Learning that your loved one may be suffering from abuse or neglect in a nursing home is a devastating experience. If this happens to you, then you may have the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the nursing home that will let you recover damages for continuing care of your loved one (most likely at another facility). This action may also open avenues for investigation that can help to protect the other residents of the nursing home such as firing abusive employees.
There are four basic steps involved in a nursing home abuse lawsuit. These steps begin when you consult an experienced attorney to discuss your case and find out what you can do to protect your loved one.
1. Gathering the facts
The first step in a nursing home neglect or abuse case is to put together a clear picture of your loved one’s current situation as well as prior experiences with facts that are as detailed as possible. Your attorney will need to obtain information that includes your loved one’s medical history and general day-to-day life.
Sources for gathering this information may include:
- Yourself, family members and close friends
- Previous co-workers or volunteers who have spent time with your loved one
- Medical records from doctors and hospitals who have cared for your loved one
- Research sources such as case precedents in similar situations
2. Initiating the case
Once the relevant information has been gathered, the next step is to get the legal ball rolling. Your attorney will submit your case in the appropriate court and to the facility and/or individuals who are named as defendants in the case.
The time frame for filing your case may vary depending on several factors, such as your goals, the availability of reliable resources and key facts and the statute of limitations. In Florida, the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse and neglect cases is generally within two years of the incident’s discovery or the time the incident reasonably should have been discovered, and no later than four years from the date of the incident.
There are further details in Florida’s statute of limitations that may cause exceptions to these rules. It’s best to consult with your attorney regarding the time frame.
3. Discovery and pre-trial preparations
The discovery process involves gathering more specific information on your case as well as nursing home abuse cases in general that can be used as evidence in court. During this step, you’ll give a deposition, which involves being questioned under oath by your attorney to create a record for the court.
Other discovery actions may include:
- Conducting depositions with other witnesses
- Issuing subpoenas to the defendants to obtain additional key documents
- Consulting with medical experts and potentially reserving them as witnesses
- Locate and interview staff and others at the facility who may have witnessed the abuse or neglect
- Develop evidence that demonstrates the physical and emotional impact of the abuse or neglect on your loved one as well as yourself and family members
4. Resolving the case
Though some nursing home abuse cases go to trial, others may be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or settlement offers. Each option involves various processes and time frames.
Settlements may be negotiated by your attorney directly with the defendants, without going to court. Your attorney will work with you to determine whether a settlement offer is acceptable or whether you should take the process to mediation or trial.
Mediation or arbitration uses a similar process to trial, but these cases do not involve a jury. Instead, both parties of the lawsuit meet with their respective lawyers in front of a mediator or arbitrator to seek a resolution. If this process is unsuccessful, the case may proceed to trial.
Trials are cases that are heard in court. If there are several residents at your loved one’s facility who have experienced abuse or neglect, your case may be consolidated with others in order to bring swifter resolution.
If you’re considering a nursing home abuse lawsuit, contact us today. The experienced attorneys at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen have successfully conducted civil lawsuits for nursing home cases and helped families throughout Miami, Florida relieve the painful situation of abuse and neglect.