elevators weren’t working and further allegedly referred to residents as “all a bunch of whiny crybabies.” The facility was later cited by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (nursing home regulator) for failure to provide a safe and comfortable living environment for residents by not making sure mechanical systems were functional.
Palm Beach wrongful death attorneys will note the claim was filed within the two-year statute of limitations – a comparatively much shorter timeline compared to personal injury lawsuits, for which claimants have four years to file.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Assisted living facility sued over death of 90-year-old after Irma, Sept. 28, 2018, By Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post
More Blog Entries:
Bedsores, Neglect Alleged Inside VA Nursing Homes, Sept. 25, 2018, Palm Beach Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney Blog