Thursday, January 24, 2019

Falling Down Stairs Can Cause Serious Injuries

Every day, you probably go up and down several flights of stairs without even thinking about it. However, if you ever fall down a flight of stairs, you can suffer serious injuries that will change how you live your life. In certain situations, you may be able to sue the owner of the premises for your injuries, but you’ll need to meet with an experienced St. Petersburg, Florida personal injury lawyer first.

Common Injuries

Thousands of people are injured each year when they fall, but falls down stairs can be particularly serious. Not only do you fall a long distance, but you’ll contact each step on your way down to the ground. Each impact can cause a new injury, so by the time you land on the ground you might suffer any of the following:

  • Sprains. Ligaments that connect bones to other bones can become stretched or torn, causing pain and making it difficult to move.
  • Broken bones. People who fall can break their legs, arms, collar bone, or other bones. Particularly bad breaks might require surgery.
  • Brain injuries. Brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to more serious injuries that can disrupt your ability to speak, walk, or use your arms.
  • Spinal injuries. Your spinal cord is protected by over 40 vertebrae. A hard fall can crack your vertebrae or cause the disks between each vertebra to rupture. If your spinal cords is damaged, then you might end up paralyzed.
  • Back injuries. These can include compressed nerves, sprains, and strains in addition to spinal injuries.

Treatment for Your Injuries

Immediate medical treatment is critical for a speedy recovery. Also, should you sue the owner of the premises, then you’ll want to show that your own behavior didn’t aggravate your injuries. For example, if you fell and then went out surfing later, a jury might think that the fall didn’t really cause serious injuries. As soon as possible, get yourself to a hospital or doctor to have yourself checked out.

Your treatment will depend on the type of injury you suffer:

  • Sprains will probably require icing, bed rest, and over-the-counter medicines for pain relief.
  • Broken bones will need to be put in a cast. Depending on the break, you may need to stay in bed. Some breaks, if sufficiently serious, you might need a screw inserted to keep the pieces together. 
  • Treatment for brain injuries will depend on the severity of the injury. A mild concussion can clear up with bed rest and pain medication after 7-10 days. More serious traumas might require physical therapy or even surgery.
  • Spinal cord injuries might require surgery. You might also need to wear a brace in order to stabilize your spine.
  • Back injuries will probably require bed rest and pain management. 

Whatever treatment your doctor prescribes, remember to follow it to the letter. If you don’t, then you’ll not only prolong your recovery but you will make it more difficult to receive financial compensation for your injuries.

Hazardous Staircases

It’s possible to fall because you weren’t paying attention, or because you were trying to go up or down the stairs too quickly. In these situations, it’s unlikely that the building owner is responsible for your injuries. Instead, you’ll need to bear the financial costs of your fall, which means you’ll need to pay your medical bills out of your own pocket and suffer any lost wages.

However, in some situations the owner of the premises can be held legally responsible for injuries caused by the fall. Generally, legal liability is most likely when there is something wrong with the stairs that the owner refused to fix or warn you about. Consider the following examples:

  • The steps are loose and slide around or break under foot.
  • The banister is loose and doesn’t provide support when you reach for it.
  • The tread is worn out on the stairs so that they become slippery. 
  • There is inadequate lighting to allow you to climb or descend the stairs safely.
  • The stairs are designed in an unreasonable manner—e.g., they may be too steep to be safe.

Whether the steps are hazardous requires a fact-specific analysis that only an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide. The sooner you contact a lawyer the better. You don’t want the premises owner to quickly patch up the stairs to hide the hazard.

Is the Premises Owner Legally Responsible?

Premises owners owe visitors different duties depending on your status whether you are a business customer, a guest in someone’s home, or a trespasser. The law imposes different duties, depending on why you are on the property.

If you’re a business invitee, then the owner has a duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Generally, this means they need to inspect their stairs for defects and then correct them quickly. If the owner can’t immediately correct a defect, they should at least warn their customers of the problem by putting up a sign. However, you probably can’t receive compensation if the problem was “open and obvious,” such as a missing step or the entire staircase was falling down.

Homeowners also must protect the safety of guests they invite into their home by keeping the property reasonably safe, just as a business would have to treat their invitees. However, if someone invites themselves onto your property—for example, to sell you something—then a landowner does not owe them a duty to keep the property reasonably safe.

Trespassers have the same amount of protection as uninvited guests—almost none. According to Florida law, a landowner has no responsibility to keep stairs safe for an undiscovered trespasser. However, they can’t intentionally harm a trespasser by, for example, setting traps.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida Today

If you or a loved one was injured falling down a flight of stairs, you might be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. At Dolman Law Group, we help injured victims receive compensation to pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses, as well as replace lost wages. Contact us today by calling 727-222-6922 or by filling out an online contact form. Consultations are free.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Friday, January 18, 2019

Traumatic Brain Injury Complications

Traumatic Brain Injury Complications lawsuit attorney Florida concussion

What can go Wrong With a Traumatic Brain Injury?

To suffer a traumatic brain injury is to not only suffer the initial damage caused by such an injury but to also develop vulnerability to increased damage and agitation of an already severe health issue. Traumatic brain injuries already leave people financially, emotionally, and physically damaged and often for the simple reason that someone was negligent and did not take action to prevent something entirely avoidable.
Even after the initial cognitive and physical damage caused by traumatic brain injuries a person will have to contend with the risk of complication. These complications almost always have severely negative impacts on a person’s wellbeing and at times can even result in death. The chance of these complications occurring are surprisingly high and even those who have already gone through the process of contending with a traumatic brain injury will have to go through the ordeal of knowing their brain has suffered a debilitating injury once again with more significant damage.

Suing for Complications of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Those that suffer traumatic brain injury complications may either have already gone through the legal process of recovering compensation for their injuries or they may have suffered a complication as a result of negligence and wish to hold the responsible parties accountable for the damages.
In either scenario, the legal option of filing a traumatic brain injury claim could potentially recover compensation for damages caused by traumatic brain injury complications if they were the result of a liable party’s negligence. If you decide to file a traumatic brain injury claim then you should consider hiring an attorney experienced in litigating this specific type of case. An experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer can provide the resources and knowledge of legal nuance that you will need to ensure that your claim stands the best chance of success possible.

What are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injury is an umbrella term used to describe an injury in which the brain sustained damage due to a force that acted upon the head. Traumas that are considered as causes for traumatic brain injuries can include something as common as blunt force trauma to violent shaking of the head.
The most common of traumatic brain injuries is the concussion which sits on the more mild part of the spectrum when it comes to traumatic brain injury intensity. Despite concussions being considered mild as far as traumatic brain injuries go, they are still incredibly serious and run a higher risk than most would expect of developing complications. On the other end of the spectrum are incredibly debilitating injuries such as diffuse axonal injury and penetrating brain injuries that can put someone in a vegetative state or lead to death. It goes without saying that the damages associated with these kinds of injuries are typically dire.

Severe Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Aside from the obvious threat of physical damage is are the repercussions when it comes to traumatic brain injuries effects on cognitive function. The damage done by traumatic brain injuries can lead to symptoms like
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Speed of mental processing
  • Judgment
  • Ability to focus
  • Problem solving
  • Multi-tasking
  • Organization
  • Decision making
  • Beginning and completing tasks

Common Complications of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Increased Intracranial Pressure: The pressure the brain experiences inside of the skull can rise to dangerous levels. This can cause even more damage and may even kill. Luckily it is treatable and often caught with an ICP monitor but even when caught can still cause damage.
Edema: When the brain contains more fluids than normal then a swelling can occur. When this swelling happens the increase in size can cause damage because there is a finite amount of space within the skull for the brain to occupy. Blood flow is cut off or pressure can directly damage brain cells. Surgery can often help reduce pressure buildup along with medication.
Hydrocephalus: When cerebrospinal fluid collects in the ventricles of the brain it is called hydrocephalus or sometimes “water on the brain”. The additional fluid builds up pressure and may be treated with a shunt placed by a doctor to drain the fluid to another part of the body
Infection: There is a chance of infection occurring the outside of the dura, below the dura, in the membranes surrounding the brain, or within the brain itself. Infections will typically be treated with antibiotics and occasionally surgery.

Psychological Complications of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to some severe mental health issues that may result in further harm to a person. The debilitating effects on cognitive function caused by traumatic brain injuries have a way of sending those affected into a spiraling depression. The knowledge that their cognitive ability is has deteriorated and that they may no longer to pursue their career or a relationship as a result is very emotionally traumatizing. People can suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD because of this loss of cognitive function and its effects on their lives.

Seek an Experienced Florida Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about coming in for a free consultation on your claim. Our lawyers are happy to sit down with you to discuss the details of your case and offer some legal options as to how you can seek compensation. Traumatic brain injuries cause damage that is quite extensive and in the event you suffer a complication, that damage grows exponentially worse. Let Dolman Law Group assist you in holding those liable for your injury responsible and recover compensation to help with the damages you suffered.
The experienced attorneys at Dolman Law Group are very familiar with the intricacies and nuances associated with litigating a traumatic brain injury case. Let our experienced team of investigators, expert witnesses, and experienced attorneys get you the compensation you deserve for your head injury case. Contact us today by calling (727) 451-6900 or by completing this online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Living with a Serious Injury

Serious injuries create many costly long-term expenses for victims and their families. When surgeries, medical costs, health care, assisted living expenses and other costs are incurred as the result of another person’s negligence, injury victims have the right to be compensated for all these expenses. They even have the right to be compensated for projected future expenses which have not yet been incurred. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help St. Petersburg injury victims calculate all future projected expenses which require compensation as a result of a serious injury.

Types of Long-Terms Costs Incurred as a Result of Serious Injuries

Serious injuries create a wide array of medical expenses. Emergency medical care, surgeries, inpatient hospital care, and follow up appointments with primary care doctors and specialists are all common costs which are incurred in the immediate aftermath of a serious injury. But medical expenses can accrue for years after a serious injury occurs. Many victims require ongoing medical testing, observation, diagnosis, and treatment long after the statute of limitations has run on their personal injury claim. In this case, future medical expenses must be projected by the plaintiff. These expenses are itemized along with those which have already been incurred and demanded as part of a personal injury settlement or lawsuit.

Rehabilitation can also continue long after the statute of limitations has run on a personal injury claim. Rehabilitative services can include occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and other services designed to restore the victim’s cognitive functioning and mobility. Sometimes these services must be rendered within the care of an assisted living facility. Other patients are able to live at home with skilled nursing care or other in-home assistance. These, too, are expenses which can be projected for inclusion in a personal injury lawsuit.

Other Types of Financial Losses Caused by Serious Injuries

Serious injuries cost a victim far more than medical bills. The lengthy recovery period causes many victims to miss significant time from work, or even lose their job altogether. These lost wages are subject to compensation by the person whose negligence caused the injury. Some victims will never be able to reach their former earning capacity or even return to work at all. These losses cause a permanent decrease in the victim’s earning potential. This, too, is a financial loss which can be projected and compensated in a personal injury settlement.

Other losses are less tangible, and more difficult to quantify with a dollar amount. Pain and suffering can be significant with serious injuries. Often, it lasts for years after the injury occurs. It can also cause a victim to miss out on important aspects of daily life. Hobbies, picking up children, enjoying time with family, and other such activities can be devastating to lose as the result of a serious injury. While it is difficult to determine the amount of these losses, they too are very real losses which are subject to compensation. In a complicated personal injury case arising from a serious injury, it is often left to a jury to assign a value for to these intangible losses.

The Costs of Road Accidents

Serious injuries also result in large costs on a national level. PBS reports that traffic accidents in the United States cost an estimated $871 billion every year. These costs were incurred by 32,999 deaths, 3.9 million injuries, and 24 million vehicles damages in 2010. Such costs can be prevented with investments in roadway infrastructure improvements, safety initiatives by local traffic agencies, and other important nationwide efforts. Many state and local agencies run public awareness campaigns addressing a specific issue. Drivers may be reminded to use a seatbelt, not to text and drive, to pull over for emergency vehicles, or similar safe driving behaviors. These campaigns require an investment of funds but carry the potential to reduce accidents and save lives.

On an individual level, it is important for injury victims to hold negligent drivers accountable for their dangerous conduct in order to prevent similar accidents in the future. Criminal laws provide this accountability in certain egregious cases of negligence (such as reckless driving, or driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs). Less egregious negligence may not carry criminal penalties, but it is still highly dangerous and costly to society. It is important that injury victims assert their right to compensation through the civil court system - especially when the criminal court system cannot provide the negligent driver with consequences for his or her dangerous actions.

The Costs of Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents also result in staggering costs to society. According to EHS Today, American companies pay $62 billion per year as a result of time lost due to workplace injuries. This is greater than the GDP of 91 countries. The leading cause of workplace injuries, overexertion, was responsible for nearly 25 percent of this total.

In addition to time lost from work, companies can also pay increased workers’ compensation insurance premiums, safety violation fines, training costs, and other expenses as a result of workplace accidents. Companies can also incur indirect expenses after an accident. Temporary employees, quality disruptions, decreased morale, and an impaired business reputation can also hurt an employer’s bottom line. These, too, are expenses which can be mitigated with reasonable investments in workplace safety training.

Aggressive Representation for Serious Injury Claims

Whether you have experienced a brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, burns, or other life-changing conditions, you may have the right to be compensated for the financial losses you will sustain throughout your life as a result of this injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can  aggressively defend your right to be compensated for all types of financial losses. The Dolman Law Group has years of experience in protecting the rights of injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Injury victims across southern Florida trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal expertise, and superior customer service.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Preventing Bullying and Increasing Safety at Your Child’s School

Bullying is a common cause of both physical and emotional injuries in children. Around 28 percent of children in grades six to 12 admit to having been bullied, and 9 percent were victims of cyberbullying—an increasingly common problem in many schools. More than 160,000 kids across the United States choose not to attend school each day due to fears for their own safety, and more than 70 percent of kids have actively seen bullying taking place in their schools. The reality is that bullying is a serious and present problem for many students across the country, and knowing how to identify and prevent it can help students and teachers alike take more effective actions to keep the young people in their care safe.

Identifying Bullying

Many parents fail to realize that there are different types of bullying. While obviously none are acceptable, and we hope that our child will never be a victim, there are times when it is more critical to take legal action against the offenders. Florida state law, for example, prohibits bullying in any case, but particularly as a result of sex, religion, or race. Consider these key types of bullying and how they can impact your child.

Body shaming: More than 94 percent of teenage girls have been body shamed at some point in their lives. This isn’t just a comment on girls who are perceived to be fat. In fact, many skinny girls experience bullying because of their size, as well. Most of the time, simple instances of body shaming aren’t worth pursuing legal action; however, consistent and ongoing body shaming constitutes bullying, and needs to be stopped immediately.

Social media bullying: Social media bullying has become increasingly common in many circles, especially for teenagers. With the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever to send bullying messages back and forth between two or more parties. Note that when social media bullying occurs, having users banned for violation of terms of service is often a great first step in protecting your child.

Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment isn’t just for adults in the workplace. Children and teens can be sexually harassed, too. Note that any time this type of harassment turns physical, it’s important to report it to the authorities as soon as possible.

Physical bullying: This is the type of bullying most people think of when they consider bullying. When bullying crosses the line to the physical, it’s important to take action fast! Most teachers and schools will also take steps to help separate children when physical bullying becomes a serious issue.

The line between bantering comments or rude behavior and outright verbal bullying is often blurred, especially when children and teens are involved. If bullying appears to be ongoing, or your child is starting to struggle with the repercussions, it’s important to take action quickly to ensure their future stability.

Preventing Bullying as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have the potential to help create a safe, welcoming atmosphere in your classroom and school as a whole. You’re the one who lets students know that they are safe in your classroom—and you’re the one who enforces the rules set by the administration. By following these key strategies, you can decrease the odds of bullying in your classroom.

Remain observant. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you have any choice, don’t leave your classroom unattended, since bullying is more likely to occur when bullies believe that teachers aren’t able to see. When you’re an attentive presence in your classroom, bullies know that they won’t be able to slip by you.

Create an environment where bullying is not allowed. Let students know that bullying won’t be tolerated. Ideally, aspire to maintain a zero-tolerance policy in your classroom when it comes to bullying. Remember, some of the most effective bullies hide behind wide, innocent eyes and a smiling face as they try to convince you that they weren’t really bullying another student. Let students know that if they’re caught bullying another student, you’ll act swiftly.

Listen to your students. Sometimes, being observant isn’t enough to prevent bullying—but it can tell you when a child is being bullied, even if you don’t know who’s doing the bullying. Listen to your students. Watch for any out of character behavior, or a student who seems reluctant to be left alone with others. If a student lets you know that they’re being bullied, listen attentively and take it seriously. Even if you can’t take action against a student based solely on what you’ve been told, you can start watching, and take steps to protect the student in question.

Communicate with parents and students. Parents can’t do anything about children who bully or who are being bullied if they don’t know that it’s going on. When there’s bullying taking place in your classroom, open communication with your parents immediately. Keep talking about bullying with your students. It’s better to address negative behaviors head-on than it is to allow rumors to build as students speculate about what’s going on. You should also carefully consider how much information you need to send home in order to keep parents informed about what’s taking place in the classroom.

Offer a safe haven. Older students in particular are more often bullied outside the classroom than inside. Make sure that your students know that your classroom is a safe haven: a place where bullying will not be tolerated and where they will be safe. If you’re worried that a child is being bullied, open up a study hall in your classroom during relevant danger periods. Encourage students to speak to you if they have concerns about bullying outside the classroom: even if you can’t take action against the offender, you may be able to refer the matter to someone who can.

Decreasing Bullying as a Parent

As a parent, you’ve done your best to keep your child safe since they were tiny. Unfortunately, as they get older, they go off to school without you, leaving you unable to observe what’s going on around them on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t protect your child! There are several steps you can take to reduce the odds that your child will be a victim of bullying.

Monitor your child’s social media accounts. Today’s kids are taking bullying out of the classroom and splashing it across the internet. Make sure you have the password to your child’s social media accounts and look at them regularly. If you notice that there’s inappropriate interaction taking place, make sure you take it to the school, who can advise you about what steps to take next.

Watch for unusual behavior in your child. It’s not unusual for teenagers to be moody and withdrawn, but it is unusual for them to suddenly pull back from individuals and activities that they once enjoyed, to suddenly stop eating, or to suddenly seem ill when the time comes to go to school. You know your child best. If you suspect that something isn’t right, take the time to talk to them, and to talk with their teachers and school administrators if necessary.

Teach your children how to stand up for others who are being bullied.
Let your child know, for example, that there’s safety in numbers—and remind them that they should never simply stand by when someone else is being bullied. Encourage your child to go to an adult for help any time there’s physical bullying taking place. You should also help teach your child how to respond to being bullied: Get help, tell an adult, and refrain from engaging with the bully when possible.

Create a household where bullying is not tolerated. No parent wants to see their child become the bully. You can’t always control your child’s behavior, but you can help prevent them from bullying others. Teach them kindness and compassion. Build up your child’s self-esteem: children who feel badly about themselves are more likely to bully others. If you do notice that your child is starting to engage in bullying behaviors, make sure that there are consequences. You should also endeavor to understand the root of the behavior so you can ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Being bullied can have a heavy impact on your child—one that goes far beyond the initial bullying. Whether your child has suffered serious consequences due to the bullying of others, they’ve been injured by a bully, or you believe that the school isn’t taking the right steps to keep your child and other children safe, you may need legal representation to ensure that your rights are upheld. If your child has been bullied at school, contact us today at (727) 222-6922 to arrange a free consultation with one of our compassionate, capable associates.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, January 3, 2019

What Are the Different Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse Claims?

Florida clearly defines the rights of elders who live in a nursing home. Further, Florida law allows for the civil enforcement of those rights, one of which is the right to be free from abuse. Abuse is an umbrella term that refers to a range of activities that harm a nursing home resident which include neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse—all of which are punishable crimes under Florida law. In the event that you or the elder you love file a complaint with Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) alleging elder abuse, the department will investigate the claim and may share information with law enforcement. The Pinellas County State’s Attorney will decide whether or not to pursue criminal charges.

Regardless of whether a criminal case goes forward, your loved one might be eligible to recover damages caused by injuries sustained from nursing home abuse. Contact Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922 for a free and confidential case evaluation to explore the best path forward for you and the elder that you love. If you choose to take civil action, the following discussion of the different kinds of nursing home abuse claims may be useful to you as you proceed.

Neglect in Florida Nursing Homes

Researchers and practitioners are in agreement that nursing home abuse remains drastically underreported. They also agree that neglect is the most common type of nursing home abuse. Florida defines neglect of an elderly person as one of two situations:

  • A caregiver, most often Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), fails or chooses not to provide a person with the care, supervision, and services that person needs to maintain physical and mental health.
  • A caregiver fails to protect a nursing home resident from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another party.

Neglecting a nursing home resident might include acts such as failure to provide adequate food, water, and nutrition; failure to provide supervision; and failure to provide medication or access to medical services. Neglecting a nursing home resident can occur in a single incident, but often times it includes repeated conduct.

Warning Signs of Neglect

You can watch for the following warning signs of neglect in the elder that you love:

  • Poor hygiene including smelling of urine and/or feces which might suggest that your elder isn’t getting help bathing, washing up, or taking care of other daily activities such as brushing teeth, brushing hair, going to the bathroom, etc.
  • Bedsores which suggest that your loved one has been left in one position too long.
  • Sunken cheeks and/or sunken eyes which suggest malnutrition and dehydration.
  • Reports of repeated falls suggesting that your loved one has been left unsupervised for long periods of time.

Under Florida law, to prove neglect a lawyer for the elder must show:

  • Duty of care - The abuser owed a duty of care to the resident. If the abuser was a nursing home employee or another resident, it’s likely that this threshold will be met. In fact, nursing homes and their employees have a legal obligation to provide a standard of care to residents. Other residents have the same duty of care as a person on the street—the duty not to harm others around you.
  • Breach of duty - The nursing home and alleged abuser has breached their duty through their abuse.
  • Cause - The breach of duty caused loss, injury, or damage to the resident.
  • Harm - The resident was harmed by the breach of duty, which means that had loss, injury, or damage.

Physical Abuse in Florida Nursing Homes

Florida law addresses physical abuse and aggravated physical abuse of elders. The legal definition of elder abuse includes the following items:

  • The intentional infliction of physical harm.
  • An intentional act that a reasonable person would expect to result in physical harm.
  • The active encouragement of another party to commit an intentional act of harm or an act that might reasonably cause harm.

Discerning between abuse and aggravated abuse of an elder isn’t directly relevant in a civil court case; however, aggravated assault is more severe and the court often views these activities as intentional harm or gross negligence. It is in these extreme cases that a Florida court might award punitive damages to your loved one. Under Florida Law aggravated abuse includes:

  • Committing aggravated battery on an elder.
  • Willfully torturing, punishing or caging an elder.
  • Knowingly or willfully abusing an elderly person resulting in severe bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

Some examples of physical abuse in nursing homes include pushing, slapping, kicking, shoving or burning a resident. Force-feeding a resident or denying them food and drink also constitutes physical abuse, as does improperly restraining a resident or using excessive restraints.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse

Cuts, bruises, welts, burns, or any unexplained mark on your elder’s body suggest physical abuse, but you might not always see the marks. Here are some other less obvious signs that might indicate physical abuse:

  • Fear, anxiety, depression
  • Withdrawal from other residents, non-abusive caretakers, and family members
  • Implausible explanations about injuries and falls
  • Hesitation to speak openly with you, especially in front of nursing home employees
  • Confusion and disorientation

Emotional Abuse in Florida Nursing Homes

Florida law defines and treats emotional abuse of an elder in the same fashion that it treats physical abuse. Examples of emotional abuse of an elder include:

  • Screaming, yelling, swearing at a resident
  • Threatening physical harm to their resident or people close to the resident
  • Belittling the resident or talking down to him or her like a child
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Blaming and scapegoating the resident
  • Isolating the resident from others

Emotional abuse is common but also seldom reported. Even when reported, emotional abuse can be difficult to prove, because it does not leave any obvious physical trauma. However, a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer knows how to gather the necessary expert medical testimony to speak to symptoms of psychological abuse. Generally speaking, the warning signs of emotional abuse may be similar to the behavioral responses to physical abuse. So, if you notice one of the aforementioned behaviors, you need to coax your loved one to open up to you.

Sexual Abuse in Florida Nursing Homes

Some dismiss the idea that sexual abuse of elders as a real concern; this is not only wrong, but it also keeps nursing home residents who have been sexually abused from speaking out. Perhaps because of its large senior citizen population, Florida explicitly addresses the sexual abuse of elders from a criminal perspective in a statutes concerning “lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person...when the person knows or reasonably should know that the elderly person either lacks the capacity to consent or fails to consent.” The law includes the following sexual acts against an elder as felony crimes:

  • Forcing or encouraging sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, prostitution, or any other sexual act
  • Molestation of the breasts, genitals, genital area, buttocks, or the clothing covering these areas
  • Masturbation, flashing of genitals, or any other sexual act in the presence of an elderly person.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

Depending on the specific circumstances, warning signs that suggest sexual abuse of an elder can vary greatly. Here are some of the most common things that might indicate sexual abuse:

  • Pelvic injury
  • Difficulty with walking and sitting
  • Testing positive or showing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease
  • Ripped, bloody, or stained undergarments
  • Genital bruising
  • Bruising on the inner thighs
  • Bleeding from the genital area or anus
  • Rash, pain, or irritation of the anus or genitals
  • Panic attacks
  • Displaying signs and symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Becomes easily agitated
  • Withdrawal from other residents, friends, family members, and caretakers
  • Attempts at suicide

Financial Abuse in Florida Nursing Homes

A 2018 White Paper published by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) estimates that $2.9 billion dollars per year are lost due to the financial exploitation of elders. Florida law includes the following actions as exploiting an elderly person:

  • Knowingly obtaining or using, or trying to obtain or use an elderly persons funds, assets or property with the intent of temporary or permanent deprivation by someone who is trusted by the person or has a business relationship with the elder.
  • Participating in the above acts when you know or reasonably should know that the elderly person lacks the ability to consent
  • Breach of fiduciary duty, which doesn’t often apply to nursing home cases
  • Misappropriation, misuse, or making unauthorized transfers of money belonging to an elderly person
  • Intentional or negligent failure of a caregiver or trusted person to use an elder’s income and assets to support them

Elders who have dementia or Alzheimer’s are at the most risk for financial abuse in a nursing home because their diminished capacity makes them easy targets for criminals; they cannot make financial decisions and they don’t typically know the value of their assets.

Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

When an elder in a nursing home is a victim of financial exploitation or abuse, family members usually don’t notice the problem until long after a lot of damage has been done including large amounts of money and valuables that have gone missing. If an elder that you love is in a nursing home, you can financially protect them by watching for some of the following warning signs of financial abuse:

  • Stolen valuables, jewelry, checks, or cash from the resident’s room
  • Unexplained charges on credit and debit cards, especially for bedridden residents who cannot make these transactions
  • Changes in a victim’s credit rating
  • Unauthorized changes in address for all types of accounts including credit cards, checking, savings, retirement, and others
  • Unusual credit card activity including charges in other states, large dollar amount charges, cash withdrawals
  • Severe cases might include real estate fraud and identity theft
  • Residents that knowingly give money to a caregiver might feel anxious or depressed and show behavioral changes

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in St. Petersburg

If you suspect that an elder that you love has been or is being abused, take steps to put a stop to the abuse immediately, even if that means calling law enforcement, hospitalizing your loved one, or moving your loved one out of the facility.

Once you have ensured the physical safety of your loved one, you can take the following steps to report the neglect, physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse of your loved one:

  • Notify the nursing home administrator immediately in writing of the alleged wrongdoing and keep detail records of correspondence.
  • File a complaint with Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) online or by calling their elder abuse hotline at (800)962-2873.
  • Keep all documentation including receipts and bills that are related to the injury or abuse. This might include medical expenses, costs to transfer to another facility, bank statements for financial abuse, and more. If physical abuse or neglect occurred, try to take photos of physical injuries.
  • Consult a seasoned nursing home abuse attorney who will navigate the complex legal environment and help you hold the abuser(s) accountable.

Contact a St. Petersburg Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for the Elder That You Love

Your loved one deserves and is legally entitled to be treated with dignity and respect when living in a nursing home. When the caregivers you entrust with your elderly loved one’s wellbeing abuse their power and intentionally or negligently cause harm, they may have criminal and civil liability and should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

If you suspect neglect or abuse against your elderly family member by a caregiver, take action that will keep him or her safe and protect future victims by seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced elder abuse attorney immediately. Contact our compassionate and experienced nursing home attorneys at Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922 for a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to help you protect your loved one’s rights and to recover compensation on your loved one’s behalf.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL, 33712
(727) 222-6922